WASHINGTON, March 10, 2017 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- Kids in West Virginia 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 West Virginia, tobacco companies spend $122.9 million annually on marketing efforts.
"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 West Virginia, tobacco use claims 4,300 lives and costs $1.00 billion in health care bills each year. Currently, 18.8 percent of West Virginia's high school students smoke, the highest high school smoking rate in the United States.
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 West Virginia, activities include:
Members of Students Against Destructive Decisions (SADD) and RAZE from four Mercer County high schools will partner with the Mercer County Commission and Community Connections to hold an anti-tobacco rally to promote a cleaner Mercer County. Time: 1 PM. Location: Mercer County Court House, 1501 W. Main Street, Princeton. Contact: Angie Willoughby (304)-323-8568.
Students Against Destructive Decisions (SADD) members will "Chalk the Walk" in the area leading up to the front doors of Nicholas County High School. These visual messages will bring attention to the toll of tobacco and tobacco industry's marketing tactics to all who enter and exit the building. Time: 7:15 AM. Location: Nicholas County High School, 30 Grizzly Road, Summersville. Contact: Kim Major (304) 883-3900.
Students Against Destructive Decisions (SADD) and Raze will host a week-long event at Buffalo High School with booths and performances demonstrating the dangers of tobacco. Themed activities include: "Not a Replacement," "Airing Out Big Tobacco's Dirty Laundry," and "Walking Tobacco Audit." Time: 11:15 AM. Location: Buffalo High School, 3680 Buffalo Road, Buffalo. Contact: Addison Crum (304) 807-1383.
All events are on March 15 unless otherwise indicated. For a full list of Kick Butts Day activities in West Virginia, 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