State Leaders Urged to Support Higher Tobacco Taxes, Other Tobacco Prevention Initiatives
WASHINGTON, March 21, 2011 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- Kids in Connecticut 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 Connecticut, tobacco use claims 4,700 lives and costs $1.63 billion in health care bills each year. Currently, 15.3 percent of the state's high school students smoke, and 17,300 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 Connecticut include (all events are on March 23 unless otherwise noted):
At Middlesex Middle School in Darien, the Depot Teen Center will expose the truth about the hazardous chemicals in cigarettes when they display household products that contain the same dangerous chemicals as cigarettes, such as ammonia and arsenic. Time: 10 a.m. Location: 204 Hollow Tree Ridge Road, Darien. Contact: Janice Marzano (203) 655-0812.
Students from Shelton Intermediate School in Shelton will illustrative the dangers of tobacco use in 10-foot long wall posters throughout the school. Each poster will be judged by Mayor Mark Lauretti, State Representative Jason Perill, Director of Youth Service Bureau Julie Penry and Valley Substance Abuse Council Lorrie Driscoll. Time: 1 p.m. Location: 675 Constitution Boulevard, Shelton. Contact: Sally Schwaller (203) 339-1817.
Youth from the Montville Youth Service Bureau afterschool program in Uncasville will learn about the dangers of tobacco use through educational activities, displays and posters. Time: 3 p.m. Location: 289 Norwich New London Turnpike, Uncasville. Contact: Kimberly Grant (860) 908-8638.
Connecticut Department of Public Health Tobacco Use, Prevention and Cessation Program is working with Groton Public Schools in Groton to designate five Kick Butts Day stations throughout the city where students can learn more about the dangers of tobacco use through fun interactive activities. Time: 4 p.m. Location: Flanders Road, Groton. Contact: Martha Reynolds (860) 287-4695.
DePaolo Peer Advocates from DePaolo Middle School in Southington will write and display powerful messages about Big Tobacco's lies and manipulation on an anti-tobacco graffiti wall. Time: 2:30 p.m. Location: 385 Pleasant Street, Southington. Contact: Trish Kenefick (860) 778-6639.
Note to the media: For a list of Kick Butts Day events in Connecticut, visit www.kickbuttsday.org/events. Additional information about tobacco, including state-by-state statistics, can be found at www.tobaccofreekids.org.
Tamara Moore, 202-745-5114
Ashley Rockhold, 202-296-5469
SOURCE Campaign for Tobacco-Free Kids