Louisiana Kids to 'Kick Butts' on March 16

State Leaders Urged to Make the Next Generation Tobacco-Free

Mar 11, 2016, 10:00 ET from Campaign for Tobacco-Free Kids

WASHINGTON, March 11, 2016 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- Kids in Louisiana will stand up to Big Tobacco on March 16 as they join thousands of young people nationwide for 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 demand that tobacco companies stop marketing deadly products to them and encourage elected officials to help reduce youth tobacco use.

This year, Kick Butts Day is focusing attention on the outrageous marketing tactics tobacco companies still use to target youth. These tactics include:

  • Splashy ads in magazines with large youth readership, such as Sports Illustrated, Glamour and Rolling Stone.
  • Widespread advertising and price discounts in stores, which make tobacco products appealing and affordable to kids.
  • Sweet-flavored tobacco products such as electronic cigarettes and small cigars that come in flavors like gummy bear, cotton candy, watermelon and fruit punch. While youth cigarette smoking has fallen to record lows, the most recent government survey shows that e-cigarette use among high school students tripled from 2013 to 2014 (from 4.5 percent to 13.4 percent).

Nationwide, tobacco companies spend $9.6 billion a year – over one million dollars every hour – to market tobacco products. In Louisiana, tobacco companies spend $220.5 million annually on marketing efforts.

"On Kick Butts Day, kids stand up to the tobacco industry and all of us, especially our elected officials, should stand with them," said Matthew L. Myers, President of the Campaign for Tobacco-Free Kids. "We've made amazing progress in reducing youth smoking and can make the next generation tobacco-free. Elected officials in every state should help reach that goal by supporting proven strategies to prevent youth tobacco use, including higher tobacco taxes, strong smoke-free laws, prevention programs and raising the tobacco age to 21."

In Louisiana, health advocates are working to enact local smoke-free laws that apply to all workplaces and public places, including restaurants, bars and casinos. New Orleans will celebrate the first anniversary of its smoke-free law on April 22. Advocates are currently pushing for a similar law in East Baton Rouge in order to protect everyone's right to breathe clean air.

In Louisiana, tobacco use claims 7,200 lives and costs $1.89 billion in health care bills each year. Currently, 12.1 percent of Louisiana'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 Louisiana, activities include:

The Louisiana Campaign for Tobacco-Free Living (TFL) will host nearly 200 students from across the state at the Louisiana State Capitol for a tobacco awareness rally and press conference. Students will participate in advocacy training, meet with their state legislators, and rally against the tobacco industry indiscriminately targeting youth in their marketing strategy. Time: 10:30 AM. Location: 900 North 3rd Street, Baton Rouge. Contact: Kelley McDonough (516) 445-5135.

Students from Joseph Craig Elementary School in New Orleans will display posters that represent the health benefits of abstaining from smoking. The posters will be judged at an awards ceremony and pizza party put on by the Rho Phi Chapter, Omega Psi Phi Fraternity, Inc. along with the Omega men Foundation Time: 1 PM. Location: 1423 St. Philip Street, New Orleans. Contact: Marion Floyd (504) 952-4006.

Students at Pine Junior and Senior High School in Franklinton will pledge their commitment to stay tobacco-free by posting #IKickButts posts on Twitter, Instagram and Facebook to show why they choose to "kick butts." The Washington Parish Youth Coalition will also have a display sponsored by ADAPT, Inc. and Tobacco Free Living. Time: 8 AM. Location: 28315 Louisiana 424, Franklinton. Contact: Gail Brigham (985) 414-2087.

Active duty and retired members of the US Coast Guard, as well as their families, who sign a pledge card committing to be tobacco-free will receive a coupon for $5 off a purchase of $20 or more at the Michoud Coast Guard Exchange (CGX). The signed pledge cards will be posted on a commitment wall inside the CGX store. Time: 9 AM. Location: 13800 Old Gentilly Road, Bldg. 358, New Orleans. Contact: Crystal Locure-Raines (504) 255-9840.

On March 23, youth from the Alcohol and Drug Abuse Council for South Louisiana (ADAC) will visualize tobacco's deadly health effects with a photography project targeting convenience stores that advertise tobacco to teens. The teens will present this information at the Terrebonne Parish Council's public forum session. Time: 6 PM. Location: 8026 Main Street, Suite 600, Houma. Contact: Amber DeGeorge (985) 217 0383.

All events are on March 16 unless otherwise indicated. For a full list of Kick Butts Day activities in Louisiana, visit www.kickbuttsday.org/map. Additional information about tobacco, including state-by-state statistics, can be found at www.tobaccofreekids.org.

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SOURCE Campaign for Tobacco-Free Kids