State Leaders Urged to Support Higher Tobacco Taxes, Other Tobacco Prevention Initiatives
WASHINGTON, March 21, 2011 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- Kids in Michigan 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 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, and 68,000 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 Michigan include (all events are on March 23 unless otherwise noted):
The University of Detroit-Mercy School of Dentistry in Detroit will display an exhibit and resources with a focus on youth tobacco use prevention and cessation. Tables will be set up for youth coloring projects and a poster contest. Pediatric dental clinic visitors will also receive a special backpack with prevention materials inside. Time: 9:00 AM. Location: 2700 Martin Luther King Jr. Blvd, Detroit. Contact: Jill Loewen (248) 672-8198.
In Center Line, youth from South Eastern Michigan Indians, Inc., will create a marquee message outside of the building with posters regarding the ceremonial use of tobacco and will send an email blast to all community members. Time: 10 AM. Location: 26641 Lawrence, Center Line. Contact: Euphemia Franklin (586) 756-1350.
Students at the Hartland Middle School will arrive to school to find a "placement" on their desk and will choose to walk down four different pathways during the school day. One path will lead to what is in a cigarette, the second to the negative effects on the body, the third to a memorial wall and the fourth to healthy alternatives to tobacco use. Time: 8 AM. Location: 3250 North Hartland Road, Hartland. Contact: Emily Preston Rahim (734) 717-2052.
In Owosso, the Catholic Charities Prevention Specialist will speak to students of Bryant Elementary. The mayor will kick off the event by reading a proclamation from the city council. Time: 9 AM. Location: 952 Hampton, Owosso. Contact: Henry Reinewald (989) 726-5616.
Students from Hazel Park Junior High in Hazel Park will create a pledge wall, display items that are found in a cigarette and sign awareness cards which will then be posted in the cafeteria for the school to see. Time: 8 AM. Location: 22770 Highland Ave, Hazel Park. Contact: Bev Blair (248) 658-2355.
Note to the media: For a list of Kick Butts Day events in Michigan, 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