State Leaders Urged to Support Higher Tobacco Taxes, Other Tobacco Prevention Initiatives
WASHINGTON, March 21, 2011 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- Kids in South Carolina 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 South Carolina, tobacco use claims 6,100 lives and costs $1.09 billion in health care bills each year. Currently, 20.5 percent of the state's high school students smoke, and 23,400 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.
In Conway, Coastal Carolina University students will gather on the campus' Prince Lawn to demonstrate the impact of tobacco by displaying 17 tombstones to represent the amount of tobacco-related deaths each day in South Carolina. Students will have displays about the poisonous toxins in cigarettes, like ammonia and cyanide, as well as the effects of secondhand smoke, which claims 790 lives each year in the state. Time: 10 AM. Location: 755 South Carolina 544, Conway. Contact: Pauline Levesque (843) 465-2792.
In Greenville, student participants of Rage Against The Haze will canvass local stores to observe the prevalence of tobacco advertising. Students will present a "report card" of the stores to peers at Greenville Family Partnership. Time: 4 PM. Location: 200 Mills Avenue, Greenville. Contact: Terry Taylor (864) 982-4963.
Horry Georgetown Technical College students will gather near the Barnes & Noble in Conway to distribute QUIT NOW information for Horry County residents to receive free nicotine replacement therapy. Students will also present their own version of CSI (Cigarette Smoke Investigation), to demonstrate the poisonous toxins found in tobacco products and the deadly impact of secondhand smoke.
Time: 10 AM. Location: 2050 Highway 501 East, Conway. Contact: Mary Eady (843) 349-5341.
Note to the media: For a list of Kick Butts Day events in South Carolina 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
Ashley Rockhold, 202-296-5469
SOURCE Campaign for Tobacco-Free Kids