State Leaders Urged to Support Higher Tobacco Taxes, Other Tobacco Prevention Initiatives
WASHINGTON, March 21, 2011 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- Kids in New Jersey 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).
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.
"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 New Jersey, tobacco use claims 11,200 lives and costs $3.17 billion in health care bills each year. Currently, 17 percent of the state's high school students smoke, and 38,400 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 New Jersey include (all events are on March 23 unless otherwise noted):
The Student Coalition Against Tobacco of Ocean City New Jersey High School will host a Tobacco Free Youth Rally on the National Mall across from the National Air & Space Museum. At the rally, they will display photos and personal stories of loved ones who have died from tobacco-related causes; collect signatures of people who commit to live tobacco-free for their pledge wall; and display 1,200 socks to signify the number of people who die each day from tobacco-use and tobacco related illnesses. The rally will begin with a parade at 4th Street, SW. Time: 1 PM. Location: Independence Avenue Southwest, Washington, DC. Contact: Thomas Gahr (609) 335-2319.
At AtlantiCare Family Success Centers in Atlantic City, students will sponsor an informational fair and encourage family, friends and loved ones to sign a pledge wall. Those that sign the wall will deposit their cigarettes into a coffin and will receive a cold turkey sub to symbolize "Quitting Cold Turkey." Time: 2:30 PM. Location: 323 Madison Avenue, Atlantic City. Contact: Rosalind Norrell-Nance (609) 345-1994.
The Eisenhower Youth Safe Haven Program will host the event "Out of the Mouths of Babes," at the Berkeley Terrace Elementary School in Irvington, featuring skits, raps and a musical number for "We Are the World" to encourage peers and parents to live tobacco-free. Time: 4 PM. Location: 787 Grove Street, Irvington. Contact: Jihadah Sharif (862) 216-8002.
Health students from Memorial High School in West New York will participate in a day long cigarette butt clean-up, graffiti wall, memorial and pledge wall to convey their smoke-free lifestyle. Time: 10:45 AM. Location: 5501 Park Avenue, West New York. Contact: Tara Perrucci (201) 923-6224.
Students at Trenton Central High School in Trenton will demonstrate the dangerous ingredients found in tobacco, such as arsenic and formaldehyde through educational displays. Time: 10:30 AM. Location: 400 Chambers Street, Trenton. Contact: Marc Freeman (609) 851-9810.
Note to the media: For a list of Kick Butts Day events in New Jersey, visit www.kickbuttsday.org/events. Additional information about tobacco, including state-by-state statistics, can be found at www.tobaccofreekids.org.
Tamara Moore, 202-745-5114
Ashley Rockhold, 202-296-5469
SOURCE Campaign for Tobacco-Free Kids