WASHINGTON, March 13, 2014 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- Kids in Missouri will stand up against tobacco on March 19 as they join thousands of young people nationwide for the 19th annual Kick Butts Day. More than 1,400 events are planned across the nation. (See below for a list of local events.)
Organized by the Campaign for Tobacco-Free Kids, Kick Butts Day is an annual celebration of youth leadership and activism in the fight against tobacco. On Kick Butts Day, youth will encourage their peers to stay tobacco-free and educate their communities about the tobacco industry's harmful marketing practices.
This year, Kick Butts Day comes as new information reaffirms the urgent need for action. The United States is marking the 50th anniversary of the first Surgeon General's Report on Smoking and Health, and a new Surgeon General's report released in January found that smoking is even more hazardous than previously thought. Key findings of the report include:
- Each year, smoking kills 480,000 people in the U.S. and costs the nation at least $289 billion in health care bills and other economic losses.
- Without urgent action to reduce smoking, 5.6 million U.S. children alive today will die prematurely from smoking-caused disease. That includes 128,000 children in Missouri alone.
- Tobacco marketing causes kids to start and continue using tobacco products.
Nationwide, tobacco companies spend $8.8 billion a year – one million dollars each hour – to market cigarettes and smokeless tobacco products. In particular, tobacco companies target youth with magazine ads, store ads and discounts, and fruit- and candy-flavored small cigars that look just like cigarettes.
"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. "Elected officials must stand with them by supporting proven measures to protect kids from tobacco addiction, including tobacco taxes, smoke-free laws and prevention programs. On the 50th anniversary of the first Surgeon General's report, we need bold action to create a tobacco-free generation and end the tobacco epidemic for good."
Health advocates in Missouri are urging leaders to raise the tobacco tax and increase funding for tobacco prevention programs that protect kids and save lives.
In Missouri alone, tobacco use claims 9,600 lives and costs $3 billion in health care bills each year. Currently, 18.1 percent of the state's high school students smoke.
On Kick Butts Day, kids turn the tables on Big Tobacco in creative ways, with events that range from small classroom activities about the harmful ingredients in cigarettes to large rallies at state capitols.
Activities in Missouri include:
Tri-County Mental Health Services will partner with the Kansas City Police Department's Police Athletic League to host a Kick Butts Day kickball tournament. Time: 4 PM. Location: Police Athletic League Center, 1801 White Avenue, Kansas City.
Contact: Kara Siefker (403) 310-9323.
Middle and high school students will participate in a Kick Butts Day dodgeball tournament at the Looney Center on the campus of Missouri Western State University to encourage youth to stand up to Big Tobacco. Time: 5:30 PM. Location: 4525 Downs Drive, St. Joseph.
Contact: Stephanie Malita (816) 271-5327.
(Note: all events are on March 19 unless otherwise indicated.)
For a full list of Kick Butts Day events in Missouri, visit http://www.kickbuttsday.org/map. Additional information about tobacco, including state-by-state statistics, can be found at www.tobaccofreekids.org.
SOURCE Campaign for Tobacco-Free Kids