Mississippi Kids Will 'Kick Butts' on Wednesday, March 20

Mar 15, 2013, 13:18 ET from Campaign for Tobacco-Free Kids

State Leaders Urged to Support Tobacco Prevention Initiatives

WASHINGTON, March 15, 2013 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- Kids in Mississippi will stand up against tobacco on March 20 as they join thousands of young people nationwide for the 18th annual Kick Butts Day. More than 1,200 events are planned across the United States. (See below for a list of local events.)

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Organized by the Campaign for Tobacco-Free Kids and sponsored by 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. They will also educate their communities about the dangers of tobacco and the tobacco industry's harmful marketing practices.

This year on Kick Butts Day, the Campaign for Tobacco-Free Kids is highlighting the tobacco industry's products and marketing that entice kids to use tobacco. According to the Federal Trade Commission, tobacco companies spend $8.5 billion a year – nearly $1 million each hour – to market cigarettes and smokeless tobacco products. This marketing has an impact on kids:

  • While the U.S. has greatly reduced youth smoking, 18.1 percent of high school students still smoke, and nearly 1,000 kids become regular smokers each day. Among youth smokers, 86 percent prefer Marlboro, Newport and Camel, which are the three most heavily advertised cigarette brands, according to the government's National Survey on Drug Use and Health.
  • Tobacco companies have also introduced new products that appeal to kids, including cheap, sweet, colorfully-packaged small cigars that look just like cigarettes. Many cigars come in fruit and candy flavors such as strawberry, vanilla, peach and apple.
  • In a 2012 report, the U.S. Surgeon General concluded that tobacco marketing causes kids to start and continue using tobacco products.

"On Kick Butts Day, kids will stand up and reject Big Tobacco's manipulative marketing," said Matthew L. Myers, President of the Campaign for Tobacco-Free Kids. "It's also a chance for elected leaders to commit to protecting kids from tobacco through policies such as tobacco taxes, smoke-free laws and prevention programs. We hope that legislators will listen to their young constituents and implement these proven solutions to reduce tobacco use and save lives."

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.

In Mississippi, tobacco use claims 4,700 lives and costs $719 million in health care bills each year. Currently, 17.9 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 Mississippi include:

  • The Community Students Learning Center of Lexington will hold an outdoor festival that will include no-smoking pledges, a memorial wall, tobacco-related trivia and games and a countywide Kick Butts Proclamation from the Holmes County Board of Supervisors. Inspirational speaker and physical fitness advocate C. Rochelle Culp will also raise awareness about the dangers of smoking and promote healthy lifestyles. Time: 10 AM. Location: Community Students Learning Center, 333 Yazoo Street, Lexington. Contact: Beulah Greer (601) 927-1495.
  • The Washington County Anti-Drug Radar Center will hold an anti-tobacco rally and display an anti-tobacco graffiti wall at the Boys & Girls Club of Washington County in Greenville. Youth will pledge to remain tobacco free. Time: 4 PM. Location: 401 S. Hinds Street, Greenville. Contact: Mildred Barnett (662) 820-9091.
  • On March 23, the Boys & Girls Club of North Mississippi in Booneville will hold an anti-tobacco puppet show and showcase their original anti-smoking posters. Time: 9 AM. Location: Sunflower Park Community Center, 101 Sunflower Park Community Center Avenue, Booneville. Contact: Angelique Jumper (662) 210-0841.
  • On March 26, students at Barr Elementary School in Jackson will exchange business cards that they designed with facts about smoking and tobacco. Time: 1 PM. Location: Barr Elementary School, 1593 W. Capital Street, Jackson. Contact: Jacqueline Carter (601) 566-5474.

(Note: events are on March 20 unless otherwise indicated.)

For a full list of Kick Butts Day events in Mississippi, visit http://www.kickbuttsday.org/events. Additional information about tobacco, including state-by-state statistics, can be found at www.tobaccofreekids.org.

CONTACTS: Brianna Gavio, 202-745-5064
Catherine Butsch, 202-296-5469

SOURCE Campaign for Tobacco-Free Kids