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Georgia Kids 'Kick Butts' on March 24

Friday, March 19, 2010 General News J E 4
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Georgia Leaders Urged to Increase Cigarette Tax by $1

WASHINGTON, March 18 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- Kids in Georgia will take center stage in the fight against tobacco on March 24 as they join thousands of young people nationwide for the 15th annual Kick Butts Day. More than 1,000 events are planned in all 50 states and the District of Columbia (for a list of local events see below).

(Logo: http://www.newscom.com/cgi-bin/prnh/20080918/CFTFKLOGO)

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.

In Georgia, health advocates are calling on state leaders to increase the cigarette tax by $1 per pack in order to prevent kids from smoking and raise much-needed revenue to address the state's budget shortfall and fund critical programs such as health care and education. According to a recent report by the Campaign for Tobacco-Free Kids, a $1 cigarette tax increase in Georgia would have the following benefits:

"On Kick Butts Day, kids are standing up to the tobacco companies, and Georgia leaders should stand with them by increasing the cigarette tax," said Matthew L. Myers, President of the Campaign for Tobacco-Free Kids. "A higher cigarette tax is truly a win-win-win for Georgia: a health win that will prevent kids from smoking and save lives; a budget win that will help protect vital programs like health care and education; and a political win that is popular with the voters."

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, 20 percent of high school students still smoke.

In Georgia, tobacco use claims 10,500 lives and costs $2.25 billion in health care bills each year. Currently, 18.6 percent of the state's high school students smoke, and 40,300 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 mock-funerals for the Marlboro Man to rallies at state capitols. Activities in Georgia include (all events are on March 24 unless otherwise noted):

In Lyons, students, parents, and community leaders from the Family Intervention Center will lead a "Take it to the Streets" event by decorating a chain link fence near a busy street with quotes from tobacco industry executives. Time: 4 PM. Location: 156 E Wesley Avenue, Lyons. Contact: Maudie Anderson (912) 585-4749.

In Rincon, 189 lunch boxes will be stacked at the front entrance of Rincon Elementary School to represent the number of youth in Georgia who start smoking every week. Time: 7 AM. Location: 501 N. Richland Avenue, Rincon. Contact: Laura Wood (912) 754-6491.

On March 20( )in Toccoa, the Georgia Baptist Conference Center will host a Kick Butts Day carnival to spread the tobacco use prevention message to the entire community. Time: 6 PM. Location: 8496 Lake Louise Road, Toccoa. Contact: Brenda Gragg (706) 391-1812.

The Carrollton Housing Authority will "Take It to the Streets" at the Adamson Square in downtown Carrollton to warn residents about the dangers of tobacco use. Residents will receive anti-smoking bracelets and learn about the dangerous chemicals found in cigarettes. Time: 4:30 PM. Location: 301 Adamson Square, Carrollton. Contact: Caroline Sanchez (648) 458-0111.

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

-- Raise $354.5 million in new annual revenue; -- Prevent 79,600 kids from becoming smokers; -- Spur 49,100 current adult smokers to quit; -- Save 38,400 residents from premature, smoking-caused deaths; and -- Save $1.8 billion in health care costs.

SOURCE Campaign for Tobacco-Free Kids
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