North Carolina Leaders Urged to Increase Cigarette Tax by $1
WASHINGTON, March 21, 2011 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- Kids in North Carolina 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.
In North Carolina, health advocates are calling on state leaders to increase the cigarette tax by $1 per pack in order to prevent kids from smoking and raise much-needed revenue to address the state's budget shortfall and fund critical programs such as health care and education. According to a report by the Campaign for Tobacco-Free Kids, a $1 cigarette tax increase in North Carolina would have the following benefits:
- Raise $338.4 million in new annual revenue;
- Prevent 81,200 kids from becoming smokers;
- Spur 49,500 current adult smokers to quit;
- Save 39,100 residents from premature, smoking-caused deaths; and
- Save $1.8 billion in health care costs.
"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 North Carolina, tobacco use claims 12,200 lives and costs $2.46 billion in health care bills each year. Currently, 16.7 percent of the state's high school students smoke, and 44,100 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 North Carolina include (all events are on March 23 unless otherwise noted):
Students along with WERO's Bob 93.3 will gather outside the Havelock Boys and Girls Club in Havelock to learn and educate others about the dangers of tobacco by competing in tobacco trivia and making live public service announcements. Time: 2:30 PM. Location: 199 Webb Boulevard, Havelock. Contact: Kenya Servia (252) 670-3303.
Tobacco Reality Unfiltered (TRU) students at Northern Vance High School in Henderson will display a memorial in the form of body bags on the front lawn to represent students whose relatives have died from tobacco and tobacco related diseases. Time: 12 PM. Location: 293 Warrenton Road, Henderson. Contact: Ralphel Holloman (919) 880-4401.
On March 25, the Forsyth County TRU Youth Advisory Council will host a KBD Carnival at the YMCA in Winston-Salem with interactive games and educational booths to educate community members about the harmful effects of tobacco. Youth will compete in a three-on-three basketball tournament to illustrate the health benefits to being tobacco-free and living healthy lifestyles. Time: 5:30 PM. Location: 775 West End Boulevard, Winston-Salem. Contact: Yalonda Miller (336) 705-0533.
Note to the media: For a list of Kick Butts Day events in North Carolina, visit www.kickbuttsday.org/events. Additional information about tobacco, including state-by-state statistics, can be found at www.tobaccofreekids.org.
Graham Harrison, 202-745-5062
Ashley Rockhold, 202-296-5469
SOURCE Campaign for Tobacco-Free Kids