Apr. 8 1997
Washington, DC - As part of the second annual Kick Butts Day Thursday, thousands of youth advocates in more than 50 cities and towns across America will stand up to the tobacco industry by organizing youth rallies at their state capitols, burning brand-name tobacco merchandise, lobbying for stronger anti-tobacco measures in their schools and communities and asking teen role models to quit smoking. The kids won’t be alone in their fight. From President Bill Clinton, who will attend a youth rally in New York City April 15, and Vice President Al Gore, who will attend a rally at Washington, D.C.’s Hardy Middle School on April 10, to cabinet members, governors, state attorneys general, federal, state and local legislators and small-town mayors and council members, elected officials at all levels will stand up with kids to proclaim that Americans will no longer tolerate the tobacco industry’s addiction of new generations of smokers. While the students rally, "Mr. Butts," the satirical Doonesbury character created by Garry Trudeau and the inspiration for the Kick Butts Day logo, will reappear in the Doonesbury comic strip, focused around the Liggett Group’s recent admission that tobacco companies intentionally market their lethal products to kids. On Kick Butts Day, the strip will mention the CAMPAIGN FOR TOBACCO-FREE KIDS and its involvement with school children. Nationwide, Kick Butts Day, sponsored by the CAMPAIGN FOR TOBACCO-FREE KIDS and New York City Public Advocate Mark Green, encourages leadership and activism among youth. Thousands of middle and high school students are organizing activities to expose and counter the tobacco industry’s powerful promotional strategies aimed at children and teenagers. "Five billion dollars a year in ads and promotion amounts to child abuse," Green said. "Kick Butts Day gives kids a chance to tell the tobacco companies to stop recruiting from the ‘minor leagues.'" In Minneapolis, MN, a group of Native American students plans to burn baseball caps, T-shirts and other tobacco merchandise they have collected. In Buffalo, NY, a student-initiated countywide ordinance banning vending machines and self-service cigarette displays will be introduced Thursday. In Baltimore, MD, students will conduct an undercover "sting" operation to check retailers’ compliance with the new FDA Rule requiring them to ask young cigarette buyers for proof of age. In Baton Rouge, LA, fifth graders will testify before state legislators on the problem of youth smoking. And in Madison, WI, Jackson, MS and Tallahassee, FL, students will rally on the steps of their state capitols. The list of participating schools and youth organizations grows daily. Currently, Kick Butts Day activities are confirmed in: Little Rock, ARKANSAS Birmingham, ALABAMA Tucson and Lake Havasu City, ARIZONA Malibu, Santa Ana, San Jose, Sacramento, San Diego, San Francisco and Petaluma, CALIFORNIA Denver and Grand Junction, COLORADO Tallahassee and Tampa, FLORIDA Atlanta, GEORGIA Honolulu, HAWAII Chicago and Naperville, ILLINOIS Indianapolis, INDIANA Cedar Rapids, IOWA Baton Rouge, LOUISIANA Portland, MAINE Annapolis and Baltimore, MARYLAND Boston and Wilbraham, MASSACHUSETTS Detroit and Marquette, MICHIGAN Minneapolis, Crookston, and Little Falls, MINNESOTA Jackson, MISSISSIPPI St. Louis, MISSOURI Helena, MONTANA Las Vegas, NEVADA Franklin, NEW HAMPSHIRE Albuquerque, Clovis, Las Cruces and Springer, NEW MEXICO Runnemede, NEW JERSEY Batavia, Buffalo, Brooklyn, Manhattan, Mt. Morris, Queens, Forest Hills and West Hempstead, NEW YORK Philadelphia, PENNSYLVANIA Horry County, Spartanburg, and Greenville, SOUTH CAROLINA Austin and Fort Worth, TEXAS Alexandria and Hampton, VIRGINIA Washington, D.C. Madison, WISCONSIN Events in dozens of other cities also are being planned. The teen advocates face a tough challenge. About 4.5 million young people, age 12-17, use tobacco. Smoking among high school students is at a 17-year high. An estimated 3,000 kids become regular smokers each day, while another 6,000 light up their first cigarettes. And the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reported recently that, unless trends are reversed, five million children alive today will die early because of a lethal habit picked up in childhood. Kick Butts Day is an opportunity for kids to band together to stop this trend. "When kids see how cigarette ads try to manipulate them into believing that smoking is cool and glamorous, that's usually a bigger turn off to smoking than adults saying 'don't smoke,'" said William D. Novelli, president of the CAMPAIGN FOR TOBACCO-FREE KIDS, organizer of Kick Butts Day. "When kids hear it from other kids, they're more likely to pay attention." According to Bob Chase, president of the National Education Association, "The kids get a kick from knocking the Marlboro man off his high horse, but they also learn why Joe Camel isn't cool at all." Supporting sponsors of Kick Butts Day include the American Cancer Society, American Heart Association, American Lung Association, American Medical Association and the National Education Association. The CAMPAIGN FOR TOBACCO-FREE KIDS is the largest initiative ever undertaken to decrease youth tobacco use in the United States. Its mandate is to focus the nation's attention and action on keeping tobacco marketing from seducing children and making tobacco less accessible to kids. For more information about Kick Butts Day and youth anti-tobacco advocacy, e-mail the National Center for Tobacco-Free Kids at firstname.lastname@example.org. Internet address: www.tobaccofreekids.org.