Washington Kids 'Kick Butts' on March 23

Mar 21, 2011, 14:58 ET from Campaign for Tobacco-Free Kids

Washington Leaders Urged to Protect Successful Tobacco Prevention Program

WASHINGTON, March 21, 2011 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- Kids in Washington 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).

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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 Washington, health advocates are calling on elected leaders to restore funding for tobacco prevention programs that have worked to help people quit and keep kids from smoking. After years of being a national leader in fighting tobacco use, Washington has cut funding for its successful tobacco prevention and cessation program in half over the past two years.

Unless the Legislature acts quickly to provide new funding, the program will run out of funds on June 30, 2011, dealing a severe blow to Washington's efforts to reduce tobacco use.

"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, tobacco use claims 7,600 lives and costs $1.95 billion in health care bills each year.  Currently, 14.4 percent of the state's high school students smoke, and 28,200 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 include (all events are on March 23 unless otherwise noted):

The Teens Against Tobacco Use of Meadowdale High School will have an information booth about the risks and consequences of tobacco use.  Time: 10 a.m.  Location: 6002 168th Street SW, Lynnwood.  Contact: Julie Van Tosh (425) 248-8064.

The Virginia Mason Medical Center of Seattle will host a lunchtime smoking cessation program with the pulmonary, asthma, allergy and hyperbaric medicine teams to help local adults quit their tobacco habits and raise awareness about the risks and dangers of tobacco.  Time: 11 a.m.  Location: 1100 9th Avenue, Seattle.  Contact: Kathy Huffman (206) 583-6543.

Note to the media: For a list of Kick Butts Day events in Washington, visit www.kickbuttsday.org/events.   Additional information about tobacco, including state-by-state statistics, can be found at www.tobaccofreekids.org.

CONTACTS: Frank Walsh, 202-745-5110
Ashley Rockhold, 202-296-5469

SOURCE Campaign for Tobacco-Free Kids