WASHINGTON, March 10, 2017 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- Kids in Georgia 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 Georgia, tobacco companies spend $332.9 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 Georgia, tobacco use claims 11,700 lives and costs $3.18 billion in health care bills each year. Currently, 12.8 percent of Georgia'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 Georgia, activities include:
On March 13, the Southwest Georgia Public Health District will host an anti-tobacco rally at the Jane Wilson Boys and Girls Club in Albany. Guest speakers include representatives from the Greater Atlanta Voice Masters' laryngectomee group. Time: 6 PM. Location: Boys and Girls Club of Albany, 1012 Holloway Avenue, Albany. Contact: Ebonee Kirkwood (229) 669-8278.
Members of the H.E.A.R.T. (Health, Education, Awareness, and Research on Tobacco) Coalition and students at Atlanta Public Schools will create a graffiti wall with positive messages about living tobacco-free lifestyles, and promote tobacco prevention education. Time: 1 – 2:30 PM. Location: New Schools at Carver, 55 McDonough Boulevard S.E., Atlanta. Contact: Ryan Burke (478) 957-2785.
On March 30, community health workers and the Tri-Cities Atlanta Regional Collaborative for Health Improvement (ARCHI) will host a 'Fresh Empire'-inspired talent show at Tri-Cities High School in East Point featuring students and local artists. The show will highlight facts about the risks of smoking, the truth about tobacco companies' marketing to youth, as well as resources and information on quitting. Time: 2:45 – 3:45. Location: Tri-Cities High School, 2575 Harris Street, East Point. Contact: Patrice Barlow (202) 294-7100.
All events are on March 15 unless otherwise indicated. For a full list of Kick Butts Day activities in Georgia, visit www.kickbuttsday.org/map. Additional information about tobacco, including state-by-state statistics, can be found at www.tobaccofreekids.org.