WASHINGTON, March 11, 2016 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- Kids in Virginia will stand up to Big Tobacco on March 16 as they join thousands of young people nationwide for 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 demand that tobacco companies stop marketing deadly products to them and encourage elected officials to help reduce youth tobacco use.
This year, Kick Butts Day is focusing attention on the outrageous marketing tactics tobacco companies still use to target youth. These tactics include:
- Splashy ads in magazines with large youth readership, such as Sports Illustrated, Glamour and Rolling Stone.
- Widespread advertising and price discounts in stores, which make tobacco products appealing and affordable to kids.
- Sweet-flavored tobacco products such as electronic cigarettes and small cigars that come in flavors like gummy bear, cotton candy, watermelon and fruit punch. While youth cigarette smoking has fallen to record lows, the most recent government survey shows that e-cigarette use among high school students tripled from 2013 to 2014 (from 4.5 percent to 13.4 percent).
Nationwide, tobacco companies spend $9.6 billion a year – over one million dollars every hour – to market tobacco products. In Virginia, tobacco companies spend $392.3 million annually on marketing efforts.
"On Kick Butts Day, kids stand up to the tobacco industry and all of us, especially our elected officials, should stand with them," said Matthew L. Myers, President of the Campaign for Tobacco-Free Kids. "We've made amazing progress in reducing youth smoking and can make the next generation tobacco-free. Elected officials in every state should help reach that goal by supporting proven strategies to prevent youth tobacco use, including higher tobacco taxes, strong smoke-free laws, prevention programs and raising the tobacco age to 21."
In Virginia, tobacco use claims 10,300 lives and costs $3.11 billion in health care bills each year. Currently, 11.1% percent of Virginia'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 Virginia, activities include:
On March 12, the Manassas Young Marines will host informational displays featuring the harms of tobacco, a "selfie" station for youth to declare they are not "replacement" smokers, and a flash mob at Manassas Mall. Time: 2 PM. Location: 8300 Sudley Road, Manassas. Contact: Noel Reck (409) 789-8341.
Students Against Destructive Decisions Club at Heritage High School in Newport News are taking a stand against tobacco. During the school's lunch periods, they will host activities to mimic smoking's effects on breathing, an anti-tobacco pledge signing, and a variety of visual displays. Time: 10:15 AM. Location: 5800 Marshall Avenue, Newport News. Contact: Jamie Plecker (757) 928-6100 Ext. 17146.
SAFE Tobacco and Nicotine Taskforce of Chesterfield are hosting a poster contest at the Thomas Fulghum Conference Center and awards ceremony for area youth who creatively display that they are not "replacement" smokers, and that tobacco marketing targets youth. Time: 5:30 PM. Location: 13900 Hull Street Road, Midlothian. Contact: Melissa Ackley (804) 706-2010.
Active duty and retired members of the US Coast Guard and their families who sign a pledge card committing to be tobacco-free will receive a coupon for the Yorktown Coast Guard Exchange (CGX). The signed pledge cards will be posted on a commitment wall inside the CGX store. Time: 10 AM. Location: U.S. Coast Guard Training Center, Yorktown, Building 46. Contact: Phyllis Rickard (757) 856-2153.
Students from Manchester High School in Midlothian will celebrate Kick Butts Day by displaying a banner and completing the statement, "In my lifetime…" with all they hope to accomplish. Beneath the student statements the banner will read, "My School Supports My Dreams by Being Tobacco-Free 24 Hours a Day, 7 Days a Week." Time: 10 AM. Location: 12601 Bailey Bridge Road, Midlothian. Contact: Nicky Besser 217-520-2801.
All events are on March 16 unless otherwise indicated. For a full list of Kick Butts Day activities in Virginia, visit www.kickbuttsday.org/map. Additional information about tobacco, including state-by-state statistics, can be found at www.tobaccofreekids.org.
SOURCE Campaign for Tobacco-Free Kids