WASHINGTON, March 10, 2017 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- Kids in New York 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 York, tobacco companies spend $206.4 million annually on marketing efforts.
In New York, health advocates are urging legislators to raise the tobacco sale age to 21, a move that will reduce tobacco use and save lives.
"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 York, tobacco use claims 28,200 lives and costs $10.39 billion in health care bills each year. Currently, 8.8 percent of New York'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 York, activities include:
On March 10, Reality Check of Chemung, Schuyler, & Steuben and the Southern Tier Tobacco Awareness Coalition will air big tobacco's dirty laundry with a body bag display and mural painted by local art students and Reality Check Youth. Time: 1 PM. Location: 217 W. Water Street, Elmira. Contact: Sunnie Smith (607) 703-9016.
On March 11, Reality Check Youth Leaders will travel around the Utica region and put cups in fences to raise tobacco cessation awareness. Time: 10 AM. Location: 112 Farrier Avenue, Suite 314, Oneida. Contact: Heather Bernet (315) 727-6296.
The Northpointe Council, Inc. Prevention Education program will collaborate with the Community Health Alliance of North Tonawanda and the North Tonawanda Youth Center to expose the danger of tobacco during a family-friendly game night. Time: 5 PM. Location: 35 Grant Street, North Tonawanda. Contact: Cheri Kelly (716) 909-3854.
Students at The Fashion Institute of Technology are taking a stand against tobacco and going tobacco-free for a day. They will provide key facts and prizes to their peers to build support for a tobacco-free campus. Time: 12 PM. Location: 227 W. 27th Street, New York City. Contact: Gabriella Potievsky (212) 217-4195.
Students at Sagamore Middle School will create a pledge wall with 1,000+ signatures to demonstrate their dedication to live tobacco-free. Informational tables in the school's lobby will provide incentives and literature to students and staff about how to maintain a tobacco-free lifestyle. Time: 11 AM. Location: 57 Division Street, Hotsville. Contact: Lori Hewlett (631) 834-1198.
Reality Check Students from Malone Middle School will facilitate a #NotAReplacement selfie activity and share with friends on social media to encourage their peers to say no to big tobacco. Time: 11 AM. Location: 15 Francis Street, Malone. Contact: Danielle O'Mara (518) 569-1397.
Manhasset Secondary School's Manhasset CASA Youth Committee Club will spearhead a "Teens as Teachers" initiative that will highlight the dangers of tobacco and e-cigarettes and the influence tobacco marketing has on teens. Time: 9 AM. Location: 200 Memorial Place, Manhasset. Contact: Cathy Samuels (516) 267-7548.
All events are on March 15 unless otherwise indicated. For a full list of Kick Butts Day activities in New York, 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