State Leaders Urged to Support Tobacco Prevention Initiatives
WASHINGTON, March 15, 2013 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ --Kids in Virginia 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 Virginia, tobacco use claims 9,200 lives and costs $2.08 billion in health care bills each year. Currently, 13 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 Virginia include:
- Y Street, the Substance Abuse Prevention Coalition of Alexandria and the Alexandria Coalition for Clean and Smoke-Free Air will partner to hold a press conference with Mayor Euille, members of the Alexandria City Council, and students from T.C. Williams High School to reaffirm the lawmakers' commitment to clean air. Local students will visit convenience stores and gas stations to observe and record information about tobacco marketing. Time: 3:30 PM. Location: T.C. Williams High School, 3330 King Street, Alexandria. Contact: Jack Hendrickson (414) 614-9349.
- Centra Health will hold a "Kick It, Don't Flick It" rally and cigarette butt cleanup in downtown Lynchburg. Local students, businesses and civic organizations will hear Jeremy Hardison, MD, and David Truitt, MD, discuss the health effects of smoking and Thomas Shahady, PhD, speak about the environmental impact of discarded cigarette butts. Time: 1 PM. Location: Riverfront, Jefferson Street, Lynchburg. Contact: Cheryl Burnette (434) 610-0614.
- Heritage High School students in Newport News will learn about cigarette ingredients and tobacco mortality rates through engaging displays during lunch periods. Students will also sign pledges to live tobacco-free lives or to quit smoking. Time: 10 AM. Location: 5800 Marshall Avenue, Newport News. Contact: Jamie Plecker (540) 968-1509.
- Students at Signal Knob Middle School in Strasburg will participate in a variety of activities as part of Kick Butts Week, an anti-tobacco campaign. Activities include hearing announcements with tobacco-related facts, making anti-tobacco posters for the hallways, dressing up in support of tobacco cessation, and learning about tobacco from experts from the Shenandoah County Family Youth Initiative. Time: 10:40 AM. Location: 687 Sandy Hook Road, Strasburg. Contact: Rebekah Ady (540) 969-7209 ext. 3036.
For a full list of Kick Butts Day events in Virginia, visit http://www.kickbuttsday.org/events. Additional information about tobacco, including state-by-state statistics, can be found at www.tobaccofreekids.org.
CONTACTS: Brianna Gavio, 202-745-5064
Catherine Butsch, 202-296-5469
SOURCE Campaign for Tobacco-Free Kids