State Leaders Urged to Support Tobacco Prevention Initiatives
WASHINGTON, March 19, 2012 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- Kids in Michigan 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.
"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 Michigan, tobacco use claims 14,500 lives and costs $3.4 billion in health care bills each year. Currently, 18.8 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 Michigan include (all events are on March 21 unless otherwise noted):
On March 19, the Family Resource Center in collaboration with Garden City Community Coalition in Garden Citywill mobilize kids in the community along with city council members, school board members, and public officials to kick butts with a graffiti mural and public service announcements. Time: 5 PM. Location: Maplewood Community Center, 31735 Maplewood St., Garden City. Contact: Laurel Lasser (734) 612-1441.
Students in the Teens Talking Truth (T3) group in Warrenwill conduct a flash mob at Macomb Community College to highlight the number of people killed each year by cigarettes. The students will converge and "drop dead" while one representative talks through a megaphone about the negative consequences of tobacco use. Time: 5:45 PM. Location: Macomb Community College South Campus (outside building K), 14500 East 12 Mile Road, Warren. Contact: Vita Venditti (586) 218-5277.
Area middle and high school students in Midlandwill compete against each other to see who can clean up the most cigarette butts at parks in Midland County. The collected butts will be taken to the Midland Parks and Recreation Council as part of an effort to encourage smoke-free playgrounds. Time: 3:30 PM. Location: 220 W. Main Street, Midland. Contact: Susan Dussea (989) 835-4841.
Students from the Youth Engaged in Prevention Group at Jonesville High School in Jonesvillewill host an information table and graffiti wall to promote tobacco-free living. They present the graffiti wall to the school superintendent, county commissioners and Tobacco-Free Michigan. Time: 11:30 AM. Location: 460 Adrian Street, Jonesville. Contact: Kelley Mapes (517) 279-9561 ext. 103.
On March 23, the Mayor of Owosso will read a Kick Butts Day proclamation to the students of Bryant Elementary in Owosso. Throughout the day, the students will also hear from prevention specialists about the dangers of tobacco. Time: 9 AM. Location: 925 Hampton Street, Owosso. Contact: Henry Reinewald (989) 729-5616.
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.