WASHINGTON, March 10, 2017 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- Kids in Washington 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 Washington, tobacco companies spend $88.4 million annually on marketing efforts.
In Washington, health advocates are urging legislators to increase the tobacco sale age to 21, a move that will reduce tobacco use and save lives.
"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 Washington, tobacco use claims 8,300 lives and costs $2.81 billion in health care bills each year. Currently, 7.9 percent of Washington'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 Washington, activities include:
On March 14, elementary school students at Clover Creek Elementary in Tacoma will spell out "Stomp Out Tobacco" by placing cups in a fence, hold an anti-tobacco flash mob during lunch, and share statistics about the adverse effects of tobacco use. Time: 12:45 PM. Location: 16715 35th Avenue E., Tacoma. Contact: Patty Little (253) 720-9063.
Students from Mt. Solo Middle School and Cowlitz County Prevention Squad will educate their peers about the dangers tobacco use by drawing chalk body outlines with tobacco facts and statistics. Time: 10:30 AM. Location: 5300 Mt Solo Road, Longview. Contact: Theresa Misner (360) 751-9078.
Students with the Sadie Halstead Middle School SADD Club will paint tobacco statistics on their face will relay the facts to their peers when asked what the numbers mean. Time: 7:30 AM. Location: 331 S. Calispel Avenue, Newport. Contact: Sarah Theal (509) 447-2426 ext. 2504.
Students from Oakland Bay Junior High School in Shelton will sign a pledge wall to be the first tobacco-free generation, which will be on display in the school commons. Time: 11 AM. Location: 3301 North Shelton Springs Road, Shelton. Contact: Gerald Apple (360) 480-5330.
All events are on March 15 unless otherwise indicated. For a full list of Kick Butts Day activities in Washington, 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