State Leaders Urged to Support Higher Tobacco Taxes, Other Tobacco Prevention Initiatives
WASHINGTON, March 21, 2011 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- Kids in South Dakota 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 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, and 4,100 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 South Dakota include (all events are on March 23 unless otherwise noted):
On March 19, at the Mueller Civic Center in Hot Springs, the EMPOWER Coalition will celebrate its 2nd Annual Battle of the Bands event to promote tobacco cessation among youth and adults. In between acts, the local Youth 2 Youth group will perform skits, hand out "South Dakota Quits" info and quit packs to encourage attendees to be smoke free. Time: 11 AM. Location: 801 S. 6th Street, Hot Springs. Contact: Brian Besco (605) 890-1110.
On March 24, students from Northern State University will visit May Overby Elementary in Aberdeen to educate students about the dangers of tobacco use and demonstrate by example their commitment to staying tobacco-free. Time: 10:00 AM. Location: 612 14th Avenue Southeast, Aberdeen. Contact: Brenda Dreyer (605) 626-7747.
Students from Armour Elementary School in Armour will spread anti-tobacco messages around their school and community through awareness posters, banners and trivia games with prizes after learning about the deadly poisons found in tobacco products. Time: 8 AM. Location: Armour Elementary School, 604 3rd Street, Armour. Contact: Kristen Blasius (605) 730-2276.
Note to the media: For a list of Kick Butts Day events in South Dakota, 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