State Leaders Urged to Support Tobacco Prevention Initiatives
WASHINGTON, March 15, 2013 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- Kids in Tennessee will stand up against tobacco on March 20 as they join thousands of young people nationwide for the 18th annual Kick Butts Day. More than 1,200 events are planned across the United States. (See below for a list of local events.)
Organized by the Campaign for Tobacco-Free Kids and sponsored by United Health Foundation, Kick Butts Day is an annual celebration of youth leadership and activism in the fight against tobacco use. On Kick Butts Day, youth will encourage their peers to stay tobacco-free. They will also educate their communities about the dangers of tobacco and the tobacco industry's harmful marketing practices.
This year on Kick Butts Day, the Campaign for Tobacco-Free Kids is highlighting the tobacco industry's products and marketing that entice kids to use tobacco. According to the Federal Trade Commission, tobacco companies spend $8.5 billion a year – nearly $1 million each hour – to market cigarettes and smokeless tobacco products. This marketing has an impact on kids:
- While the U.S. has greatly reduced youth smoking, 18.1 percent of high school students still smoke, and nearly 1,000 kids become regular smokers each day. Among youth smokers, 86 percent prefer Marlboro, Newport and Camel, which are the three most heavily advertised cigarette brands, according to the government's National Survey on Drug Use and Health.
- Tobacco companies have also introduced new products that appeal to kids, including cheap, sweet, colorfully-packaged small cigars that look just like cigarettes. Many cigars come in fruit and candy flavors such as strawberry, vanilla, peach and apple.
- In a 2012 report, the U.S. Surgeon General concluded that tobacco marketing causes kids to start and continue using tobacco products.
"On Kick Butts Day, kids will stand up and reject Big Tobacco's manipulative marketing," said Matthew L. Myers, President of the Campaign for Tobacco-Free Kids. "It's also a chance for elected leaders to commit to protecting kids from tobacco through policies such as tobacco taxes, smoke-free laws and prevention programs. We hope that legislators will listen to their young constituents and implement these proven solutions to reduce tobacco use and save lives."
Tobacco use is the number one cause of preventable death in the United States, killing more than 400,000 people and costing $96 billion in health care bills each year.
In Tennessee, tobacco use claims 9,700 lives and costs $2.16 billion in health care bills each year. Currently, 21.6 percent of the state's high school students smoke.
On Kick Butts Day, kids turn the tables on Big Tobacco with events that range from "They put WHAT in a cigarette!?" demonstrations to health fairs to rallies at state capitols. Activities in Tennessee include:
- On March 18, area youth will take part in a tobacco health fair put on by Tennessee State University at the local YMCA in Jackson. The health fair will be open to the public and will focus on tobacco prevention and the dangerous effects of tobacco. Time: 3 PM. Location: 1515 Campbell Street, Jackson. Contact: Kane Reeves (731) 668-8543.
- On March 20, members of Positive Peer Pressure at Harriman Middle School will conduct mini-workshops to alert their peers to the dangers of tobacco use and its negative effects. The students will also have the chance to sign a pledge to stay tobacco free. Time: 11 AM. Location: 1025 Cumberland Street, Harriman. Contact: Kris Hontz (865) 224-0342.
- On March 21, local youth of Scott County are taking a stand against tobacco. The Boys and Girls Clubs of Cumberland Plateau, the Scott County Health Department, the Oneida City School System and the STAND Program will host an anti-tobacco rally open to the public about the dangers of smoking. Time: 5 PM. Location: 17025 Alberta Street, Oneida. Contact: Hank Hill (423) 286-9500.
For a full list of Kick Butts Day events in Tennessee, visit http://www.kickbuttsday.org/events. Additional information about tobacco, including state-by-state statistics, can be found at www.tobaccofreekids.org.
Frank Walsh, 202-745-5110
Catherine Butsch, 202-296-5469
SOURCE Campaign for Tobacco-Free Kids