Ohio Kids 'Kick Butts' on March 23

Mar 21, 2011, 13:59 ET from Campaign for Tobacco-Free Kids

Ohio Leaders Urged to Increase Cigarette Tax by $1

WASHINGTON, March 21, 2011 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- Kids in Ohio 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).

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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 Ohio, 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 Ohio would have the following benefits:

  • Raise $327.6 million in new annual revenue;
  • Prevent 107,300 kids from becoming smokers;
  • Spur 52,500 current adult smokers to quit;
  • Save 48,200 residents from premature, smoking-caused deaths; and
  • Save $2.3 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 Ohio, tobacco use claims 18,500 lives and costs $4.37 billion in health care bills each year.  Currently, 19.4 percent of the state's high school students smoke, and 66,800 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 Ohio include (all events are on March 23 unless otherwise noted):

In Norwalk, students at the Norwalk High School will participate in the 10th annual Kick Some Butts Video Contest.  Students will develop and produce 30-second anti-tobacco videos to educate their peers about the dangers of tobacco use.  Time: 6 PM.  Location: 350 Shady Lane Drive, Norwalk.  Contact: Kim Bailey (419) 706-1465.

In Delaware, students from the STAND UP Leadership Team will write on downtown sidewalks, in chalk, to communicate how Big Tobacco attempts to lure teens into using their products as well as the dangers of tobacco use.  Time: 3 PM.  Location: 1 West Winter Street, Delaware.  Contact: Katie Steinbrunner (614) 580-1511.

Students from the Windham High School will celebrate Kick Butts Day with an interactive carnival where kids will learn about the dangers of tobacco use through games, trivia contests and educational displays.  Time: 8 AM.  Location: 9530 Bauer Avenue, Windham.  Contact: Pat Stevenson (330) 646-8232.

Note to the media: For a list of Kick Butts Day events in Ohio, visit www.kickbuttsday.org/events.   Additional information about tobacco, including state-by-state statistics, can be found at www.tobaccofreekids.org.

CONTACTS: Kristin Brown, 202-745-5117 or Ashley Rockhold, 202-296-5469

SOURCE Campaign for Tobacco-Free Kids