Georgia Kids Will ‘Kick Butts’ on Wednesday, March 20
State Leaders Urged to Support Tobacco Prevention Initiatives
WASHINGTON, March 15, 2013 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ — Kids in Georgia will stand up against tobacco on March 20 as they join thousands of young people nationwide for the 18(th) annual Kick Butts Day. More than 1,200 events are planned across the United States. (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 $1 million 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 Georgia, tobacco use claims 10,500 lives and costs $2.25 billion in health care bills each year. Currently, 17 percent of the state’s high school students smoke.
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 Georgia include:
- On March 16, students from the Health, Education, Awareness, Research on Tobacco Coalition’s Help Everyone Live Positive (H.E.A.R.T. to H.E.L.P.), will educate spectators and athletes about the harmful effects of smoking at Morehouse College’s annual Tiger Relays in Atlanta. Time: 9 AM. Location: B.T. Harvey Stadium, 830 Westview Drive, Atlanta. Contact: Denis Smith (843) 476-9782.
- On March 19, students at J.T. Reddick Middle School in Tifton and Ben Hill Middle School in Fitzgerald will listen to Patrick Reynolds, grandson of tobacco company founder, R.J. Reynolds, speak about the dangers of tobacco use. Time: 9 AM (Tifton) and 1:30 PM (Fitzgerald). Location: J.T. Reddick Middle School, 404 Martin Luther King, Jr. Drive, Tifton; Ben Hill Middle School, 134 JC Hunter Drive, Fitzgerald. Contact: Lindy Bengston (229) 206-2713.
- White County Ninth Grade Academy in Cleveland will have an “Airing out Big Tobacco’s Dirty Laundry” display along with 46 pairs of shoes during their lunch breaks to spread awareness about the harmful effects from tobacco. Location: 136 Warriors Path, Cleveland. Contact: Annette Boswell (706) 878-8583.
- Students from Arthur Williams Middle School in Jesup will create a flash mob during all lunch periods as they show their support for Kick Butts Day. Time: 10:30 AM. Location: 1175 S. Highway 301, Jesup. Contact: Rhonda Stuckey (912) 427-1025 ext. 26.
- The PRIDE Youth Programs from Bulloch Alcohol and Drug Council will have a “They put WHAT in a Cigarette?!” display and hand out pledge cards at Portal Middle High School to help students stay tobacco-free. Students will also perform a skit for the Pre-K classes about standing up to peer pressure. Time: 10:45 AM. Location: Portal Middle High School, 27245 Highway 80 West, Portal. Contact: Demita Clark-Hubbard (912) 764-6405.
(Note: all events are on March 20 unless otherwise indicated.)
For a full list of Kick Butts Day events in Georgia, visit http://www.kickbuttsday.org/events. Additional information about tobacco, including state-by-state statistics, can be found at www.tobaccofreekids.org.
CONTACTS: Genevieve Rupp, 202-745-5118
Catherine Butsch, 202-296-5469
SOURCE Campaign for Tobacco-Free Kids