State Leaders Urged to Support Higher Tobacco Taxes, Other Tobacco Prevention Initiatives
WASHINGTON, March 21, 2011 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- Kids in Kentucky 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 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, and 24,400 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 Kentucky include (all events are on March 23 unless otherwise noted):
In Louisville, thirteen Jefferson County Public Schools will participate in 30-minute presentations on the dangerous chemicals found in tobacco. Representatives from the Louisville Metro Public Health & Wellness Tobacco Prevention & Cessation Program and a program specialist from the Health Promotion Schools of Excellence will also give presentations. Time: 8 AM. Location: 546 S. First Street, Room 311, Louisville. Contact: Stefanie Bramer (502) 271-7855.
Students in the Champions Against Drugs Club at Cumberland County High School will set up a display table in the lunch room with information on the dangers of smoking. Time: 8 AM. Location: 912 N. Main Street, Burkesville. Contact: Karen Henson (270) 549-2240.
Students at Iroquois High School in Louisville will partner up on Kick Butts Day to collect as many cigarette butts as possible in one hour. The Louisville Health and Wellness Department will donate gloves and paper bags for students to use for the clean-up. Prizes will be awarded to students who collect the most butts. Time: 2:30 PM. Location: 4615 Taylor Boulevard, Louisville. Contact: Tomy Molloy (502) 345-9227.
Students, teachers and administrators at the Lyon County High School in Eddyville will sign a pledge banner during lunch periods to commit to being tobacco-free. The banner will be hung in the high school for all to see. Time: 10:30 AM. Location: 201 Fairlawn Ave, Eddyville. Contact: Dave Baxter (270) 625-6517.
On March 24, members of the "RISE" Youth Team will take it to the streets in Springfield and host a "Kick Butts, Kick the Habit" carnival event. Youth will showcase their handmade wooden cigarette, post Kick Butts Day posters throughout their schools and conduct various public service announcements. Time: 3 PM. Location: 805 Bardstown Road, Springfield. Contact: Wilma Sorrell (502) 507-5478.
Note to the media: For a list of Kick Butts Day events in Kentucky, visit www.kickbuttsday.org/events. Additional information about tobacco, including state-by-state statistics, can be found at www.tobaccofreekids.org.
Kristin Brown, 202-745-5117
Ashley Rockhold, 202-296-5469
SOURCE Campaign for Tobacco-Free Kids