WASHINGTON, March 10, 2017 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- Kids in New Jersey will unite against tobacco use on March 15 as they join thousands of young people nationwide to mark Kick Butts Day. More than 1,000 events are planned across the United States and around the world for this annual day of youth activism, sponsored by the Campaign for Tobacco-Free Kids. (See below for a list of local events.)
On Kick Butts Day, kids encourage their peers to be tobacco-free, reject tobacco companies' devious marketing and urge elected officials to help make the next generation tobacco-free.
This year, Kick Butts Day is focusing attention on how tobacco companies are enticing kids with a growing market of sweet-flavored products such as electronic cigarettes and cigars, threatening to addict a new generation. These products have proved popular with kids. From 2011 to 2015, e-cigarette use among high school students jumped from 1.5 percent to 16 percent nationwide, and more kids now use e-cigarettes than regular cigarettes. In addition, more high school boys now smoke cigars than cigarettes. E-cigarettes and cigars are sold in a wide assortment of candy and fruit flavors, such as gummy bear, cotton candy and fruit punch.
Tobacco companies also continue to spend huge sums to market cigarettes and smokeless tobacco, much of it reaching kids. Nationwide, tobacco companies spend $9.1 billion a year – one million dollars every hour – on marketing. In New Jersey, tobacco companies spend $177.6 million annually on marketing efforts.
Health advocates in New Jersey are urging lawmakers to increase the state's tobacco sale age to 21, a move that will reduce tobacco use and save lives. The legislature passed the measure last year, but Governor Chris Christie vetoed the bill. Last month, the Trenton City Council increased the city's tobacco age to 21.
"On Kick Butts Day, kids stand up to the tobacco industry, and our nation's leaders must stand with them," said Matthew L. Myers, President of the Campaign for Tobacco-Free Kids. "We've made great strides in reducing youth smoking, but candy-flavored products like e-cigarettes and cigars threaten this progress. We need strong FDA regulation to protect kids from these sweet-flavored products. And elected officials at all levels should support proven strategies that prevent youth tobacco use, including higher tobacco taxes, strong smoke-free laws, funding prevention programs and raising the tobacco age to 21."
In New Jersey, tobacco use claims 11,800 lives and costs $4.06 billion in health care bills each year. Currently, 8.2 percent of New Jersey's high school students smoke.
On Kick Butts Day, kids join in creative events that range from classroom activities about the harmful ingredients in cigarettes to rallies at state capitols.
In New Jersey, activities include:
The Essex County 4-H Teen Council and the Global Advisors on Smokefree Policy (GASP) will meet with city leaders in Newark to educate them on policies that promote a tobacco-free lifestyle among young people, particularly age restrictions for sales of tobacco and e-cigarettes. Time: 4 PM. Location: City Hall, 920 Broad Street, Newark. Contact: Kyla Bates (973) 508-8664.
The Camden County Council On Alcohol & Drug Abuse, Inc. will host a #NotAReplacement social media campaign in Voorhees, where young people will declare through creative messages that they refuse to boost tobacco companies' profits by being "replacement" smokers. Time: 3:30 PM. Location: The Spot Teen Center, 2450 Voorhees Town Center, Voorhees. Contact: Kathryn Chin (608) 836-0803.
All events are on March 15 unless otherwise indicated. For a full list of Kick Butts Day activities in New Jersey, visit www.kickbuttsday.org/map. Additional information about tobacco, including state-by-state statistics, can be found at www.tobaccofreekids.org.
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SOURCE Campaign for Tobacco-Free Kids