State Leaders Urged to Support Higher Tobacco Taxes, Other Tobacco Prevention Initiatives
WASHINGTON, March 21, 2011 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- Kids in Pennsylvania 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 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, and 68,400 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 Pennsylvania include (all events are on March 23 unless otherwise noted):
The Chester County Tobacco-Free Coalition (CCTFC) will host its third annual Tobacco-Free Youth Writing Contest, open to all seventh and eighth grade students in Chester County. A public reading of select participant essays and announcements of the three winning entries will be held at the Chester County Book and Music Company in West Chester. Time: 6 PM. Location: 975 Paoli Pike, West Chester. Contact: Lindsay Smith (215) 630-1747.
In Schuykill Haven, teens will unite with college students to rally against tobacco. Presentations will be given to teens on smokeless tobacco and students will visually demonstrate the negative impact that tobacco has on human lives. Time: 9:30 AM. Location: 200 University Drive, Schuylkill Haven. Contact: Angela Morgan (570) 628-6990.
Students from the Bellefonte Area Middle School in Bellefonte will participate in interactive stations to exhibit the harmful effects of tobacco and tobacco use including a display about the ingredients found in cigarettes, stations with anti-tobacco skits and a door decorating contest. Time: 8:30 AM. Location: 100 N. School Street, Bellefonte. Contact: Debra Lucas (814) 280-1116.
In Scranton, youth at the Day Nursery Association will participate in a morning session where they can meet "Ciggy Butts" and learn about the negative effects of tobacco. Youth in the afterschool program will also participate in several tobacco related activities with Ciggy Butts. Time: 9:30 AM. Location: 332 Jefferson Ave, Scranton. Contact: Christine Zavaskas (570) 941-7984.
In Radnor, students from Cabrini College will have information tables with pamphlets to educate others about tobacco use and also provide resources to help others quit. Time: 11:30 AM. Location: 610 King of Prussia Rd, Radnor. Contact: Chris Hyson (610) 902-8316.
Note to the media: For a 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.
CONTACTS: Kristin Brown, 202-745-5117 or Ashley Rockhold, 202-296-5469
SOURCE Campaign for Tobacco-Free Kids