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Kids Take Center Stage in Fight Against Tobacco on April 5, Kick Butts Day

Events to Highlight 1200 Deaths a Day from Tobacco in U.S.
April 03, 2006

Washington, DC — Thousands of kids across America take center stage in the fight against tobacco on April 5 as they participate in the eleventh annual Kick Butts Day. About 2,000 events are planned in all 50 states (for a list of events in each state, visit

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. This year, Kick Butts Day is focusing attention on the number 1200 – the number of Americans who die every day because of smoking and exposure to secondhand smoke (totaling 438,000 deaths a year, according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention).

This Kick Butts Day, youth are organizing creative displays to highlight the number 1200 and provide a stark reminder that these lives are not just statistics, but family members, friends and colleagues. Many of the events will feature displays of 1200 pairs of empty shoes. Other events include a display of 1200 footprints that students will sign at Delsea Regional High School in Franklinville, New Jersey; a display of 1200 ribbons in Juneau, Alaska; and an event in Salt Lake City, Utah, where 1200 youth will simultaneously 'drop dead' in a public square.

The Campaign for Tobacco-Free Kids and other public health advocates are calling on state and local elected officials to support scientifically proven measures to reduce tobacco use and its devastating toll. These measures include higher tobacco taxes, smoke-free air laws that require smoke-free workplaces and public places, and well-funded tobacco prevention and cessation programs. Health advocates are also calling on Congress to pass legislation granting the U.S. Food and Drug Administration authority over tobacco products, including the authority to crack down on tobacco marketing and sales to kids, require changes in tobacco products to make them less harmful and less addictive, and stop tobacco companies from making unsubstantiated claims that some tobacco products may be safer than others.

'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. 'The bad news about tobacco is that it is still the number one preventable cause of death in our country. The good news is that we know how to prevent kids from smoking and reduce the 1200 deaths a day caused by tobacco. We hope Kick Butts Day will inspire elected leaders to implement these proven solutions.'

While our nation has reduced high school smoking rates by 40 percent since 1997, the latest surveys show that 21.7 percent of high school students still smoke and progress in reducing youth smoking has slowed in recent years. Public health experts point to several factors for this leveling off: While states have cut tobacco prevention funding by 27 percent since 2002, the tobacco companies have increased their cigarette marketing expenditures to a record $15.4 billion a year – $42 million a day. The tobacco companies currently spend $28 to market tobacco products for every $1 the states spend to reduce tobacco use (the states combined are spending $551 million in the current fiscal year on tobacco prevention programs).

On Kick Butts Day, kids take their turn as leaders in the fight against tobacco. Events that will highlight the 1200 deaths a day from tobacco with displays of 1200 pairs of shoes include:

Miami, Florida: This event will include a press conference with youth and adult tobacco prevention advocates. Time: 11:00 AM. Location: Stephen P. Clark Center, 111 NW 1 Street. Contact: Jennifer Harris, 772-370-2585.

Boston, Massachusetts: Time: 2:30 PM. Location: Reggie Lewis Track and Athletic Center, 1350 Tremont Street, Boston. Contact: Cynthia Loesch, 781-405-8648.

Las Vegas, Nevada: The 1200 empty pairs of shoes will be displayed at the Fashion Show Mall on the Las Vegas Strip. Time: 10 AM to 6 PM. Location: Fashion Show Mall, 3200 S. Las Vegas Boulevard. Contact: Malcolm Ahlo, 702-809-9709.

Providence, Rhode Island: Time: 11:00 AM. Location: State Capitol. Contact: Ann Clanton, 401-435-7517.

Lincoln, Nebraska: Approximately 100 students from across the state will be at the State Capitol and Lt. Governor Rick Sheehy will make remarks. Time: 3:00 PM. Location: North Entrance of the Capitol building on K Street, across from the reflecting pools. Contact: Maellyn Hain, 402-643-0441.

Cincinnati, Ohio: Time: 11:00 AM to 5:00 PM. Location: National Underground Railroad Freedom Center, 50 E. Freedom Way. Contact: Kathy Simms, 513-868-2100.

Other major events include the following:

Washington, D.C.: Youth will display 1200 photos of people killed by tobacco. Time: 11:45 AM. Location: Lutheran Church of the Reformation, 212 East Capitol Street NE. Contact: Nicole Yazdanseta, 202-296-5469.

Salt Lake City, Utah: Kids will conduct a 'Drop Dead Day' at Library Square to symbolize the 1200 Americans who die every day because of tobacco. Time: 4:30 PM to 6:30 PM. Location: Library Square, 210 E. 400 South. Contact: Marci Fjelstad, 801-538-7085.

Philadelphia, Pennsylvania: Supporters of a proposed smoke-free workplace law in Philadelphia will hold a rally at noon at Dilworth Plaza. Time: Noon. Contact: Katherine Gajewski, 215-988-0458.

Tampa, Florida: Students will draw 88 chalk outlines to represent the 88 Floridians who die every day because of tobacco. Time: 8:30 AM. Location: Alonso High School, 8302 Montague Street. Contact: Claire Feagley, 813-434-7484.