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Soccer Players Join Kids to 'Kick Butts’ on April 14

Join Thousands of Youth Nationwide Fighting for a
September 04, 1999

Washington, DC - Soccer players and kids across the country are teaming up to kick butts on the soccer field April 14, as athletes join the fight against Big Tobacco on Kick Butts Day. On April 14, kids in several states will take part in events that combine Kick Butts Day and the SmokeFree Kids soccer program of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. Professional, semi-pro and college soccer players will join them in a show of support for kids standing up to tobacco. In Columbus, OH, U.S. Surgeon General David Satcher will take part in an assembly at Hamilton Township High School. The coach and members of the Columbus Crew, a Major League Soccer professional team, and Lou Ellen Fairless, director of the Ohio Department of Health, also will participate. Elementary school students have been collecting thousands of tobacco ads from magazines they read and will cover a soccer goal with them to highlight the pervasiveness of tobacco marketing. During the assembly, the kids will kick the collage down with soccer balls. The assembly starts at 2 p.m. in the Hamilton Township High School gym. For more information, contact Randy Hertzer at (614) 644-8562. In Denver,CO, the Colorado Comets men’s semi-pro soccer team and Mayor Wellington Webb will join middle and high school students at a rally on the west steps of the State Capitol. Kids there also have gathered enough tobacco advertising to cover a soccer goal and will kick it all down with soccer balls at the rally. Local TV anchor Ward Lucas will emcee the event and the executive director of the state health department will speak. For more information, call Brooke Merriam at (303) 861-2406. In St. Paul, MN, members of the Minnesota Thunder men’s semi-pro team will participate in a rally at Battle Creek Elementary School. Kids there will aim their soccer balls at a goal covered with tobacco ads, and Gov. Jesse Ventura has been invited to attend. Fore more information, call Sylvia Bruns-Peter at (651) 293-8850. In Fort Collins, CO, actor and former Winston man Dave Goerlitz, who has spoken out against tobacco for a decade, speaks to sixth graders at Laurel Elementary School. After school, women’s soccer players from Colorado State University and Rocky Mountain High School give tobacco the boot when they take on a team of students. The “Smokers” vs. the “Non-Smokers” will show who has the stamina to win, as the coach taps kids who are designated “smokers” and makes them fall out of the game because they can’t keep up. When the game’s over, the kids can give tobacco ads the boot, too, with a soccer ball. For more information, call Steven Dike-Wilhelm at (970) 495-7509. In Newport, ME, the University of Maine women’s soccer team will participate in a rally at a Newport Junior High School at 1 p.m. with kids also kicking down tobacco advertising collages on soccer goals. In Fillmore, NY, kids are making soccer ball decorations with tobacco ads and will then kick butts (play soccer). They also are making Joe Camel and Marlboro Man pinatas to smash into bits. In San Angelo, TX, the Angelo State University women’s soccer team will participate in a rally at 8 a.m. on April 29. In Poughkeepsie, NY, Girl Scouts and the Tobacco Free Action Coalition are having a combined soccer/anti-smoking workshop. Smoke-free pledges and patches will be given to girls who participate. Kick Butts Day 1999, a day that helps kids become leaders and advocates in the battle against tobacco, is co-sponsored by the CAMPAIGN FOR TOBACCO-FREE KIDS and New York City Public Advocate Mark Green. Now in its fourth year, Kick Butts Day will include young people from cities and towns in all 50 states carrying out more than 1,000 events designed to educate their peers about tobacco addiction and harm and to reduce kids’ access to tobacco products. The students in participating schools, community, civic, religious and other groups will carry out a variety of tobacco prevention activities. Their efforts include conducting surveys of tobacco advertising near their homes and schools, lobbying local officials to support anti-tobacco ordinances, holding mock funerals for the Marlboro Man and conducting undercover buying operations. Soccer enthusiasts from SmokeFree Kids have joined the Kick Butts Day team with their unique events to kick tobacco off the playing field. “Kids are particularly effective advocates against youth tobacco use when they speak with one voice -- as they do on Kick Butts Day,” said Bill Novelli, president of the CAMPAIGN. “Their peers -- and adults -- listen to them when they talk about how kids are being targeted as replacement smokers for the 400,000 smokers who die every year from their tobacco-caused diseases and for others who manage to quit.” Kicking off this year’s initiative is a pep rally in Washington, D.C., where a leading youth advocate will present Secretary of Education Richard Riley and Secretary of Health and Human Services Donna Shalala with the results of a new survey on teens and tobacco advertising conducted by the CAMPAIGN. Vice President Al Gore will participate in a school assembly in Akron, Ohio, and other Clinton Administration officials will attend Kick Butts Day events elsewhere. Gore will be releasing important new information in the battle over kids and tobacco. 'I am deeply concerned about the high level of tobacco use among our nation’s youth,' said Gore. 'I have participated in Kick Butts Day for three years now, because it's an excellent opportunity to get the message out that childhood should be tobacco-free. Kick Butts Day encourages kids to stand up to tobacco and encourages adults to stand up with them.' Every day, 6,000 kids smoke cigarettes for the first time, and 3,000 become regular smokers. One-third of these regular smokers will die prematurely from tobacco-related disease. Kick Butts Day 1999 is co-sponsored by American Academy of Family Physicians; the American Cancer Society; American Heart Association; American Academy of Pediatrics; American Association of School Administrators; American Federation of Teachers; American Medical Association; American Public Health Association; American School Counselor Association; Big Brothers/Big Sisters of America; Channel One Network; Children’s Defense Fund; Girl Scouts of the U.S.A.; Girls, Inc.; Latino Council on Alcohol and Tobacco; National Association of Children’s Hospitals and Related Institutions; Nationals Association of School Nurses; National Association of Secondary School Principals; National Education Association; National Federation of State High School Associations; National Middle School Association; Oral Health America; YMCA of the USA; YWCA of the U.S.A. and Youth Service America. The Washington, DC-based 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 1999 and youth tobacco control advocacy, visit the Kick Butts Day web site. For information on the status of tobacco settlement spending by state, visit the CAMPAIGN's special section on the national settlement. For more information on the SmokeFree Kids & Soccer program, visit the website at