Kids Across America ‘Kick Butts’ On… | Campaign for Tobacco-Free Kids
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Kids Across America ‘Kick Butts’ On March 31

Kids Call for Action as States Make Critical Decisions on Tobacco Prevention
March 31, 2004

Washington, DC — Thousands of kids across America take center stage in the fight against tobacco on March 31 as they participate in the ninth annual Kick Butts Day. More than 1,500 separate events are planned in all 50 states.

From rallies at state capitols to surveys of tobacco advertising, kids are sending two powerful messages on Kick Butts Day: they want the tobacco industry to stop targeting them with advertising and they want elected leaders to do more to protect them from tobacco.

“On Kick Butts Day, kids are standing up against the tobacco companies, and it’s important that elected officials 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 can prevent kids from smoking and protect everyone from the toxic substances in secondhand smoke by properly funding tobacco prevention programs, increasing tobacco taxes and enacting strong smoke-free workplace policies. We know these solutions reduce smoking, save lives and save money by reducing smoking-caused health care costs.”

Tobacco use is the leading preventable cause of death in the United States, killing more than 400,000 Americans and costing the nation more than $75 billion in health care bills each 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.

One of the key issues being highlighted on this year’s Kick Butts Day is the growing disparity between how much the tobacco companies spend to market their deadly products and how much the states spend to protect kids from tobacco.

According to the Federal Trade Commission, the tobacco companies spend a record $11.4 billion a year – $31.4 million a day – marketing their products, often in venues such as magazines and convenience stores that are effective at reaching kids. In contrast, the states are scheduled to spend $541 million this year on tobacco prevention programs and have cut such programs by 27 percent over the past two years. That means the tobacco companies spend more than twenty dollars marketing tobacco products for every dollar the states spend to reduce tobacco use.

On Kick Butts Day, kids take their turns as leaders in the fight against tobacco. A full list of events by state is available online at Highlights include:

New York City: Kick Butts Day tips off a day early today (March 30) to celebrate the first anniversary of New York City’s smoke-free workplace law. Isiah Thomas, NBA Hall-of-Famer and current President, Basketball Operations for the New York Knicks, will participate in a 1 p.m. awards ceremony at Department of Education headquarters (Tweed Courthouse) to recognize the winners of a citywide student art contest that encouraged creativity in delivering educational messages about tobacco. The event will also raise awareness of a nationwide campaign called C.H.A.M.P.S.S., or Children Helping And Motivating Parents to Stop Smoking. C.H.AM.P.S.S. is sponsored by the Campaign for Tobacco-Free Kids and Glaxo Smith Kline, marketers of over-the-counter (OTC) stop smoking products Nicorette® gum, NicoDerm® CQ® patch and Commit® lozenge. Contact: Kristin Kenny, 212-601-8201.

Sitka, Alaska: Gov. Frank Murkowski, who has proposed a $1 per pack increase in the state cigarette tax, is scheduled to speak at Sitka High School, where a variety of Kick Butts Day events, including an anti-tobacco track meet, are scheduled from 2 p.m. to 9 p.m. Contact: Trish Diehl, 907-747-8200.

Honolulu, Hawaii: In Honolulu, where legislators have been debating funding for tobacco prevention, youth from across Hawaii will host a legislative breakfast at the state Capitol to discuss their views with lawmakers. Location: Room 225 and on the lanai and the rotunda. Time: 7:30 AM to 11:00AM. Contact: Toni Symons, 808-426-9759.

Hartford, Connecticut: The MATCH (Mobilize Against Tobacco for Children’s Health) Coalition and the American Heart Association are sponsoring the 9th Annual Youth Rally with more than 500 youth and their families at the state Capital from 9:30 AM to 11:30 AM. Scheduled speakers include Attorney General Richard Blumenthal, State Senate President Kevin Sullivan, State Sen. Chris Murphy and State Rep. Andrew Fleischmann. Contact: Leah Stroman, 860-721-6888.

Des Moines, Iowa: The Iowa Department of Public Health will hold a youth march to draw attention to tobacco issues currently impacting Iowa. The event is scheduled from 10:00 AM to 2:00 PM. Contact: Beth Ritter-Ruback 319-338-2366 or Dan Ramsey 515-305-9507.

Baton Rouge, Louisiana: More than 1,000 teens from all over Louisiana are scheduled to converge on the State Capitol for a rally and other events. The day will include a legislative breakfast featuring presentations on secondhand smoke and educational booths set up in the Rotunda. Scheduled speakers for the rally on the Capitol steps include New Orleans Saints players who support a smoke-free stadium and Miss Teen Louisiana. Other events include a 'Bring It On Tobacco-Free Style' cheerleading competition with teams from all over the state cheering about tobacco awareness, a body count conducted by the grim reaper and a walking dead march around the capitol. The event is scheduled from 10:00 AM to 2:00 PM. Contact: Barbara Barras, Peers Against Tobacco, 985-369-9754.

Maryland: Maryland students have been holding a 'Be A Radio Idol' contest to develop 60-second public service announcements (PSAs) that expose tobacco industry efforts to target kids and young adults. Winners will be announced at 9 a.m. on Kick Butts Day at their respective schools, Boonsboro High School in Boonsboro and North Carroll Middle School in Hampstead. The contest is sponsored by the Maryland-Smoking Stops Here program and Maryland T.R.A.S.H. (Teens Rejecting Abusive Smoking Habits). The two PSAs will be played on Maryland radio stations. Contact: Laura Sobers, 410-234-2408.

Seattle, Washington: The Washington Department of Health will present a 'Tobacco Smokes You' concert at the Moore Theater in Seattle. The Black Eyed Peas will perform at 6:00 PM. Members from the Skagit H.E.A.T. (Helping Educate About Tobacco) youth group will 'Raid the Streets' near the theater to get the word out about the dangers of tobacco. The Department of Health features more information on this and many other statewide events at Contact: Tim Church, 360-236-4077.

Attention Radio Reporters: National, Spanish language and state-specific audio actualities are available for media use through a toll-free dial-in line. To access the sound, dial 888-784-3322 from a touch-tone phone. To hear national bites, press 001 at the main menu; to hear Spanish language audio, press 105 at the main menu; to hear state-specific bites follow the menu prompts. If you do not have a touch-tone phone and wish to receive a feed by e-mail (MP3), or if you have technical problems, please call Sean Amore at 202-638-0200.