WASHINGTON, March 18, 2014 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- Thousands of kids across America are taking a stand against tobacco on March 19 as part of the 19th annual Kick Butts Day. More than 1,400 events are planned across the nation. (See below for a sampling of events.)
Organized by the Campaign for Tobacco-Free Kids, Kick Butts Day is an annual celebration of youth leadership and activism in the fight against tobacco. On Kick Butts Day, youth will encourage their peers to stay tobacco-free and educate their communities about the tobacco industry's harmful marketing practices.
This year, Kick Butts Day comes as new information reaffirms the urgent need for action. The United States is marking the 50th anniversary of the first Surgeon General's Report on Smoking and Health, and a new Surgeon General's report found that smoking is even more hazardous than previously thought. Key findings of the report include:
- Each year, smoking kills 480,000 people in the U.S. and costs the nation at least $289 billion in health care bills and other economic losses.
- Without urgent action to reduce smoking, 5.6 million U.S. children alive today will die prematurely from smoking-caused disease.
- Tobacco marketing causes kids to start and continue using tobacco products.
Nationwide, tobacco companies spend $8.8 billion a year – one million dollars each hour – to market cigarettes and smokeless tobacco products. In particular, tobacco companies target youth with magazine ads, store ads and discounts, and fruit- and candy-flavored small cigars that look just like cigarettes.
"On Kick Butts Day, kids will stand up and reject Big Tobacco's manipulative marketing," said Matthew L. Myers, President of the Campaign for Tobacco-Free Kids. "Elected officials must stand with them by supporting proven measures to protect kids from tobacco addiction, including tobacco taxes, smoke-free laws and prevention programs. On the 50th anniversary of the first Surgeon General's report, we need bold action to create a tobacco-free generation and end the tobacco epidemic for good."
The U.S. has cut high school smoking rates by more than half since 1997, but 18.1 percent of high school students still smoke and more than 3,000 kids try their first cigarette each day.
On Kick Butts Day, kids take center stage in the fight against tobacco in new and creative ways. Notable events this year include:
- Youth from across Louisiana will rally at the State Capitol in Baton Rouge. The rally will feature mock stores that demonstrate how much tobacco advertising youth are exposed to on a daily basis and a photo booth that simulates tobacco's effect on appearance after 10 years of smoking.
- Hundreds of students in Boston, Massachusetts will participate in an anti-tobacco march from the Cathedral Church of Saint Paul to the Massachusetts State House.
- Kids in the Bronx, New York will host a swimming challenge to demonstrate the impact smoking has on lungs. The pool will be filled with giant, floating cigarette-shaped obstacles to simulate the impact that tobacco has on athletic performance.
- Kids in Providence, Rhode Island, will kick-off a "Zombie Walk" with a press conference at the State House, during which students will be transformed into zombies. Students will then walk, costumed as zombies, from the State House to Kennedy Plaza, speaking with people in the community about the harmful effects of tobacco use.
- Teens in Provo, Utah will to participate in an "I am not a Target" anti-tobacco television advertising contest, with winning videos showcased in a screening with a red carpet press event.
- Students in Houston, Texas will host an '80s-themed "Tobacco Has No Place Showcase" where they will demonstrate their tobacco-free hobbies through dance and instruments. A choreographed flash mob with a tobacco-free chant will serve as the event finale.
(Note: all events are on March 19 unless otherwise indicated.)
SOURCE Campaign for Tobacco-Free Kids