Rhode Island Kids 'Kick Butts' on March 23

Mar 21, 2011, 14:12 ET from Campaign for Tobacco-Free Kids

State Leaders Urged to Support Higher Tobacco Taxes, Other Tobacco Prevention Initiatives

WASHINGTON, March 21, 2011 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- Kids in Rhode Island 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.

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 Rhode Island, tobacco use claims 1,600 lives and costs $506 million in health care bills each year.  Currently, 13.3 percent of the state's high school students smoke, and 5,300 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 Rhode Island include (all events are on March 23 unless otherwise noted):

Youth advocates at Barrington High School in Barrington will be donning Kick Butts Day-themed clothing as they educate their peers about the dangers of tobacco through displays about poisonous chemicals found in cigarettes and videos highlighting the myths and facts of marijuana use.  Time: 8 a.m.  Location: 220 Lincoln Avenue, Barrington.  Contact: Kathleen Sullivan (401) 316-5956.

On April 6, the men's soccer team from Brown University will lead an anti-tobacco rally at Martin Luther King Elementary School in Providence.  Students will try their might at breaking down banners of tobacco advertisements with soccer balls to educate students on Big Tobacco's advertising presence.  The event is sponsored by Miriam Hospital.  Time: 1:45 p.m.  Location: 35 Camp Street, Providence.  Contact: Bonnie Braga (508) 667-5093.

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

CONTACTS: Graham Harrison, 202-745-5062, or Ashley Rockhold, 202-296-5469

SOURCE Campaign for Tobacco-Free Kids