Texas Leaders Urged to Pass Strong, Statewide Smoke-Free Law
WASHINGTON, March 21, 2011 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- Kids in Texas 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.
In Texas, health advocates are urging state leaders to enact a strong, statewide smoke-free law that applies to all workplaces, restaurants and bars. To date, 29 states and the District of Columbia have enacted smoke-free laws that cover all restaurants and bars. These laws protect workers and the public from secondhand smoke, which is a proven cause of lung cancer, heart disease and other serious illnesses.
"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 Texas, tobacco use claims 24,500 lives and costs $5.83 billion in health care bills each year. Currently, 21.2 percent of the state's high school students smoke, and 115,100 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 Texas include (all events are on March 23 unless otherwise noted):
At the Westgate Mall in Amarillo, Family Support Services will have freeze flash mobs that will occur on the hour, every hour from 4 to 6 PM. The flash mob will raise awareness around the media's influence on tobacco use. Time: 4 PM. Location: 7701 W Interstate 40 #140, Amarillo. Contact: Brandi Reed (806) 681-5401.
Members of Health Rocks will display body bags and tombstones in prominent places around Huntsville High School in Huntsville to represent the number of people who die each day from tobacco and secondhand smoke in Texas. Time: 10:30 AM. Location: 441 FM 2821 Road East, Huntsville. Contact: Shannon Duncan (936) 293-2500.
The Presa Community Center will host a night of games, arts and crafts, and educational activities for local youth of San Antonio to raise awareness around the risks and effects of smoking. Time: 5:30 PM. Location: 3721 South Presa, San Antonio. Contact: Ashley Nicholas (210) 454-2947.
United States Custom Officers and Laredo Constables will present to students at Katherine Tarver Elementary School about the dangers and consequences of tobacco use. Afterwards the kids will take turns destroying a cigarette pinata. Time: 8 AM. Location: 3200 Tilden, Laredo. Contact: Veronica Jimenez (956) 334-1061.
On March 26, the Word of Mouf group from Memorial High School in Port Arthur will host a KBD carnival with tobacco education activities, including art and slogan contests. Time: 12 PM. Location: 3501 Staff Sgt. Lucian Adams Drive, Port Arthur. Contact: Anna Bartsch (409) 626-1134.
Note to the media: For a list of Kick Butts Day events in Texas, visit www.kickbuttsday.org/events. Additional information about tobacco, including state-by-state statistics, can be found at www.tobaccofreekids.org.
Frank Walsh, 202-745-5110
Ashley Rockhold, 202-296-5469
SOURCE Campaign for Tobacco-Free Kids