Kids Take Center Stage in Fight Against Tobacco on April 13, Kick Butts Day

Elected Leaders Urged to Redouble Tobacco Prevention Efforts In Response to CDC Survey Showing Progress Has Stalled

Apr. 12 2005

Washington, DC — Thousands of kids across America take center stage in the fight against tobacco on April 13 as they participate in the tenth annual Kick Butts Day. About 2,000 events are planned in all 50 states (news releases listing events in each state can be found at www.kickbuttsday.org).

Sponsored by the Campaign for Tobacco-Free Kids, Kick Butts Day is an annual celebration of youth leadership and activism in the fight against tobacco use. From rallies at state capitols to mock trials of the Marlboro Man, kids are sending two powerful messages on Kick Butts Day: They want the tobacco industry to stop targeting them with marketing for cigarettes and other tobacco products, and they want elected officials to do more to protect them from tobacco.

Adding to the excitement of this year’s Kick Butts Day is the participation of two-time Olympic gold medal swimmer Natalie Coughlin as national spokesperson for the event. Coughlin won five medals – two gold, two silver and a bronze – in the Athens Olympics last summer, making her the most decorated female athlete at those games.

This year’s Kick Butts Day comes as a recent survey by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) found that our nation’s recent progress in reducing youth tobacco use has slowed considerably or stalled. Since peaking at 36.4 percent in 1997, the national smoking rate for high school students has declined by 40 percent, to about 22 percent. However, the recent CDC survey found no significant changes in either high school or middle school smoking rates from 2002 to 2004.

Public health experts have pointed to several reasons for this leveling off in youth smoking rates: While states have cut funding for tobacco prevention programs by 28 percent in the last three years, the tobacco companies have increased their marketing expenditures to a record $12.7 billion a year – more than $34 million a day. More than two-thirds of all tobacco marketing dollars is spent on cigarette price discounts and free cigarette giveaways that make cigarettes more affordable to kids, who are very price-sensitive.

“On Kick Butts Day, kids are standing up to the tobacco companies and demanding that public officials join with them by supporting proven tobacco prevention measures,” said William V. Corr, Executive Director of the Campaign for Tobacco-Free Kids. “The dramatic progress our nation has made since the first Kick Butts Day ten years ago shows that we know how to reduce tobacco use. But the recent CDC survey is a wakeup call to elected officials that they cannot take continued progress for granted and must redouble efforts to implement proven measures to reduce tobacco use, including tobacco tax increases, well-funded tobacco prevention programs, and smoke-free air laws.”

Tobacco use is the leading preventable cause of death in the United States, killing more than 400,000 people and costing the nation more than $89 billion in health care bills each year. Every day, another 2,000 kids become regular smokers, one-third of whom will die prematurely as a result.

On Kick Butts Day, kids take their turn as leaders in the fight against tobacco. Events include:

San Francisco, California - The Aggressive Skaters Association will make a tour stop at Lincoln High School in San Francisco to perform a show for the 2,500 students and spread awareness about the dangers of tobacco products. Time: 11 am to noon. Location: Lincoln High School, 2162 24th Avenue, San Francisco. Contact: Steven Perelmen, 916-555-4391.

Denver, Colorado - Denver Public Health will sponsor a Kick Butts Day Art Contest that includes entries from area elementary and high schools. Artwork will be displayed at Girls Inc. in Denver. Time: 4:30 pm to 6:00 pm. Location: 1499 Julian Street, Denver. Contact: Binh Hang, 303-436-3053.

Washington, D.C. - An art contest, a memorial wall and pledge wall, musical performances by middle and high school students, and a step performance by Wilson High School's step team will be held from 1:30 to 3:00 pm at Hardy Middle School, 1819 35th St. NW. Contact: Holly Aprea 202-296-5469.

Des Moines, Iowa - More than 150 youth will gather in Des Moines to attend a training session and then meet with state leaders about increasing the cigarette tax. A press conference will follow at the Capitol at 1:00 pm with Lt. Governor Sally Peterson and others. Location: West side of Capitol near the cannons. Rain location: west and north side hallways in the Capitol. Contact: Kassie Hobbs, 563-349-2708.

Chicago, Illinois - The Partnership for a Smoke Free Chicago is putting on the annual “Kick Butts & Booze” Nite at Malcolm X City College. More than 100 youth representing dozens of community and faith-based organizations, grassroots groups, and substance abuse prevention organizations from throughout the Chicago metro area will celebrate being ATOD (Alcohol, Tobacco & Other Drugs) Free. The event begins at 6:00 pm at 1900 W Van Buren. Contact: Ronald Harris, 773-722-7900.

Boston, Massachusetts - Bold Teens Against Tobacco will hold a number of activities at the Codman Square Tech Center, 450 Washington Street, Boston. From 3:00 pm to 6:00 pm, they will explore what’s really in a cigarette, erect a graffiti wall that expresses their feelings about tobacco industry marketing and manipulation, make pledges to help family and friends quit smoking, and hold an anti-tobacco ad contest. Contact: Cynthia Loesch, 781-405-8648.

Brooklyn, New York – Fourth and fifth graders at P.S. 29 in Brooklyn will hear from Natalie Coughlin, the Olympic gold-medalist swimmer and this year’s Kick Butts Day national spokesperson, during an anti-tobacco assembly starting at 11:30 am. The kids will then hold a large anti-tobacco track meet from 1:00 pm to 3:00 pm, showcasing the t-shirts and banners they have designed. P.S. 29 is located at 425 Henry Street, Brooklyn. Contact: Kathleen Nobles, 917-817-2212.

Cleveland, Ohio – Some 200 youth from stand, Ohio's youth-led anti-tobacco campaign, will attend the Cleveland Indians game to celebrate being smoke-free, raise awareness about the harmful effects of tobacco use and provide help to Ohio smokers who want to quit. Students will hold anti-tobacco signs and pass out information and gear to promote the free Ohio Tobacco Quit Line (1-800-QUIT-NOW). This event begins at 5:30 PM at Jacobs Field, 2401 Ontario St. Contact: Jessica George, 513-235-8027.

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