Texas Kids Will 'Kick Butts' on Wednesday, March 20

Mar 15, 2013, 13:23 ET from Campaign for Tobacco-Free Kids

State Leaders Urged to Support Tobacco Prevention Initiatives

WASHINGTON, March 15, 2013 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- Kids in Texas will stand up against tobacco on March 20 as they join thousands of young people nationwide for the 18th annual Kick Butts Day. More than 1,200 events are planned across the United States. (See below for a list of local events.)

(Logo: http://photos.prnewswire.com/prnh/20080918/CFTFKLOGO)

Organized by the Campaign for Tobacco-Free Kids and sponsored by 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. They will also educate their communities about the dangers of tobacco and the tobacco industry's harmful marketing practices.

This year on Kick Butts Day, the Campaign for Tobacco-Free Kids is highlighting the tobacco industry's products and marketing that entice kids to use tobacco. According to the Federal Trade Commission, tobacco companies spend $8.5 billion a year – nearly $1 million each hour – to market cigarettes and smokeless tobacco products. This marketing has an impact on kids:

  • While the U.S. has greatly reduced youth smoking, 18.1 percent of high school students still smoke, and nearly 1,000 kids become regular smokers each day. Among youth smokers, 86 percent prefer Marlboro, Newport and Camel, which are the three most heavily advertised cigarette brands, according to the government's National Survey on Drug Use and Health.
  • Tobacco companies have also introduced new products that appeal to kids, including cheap, sweet, colorfully-packaged small cigars that look just like cigarettes. Many cigars come in fruit and candy flavors such as strawberry, vanilla, peach and apple.
  • In a 2012 report, the U.S. Surgeon General concluded that tobacco marketing causes kids to start and continue using tobacco products.

"On Kick Butts Day, kids will stand up and reject Big Tobacco's manipulative marketing," said Matthew L. Myers, President of the Campaign for Tobacco-Free Kids. "It's also a chance for elected leaders to commit to protecting kids from tobacco through policies such as tobacco taxes, smoke-free laws and prevention programs. We hope that legislators will listen to their young constituents and implement these proven solutions to reduce tobacco use and save lives."

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.

In Texas, tobacco use claims 24,500 lives and costs $5.83 billion in health care bills each year. Currently, 17.4 percent of the state's high school students smoke. Texas health advocates are working to pass a comprehensive smoke-free law that applies to all workplaces, including restaurants and bars.

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:

  • University of North Texas students in Denton will conduct a "flash mob" to educate students about the number of tobacco-related deaths that occur every hour due to the effects of secondhand smoke. The event will help to reinforce the smokefree policy that the University put into place this past January. Time: 12:40 PM. Location: University of North Texas's Library Mall, 1155 Union Circle #305160, Denton. Contact: Noelle McIntyre (940) 565-4554.
  • Youth from Fort Bliss Army Installation will educate their community about the harmful effects of cigarettes by displaying anti-smoking messaging at the Freedom Crossing shopping center. Time: 2 PM. Location: 1611 Haan Road, Fort Bliss. Contact: Jessica Wilson (915) 493-1738.
  • The Guardian Angel Dance Studio, in collaboration with the City of Schertz and local performing arts organizations, will hold a "It's Cool to be Tobacco Free" "flash mob" with more than 100 children, to educate about the harmful effects of smoking and secondhand smoke. Time: 5:30 PM. Location: The Schertz Playscape, 798 Schertz Parkway, Schertz. Contact: Jacquelyn Darby-Dabney (210) 782-3798.
  • Permian Basin Regional Council on Alcohol and Drug Abuse's X-Out Youth Leadership Coalition in Odessa will feature a display of 66 pairs of shoes – to represent the number of people that die of tobacco-related illness each day in the state of Texas – at different junior highs throughout the week of March 18. On Kick Butts Day, the display will be featured at Ector Junior High School. Time: 11 AM. Location: 809 West Clements Street, Odessa. Contact: Mellessa Brenem (432) 940-6099.
  • Students from Ingleside High School will start the day with a silent march through Main Street followed by an afternoon "Soap Box Rally" outside the Ingleside City Hall and the Public Library to help encourage legislative support of the Clean Indoor Air Law in Texas. Time: 7:45 AM8:30 AM (March)/4 PM5 PM (Rally). Location: 2807 Mustang Drive, Ingleside (March); 2775 Waco Street, Ingleside (Rally). Contact: Darrien Skinner (361) 523-8505 or Donna Gonzales (361) 739-4501.

For a full list of Kick Butts Day events in Texas, visit http://www.kickbuttsday.org/events. Additional information about tobacco, including state-by-state statistics, can be found at www.tobaccofreekids.org.

Kimberly Rymsha, 202-745-5054
Catherine Butsch, 202-296-5469

SOURCE Campaign for Tobacco-Free Kids