State Leaders Urged to Support Tobacco Prevention Initiatives
WASHINGTON, March 19, 2012 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- Kids in Pennsylvania 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.
"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 Pennsylvania, tobacco use claims 20,000 lives and costs $5.19 billion in health care bills each year. Currently, 18.4 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 Pennsylvania include (all events are on March 21 unless otherwise noted):
Healthy Community Partnership in Chambersburg will hold a reception to display artwork created by teen artists for a poster campaign exposing the truth about tobacco advertising. Time: 4 PM. Location: Coyle Free Library, 102 Philadelphia Avenue, Chambersburg. Contact: Stacy McCole (717) 264-1470.
Student leaders from 14 high schools in Johnstown will attend Cambria County's Kick Butts Day Conference. The students will learn about the detrimental effects of tobacco use through discussions and activities led by drug prevention specialists and take their knowledge back to their own communities and peers. Time: 8:30 AM. Location: Greater Johnstown Career & Technology Center, 445 Schoolhouse Road, Johnstown. Contact: Mike Messina (724) 541-0797.
After a week of announcements, displays in the cafeteria and lesson plans about the dangers of tobacco use, students at Owen J. Roberts Middle School in Pottstown will Kick Butt against tobacco use by donating money to the American Cancer Society for a chance to sumo wrestle in one of four matches held at an assembly. Time: 1:30 PM. Location: 881 Ridge Road, Pottstown. Contact: Victoria Morgan (610) 469-5725.
Students in Youth Infusion, the tobacco-free group at East Stroudsburg Area High School in East Stroudsburg, will educate their peers about tobacco by displaying information about ingredients in cigarettes, creating original artwork featuring anti-tobacco messaging, exposing Big Tobacco's advertising tactics and sharing samples of what smokers' clothing smells like. Time: 11 AM. Location: East Stroudsburg High School South, 279 N. Courtland Street, East Stroudsburg. Contact: Courtney Sutton (570) 872-0111.
Students at Delaware Valley High School in Milford will mark the number of daily deaths attributable to tobacco use by continually updating a death toll billboard throughout the day. Time: 1 PM. Location: 252 Route 6 and 209, Milford. Contact: Ellen Orben (570) 296-1860.
For a full list of Kick Butts Day events in Pennsylvania, visit www.kickbuttsday.org/events. Additional information about tobacco, including state-by-state statistics, can be found at www.tobaccofreekids.org.
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.
SOURCE Campaign for Tobacco-Free Kids