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Teens Plan Largest-Ever Anti-Tobacco Youth Initiative

AMERICA’S YOUTH WILL ‘KICK BUTTS’ ON APRIL 2 Teens Plan Largest-Ever Anti-Tobacco Youth Initiative
January 29, 1998

Washington, DC - Thousands of kids are launching plans for the third annual Kick Butts Day, a nationwide event that puts young people on the front lines of the tobacco wars. Aimed at curbing growing tobacco use among kids and exposing harmful youth-targeted tobacco marketing, Kick Butts Day mobilizes America’s kids as tobacco control leaders and activists. With comprehensive national tobacco control legislation on Congress’ 1998 agenda, and states across the country enacting tough tobacco laws, Kick Butts Day 1998 takes on new significance. This year’s event, scheduled for April 2, 1998, is expected to be the largest ever. Kids will speak out against tobacco as youth smoking rates skyrocket. Nearly 37 percent of America’s high school seniors now smoke, an alarming 19-year high. Each day, 3,000 kids -- more than one million a year -- become regular smokers; 1,000 of them will die prematurely from tobacco-related diseases. More dedicated than ever to exposing tobacco industry tactics that foster this deadly trend, youth in all 50 states will charge into battle on Kick Butts Day, spearheading an innovative range of school and community activities designed to fight back against the industry that preys on them. Kick Butts Day 1998 will feature, among many other activities: • Undercover Buying Operations -- trained students, under adult supervision, testing whether local store owners permit illegal tobacco sales; • Lobbying -- students initiating and/or supporting enactment of local and state anti-tobacco ordinances and legislation; • Operation Storefront -- students surveying tobacco advertising in local stores; • Merchandise Dumps -- students collecting products bearing tobacco brand names, then tossing them into dumpsters or hazardous materials containers; and • Youth Rallies -- anti-tobacco youth activists uniting with parents, teachers, community and government leaders at schools, shopping malls and state capitols. Last year, thousands of young advocates, in hundred of cities and towns across the country, stood up and spoke out against tobacco. In Virginia, teens tracked down magazines that accepted tobacco ads, then sent back subscription cards with a twist: each card carried a pro-health message -- postage courtesy of the magazine. In New Hampshire, 150 students analyzed tobacco ads, then set up a huge display in the school cafeteria, alerting students to tobacco companies’ marketing tactics. In Iowa, a student marching band sported anti-tobacco uniforms to 'drum out tobacco.' Students there also signed a petition calling for state-funded anti-tobacco public service announcements. California high schoolers supported a petition, too. Citing the influence of celebrities as teen role models, their petition urged actress Winona Ryder to quit smoking, at least in her screen roles. New York teens brought out a coffin – and buried tobacco merchandise inside. 'Kids listen to other kids. When their friends tell them that cigarette ads are trying to manipulate them into believing that smoking is cool and glamorous, it’s often a big turn off, bigger than adults saying ‘don’t smoke,’' said Bill Novelli, president of the CAMPAIGN FOR TOBACCO-FREE KIDS, which co-sponsors Kick Butts Day along with New York City Public Advocate Mark Green. In addition to Kick Butts Day, the CAMPAIGN FOR TOBACCO-FREE KIDS organizes the Youth Advocate of the Year Award, a nationwide competition that recognizes outstanding young tobacco control activists for their work in building a smoke-free community. Chosen by representatives of national public health organizations, the national and five regional winners must demonstrate initiative, leadership, creative problem-solving and impact in protecting youth from tobacco. Past winners have appeared on national television, participated in White House events, addressed press conferences and met with Members of Congress. The 1998 winners will be honored at an April 30 gala in Washington, D.C. The CAMPAIGN FOR TOBACCO-FREE KIDS is the nation’s largest non-government initiative ever undertaken to decrease youth tobacco use in the United States. For a free Kick Butts Day activity guide, or other information, write CAMPAIGN FOR TOBACCO-FREE KIDS (Attn: Activity Guide), 1707 L Street NW, Suite 800, Washington, DC 20036, or fax a request to 202-296-5427. To submit a request online, visit http://www.kickbuttsday.org. For more information on tobacco and kids, visit the CAMPAIGN’s website at http://www.tobaccofreekids.org.