State Leaders Urged to Support Tobacco Prevention Initiatives
WASHINGTON, March 19, 2012 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- Kids in New York will take center stage in the fight against tobacco on March 21 as they join thousands of young people nationwide for the 17th annual Kick Butts Day. More than 1,100 events are planned across the nation (for a list of local events see below).
Organized by the Campaign for Tobacco-Free Kids and sponsored by the 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 and educate their communities about the dangers of tobacco and the tobacco industry's harmful marketing practices.
This year, Kick Butts Day comes just after a new report by the U.S. Surgeon General found that while the nation has made tremendous progress in reducing youth smoking, youth tobacco use remains a "pediatric epidemic" that requires urgent action. The Surgeon General's report reached the following conclusions:
While the high school smoking rate has been cut nearly in half since the mid-1990s, more than 3.6 million middle and high school students still smoke.
In addition to long-term consequence such as cancer and heart disease, tobacco use immediately harms the health of youth and young adults. Smoking quickly causes nicotine addiction, cardiovascular damage, slower lung growth and shortness of breath.
Tobacco marketing causes kids to start and continue using tobacco products. Tobacco companies spend more than $10 billion a year – more than $1 million an hour – to advertise and promote their products.
Science and experience have identified proven strategies to reduce youth tobacco use. These include mass media campaigns, increasing the price of cigarettes through higher tobacco taxes, smoke-free policies and school and community prevention programs.
In New York, health advocates are working to increase funding for tobacco prevention programs.
"Kids are sending two powerful messages on Kick Butts Day: They want the tobacco companies to stop targeting them, and they want elected leaders to protect them from tobacco," said Matthew L. Myers, President of the Campaign for Tobacco-Free Kids. "We know how to win the fight against tobacco. Elected officials across the nation should support these proven solutions, including higher tobacco taxes, strong smoke-free laws and well-funded tobacco prevention programs."
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. Nationally, 19.5 percent of high school students still smoke, and another 1,000 kids become regular smokers every day.
In New York, tobacco use claims 25,400 lives and costs $8.2 billion in health care bills each year. Currently, 12.6 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 New York include (all events are on March 21 unless otherwise noted):
Tobacco Free Tompkins, Cayuga Center for Healthy Living and the Ithaca Youth Council will host a Kick Butts Day assembly for Ithaca students at the Greater Ithaca Activities Center. The assembly will showcase student projects about tobacco that students created in the weeks leading up to Kick Butts Day, including a PSA performed by students about their choices to never start smoking. Time: 3 PM. Location: 301 W. Court Street, Ithaca. Contact: Emily Cowan (607) 220-7181.
Students from Sequoya Middle School in Holtsville will participate in a letter writing campaign to state assemblymen in support of strong tobacco policies. Participants will sign a pledge wall signifying their commitment to a tobacco-free life. Time: 10:30 AM. Location: 750 Waverly Avenue, Holtsville. Contact: Lori Hewlett (631) 207-7100 ext. 4826.
The Beacon Center for Arts and Leadership (BCAL) program of the Coalition for Hispanic Family Services is holding 'Bushwick Kicks Butt!' in Brooklyn. This two hour show will feature performances work from all 100 young people in the program, including drama, dance and visual art. Organizers will also show a claymation PSA that won second place in a national competition. Time: 6 PM. Location: 231 Palmetto Street, Brooklyn. Contact: Sara Woolley (718) 574-0361 ext. 131.
South Nassau Communities Hospital's Department of Community Education in collaboration with the Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Community Center in Rockville Centre to present "Kick Butts Day at M-L-K!!!" The event will feature a poster contest, pledge banner, educational lecture, video and display. Time: 4 PM. Location: 150 N. Centre Avenue, Rockville Centre. Contact: Sherie Williams (516) 377-5333.
On March 23, Reality Check and the Binghamton Boys and Girls Club are co-hosting a 3 on 3 basketball tournament and youth tobacco prevention health fair in Binghamton. Broome Community College women's basketball team will be running drills throughout the tournament along with teen prevention activity booths to educate participants about the dangers of tobacco. Time: 5:30 PM. Location: 90 Clinton Street, Binghamton. Contact: Lisa Weston-Bialy (607) 221-1570.
About the Campaign for Tobacco-Free Kids The Campaign for Tobacco-Free Kids is a leading force in the fight to reduce tobacco use and its deadly toll in the United States and around the world. Our vision is a future free of the death and disease caused by tobacco. We work to prevent kids from smoking, help smokers quit and protect everyone from secondhand smoke. For more information, visit www.tobaccofreekids.org.