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Kids Across America 'Kick Butts' on April 3

Kids Call for Action as States Make Critical Decisions on Tobacco Prevention
April 02, 2002

Washington, DC — Thousands of kids across America take center stage in the fight against tobacco on April 3 as they participate in the seventh annual Kick Butts Day. More than 1,500 separate events are planned in all 50 states.

Kids are sending two powerful messages on Kick Butts Day 2002: They want the tobacco industry to stop targeting them with advertising and they want elected leaders to do more to protect them from tobacco. From mock-funerals for the Marlboro Man to rallies at state capitols to surveys of tobacco advertising, kids will be making their presence felt both vocally and visually.

Coinciding with this year's Kick Butts Day, the National Cancer Institute (NCI) today released a new report on youth smoking that concludes comprehensive tobacco prevention programs and cigarette tax increases are effective at reducing youth smoking.

'Research clearly indicates that tobacco control interventions…can be very effective in reducing cigarette smoking among adolescents. In particular, these include increased tobacco taxation and stronger tobacco control policies,' concludes the NCI report, entitled 'Changing Adolescent Smoking Prevalence.'

The NCI report and Kick Butts Day come as states faced with large budget deficits are making critical decisions about how much funding to provide for tobacco prevention programs and whether to increase cigarette taxes. Studies show the best state prevention programs are saving three dollars in smoking-caused health care costs for every dollar spent on prevention.

'On Kick Butts Day, kids are standing up against the tobacco companies, and it's important that elected officials across the 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.'

Tobacco use is the leading preventable cause of death in the United States, killing more than 400,000 Americans every year. 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. Nationally, 28 percent of high school students are current smokers.

Nationwide, cigarette makers spend $8.2 billion a year, $22.5 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:

Teammates from the WUSA's Washington Freedom and Atlanta Beat professional women's soccer team will help kids to literally 'Kick Butts' at events in Washington, DC, and Atlanta, GA. After hearing about the dangers of tobacco, students will kick soccer balls at a mural plastered with tobacco ads and anti-tobacco messages. Mr. Butts will serve as the hapless goalie.

The Washington, DC, event, organized by the group W.A.Y. (Washington Area Youth) Too Cool to Smoke, begins at 9 a.m. at Roosevelt High School, 4301 13th Street, NW. Washington Freedom players participating include Monica Gerardo, Ann Cook and Anne Makinen (Contacts: Ellen London, W.A.Y. Too Cool to Smoke, 202-347-4441; Ralph Alswang, Washington Freedom, 202-548-8774). The Atlanta event begins at 1 p.m. at Ralph J. Bunche Middle School, 1925 Niskey Lake Road. Atlanta Beat players participating include World Cup championship team goalkeeper Briana Scurry and teammates Cindy Parlow and Dayna Smith. Rosemarie Henson, Director of the Office of Smoking and Health of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, will also attend. (Contacts: Harrittia Willford, 404-444-1064, or Steven Rodriguez, 404-269-7561)

Chicago, IL: At Marshall High School, U.S. Rep. Danny Davis and tobacco prevention advocates will discuss how communities can empower themselves to protect kids from tobacco. This event, co-sponsored by the Illinois Coalition Against Tobacco, begins at 10:00 a.m. (Contact: Eric Hudson, 312-243-2000).

In state capitals across the country, youth will rally and lobby in support of measures to fund tobacco prevention, increase cigarette taxes and provide protection from secondhand smoke. Events include:

Denver, CO: Students will proclaim April 3rd Kick Butts Day at the State Capitol and perform a skit about peer pressure to use tobacco products. Their audience is expected to include state leaders. Time: 11:00 a.m. (Contact: Renard Simmons, 303-436-7202)

Hartford, CT: More than 1,000 kids, parents and teachers are expected at 11 a.m. at the State Capitol to rally against second-hand smoke. State Attorney General Richard Blumenthal is scheduled to speak. Now in its sixth year, the rally is organized by the American Heart Association and the MATCH Coalition (Mobilize Against Tobacco for Children's Health). (Contact: Lisa Franco, 203-294-0088 or 203-294-3552)

