WASHINGTON, March 10, 2017 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- Kids in Michigan will unite against tobacco use on March 15 as they join thousands of young people nationwide to mark 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 encourage their peers to be tobacco-free, reject tobacco companies' devious marketing and urge elected officials to help make the next generation tobacco-free.
This year, Kick Butts Day is focusing attention on how tobacco companies are enticing kids with a growing market of sweet-flavored products such as electronic cigarettes and cigars, threatening to addict a new generation. These products have proved popular with kids. From 2011 to 2015, e-cigarette use among high school students jumped from 1.5 percent to 16 percent nationwide, and more kids now use e-cigarettes than regular cigarettes. In addition, more high school boys now smoke cigars than cigarettes. E-cigarettes and cigars are sold in a wide assortment of candy and fruit flavors, such as gummy bear, cotton candy and fruit punch.
Tobacco companies also continue to spend huge sums to market cigarettes and smokeless tobacco, much of it reaching kids. Nationwide, tobacco companies spend $9.1 billion a year – one million dollars every hour – on marketing. In Michigan, tobacco companies spend $299.4 million annually on marketing efforts.
In Michigan, health advocates are urging state leaders to raise the tobacco sale age to 21, a move that will reduce tobacco use and save lives. Genesee County and Ann Arbor passed 'Tobacco 21' laws in recent months.
"On Kick Butts Day, kids stand up to the tobacco industry, and our nation's leaders must stand with them," said Matthew L. Myers, President of the Campaign for Tobacco-Free Kids. "We've made great strides in reducing youth smoking, but candy-flavored products like e-cigarettes and cigars threaten this progress. We need strong FDA regulation to protect kids from these sweet-flavored products. And elected officials at all levels should support proven strategies that prevent youth tobacco use, including higher tobacco taxes, strong smoke-free laws, funding prevention programs and raising the tobacco age to 21."
In Michigan, tobacco use claims 16,200 lives and costs $4.59 billion in health care bills each year. Currently, 10.0 percent of Michigan'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 Michigan, activities include:
Students from Hillsdale County Youth Engaged in Prevention will hold a youth rally and Facebook Live event at the state Capitol in Lansing. They will also sign tobacco-free pledges. Time: 12 PM. Location: 100 N. Capitol Avenue, Lansing. Contact: Kelley Mapes (517) 398-6607.
Students from Union City High School will create tombstones for famous people who died from tobacco use, develop posters highlighting the cost and health risk of tobacco, and host an assembly on the harmful effects of tobacco products. They will also display flags representing the daily deaths from tobacco use in Michigan. Time: 1:30 PM. Location: 430 St. Joseph Street, Union City. Contact: Richard Maples (517) 568-3497.
Students from the Arab Community Center for Economic and Social Services (ACCESS) 21st Century After School Program in Dearborn will research the effects of tobacco use and present their findings to peers, siblings and teachers. Time: 4 PM. Location: 14749 Alber Street, Dearborn. Contact: Fatima Abdulla (313) 415-4798.
Members of Most Teens Don't in Jackson County will place 40 black flags at the entrance of the school to represent the 40 people who die each day in Michigan from tobacco products. They will also wear their Most Teens Don't t-shirts and hang tobacco-free pledge cards throughout the school. Time: 8 AM. Location: East Jackson Middle School, 1566 N. Sutton Road, Jackson. Contact: Emma Sigman (517) 230-4690.
On March 16, the It Stops with Students group in Pickney will display pig's lungs affected by tobacco, along with a tar jar and posters detailing the various chemical products inside of a cigarette. Time: 10:15 AM. Location: 10255 Dexter Pickney Road, Pickney. Contact: Sandra Parker (248) 343-3769.
On March 20, student leaders from the Career Tech Center will work with BreatheWell Newaygo County in Fremont to host a large graffiti wall for participants to pledge to be tobacco free. They will also present facts about tobacco and nicotine. Time: 9 AM. Location: Dogwood Center for the Performing Arts, 4734 S. Campus Court, Fremont. Contact: Sally Wagoner (708) 305-4591.
All events are on March 15 unless otherwise indicated. For a full list of Kick Butts Day activities in Michigan, 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