State Leaders Urged to Support Higher Tobacco Taxes, Other Tobacco Prevention Initiatives
WASHINGTON, March 18 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- Kids in Texas 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).
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 Texas, tobacco use claims 24,500 lives and costs $5.83 billion in health care bills each year. Currently, 21.1 percent of the state's high school students smoke, and 110,000 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 Texas include (all events are on March 24 unless otherwise noted):
In Kilgore, 6th grade students at the Maude Laird Middle School will memorialize and remember the 67 Texans who die each day from tobacco and secondhand smoke. Time: 8 AM. Location: 2500 Shasta Way, Kilgore. Contact: Donna Shupe (903) 917-4093.
The Eastside Boys and Girls Club of Ft. Worth will celebrate Kick Butts Day with an interactive carnival where kids will learn about the dangers of tobacco use through games, trivia contests and educational displays. Time: 5 PM. Location: 4651 Ramey Street, Ft. Worth. Contact: Becky Runkel (817) 492-4673.
Students from the University of Houston will participate in a health fair consisting of interactive, educational activities including an art contest, booths that display the ingredients included in a cigarette, and free wellness checks. Time: 12 PM. Location: 4800 Calhoun Road, Houston. Contact: Saba Javed (832) 660-8884.
Students at Goldthwaite Middle School in Goldthwaite will decorate classroom doors and announce facts about tobacco over the PA system. Time: All Day. Location: 1507 Trent Street, Goldthwaite. Contact: Missy King (254) 931-2175.
Note to the media: For a list of Kick Butts Day events in Texas, 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