WASHINGTON, March 10, 2017 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- Kids in Tennessee 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 Tennessee, tobacco companies spend $276.9 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 Tennessee, tobacco use claims 11,400 lives and costs $2.67 billion in health care bills each year. Currently, 11.5 percent of Tennessee'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 Tennessee, activities include:
The Boys and Girls Clubs of Kingsport, the Girls, Inc. and New Vision Youth will host an anti-tobacco rally at the Riverview Community Center in Kingsport. City leaders and police officers will join youth as they share personal stories of how tobacco has negatively impacted their lives. Time: 4 PM. Location: 285 Louis Street, Kingsport. Contact: Melony Ison (423) 742-1025.
A.C.T.I.O.N. Coalition, Coordinated School Health, HOSA Johnson County Chapter and Students Against Destructive Decisions (SADD) of Johnson County will facilitate a scavenger hunt with middle school students to discourage tobacco use. Youth will also talk to legislators to promote anti-tobacco policies. Time: 8:30 AM. Location: 500 Fairground Lane, Mountain City. Contact: Ryan Fletcher (336) 528-9803.
Students at American Baptist College are airing tobacco's dirty laundry to encourage their peers to live tobacco-free. Time: 10 AM. Location: 1800 Baptist World Center Drive, Nashville. Contact: Adulin Prophete (240) 559-4993.
On March 16, Students Against Destructive Decisions (SADD) at Gatlinburg Pittman High School will teach their peers about saying no to tobacco in the cafeteria during the lunch hours. Time: 11:30 AM. Location: 150 Profit Road, Gatlinburg. Contact: Kameron Ogle (865) 640-2052.
On March 18, students in partnership with Obion County Prevention Coalition and Health Department will participate in a Kick Butts Day flash mob to fight tobacco use. Time: 4:30 PM. Location: 528 U.S. Highway 51, Troy. Contact: Carla Aaron (731) 592-1718.
On March 22, students at the Boys and Girls Club in Jackson will participate in an interactive and educational session to raise awareness about the dangers of tobacco. Time: 4 PM. Location: 746 Lexington Avenue, Jackson. Contact: Rachel Thomas (731) 437-0920.
On March 24, the Boys and Girls Club of Hawkins County and the Hawkins County Health Department will put on a "Tobacco Stinks" educational program to inform youth about the dangers of smoking. Time: 3 PM. Location: 1604 E. Main Street, Rogersville. Contact: Sharon Phipps (423) 418-4640.
All events are on March 15 unless otherwise indicated. For a full list of Kick Butts Day activities in Tennessee, 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