Florida Kids to 'Kick Butts' on March 16

State Leaders Urged to Make the Next Generation Tobacco-Free

Mar 11, 2016, 09:00 ET from Campaign for Tobacco-Free Kids

WASHINGTON, March 11, 2016 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- Kids in Florida will stand up to Big Tobacco on March 16 as they join thousands of young people nationwide for 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 demand that tobacco companies stop marketing deadly products to them and encourage elected officials to help reduce youth tobacco use.

This year, Kick Butts Day is focusing attention on the outrageous marketing tactics tobacco companies still use to target youth. These tactics include:

  • Splashy ads in magazines with large youth readership, such as Sports Illustrated, Glamour and Rolling Stone.
  • Widespread advertising and price discounts in stores, which make tobacco products appealing and affordable to kids.
  • Sweet-flavored tobacco products such as electronic cigarettes and small cigars that come in flavors like gummy bear, cotton candy, watermelon and fruit punch. While youth cigarette smoking has fallen to record lows, the most recent government survey shows that e-cigarette use among high school students tripled from 2013 to 2014 (from 4.5 percent to 13.4 percent).

Nationwide, tobacco companies spend $9.6 billion a year – over one million dollars every hour – to market tobacco products. In Florida, tobacco companies spend $585.8 million annually on marketing efforts.

"On Kick Butts Day, kids stand up to the tobacco industry and all of us, especially our elected officials, should stand with them," said Matthew L. Myers, President of the Campaign for Tobacco-Free Kids. "We've made amazing progress in reducing youth smoking and can make the next generation tobacco-free. Elected officials in every state should help reach that goal by supporting proven strategies to prevent youth tobacco use, including higher tobacco taxes, strong smoke-free laws, prevention programs and raising the tobacco age to 21."

In Florida, tobacco use claims 32,300 lives and costs $8.64 billion in health care bills each year. Currently, 6.9 percent of Florida's high school students smoke.

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 Florida, activities include:

Students from Northwest Florida State College in Niceville will take a stand against tobacco. The Florida Department of Health in Okaloosa County, West Florida Area Health Education Center, and the Student Government Association will host an anti-tobacco rally to educate students and faculty about the dangers of smoking and how to quit. Time: 11 AM. Location: 100 College Boulevard, Niceville. Contact: Ryan Mims (850) 420-2198.

Students from the Franklin County Students Working Against Tobacco in Eastpoint will educate residents about the dangers of tobacco. They will place gravestones on either side of the school's driveway to represent the country residents that died from tobacco related diseases between 2014 and 2016. Time: 1:30 PM. Location: 1250 East Highway 98, Eastpoint. Contact: Dolores Hayward-Croom (850) 653-5943.

In an effort to beautify a beloved park and spread a message against Big Tobacco, students from Sanderlin IB World School SWAT Program, in conjunction with the Pinellas County Health Department in St. Petersburg will work together to clean up cigarette butts in Del Holmes Park. Time: 3 PM. Location: 2741 22nd Street South, St. Petersburg. Contact: Lilia Cagle (727) 688-8185.

Students from SWAT Youth at Marathon High School in Marathon will participate in a Where is My Yeti? Scavenger hunt with anti-tobacco messages. Breaking news live updates will play every day on Dolphin TV to educate students about Big Tobacco's lies. Time: 11 AM. Location: 350 Sombrero Beach Road, Marathon. Contact: Sharon Helms (305) 731-3791.

On March 26, students across Santa Rosa County will team-up to kick butts. Students Working Against Tobacco will host a county-wide kickball tournament for all Santa Rosa County SWAT members. Time: 11 AM. Location 5445 King Arthur's Way, Milton. Contact: Gina Rosso (850) 983-5200 Ext. 310.

All events are on March 16 unless otherwise indicated. For a full list of Kick Butts Day activities in Florida, 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