WASHINGTON, March 18 Kids in Massachusetts 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).
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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 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 Massachusetts, tobacco use claims 9,000 lives and costs $3.54 billion in health care bills each year. Currently, 17.7 percent of the state's high school students smoke, and 25,600 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 Massachusetts include (all events are on March 24 unless otherwise noted):
In Boston, youth from across Massachusetts will join The 84 Movement in partnership with the Massachusetts Department of Public Health at the State House to talk with legislators on how tobacco companies target young people. Time: 9 AM. Location: Massachusetts State House, 24 Beacon Street, Boston. Contact: Brittany Chen (510) 541-6823.
At Arlington High School in Arlington, the Tobacco Education Program will survey students on their knowledge of tobacco facts. The survey and prizes are sponsored by George and Elizabeth E. Sanborn Foundation of Arlington, Mass. Time: 11 AM. Location: Arlington High School, 869 Massachusetts Avenue, Arlington. Contact: Lynda Mahoney (781) 316-3632.
Massachusetts Tobacco Control Program will lead youth to the Capitol in Boston to educate elected officials about tobacco products, tobacco trends among youth and retail advertising that targets their communities. Time: 1:30 PM. Location: Massachusetts State House, 24 Beacon Street, Boston. Contact: Patricia Henley (781) 690-6779.
Note to the media: For a list of Kick Butts Day events in Massachusetts, 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