Dover, DE: At the Legislative Mall, hundreds of kids are expected for a rally from noon to 3 p.m. Activities will include the 'Walk of Death' led by the Grim Reaper and kids with faces painted white. Kids will demand protection from secondhand smoke as the Legislature considers legislation on the issue. (Contact: Margo McDonough and Deborah Brown, 302-655-7258)

Springfield, IL: At the Capitol, Girl Scouts from Troop 117 in Chicago will display their own Kick Butts Day banner consisting of anti-tobacco posters made by Chicago school children. The scouts will also meet with State Legislators. (Contact: Mary Morrissey-Kochanny at 773-238-3028)

Des Moines, IA: On the steps of the State Capitol, 500 high school students will rally beginning at 12:45 p.m. with the goal of getting state legislators to fully fund the state's Tobacco Use Prevention and Control program. (Contact: Leanna Brady, 1-877-92-LUNGS)

Nashville, TN: At the State Capitol, youth members of CHART (Campaign for a Healthy and Responsible Tennessee) will visit members of the Legislature to push for an increase in the state's cigarette tax. The visits will take place between 1:30 and 3:30 p.m. (Contact: Kathy Rivers, 615-554-3633)

Other events around the country include:

New York, NY: Chalk body outlines will appear on sidewalks before Kick Butts Day and on April 3, as kids throughout New York 'Chalk the Walk.' The body outlines will bear slogans about the dangers of smoking and the tobacco industry's targeting of children, such as 'Big Tobacco is Making a Killing.' The day's activities are sponsored by the American Cancer Society. (Contact: Dan Klotz, 212-237-3899)

Phoenix, AZ: A curtain will rise at 10 a.m. for the third straight year at Orpheum Theatre for 'Tobacco: The Musical.' More than 5,000 area school students will attend the extravaganza promoting the dangers of tobacco use. Actors are students from local schools in training with Desert Stages Theater in Scottsdale. (Contact: Sue Sisley, 480-922-9015 or 480-326-6023)

Augusta, GA: Members of Girls Inc. will distribute smoke-free dining guides, prepared by the Richmond County Health Department, to the Chamber of Commerce and area hotels so that visitors arriving for the Masters Golf Tournament know where they can dine smoke-free. They will also distribute certificates of appreciation to restaurants that have agreed to be smoke-free. (Contact: Sadie Stockton, 706-729-2055)

Concord, NH: Former U.S. Surgeon General C. Everett Koop will speak to 200 kids from across the state who will release the results of their surveys of tobacco advertising in stores. Attorney General Philip McLaughlin and state Dept. of Health and Human Services Director of Community and Public Health Kathleen Dunn will also attend. Time: 10 a.m. to noon. (Contact: Beth D'Ovidio, 603-271-5928)

Garretson, SD: Youth will host a Kick Butts Day play entitled 'If Big Tobacco Had Messed With Nursery Rhymes and Fairy Tales'. The audience will be youngsters from daycare and preschool through sixth grade. Time: 9:00 a.m. (Contact: Garretson School District, 605-594-3452)

Tacoma, WA: At Wright Park, student film crews from Foss and Lincoln High Schools will film a Public Service Announcement against littering the park with cigarette butts. The project is sponsored by the Young Filmmaker's Academy, a Seattle area non-profit that helps students develop skills in digital media. Time: 3:00 PM. (Contact: Kelly Selby, 253-222-1620)

St. Augustine, FL: St. Johns County SWAT (Students Working Against Tobacco) members will hold a jazz funeral procession at 7 p.m. in the Downtown Plaza to focus attention on the deadly impact of tobacco. (Contact: Nancy Birchall, 904-825-5060).

Gainesville, FL: At the Downtown Community Plaza, Alachua County SWAT members will host four hours of staged entertainment, including a three-rope rock wall, the University of Florida Gator Dazzlers Dance Team, the Gainesville Fire and Rescue Fire Clowns, an appearance by Mr. Butts and a merchandise dump to swap tobacco industry gear for new gear. Time: 4 to 8 p.m. (Contact: Stephen Langer, 352-334-7921)

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 2002, including a state-by-state list of activities, is available on the Internet at Information about the deadly toll of tobacco in our society can be found at