WASHINGTON, March 13, 2014 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ --Kids in Washington state will stand up against tobacco on March 19 as they join thousands of young people nationwide for the 19th annual Kick Butts Day. More than 1,400 events are planned across the nation. (See below for a list of local events.)
Organized by the Campaign for Tobacco-Free Kids, Kick Butts Day is an annual celebration of youth leadership and activism in the fight against tobacco. On Kick Butts Day, youth will encourage their peers to stay tobacco-free and educate their communities about the tobacco industry's harmful marketing practices.
This year, Kick Butts Day comes as new information reaffirms the urgent need for action. The United States is marking the 50th anniversary of the first Surgeon General's Report on Smoking and Health, and a new Surgeon General's report released in January found that smoking is even more hazardous than previously thought. Key findings of the report include:
- Each year, smoking kills 480,000 people in the U.S. and costs the nation at least $289 billion in health care bills and other economic losses.
- Without urgent action to reduce smoking, 5.6 million U.S. children alive today will die prematurely from smoking-caused disease. That includes 104,000 children in Washington alone.
- Tobacco marketing causes kids to start and continue using tobacco products.
Nationwide, tobacco companies spend $8.8 billion a year – one million dollars each hour – to market cigarettes and smokeless tobacco products. In particular, tobacco companies target youth with magazine ads, store ads and discounts, and fruit- and candy-flavored small cigars that look just like cigarettes.
"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. "Elected officials must stand with them by supporting proven measures to protect kids from tobacco addiction, including tobacco taxes, smoke-free laws and prevention programs. On the 50th anniversary of the first Surgeon General's report, we need bold action to create a tobacco-free generation and end the tobacco epidemic for good."
In Washington alone, tobacco use claims 7,300 lives and costs $2.81 billion in health care bills each year. Currently, 9.5 percent of the state's high school students smoke.
On Kick Butts Day, kids turn the tables on Big Tobacco in creative ways, with events that range from small classroom activities about the harmful ingredients in cigarettes to large rallies at state capitols.
Activities in Washington include:
On March 18, youth will gather at Tacoma City Hall in Tacoma to celebrate the signing of a proclamation recognizing Kick Butts Day by the Mayor and City Council. Time: 5 PM. Location: 747 Market Street, Tacoma. Contact: Carmetrus Parker (253) 224-5894.
March 19 - Students from Clover Creek Elementary in Tacoma will conduct a surprise flash mob during lunch, stomping to a song called "Stomp Out Tobacco." Following the mob, students will march around the lunchroom with posters depicting the number of people who will have died during their lunch time from tobacco-related diseases. Time: 12:45 PM. Location: 16715 36th Avenue E., Tacoma. Contact: Patty Little (253) 720-9063.
Forks Middle School Prevention Club in Forks will host a scavenger hunt for students March 19 and display tombstones containing facts about the deadly effects of tobacco use. Time: 12 PM. Location: 121 S. Spartan Avenue, Forks. Contact: Sandy Heinrich (360) 374-6262 ext. 256.
Students from Shelton High and Junior High Schools in Shelton will host a variety of anti-tobacco activities for Kick Butts Day March 19 culminating in a rally at the skate park off of the junior high campus. Time: 2:30 PM. Location: 3301 N. Shelton Springs Road, Shelton. Contact: Gerald Apple (360) 480-5330.
Students at Concrete Middle and High Schools in Concrete will "Air Out Big Tobacco's Dirty Laundry" on Kick Butts Day March 19, presenting tobacco company quotes on t-shirts which will be hung in the lunch room and hallways. Time: 12 PM. Location: 45389 Airport Way, Concrete, Concrete. Contact: Chris Kennedy (360) 399-6471.
For a full list of Kick Butts Day events in Washington, visit http://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