Mississippi 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 Mississippi 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 Mississippi, tobacco companies spend $132.7 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 Mississippi, tobacco use claims 5,400 lives and costs $1.23 billion in health care bills each year. Currently, 12.2 percent of Mississippi'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 Mississippi, activities include:

Columbia High School students will spread awareness on the dangers of tobacco creating sidewalk chalk art sparking anti-tobacco conversations, displaying an anti-tobacco message with cups in a fence, and participating in a fitness challenge. Time: 10 AM. Location: 1009 Broad Street, Columbia. Contact: Vicki Ginn (601) 736-2366.

Columbia Elementary students will fight big tobacco by creating their own superhero, and by sparking conversation and display their anti-tobacco message with cups in the fence. Time: 10 AM. Location: 401 Mary Street, Columbia. Contact: Crystal Wallace (601) 736-2216.

Winston County 4-H will celebrate Kick Butts Day 2016 by educating youth on the health effects of cigarette smoking with games and activities. Time: 8:15 AM.  Location: 508 Camille Avenue, Louisville. Contact: Sandra Jackson (662) 736-2669.

Columbia Primary School students will fight big tobacco by creating their own superhero. Students will spark conversation and display their anti-tobacco message with cups in the fence.  Time: 9 AM. Location: 913 West Avenue, Columbia. Contact: Crystal Wallace (601) 736-2216.

On March 17, MS Tobacco Free Coalition of Hinds County and Innovative Behavioral Services, Inc. will celebrate a week of anti-tobacco events showcasing their progress with a banner of signatures from community members pledging to be tobacco free, as well as honoring the winners of the tobacco free drawing contest. Time: 9 AM. Location: 3900 Parkway Avenue, Jackson. Contact: Jackie Carter (601) 566-5474.

All events are on March 16 unless otherwise indicated. For a full list of Kick Butts Day activities in Mississippi, 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