Mississippi Kids 'Kick Butts' on March 23

Mar 21, 2011, 14:11 ET from Campaign for Tobacco-Free Kids

Mississippi Leaders Urged to Pass Strong, Statewide Smoke-Free Law

WASHINGTON, March 21, 2011 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- Kids in Mississippi 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).

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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.

In Mississippi, health advocates are urging state leaders to enact a strong, statewide smoke-free law that applies to all workplaces, restaurants and bars. To date, 29 states and the District of Columbia have enacted smoke-free laws that cover all restaurants and bars.  These laws protect workers and the public from secondhand smoke, which is a proven cause of lung cancer, heart disease and other serious illnesses.

"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 Mississippi, tobacco use claims 4,700 lives and costs $719 million in health care bills each year.  Currently, 19.6 percent of the state's high school students smoke, and 15,800 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 Mississippi include (all events are on March 23 unless otherwise noted):

The Mississippi Tobacco Free Coalition of Pike, Amite and Wilkinson Counties will display a banner stating "13 Mississippians Die Each Day from Smoking" along with 13 tombstones at the Wilkinson County Christian Academy in Woodville.  Location: 1419 Academy Street, Woodville.  Contact: Cindy Estes (601) 754-0220.

Elementary school classes at Watkins Elementary School in Jackson will compete to get the most signatures on their graffiti walls and pledge to not smoke.  Time: 11 AM.  Location: 3915 Watkins Drive, Jackson.  Contact: Jacqueline Carter (601) 212-3802.

Students at Olive Branch High School will create a memorial to the people who die every day in Mississippi from tobacco related diseases.  Time: 9 AM.  Location: 9366 East Sandidge, Olive Branch.  Contact: Linda Wallace (662) 420-3135.

Note to the media: For a list of Kick Butts Day events in Mississippi, 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