Rhode Island Kids Will 'Kick Butts' on Wednesday, March 20

Mar 15, 2013, 13:19 ET from Campaign for Tobacco-Free Kids

State Leaders Urged to Support Tobacco Prevention Initiatives

WASHINGTON, March 15, 2013 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- Kids in Rhode Island will stand up against tobacco on March 20 as they join thousands of young people nationwide for the 18th annual Kick Butts Day. More than 1,200 events are planned across the United States. (See below for a list of local events.)

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Organized by the Campaign for Tobacco-Free Kids and sponsored by 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. They will also educate their communities about the dangers of tobacco and the tobacco industry's harmful marketing practices.

This year on Kick Butts Day, the Campaign for Tobacco-Free Kids is highlighting the tobacco industry's products and marketing that entice kids to use tobacco. According to the Federal Trade Commission, tobacco companies spend $8.5 billion a year – nearly $1 million each hour – to market cigarettes and smokeless tobacco products. This marketing has an impact on kids:

  • While the U.S. has greatly reduced youth smoking, 18.1 percent of high school students still smoke, and nearly 1,000 kids become regular smokers each day. Among youth smokers, 86 percent prefer Marlboro, Newport and Camel, which are the three most heavily advertised cigarette brands, according to the government's National Survey on Drug Use and Health.
  • Tobacco companies have also introduced new products that appeal to kids, including cheap, sweet, colorfully-packaged small cigars that look just like cigarettes. Many cigars come in fruit and candy flavors such as strawberry, vanilla, peach and apple.
  • In a 2012 report, the U.S. Surgeon General concluded that tobacco marketing causes kids to start and continue using tobacco products.

"On Kick Butts Day, kids will stand up and reject Big Tobacco's manipulative marketing," said Matthew L. Myers, President of the Campaign for Tobacco-Free Kids. "It's also a chance for elected leaders to commit to protecting kids from tobacco through policies such as tobacco taxes, smoke-free laws and prevention programs. We hope that legislators will listen to their young constituents and implement these proven solutions to reduce tobacco use and save lives."

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.

In Rhode Island, tobacco use claims 1,600 lives and costs $506 million in health care bills each year. Currently, 11.4 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 Rhode Island include:

  • On March 19, students at Deering Middle School in West Warick will participate in tobacco prevention events during their P.E. classes with the theme "Keeping us Healthy and Keeping Tobacco Out of Our Lives." The high school's Varsity Athletes Against Substance Abuse (VAASA) club will also host an anti-tobacco track event. Location: 2 Webster Knight Drive, West Warick. Contact: Jody Waranis, Student Assistance Counselor (401) 822-8445.
  • The Rhode Island Tobacco Control Network and City of Providence Health Communities Office in Providence will host two screenings of the new documentary "Addiction Incorporated," with a post-film discussion led by area youth. Time: 5:30 PM. Location: Cable Care Cinema & Café, 204 S. Maine Street, Providence. Contact: Karina Wood (401) 533-5179.
  • Students at Barrington High School will have a table displaying the chemicals found in tobacco and will air youth-made PSAs on the negative effects of tobacco throughout the day. Location: 220 Lincoln Avenue, Barrington. Contact: Kathy Sullivan (401) 316-5956.
  • Youth in Central Falls will attend an event sponsored by Progreso Latino at Jenks Park to learn about the dangers of tobacco and will pledge to be tobacco-free. Time: 4 PM—6 PM. Location: 580 Broad Street, Central Falls. Contact: Vernia Carter (401) 728-5920.

(Note: all events are on March 20 unless otherwise indicated.)

For a full list of Kick Butts Day events in Rhode Island, visit http://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
Catherine Butsch, 202-296-5469


SOURCE Campaign for Tobacco-Free Kids