State Leaders Urged to Support Tobacco Prevention Initiatives
WASHINGTON, March 19, 2012 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- Kids in Texas 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 consequences 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.
In Texas, health advocates are working to pass a comprehensive smoke-free law that applies to all workplaces, including restaurants and bars.
"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 Texas, tobacco use claims 24,500 lives and costs $5.8 billion in health care bills each year. Currently, 21.2 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 Texas include (all events are on March 21 unless otherwise noted):
On March 19, the Alcohol & Drug Abuse Council for the Concho Valley in San Angelowill call on youth organizations from around the county to design billboards containing "Kick Butts" messages. They will display the billboards along Houston Harte byway to encourage a tobacco-free community. Time: 12 P.M. Location: 3553 Houston Harte Expressway, San Angelo. Contact: Paulette Barnes-Schell (325) 450-4176.
Middle and high school students at Mitchell Guidance Center in Victoriawill partner with Mid-Coast Family and Mitchell's Angels to host a "Girl Talk" event to discuss Big Tobacco's marketing tactics targeting young girls and women. Students will mail thank you cards to fashion magazines that have opted not to advertise tobacco products. Time: 2:30 P.M. Location: 306 East Commerce Street, Victoria. Lisa Griffin: (361) 676-8620.
On March 22, local organizations and middle school SADD (Students Against Destructive Decisions) club members will host an anti-tobacco rally for area teens. Motivational speaker Travis Reed will address students about living tobacco-free. Time: 6 P.M. Location: Tom Bean High School, 7719 State Highway 11, Tom Bean. Contact: Sharon Stephens (214) 457-5629.
On March 22, the Housing and Community Services Inc. will partner with the San Antonio Council on Alcohol and Drug Abuse in San Antonioto host a communitywide Anti-Tobacco Rally. Special guests include Commissioner Tommy Adkisson and Sheriff Amadeo Ortiz. Time: 4:00 P.M. Location: Champion Homes Marshall Meadows, 1803 Marshall Cross Drive, San Antonio. Contact: Fernando Velazquez (210) 380-6138.
On March 23, kids from San Antonio will "Say No to Smoking" by displaying posters around Dr. Charles Andrews Apartments to encourage residents to live smoke-free. The district's City Councilman, Reed Williams, will present a proclamation to show his support for the youth's efforts. Time: 4 P.M. Location: 4060 Medical Drive, San Antonio. Contact: Melanie Villalobos (210) 336-1932
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.