State Leaders Urged to Support Higher Tobacco Taxes, Other Tobacco Prevention Initiatives
WASHINGTON, March 21, 2011 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- Kids in Washington, DC, 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.
"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 Washington, DC, tobacco use claims 720 lives and costs $243 million in health care bills each year. Currently, 10.6 percent of the district's high school students smoke, and 1,800 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 Washington, DC, include (all events are on March 23 unless otherwise noted):
The Community Advocates of the Latin American Youth Center in Washington, DC, will hold a health fair where kids will learn about the dangers of tobacco use through a graffiti wall, educational displays and an art contest. Time: 4 PM. Location: 1419 Columbia Road, NW, Washington, DC. Contact: Liz Romero (323) 819-8579.
The Student Coalition Against Tobacco of Ocean City New Jersey High School will host a Tobacco Free Youth Rally on the National Mall across from the National Air & Space Museum. At the rally, they will display photos and personal stories of loved ones who have died from tobacco-related causes; collect signatures of people who commit to live tobacco-free for their pledge wall; and display 1,200 socks to signify the number of people who die each day from tobacco-use and tobacco related illnesses. The rally will begin with a parade at 4th Street, SW. Time: 1 PM. Location: Independence Avenue Southwest, Washington, DC. Contact: Thomas Gahr (609) 335-2319.
Note to the media: For a list of Kick Butts Day events in Washington, DC, visit www.kickbuttsday.org/events. Additional information about tobacco, including state-by-state statistics, can be found at www.tobaccofreekids.org.
Tamara Moore, 202-745-5114
Ashley Rockhold, 202-296-5469
SOURCE Campaign for Tobacco-Free Kids