State Leaders Urged to Support Tobacco Prevention Initiatives
WASHINGTON, March 19, 2012 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- Kids in Kentucky will take center stage in the fight against tobacco on March 21 as they join thousands of young people nationwide for the 17th annual Kick Butts Day. More than 1,100 events are planned across the nation (for a list of local events see below).
Organized by the Campaign for Tobacco-Free Kids and sponsored by the United Health Foundation, Kick Butts Day is an annual celebration of youth leadership and activism in the fight against tobacco use. On Kick Butts Day, youth will encourage their peers to stay tobacco-free and educate their communities about the dangers of tobacco and the tobacco industry's harmful marketing practices.
This year, Kick Butts Day comes just after a new report by the U.S. Surgeon General found that while the nation has made tremendous progress in reducing youth smoking, youth tobacco use remains a "pediatric epidemic" that requires urgent action. The Surgeon General's report reached the following conclusions:
While the high school smoking rate has been cut nearly in half since the mid-1990s, more than 3.6 million middle and high school students still smoke.
In addition to long-term consequence such as cancer and heart disease, tobacco use immediately harms the health of youth and young adults. Smoking quickly causes nicotine addiction, cardiovascular damage, slower lung growth and shortness of breath.
Tobacco marketing causes kids to start and continue using tobacco products. Tobacco companies spend more than $10 billion a year – more than $1 million an hour – to advertise and promote their products.
Science and experience have identified proven strategies to reduce youth tobacco use. These include mass media campaigns, increasing the price of cigarettes through higher tobacco taxes, smoke-free policies and school and community prevention programs.
In Kentucky, health advocates are working to pass a comprehensive, statewide smoke-free law that applies to all workplaces, including restaurants and bars.
"Kids are sending two powerful messages on Kick Butts Day: They want the tobacco companies to stop targeting them, and they want elected leaders to protect them from tobacco," said Matthew L. Myers, President of the Campaign for Tobacco-Free Kids. "We know how to win the fight against tobacco. Elected officials across the nation should support these proven solutions, including higher tobacco taxes, strong smoke-free laws and well-funded tobacco prevention programs."
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. Nationally, 19.5 percent of high school students still smoke, and another 1,000 kids become regular smokers every day.
In Kentucky, tobacco use claims 7,800 lives and costs $1.5 billion in health care bills each year. Currently, 26.1 percent of the state's high school students smoke.
On Kick Butts Day, kids turn the tables on Big Tobacco with events that range from "They put WHAT in a cigarette?" demonstrations to health fairs to rallies at state capitols. Activities in Kentucky include (all events are on March 21 unless otherwise noted):
Students from Lee County High School in Beattyville will educate others about negative aspects of tobacco with activities including a flash mob, game show, pledge wall and community bonfire. At the bonfire, the county judge and the mayor will read a proclamation announcing March 21 as "Kick Butts Day." Time: 9 AM. Location: 509 Lee Avenue, Beattyville. Contact: Pam Cornelius (606) 464-5023.
Tates Creek High School's Teens Against Tobacco Use (TATU) group will debut a video that includes interviews from Tates Creek students, teachers, and audience members from TATU presentations addressing the reasons they do not smoke. Time: 7:30 AM. Location: 1111 Centre Parkway, Lexington. Contact: Mary Jo Geddes (859) 492-3404.
Students from Lafayette High School's Teens Against Tobacco Use (TATU) in Lexingtonwill host a Kick Butts Day Carnival for local elementary students, and present a broadcast PSA about the harmful effects of tobacco use. Time: 10 AM. Location: Clays Mill Elementary, 2319 Clays Mill Road, Lexington. Contact: Ashley Valerius (859) 486-7932.
The Louisville Metro Department of Public Health and Wellness and a collaboration of Kentucky cancer programs are joining forces for a "Cessation Celebration" of the Cooper Clayton Stop Smoking Program in Louisville. Dr. Donald Miller, director of the James Graham Brown Cancer Center, and Dr. LaQuandra Nesbitt, director of the Department of Public Health and Wellness, will congratulate graduates of the program and share video testimonials. Time: 6 PM. Location: Papa John's Stadium Media Room, 2800 S. Floyd Street, Louisville. Contact: Ellie Schweizer (502) 574-6541.
About the Campaign for Tobacco-Free Kids The Campaign for Tobacco-Free Kids is a leading force in the fight to reduce tobacco use and its deadly toll in the United States and around the world. Our vision is a future free of the death and disease caused by tobacco. We work to prevent kids from smoking, help smokers quit and protect everyone from secondhand smoke. For more information, visit www.tobaccofreekids.org.