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State Leaders Urged to Support Tobacco Prevention Initiatives
WASHINGTON, D.C. – Kids in North Carolina 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 nation. (See below for a list of local events.)
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 one million dollars 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 North Carolina, tobacco use claims 12,200 lives and costs $2.46 billion in health care bills each year. Currently, 15.5 percent of the state’s high school students smoke. North Carolina health advocates are working to restore funding for tobacco prevention programs.
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 North Carolina include:
· On March 16, teens from Asheville High School Teens Against Tobacco Use (TATU) club in Asheville will participate in a two-mile walk to urge the community to take action on tobacco policies. Representative Susan Fisher and City Councilmember Cecil Bothwell will join the celebration to support the efforts. Time: 9 AM. Location: Park Square Park, Asheville. Contact: Tyler Long (828) 779-5374.
· The Raleigh Police Department Drug Abuse Resistance Education (DARE) Unit and Parks and Recreation department will host a “Kick-a-Thon” with students from local martial arts schools to symbolize kicking tobacco and drugs out of Raleigh. Time: 6:30 PM. Location: Lions Park Community Center Gym, 516 Dennis Avenue, Raleigh. Contact: Vince Coxbeck (919) 996-1302.
· Students at Northwood High School in Pittsboro, Chatham Central High School in Bear Creek, and Jordan Matthews High School in Siler City will participate in various activities to demonstrate the harmful effects of tobacco, including a “Hanging Tobacco Out to Dry” clothesline activity. Location: Northwood High School, 310 Northwood High School Road, Pittsboro; Chatham Central High School, 14950 N. Carolina 902, Bear Creek; Jordan Matthews High School, 910 E. Cardinal Street, Siler City. Contact: Meredith Stewart (561) 951-0921.
· Youth will view the documentary “Addiction Incorporated” at the auditorium theater in the Erdahl-Cloyd wing of the Hunt Library on N.C. State’s campus. They will then pass out information on efforts to create smoke-free public places and increase funding for tobacco prevention programs. Time: 6:30 PM. Location: The James Hunt Library, 1070 Partners Way Raleigh, NC 27695 Contact: Lee Storrow (828) 337-6573.
(Note: all events are on March 20 unless otherwise indicated.)
For a full list of Kick Butts Day events in North Carolina, visit http://www.kickbuttsday.org/events. Additional information about tobacco, including state-by-state statistics, can be found at http://www.tobaccofreekids.org.