WASHINGTON, March 13, 2015 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- Kids in Alabama will stand up to Big Tobacco on March 18 as they join thousands of young people nationwide for the 20th annual Kick Butts Day. More than 1,000 events are planned nationwide for this 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 stay tobacco-free, demand that tobacco companies stop marketing deadly, addictive products to them and encourage elected officials to do more to reduce youth tobacco use.
This year, Kick Butts Day is focusing attention on how the tobacco industry still spends huge sums on marketing and is adopting new strategies to reach young customers. Nationwide, tobacco companies spend $8.8 billion a year – one million dollars every hour – to market tobacco products. In Alabama, tobacco companies spend $196.9 million annually on marketing efforts. The industry's tactics that entice kids include:
- Splashy ads in magazines with large youth readership, such as Sports Illustrated, ESPN the Magazine and Rolling Stone.
- Widespread advertising and price discounts in stores, which make tobacco products appealing and affordable to kids.
- New, sweet-flavored tobacco products such as small cigars and electronic cigarettes. The latest surveys show that youth use of e-cigarettes has skyrocketed.
In addition to organizing events, kids are standing up to the tobacco industry on social media through the #NotAReplacement selfie campaign. The tobacco industry's own documents reveal that they have long targeted kids as "replacement smokers" for the more than 480,000 people their products kill each year in the United States. Kids are taking selfies to say they're not a replacement and sharing the photos on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram with the #NotAReplacement hashtag. (view the #NotAReplacement selfie gallery)
"On Kick Butts Day, kids stand up and reject Big Tobacco's manipulative marketing," said Matthew L. Myers, President of the Campaign for Tobacco-Free Kids. "We can make the next generation tobacco-free and end the tobacco epidemic for good. Elected officials can help reach that goal by standing with kids and supporting proven strategies to prevent youth tobacco use, including higher tobacco taxes, strong smoke-free laws and prevention programs."
In Alabama, tobacco use claims 8,600 lives and costs $1.88 billion in health care bills each year. Currently, 18 percent of Alabama's high school students smoke.
On Kick Butts Day, kids engage in creative events that range from small classroom activities about the harmful ingredients in cigarettes to large rallies at state capitols.
In Alabama, activities include:
Respiratory therapy students from the University of Alabama at Birmingham will present information about smoking prevention and cessation to students at Gardendale Elementary School. Time: 8:30 AM. Location: 890 Bauers Lane, Gardendale. Contact: Jerry King (205) 903-0702.
The Lauderdale County Health Department is hosting an interactive symposium for social workers, teachers and nurses. Individuals affected by smoking, as well as representatives from the American Lung Association and the U.S. Food and Drug Administration will speak about tobacco's effects and marketing tactics. Time: 9 AM. Location: 4122 Chisholm Road, Florence. Contact: Melanie Dickens (256) 740-1626.
Students from the Dothan Houston County Substance Abuse Partnership will participate in the #NotAReplacement social media campaign throughout the day. Time: 12 PM. Location: 335 N. Oates Street, Suite 4, Dothan. Contact: Judy Guiler (334) 699-2813.
On March 19, students at the Theo Ratliff Activity Center in Demopolis will participate in a #NotAReplacement run where they will wear "I Am Not A Replacement" signs on their shirts as runners' bibs. Time: 4 PM. Location: 306 1st Avenue, Demopolis. Contact: Niko Phillips (334) 877-2876.
All events are on March 18 unless otherwise indicated. For a full list of Kick Butts Day activities in Alabama, visit 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