State Leaders Urged to Support Higher Tobacco Taxes, Other Tobacco Prevention Initiatives
WASHINGTON, March 21, 2011 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- Kids in Alabama will take center stage in the fight against tobacco on March 23 as they join thousands of young people nationwide for the 16th annual Kick Butts Day. Hundreds of events are planned across the nation (for a list of local events see below).
Sponsored by the Campaign for Tobacco-Free Kids, Kick Butts Day is an annual celebration of youth leadership and activism in the fight against tobacco use. Kids are sending two powerful messages on Kick Butts Day: They want the tobacco companies to stop targeting them with marketing for cigarettes and other tobacco products, and they want elected leaders to do more to protect them from tobacco.
The Campaign for Tobacco-Free Kids and other public health advocates are calling on elected officials to support proven measures to reduce tobacco use and its devastating toll. As states struggle with budget deficits, legislators should increase tobacco taxes both to prevent kids from smoking and to raise revenue to balance budgets and fund critical programs. States should also enact smoke-free air laws that apply to all workplaces and public places and implement well-funded tobacco prevention and cessation programs.
"On Kick Butts Day, kids are standing up to the tobacco companies, and elected officials should stand with them by supporting proven tobacco prevention measures," said Matthew L. Myers, President of the Campaign for Tobacco-Free Kids. "We know what works to reduce smoking and other tobacco use. Every state should implement these proven solutions, including higher tobacco taxes, well-funded tobacco prevention programs and smoke-free air laws."
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. While the nation has made significant progress in reducing youth smoking, 19.5 percent of high school students still smoke.
In Alabama, tobacco use claims 7,500 lives and costs $1.49 billion in health care bills each year. Currently, 20.8 percent of the state's high school students smoke, and 39,700 kids try cigarettes for the first time each year.
On Kick Butts Day, kids turn the tables on Big Tobacco with events that range from "They put WHAT in a cigarette?" demonstrations to carnivals to rallies at state capitols. Activities in Alabama include (all events are on March 23 unless otherwise noted):
Students from the Dothan-Houston County Substance Abuse Partnership Youth Council in Dothan will display 820 small crosses to represent the 820 people who die from exposure to deadly secondhand smoke in Alabama. Time: 3:30 PM. Location: 355 N. Oates Street, Dothan. Contact: Judy Guiler (334) 701-0545.
The School of Health Professionals and the Respiratory Therapy Student Association at the University of Alabama at Birmingham will commit to be tobacco-free and encourage peers and loved ones to quit smoking by constructing and signing a pledge wall. Time: 10 AM. Location: 1705 University Boulevard, Birmingham. Contact: Jerry King (205) 903-0702.
Calhoun County students at White Plains Middle School, Saks Middle Schooland Wellborn Elementary School in Anniston, and Weaver Elementary School in Weaver will encourage peers and loved ones to quit smoking through a letter writing contest. Contest winners will be recognized for their powerful messages against tobacco. Location: White Plains Middle School, Saks Middle School, and Wellborn Elementary School in Anniston, and Weaver Elementary School in Weaver. Contact: Jessica Breazeale (601) 757-7811.
Teens Empowerment Awareness with ResolutionS, Inc. (TEARS, Inc.) will host kickball games with students from Phenix City Intermediate School in Phenix City to demonstrate the toll smoking has on playing sports. Time: 8:20 AM. Location: 2401 S. Railroad Street, Phenix City. Contact: Kasey Marin (334) 291-6363.