State Leaders Urged to Support Higher Tobacco Taxes, Other Tobacco Prevention Initiatives
WASHINGTON, March 21, 2011 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- Kids in Louisiana 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 Louisiana, tobacco use claims 6,500 lives and costs $1.47 billion in health care bills each year. Currently, 19.4 percent of the state's high school students smoke, and 24,800 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 Louisiana include (all events are on March 23 unless otherwise noted):
The after school program at Start Corporation will set up an educational display at Southland Shopping Mall in Houma with a memorial wall to commemorate those in Louisiana who have died as a result of tobacco and tobacco-related illnesses. Time: 6 PM. Location: 5953 West Park Avenue, Houma. Contact: Mary Russo (985) 870-5338.
Students at Oberlin High School in Oberlin will be able to sign a graffiti wall as a show of solidarity against tobacco use by junior high and high school students. Time: 7:30 AM. Location: 1 Tiger Lane, Oberlin. Contact: Maria Bertrand (337) 639-4331.
On March 26, Face to Face Enrichment Center will sponsor a cigarette butt cleanup. Participants will be able to redeem cigarette butts or packs of cigarettes they bring in for a free game of bowling at All Stars Lanes in Baton Rouge. Time: 1 PM. Location: 9829 Airline Highway, Baton Rouge. Contact: Gabrielle Johnson (225) 268-9358
On March 26, Open World Family Services will host a sports, health and fitness day at Dillard University in New Orleans, headlined by former NBA player Jonathan Bender and former NFL player Bobby Hamilton, to promote the importance of living tobacco-free. Time: 10 AM. Location: 2601 Gentilly Boulevard, New Orleans. Contact: Jamesalina Mitchell (504) 208-8566.
On March 31, Baton Rouge Community College in Baton Rouge will host a talent show showcasing tobacco-themed art, music and poems. Time: 5:30 PM. Location: 201 Community College Drive, Baton Rouge. Contact: Rebecca Johnston (707) 235-7941.
Note to the media: For a list of Kick Butts Day events in Louisiana, visit www.kickbuttsday.org/events. Additional information about tobacco, including state-by-state statistics, can be found at www.tobaccofreekids.org.
Patrick Stevenson, 202-745-5059
Ashley Rockhold, 202-296-5469
SOURCE Campaign for Tobacco-Free Kids