Utah Kids to 'Kick Butts' on March 16

State Leaders Urged to Make the Next Generation Tobacco-Free

Mar 11, 2016, 11:00 ET from Campaign for Tobacco-Free Kids

WASHINGTON, March 11, 2016 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- Kids in Utah will stand up to Big Tobacco on March 16 as they join thousands of young people nationwide for 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 demand that tobacco companies stop marketing deadly products to them and encourage elected officials to help reduce youth tobacco use.

This year, Kick Butts Day is focusing attention on the outrageous marketing tactics tobacco companies still use to target youth. These tactics include:

  • Splashy ads in magazines with large youth readership, such as Sports Illustrated, Glamour and Rolling Stone.
  • Widespread advertising and price discounts in stores, which make tobacco products appealing and affordable to kids.
  • Sweet-flavored tobacco products such as electronic cigarettes and small cigars that come in flavors like gummy bear, cotton candy, watermelon and fruit punch. While youth cigarette smoking has fallen to record lows, the most recent government survey shows that e-cigarette use among high school students tripled from 2013 to 2014 (from 4.5 percent to 13.4 percent).

Nationwide, tobacco companies spend $9.6 billion a year – over one million dollars every hour – to market tobacco products. In Utah, tobacco companies spend $43.4 million annually on marketing efforts.

"On Kick Butts Day, kids stand up to the tobacco industry and all of us, especially our elected officials, should stand with them," said Matthew L. Myers, President of the Campaign for Tobacco-Free Kids. "We've made amazing progress in reducing youth smoking and can make the next generation tobacco-free. Elected officials in every state should help reach that goal by supporting proven strategies to prevent youth tobacco use, including higher tobacco taxes, strong smoke-free laws, prevention programs and raising the tobacco age to 21."

In Utah, tobacco use claims 1,300 lives and costs $542 million in health care bills each year. Currently, 4.4 percent of Utah'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 Utah, activities include:

Washington County Youth Coalition will host their 2nd annual kickball tournament to educate their peers about tobacco at Little Valley Fields. Time: 3:30 PM. Location: 2995 S. 2350 E. Street, St. George. Contact: Kaysha Price (435) 652-4064.

Cedar High School students in Cedar City will learn about the dangers of e-cigarettes and participate in a school-wide indoor kickball tournament hosted by the Southwest Behavioral Health Center, SW Utah Public Health Department, and Iron County School District.  Time: 3 PM. Location: 703 W. 600 S., Cedar City. Contact: Heidi Baxley (435) 867-7649.

The Governing Youth Council (GYC) in Logan will take a stand against tobacco by planning and implementing a graffiti wall in the community with anti-tobacco messages and facts. Time: 5:30 PM. Location: 813 N. 1400 E., Logan. Contact: Amanda David (801) 828-6717.

On March 24, youth from across Utah County will share their talents as a voice against the tobacco industry. OUTRAGE! of Utah County and Island Teens Against Tobacco, two anti-tobacco youth coalitions, will host a "Don't Lose Your Voice, Big Tobacco is a Choice" event at Center Stage on the Utah Valley University campus. Time: 6 PM. Location: 800 W. University Parkway, Orem. Contact: Olivia Hawkins (209) 277-5957.

On March 26, the Southeast Utah Health Department in Price will host the 4th annual "Don't be a Butt Head: Tobacco Kills" 5K walk/run to discourage tobacco use. Time: 9 AM. Location: Price City Trails, 111 N. 800 W., Price. Contact: Debbie Marvidikis (435) 637-3671.

All events are on March 16 unless otherwise indicated. For a full list of Kick Butts Day activities in Utah, 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