Mar. 31 2003
Washington, D.C. — Thousands of kids across America take center stage in the fight against tobacco on April 2 as they participate in the eighth annual Kick Butts Day. More than 1,500 separate events are planned in all 50 states.
AliKids are sending three powerful messages on Kick Butts Day 2003: They want the tobacco industry to stop targeting them with advertising; they want elected leaders to do more to protect them from tobacco; and they want their parents and loved ones to quit smoking.
From rallies at state capitols to surveys of tobacco advertising, kids are telling elected leaders that now is the time to enact strong policies that reduce tobacco use and the tremendous toll it takes in health, lives and money. This year, the Campaign for Tobacco-Free Kids has also teamed up with Pharmacia, makers of the Nicotrol® line of smoking cessation products, to provide kids with information about the dangers of smoking and secondhand smoke and ways they can encourage their parents and other loved ones who smoke to quit.
The budget crises many states are facing this year lend urgency to Kick Butts Day. Many states have responded by increasing cigarette taxes, which have been shown both to reduce smoking, especially among kids, and to raise much-needed revenue to balance budgets and fund vital programs. Other states are debating how much funding to provide for comprehensive tobacco prevention programs, which are proven to reduce smoking, save lives and save money by reducing smoking-caused health care costs. The best prevention programs are saving states up to three dollars in health care costs for every dollar spent on prevention.
A growing number of cities, counties and states are also implementing smoke-free indoor workplace policies that protect employees and customers from the proven dangers of secondhand smoke. From Delaware to Florida to New York City, voters and elected officials are recognizing the importance of protecting the right to breathe clean air, free from the 4,000 chemicals in secondhand smoke.
"On Kick Butts Day, kids are standing up against the tobacco companies, and it's important that elected officials across this country stand with them by supporting proven tobacco prevention measures," said Matthew L. Myers, President of the Campaign for Tobacco-Free Kids, which sponsors Kick Butts Day. "States that have increased cigarette taxes and funded comprehensive prevention programs have dramatically cut smoking among both kids and adults, saved lives by reducing lung cancer and heart disease, and saved millions of dollars in health care costs. Even in these difficult budget times, tobacco prevention is a good investment for kids and taxpayers."
Washington, D.C. Laila Ali – IBA, WIBA and IWBF Undefeated Super Middleweight Champion Boxer – will join more than 500 youth at a rally at Freedom Plaza. While demonstrating to young people how to make successful boxing moves, Ali will speak to the kids about the dangers of smoking and secondhand smoke and provide tips to share with their parents about how to quit smoking successfully. Studies show that kids whose parents smoke are more likely to start in the first place. Sponsored by Pharmacia, this event will provide a call to action to young people to help a loved one to quit.
"As an athlete and boxer, I know the importance of being healthy and smoke-free," said Laila Ali. "It's tough to quit smoking without help. Kids can have a big impact on parents by encouraging them to quit and pointing out how to get help to beat cigarettes."
Tobacco use is the leading preventable cause of death in the United States, killing more than 400,000 Americans every year, and costs the nation more than $75 billion a year in health care bills. Ninety percent of smokers start at or before the age of 18. Every day, 5,000 kids try their first cigarette. Another 2,000 kids become regular, daily smokers, one-third of whom will die prematurely as a result.
Nationwide, cigarette makers spend $9.6 billion a year – $26 million a day – marketing their deadly products, often in venues such as magazines and convenience stores that are effective at reaching kids.
On Kick Butts Day, Kids take their turns as leaders in the fight against tobacco. Events include:
Washington, DC: A youth rally led by W.A.Y. (Washington Area Youth) Too Cool to Smoke, champion boxer Laila Ali and Ward 4 Council Member Adrian Fenty will begin at 11:00 a.m. at Freedom Plaza. Contact: Rishi Sahgal, 202-289-5900.
Boston, MA: At the Boston State House 500 teens and other advocates from across the state will rally to demand lawmakers restore funding for Massachusetts highly successful tobacco prevention program. The rally will be followed by visits with legislators. Time: 10:00 a.m. to 2:00 p.m. Contact: Lori Fresina, 978-694-9988.
