Louisiana Kids Will ‘Kick Butts’ on Wednesday, March 20
State Leaders Urged to Support Tobacco Prevention Initiatives
WASHINGTON, March 15, 2013 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ — Kids in Louisiana 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 Louisiana, tobacco use claims 6,500 lives and costs nearly $1.5 billion in health care bills each year. Currently, 21.8 percent of the state’s high school students smoke. Louisiana health advocates are working to significantly increase the cigarette tax.
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 Louisiana include:
- On March 16, the DYPA Foundation will invite Councilwoman C. Denise Marcelle along with other youth and community leaders in Baton Rouge to share what it means to be tobacco-free. Time: 12 PM. Location: Howell Community Park, 5509 Winbourne Avenue, Baton Rouge. Contact: Yalandra McClain (601) 980-1469.
- The DEFY youth from Turning-Point Services, Inc. will release 350 balloons at Woodlawn Leadership Academy to represent the number of youth who will begin smoking this year. On March 21, they will host a block party in downtown Shreveport to educate the community about the harmful effects of tobacco. Time: 9 AM (Balloon Launch) and 4 PM (Bloc Party). Location: Woodlawn Leadership Academy, 7340 Wyngate Boulevard, Shreveport; 610 Texas Avenue, Shreveport. Contact: Shauna Morris (318) 820-6483.
- On March 21, Council Chairwoman Arlanda Williams will join the youth of Terrebonne Parish to discuss the impact of tobacco marketing at a town hall meeting in Gray. After the meeting, students will release balloons to commemorate all who have died from tobacco-related diseases. Time: 4 PM. Location: North Terrebonne Branch Library, 4130 West Park Avenue, Gray. Contact: Gail Brigham (985) 414-2087.
- On March 23, Face to Face Enrichment Center will sponsor their annual “Bowling for Butts” event in Baton Rouge to encourage youth to stand up against smoking. The youth will visit local parks to pick up cigarette butts which can then be redeemed for a free game of bowling. Time: 12 PM. Location: All Star Lanes, 9829 Airline Highway, Baton Rouge. Contact: Kisha Ricks (225) 281-7364.
- On March 23, the Central Louisiana Area Health Education Center will hold a “Why Animals Kick Butts” scavenger hunt at the Alexandria Zoo in Alexandria. All participants will receive prizes, and admission will be free for the first 200 visitors. Time: 10 AM. Location: Alexandria Zoo, 3016 Masonic Drive, Alexandria. Contact: Elizabeth Sylvest (318) 308-6900.
(Note: all events are on March 20 unless otherwise indicated.)
For a full list of Kick Butts Day events in Louisiana, visit http://www.kickbuttsday.org/events. Additional information about tobacco, including state-by-state statistics, can be found at www.tobaccofreekids.org.
CONTACTS: Joyce Kim, 202-745-5068 Catherine Butsch, 202-296-5469
SOURCE Campaign for Tobacco-Free Kids