Mar. 12 1997
Washington, DC - Thousands of young people nationwide will stand up and speak out against tobacco marketing and sales tactics on April 10 during the CAMPAIGN FOR TOBACCO-FREE KIDS’ second annual Kick Butts Day. Middle and high school students in hundreds of cities and towns across the country will organize activities to expose and counter the tobacco industry’s powerful promotional strategies aimed at children and teenagers. "I’m a lot more aware of how cigarette companies go after kids my age to replace the older audience that is dying out, literally," said Earnest Simpson, 17, a junior at Woodbridge High School in N.J. Simpson participated last year in the Kick Butts Day event at his school that President Clinton attended. The one-day, national event, intended to encourage leadership and activism among students, will include activities such as: • Undercover Buying Operations where trained students, under adult supervision, will attempt to buy tobacco products. Retailers caught illegally selling to minors will be encouraged to obey the law; • "Smoking Out" Smoking Messages where students hunt down and record the number of cigarette ads, billboards and other pro-smoking messages they encounter every day; • Lobbying activities that high school students can undertake to support anti-smoking ordinances, or to oppose legislation supported by the tobacco industry; • Operation Storefront, designed by the California Department of Health Services, where students conduct surveys of the tobacco advertising and promotional items displayed in community stores; and • Merchandise "Dumps" where students collect caps, hats, jackets, T-shirts, ashtrays, backpacks and other tobacco items carrying tobacco brand names, and then ceremoniously throw them into a huge dumpster to raise awareness of the popularity and availability of these promotional items among kids. Schools across the U.S. will hold assemblies and rallies on April 10 to celebrate the culmination of the Kick Butt Day activities. "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, the group organizing the event. "And when kids hear it from other kids, they’re more likely to pay attention." Schools that cannot participate April 10 are encouraged to hold events on other days. Supporting sponsors of Kick Butts Day include American Cancer Society, American Heart Association, American Academy of Pediatrics, American Lung Association, American Medical Association, American Association of School Administrators, American Federation of Teachers, National Association of Elementary School Principals, National Association of Secondary School Principals, National Education Association (NEA), National Federation of State High School Associations, National Middle School Association, Stop Teenage Addiction to Tobacco, National PTA, and Student Coalition Against Tobacco. "The kids get a kick from knocking the Marlboro Man off his high horse, but they also learn why Joe Camel isn’t really cool after all," said NEA President Bob Chase. 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. The CAMPAIGN has more than 100 member organizations.