Also in Boston, at the Boston Common "T" Station, members of Teens Against Tobacco will hold a rally and press conference in celebration of a smoke-free Boston. Time: 3:30 p.m. to 6:00 p.m. Contact: Cynthia Kendrick Loesch, 781-405-8648.
Montgomery, AL: On Tuesday, April 1st, Leadership DeKalb students will rally at the State Capitol in Montgomery, attending House and Senate sessions and pushing for HB45, the "Alabama Clean Indoor Air Act." Many of the students are part of Teens Against Tobacco Use (TATU). The event runs all day. Contact: Zachary Lee Barksdale, 256-996-8164.
Hartford, CT: More than 1,000 kids, parents, and teachers will gather from 10:00 a.m. to 11:30 a.m. at the State Capitol to rally against youth tobacco use. This event is organized by the MATCH Coalition (Mobilize Against Tobacco for Children's Health) and the American Heart Association. Contact: Lisa Franco, 203-294-3552.
Philadelphia, PA: John Domzalski, Health Commissioner of Philadelphia, 'Uncle Otis' of Power 99FM, and Sterlen Barr of the Health Promotion Council will be holding an anti-tobacco educational rally for 150 students at William Penn Academy in Philadelphia from 4:00 p.m. to 6:00 p.m. Contact Reena Antony, 215-685-5243.
New York, NY: In Manhattan on March 31st, local activists will present a theatrical multi-media play entitled "The Pack" at the Stonestreet Studios. This play explores the dangers of secondhand smoke, and will be attended by students, teachers, and activists from across New York State and New Jersey. Time: 4:00 p.m. to 7:00 p.m. Contact: Karen Blumenfield, 908-377-3900.
Lansing, MI: At City Hall, kids will participate in a competition to create the best anti-tobacco public service announcement. Local newscasters and the American Lung Association will work with the Mayor's office throughout the day to help the students with their task. Contact: Lansing City Hall, 517-483-4141.
Uinta County, WY: MTV "Road Rules" personality and ex-smoker Piggy will visit and speak at the Uinta County Public Schools. Sponsored by the Uinta County Coalition for a Safe & Drug Free Environment, Piggy will speak to 3500 students in total about her fight to quit smoking. The following is her presentation schedule: April 2nd, Evanston High School at 10:45 a.m., Davis Middle School at 1:45 p.m.; On April 3rd, Mountain View High School at 8:30 a.m., Lyman High School at 2:10 p.m. At each school there will also be a "Letter to the Editor" contest in which students will express how tobacco use has affected them. Contact Mieke Madrid at 307-789-7194 x205.
Richland County, MT: The County Health Department will sponsor a "Stomp Out Tobacco" health walk with 1,200 students in Sidney. A media literacy presentation will be given beforehand by the youth group Tobacco Trading Card Kids. Special guests Mr. Butts, Art the Hart, and Vince and Larry the crash test dummies will accompany the kids as they march down Central Avenue. The winners of the countywide "Drown Out Big Tobacco" poster contest will carry their anti-tobacco banner in the parade. This event starts at 1:45 p.m. Contact Melissa Boyer at 406-433-2207.
Bismarck, ND: At the Bismarck High School, the Student Council will bring tobacco awareness to 1,400 BHS students by organizing a table of cigarette ingredients that are harmful, and will hand out educational materials on the individual and social risks of tobacco use. Gifts will be given to students who pledge to remain tobacco-free for 24 hours, or keep their car smoke free for 24 hours. This event, co-sponsored by the state's Tobacco Coalition Prevention and Cessation program, will take place from 11:00 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. Contact: Susan Anderson, BHS Tobacco Coordinator, at 701-221-3508.
The Kick Butts Day logo features Mr. Butts receiving disaffirmation to his hindquarters. The character is the creation of cartoonist Garry Trudeau and has been featured in his Doonesbury comic strip.
More information about Kick Butts Day 2003, including a state-by-state list of activities, is available on the Internet at www.kickbuttsday.org. Information about the deadly toll of tobacco in our society can be found at www.tobaccofreekids.org, and information on smoking cessation can be found at www.makeapromise.com.