State Leaders Urged to Support Higher Tobacco Taxes, Other Tobacco Prevention Initiatives
WASHINGTON, March 21, 2011/PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- Kids in Tennessee 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 Tennessee, tobacco use claims 9,700 lives and costs $2.16 billion in health care bills each year. Currently, 20.9 percent of the state's high school students smoke, and 30,100 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 Tennessee include (all events are on March 23 unless otherwise noted):
ProjectLives Cut Short will be at Legislative Plaza in Nashville to encourage students to utilize their creativity by camouflaging a pair of shorts honoring someone they knew who died from tobacco. Each school will send their best work of art to be combined by a local Nashville artist and displayed in the Legislative Plaza to encourage state and local politicians to pass stronger anti-tobacco policies and laws. Time: 8 a.m. Location: Legislative Plaza at the intersection of Union Street and 6th Avenue, Nashville. Contact: Sarah Lingo (615) 532-6597.
On March 22, studentsatHickman High School in Centerville will test local stores selling tobacco products to see if they are asking for proper ID or selling products illegally. Through these activities, along with radio public service announcements, students will try and educate the community about the dangers of tobacco and encourage people to be smokefree. Time: 9:30 a.m. Location: Centerville (various store locations). Contact: Karen Rogers (931) 446-3594.
On March 22, the Sycamore View Boys & Girls Club in Memphis will host a KBD Carnival with educational booths and activities sponsored by the American Red Cross, American Heart Association, American Cancer Society and local hospitals. Other booths will include face painting, t-shirt designs and a display of "They Put WHAT in a Cigarette?!" Time: 5 p.m. Location: 1910 Sycamore View, Memphis. Contact: Diane Stockard (901) 596-8386.