PHOENIX, March 18, 2013 /PRNewswire/ -- Arizona high school students plan to raise awareness about tobacco use in their communities, encourage others to reject the tobacco industry's deceptive messages and urge local leaders to protect kids from being recruited as a new generation of smokers. As members of STAND (Students Taking A New Direction), a statewide anti-tobacco youth coalition, these young people know that every year more than 500,000 people die from tobacco use. As such, their message is urgent and their demonstration will be memorable.
On March 20, students will stand up for the hundreds of thousands lives lost to tobacco every year by wearing black t-shirts with a clear-cut message to the public. And because a life is lost every 12 seconds, they will partake in "stop and drop" demonstrations whereby students will collapse to the ground in commemoration of a lost life.
The "stop and drops" are a part of events at local city government offices and other high-traffic public places. Some teens will carry 6-foot pledge walls signed by fellow students, friends and family members committing to stop tobacco use, never start tobacco use or help someone else to quit. A listing of "stop and drop" demonstrations scheduled across the state can be found on the STAND website. Teens from the following Arizona communities supported the effort, Cottonwood, Douglas, Fredonia, Flagstaff, Globe, Guadalupe, Kingman, Lake Havasu City, Nogales, Parker, Phoenix, Safford, Tucson, San Luis and Yuma.
"We want people to know the real impact of smoking and using other forms of tobacco," said 16-year-old Arizona Collegiate High School student, Alex Molina. "In Arizona alone, nearly 7,000 people each year die from causes related to their own smoking."
Based on data from the Centers for Disease Control, the Campaign for Tobacco-Free Kids reports that:
- 17.4 percent of Arizona high school students smoke
- 6,000 Arizona kids under 18 become new daily smokers each year
- 227,000 Arizona kids are exposed to second-hand smoke at home
- 10.4 percent of male high school students use smokeless or spit tobacco
Kick Butts Day participants are members of STAND, Students Taking a New Direction, a statewide coalition of students ages 13-18 who work to not only raise awareness about the dangers of tobacco use, but urge elected officials at all levels of government to treat cigarettes as hazardous materials - including creating regulations for storage, transport, sale and disposal. www.standaz.com
Kick Butts Day is organized nationally by the Campaign for Tobacco-Free Kids and sponsored by the United Health Foundation. In Arizona, it is supported by the Arizona Department of Health Services Bureau of Tobacco & Chronic Disease. The first Kick Butts Day was held in 1996. www.kickbuttsday.org
SOURCE Arizona Department of Health Services