WASHINGTON, March 10, 2017 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- Kids in South Dakota will unite against tobacco use on March 15 as they join thousands of young people nationwide to mark Kick Butts Day. More than 1,000 events are planned across the United States and around the world for this annual day of youth activism, sponsored by the Campaign for Tobacco-Free Kids. (See below for a list of local events.)
On Kick Butts Day, kids encourage their peers to be tobacco-free, reject tobacco companies' devious marketing and urge elected officials to help make the next generation tobacco-free.
This year, Kick Butts Day is focusing attention on how tobacco companies are enticing kids with a growing market of sweet-flavored products such as electronic cigarettes and cigars, threatening to addict a new generation. These products have proved popular with kids. From 2011 to 2015, e-cigarette use among high school students jumped from 1.5 percent to 16 percent nationwide, and more kids now use e-cigarettes than regular cigarettes. In addition, more high school boys now smoke cigars than cigarettes. E-cigarettes and cigars are sold in a wide assortment of candy and fruit flavors, such as gummy bear, cotton candy and fruit punch.
Tobacco companies also continue to spend huge sums to market cigarettes and smokeless tobacco, much of it reaching kids. Nationwide, tobacco companies spend $9.1 billion a year – one million dollars every hour – on marketing. In South Dakota, tobacco companies spend $24.4 million annually on marketing efforts.
"On Kick Butts Day, kids stand up to the tobacco industry, and our nation's leaders must stand with them," said Matthew L. Myers, President of the Campaign for Tobacco-Free Kids. "We've made great strides in reducing youth smoking, but candy-flavored products like e-cigarettes and cigars threaten this progress. We need strong FDA regulation to protect kids from these sweet-flavored products. And elected officials at all levels should support proven strategies that prevent youth tobacco use, including higher tobacco taxes, strong smoke-free laws, funding prevention programs and raising the tobacco age to 21."
In South Dakota, tobacco use claims 1,300 lives and costs $373 million in health care bills each year. Currently, 10.1 percent of South Dakota's high school students smoke.
On Kick Butts Day, kids join in creative events that range from classroom activities about the harmful ingredients in cigarettes to rallies at state capitols.
In South Dakota, activities include:
On March 14, students at Mitchell High School will air big tobacco's dirty laundry by hanging up shirts with anti-tobacco messages on a clothesline. The school's Unfiltered REALity tobacco prevention group will lead the event. Time: 7:30 AM-3:30 PM. Location: 920 N. Capital Street, Mitchell. Contact: Samantha Olson (605) 995-7611.
Youth at the Boys and Girls Club of Watertown will host an anti-tobacco rally open to the public where they can learn about the dangers of smoking through games and activities. Time: 4:30 PM. Location: 1000 3rd Avenue N.W., Watertown. Contact: Kyle Thyen (605) 886-6666.
Students at the White River School District in White River, led by Michael Glynn Memorial Coalition's T.A.T.U. members, will take photos with "I Am Not A Replacement" signs. The photos will be displayed throughout the school district via digital signage. Time: 9 AM. Location: 501 2nd Street, White River. Contact: Joyce Glynn (605) 441-5389.
Youth at the Ellsworth AFB Youth Center on Ellsworth Air Force Base will host a poster contest, t-shirt decorating, and educational displays. Earlier in the month they held an anti-tobacco 5k for children and families. Time: 1 PM. Location: 1679 Ellsworth Street #7712, Ellsworth AFB. Contact: Edna Oliver (605) 431-1322.
Youth at the Boys and Girls Club in Yankton are constructing a giant graffiti puzzle wall to fight tobacco. The wall will include nine puzzle piece poster boards of anti-tobacco information, student handprints and signatures. Time: 4:30 PM. Location: 2008 Mulberry Street, Yankton. Contact: Cassidy Janicek (573) 239-7245.
Students at Cheyenne Eagle Butte Upper Elementary School in Eagle Butte will learn about the dangers of e-cigarettes from Teens Against Tobacco Use (TATU) students from the Cheyenne Eagle Butte School. Fifth and sixth grade students will also take a pledge to #BeTheFirst tobacco-free generation on posters hung on their lockers. Time: 8 AM – 3 PM. Location: Cheyenne Eagle Butte Upper Elementary School, S. Prairie Road, Eagle Butte. Contact: Jamie Pesicka (605) 964-1260.
All events are on March 15 unless otherwise indicated. For a full list of Kick Butts Day activities in South Dakota, visit www.kickbuttsday.org/map. Additional information about tobacco, including state-by-state statistics, can be found at www.tobaccofreekids.org.
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SOURCE Campaign for Tobacco-Free Kids