WASHINGTON, March 10, 2017 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- Kids in North Carolina 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 North Carolina, tobacco companies spend $379.9 million annually on marketing efforts.
"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 North Carolina, tobacco use claims 14,200 lives and costs $3.81 billion in health care bills each year. Currently, 13.1 percent of North Carolina'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 North Carolina, activities include:
Volunteers from Relay For Life will encourage students at NC State University in Raleigh to quit tobacco "cold turkey" as they trade turkey sandwiches for packs of cigarettes. Participants will also sign an anti-tobacco petition. Time: 9:30 AM. Location: Wolf Plaza, 2610 Cates Avenue, Raleigh. Contact: Kayla Klinc (919) 570-4935.
Students at Riverside Middle School in Williamston will compete in an anti-tobacco quiz competition, build memorials representing tobacco-based deaths in North Carolina, and learn from Martin County Health Department staff. Time: 8 AM. Location: 2920 US-17, Williamston. Contact: Ron Byrd (252) 792-1111.
Youth and families in Bessemer City will meet with Tobacco Free Gaston at Downtown Centennial Park to celebrate the city's successful tobacco ban in public places with games, a photobooth, raffles, a remembrance wall and much more. Time: 4:30 PM. Location: West Virginia Avenue, Bessemer City. Contact: Alexa Hodge (704) 862-5341.
Students across Forsyth County will meet at the Winston-Salem Fairgrounds Education Building for a family-friendly event to culminate weeks of tobacco prevention efforts. In partnership with Insight Human Services, United Way, Forsyth County Health Department, the YMCA, and local businesses, student teams will participate in an anti-tobacco Olympics. Winners will be crowned with a championship belt and trophy. Time: 4 PM. Location: 421 27th Street N.W., Winston-Salem. Contact: Terri Moy (336) 705-9019.
Youth members of the Project Lazarus Wilkes Youth Coalition in North Wilkesboro will host a town hall meeting at the Wilkes County Schools boardroom to raise awareness about the dangers of tobacco, including a photo voice project featuring contributions from local middle and high school students. Time: 5 PM. Location: 613 Cherry Street, North Wilkesboro. Contact: Cindi Blackburn (336) 667-8100.
Bands Against Destructive Decisions (BADD) will engage students across Durham in anti-tobacco activities such as videos, poster-making, and pledges to live tobacco-free. Time: 9 AM. Location: Hillside High School, 3727 Fayetteville Street, Durham. Contact: Juston Hill (919) 560-3925.
Piedmont Community College is hosting a tobacco-free health fair in conjunction with the American Cancer Society and the College Campus Initiative at both campus locations. This event will provide students with information on how to lead a healthy life through healthy habits. Time: 9 AM. Locations: Person County Campus: 1715 College Drive, Roxboro. Contact: Dawn Oakley (336) 322-2219.
All events are on March 15 unless otherwise indicated. For a full list of Kick Butts Day activities in North Carolina, 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