State Leaders Urged to Support Tobacco Prevention Initiatives
WASHINGTON, March 19, 2012 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ --Kids in South Dakota 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 South Dakota, tobacco use claims 1,000 lives and costs $274 million in health care bills each year. Currently, 23.2 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 South Dakota include (all events are on March 21 unless otherwise noted):
Over the course of a week, students from Unfiltered REALity in Mitchellwill educate their peers about the dangers of smoking, through activities including adding the phrase "frrrrrrrREAL Big Tobacco" to their social media profiles and email signatures. They will also hide tobacco statistics and quotes in books at area libraries. Location: Mitchell School District 17-2, 800 W. 10th Street, Mitchell. Contact: Karen Allen (605) 995-3051.
Staff from the North East South Dakota Area Health Education Center will travel to Sisseton High School in Sisseton to interact with kids from kindergarten through high school to teach them about the dangers of smoking and to help those students who smoke quit. Time: 12 PM. Location: Sisseton High School, 516 457th Avenue, Sisseton. Contact: Rachel Haigh-Blume (605) 229-8304.
Sponsored by the Center for Equality, area youth will gather at a busy intersection in Sioux Falls for an anti-tobacco rally with signs educating commuters about the dangers of tobacco. Time: 4 PM. Location: Intersection of Louise Avenue and 41st Street, Sioux Falls. Contact: Tiffany Thomas (605) 376-1364.
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.