State Leaders Urged to Support Higher Tobacco Taxes, Other Tobacco Prevention Initiatives
WASHINGTON, March 21, 2011 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- Kids in New York 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 York, tobacco use claims 25,400 lives and costs $8.17 billion in health care bills each year. Currently, 14.8 percent of the state's high school students smoke, and 88,900 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 York include (all events are on March 23 unless otherwise noted):
The North Shore-Long Island Jewish Center for Tobacco Control will demonstrate the dangers of tobacco use for students at the Park Avenue Elementary School in Amityville. Displays will include unhealthy pig lungs to demonstrate the damage cigarettes have on smokers' lungs, a large cigarette illustrating the poisonous ingredients found in cigarettes and a display on second and thirdhand smoke dangers. Time: 8:30 AM. Location: 140 Park Avenue, Amityville. Contact: Daniel Jacobsen (516) 382-7415.
Students from the Middle School Student Council at the School of the Future in New York City will participate in a poster contest to encourage their peers and loved ones to remain tobacco-free. Time: 1:30 PM. Location: 127 East 22nd Street, New York. Contact: Alan Yount (202) 744-9770.
Youth from the YM & YWHA of Washington Heights and Inwood in Manhattan, in connection with the Manhattan Smoke-Free Partnership, will announce survey results on the perception of tobacco ad frequency from retailers in the Washington Heights and Inwood neighborhoods of northern Manhattan. During the presentation, youth representatives will speak out about how they are teaming up against tobacco marketing in their neighborhoods. Time: 3 PM. Location: 54 Nagle Avenue, New York. Contact: Maria Pico (646) 672-2363.
On March 24, students from Sequoya Middle School in Holtsville will participate in several activities to encourage their peers to live tobacco-free. Events include signing a pledge wall to commit to be tobacco-free; encouraging peers and loved ones to quit smoking; and Project 1,200 displays to signify the number of people who die each day from tobacco use and tobacco related illnesses. Time: 10:30 AM. Location: 750 Waverly Avenue, Holtsville. Contact: Lori Hewlett (631) 207-7100.
Note to the media: For a list of Kick Butts Day events in New York, visit www.kickbuttsday.org/events. Additional information about tobacco, including state-by-state statistics, can be found at www.tobaccofreekids.org.
CONTACTS: Tamara Moore, 202-745-5114
Ashley Rockhold, 202-296-5469
SOURCE Campaign for Tobacco-Free Kids