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Louisiana Kids 'Kick Butts' on March 24

Friday, March 19, 2010 General News J E 4
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State Leaders Urged to Support Higher Tobacco Taxes, Other Tobacco Prevention Initiatives

WASHINGTON, March 18 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- Kids in Louisiana 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.

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 record budget deficits, state leaders 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, 20 percent of high school students still smoke.

In Louisiana, tobacco use claims 6,500 lives and costs $1.47 billion in health care bills each year.  Currently, 19.4 percent of the state's high school students smoke, and 23,700 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 Louisiana include (all events are on March 24 unless otherwise noted):

On March 25, students from Loyola University are hosting a basketball shoot-out tournament for Kick Butts Day to educate students about the dangers of tobacco use.  Time: 12 PM.  Location: 6363 St. Charles Avenue, New Orleans.  Contact: Andrew Crawford (504) 865-3835.

SmokingWords, a student group from Louisiana State University (LSU) will be participating in the LSU Wellness Fair to promote smoking cessation programs and advocate for a smoke-free campus.  The Tobacco Free Living Student Coalition will join to spread their effort toward achieving tobacco-free campuses on all Louisiana colleges and conduct student video testimonials about smoking on campus.  Time: 10AM.  Location: LSU Highland Road, Baton Rouge.  Contact: Dr. Judith Sylvester (225) 983-7512.

Delgado Community College and students from Campus Resistance Against Smoking Habits (C.R.A.S.H.) are pairing up with the college Fitness Center, respiratory programs, radiology programs and nuclear medicine programs to provide students with smoking cessation information.  The groups' goals are to enforce stricter tobacco laws across seven campuses.  Time: 10 AM.  Location: Dolphin Patio, 615 City Park Avenue, New Orleans.  Contact: Stephen Monnerjahn (504) 915-7452.

Southeastern Louisiana University students are running two Facebook campaigns to collect 690 shoes to represent the number of Louisiana residents who die because of tobacco and secondhand smoke.  The shoes will be displayed on campus and then sold to raise money for the American Cancer Society.  Time: 10 AM.  Location: Southeastern Louisiana University, Student Union Mall SLU 10310, Hammond.  Contact: Annette Baldwin (985) 634-8100.

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

SOURCE Campaign for Tobacco-Free Kids

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