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Arizona Kids Will 'Kick Butts' On Wednesday, March 20

State Leaders Urged to Support Tobacco Prevention Initiatives

WASHINGTON, March 15, 2013 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- Kids in Arizona will stand up against tobacco on March 20 as they join thousands of young people nationwide for the 18 th annual Kick Butts Day. More than 1,200 events are planned across the United States. (See below for a list of local events.)

(Logo: http://photos.prnewswire.com/prnh/20080918/CFTFKLOGO)

Organized by the Campaign for Tobacco-Free Kids and sponsored by United Health Foundation, Kick Butts Day is an annual celebration of youth leadership and activism in the fight against tobacco use. On Kick Butts Day, youth will encourage their peers to stay tobacco-free. They will also educate their communities about the dangers of tobacco and the tobacco industry's harmful marketing practices.

This year on Kick Butts Day, the Campaign for Tobacco-Free Kids is highlighting the tobacco industry's products and marketing that entice kids to use tobacco. According to the Federal Trade Commission, tobacco companies spend $8.5 billion a year – nearly $1 million each hour – to market cigarettes and smokeless tobacco products. This marketing has an impact on kids:

  • While the U.S. has greatly reduced youth smoking, 18.1 percent of high school students still smoke, and nearly 1,000 kids become regular smokers each day. Among youth smokers, 86 percent prefer Marlboro, Newport and Camel, which are the three most heavily advertised cigarette brands, according to the government's National Survey on Drug Use and Health.
  • Tobacco companies have also introduced new products that appeal to kids, including cheap, sweet, colorfully-packaged small cigars that look just like cigarettes. Many cigars come in fruit and candy flavors such as strawberry, vanilla, peach and apple.
  • In a 2012 report, the U.S. Surgeon General concluded that tobacco marketing causes kids to start and continue using tobacco products.

"On Kick Butts Day, kids will stand up and reject Big Tobacco's manipulative marketing," said Matthew L. Myers, President of the Campaign for Tobacco-Free Kids. "It's also a chance for elected leaders to commit to protecting kids from tobacco through policies such as tobacco taxes, smoke-free laws and prevention programs. We hope that legislators will listen to their young constituents and implement these proven solutions to reduce tobacco use and save lives."

Tobacco use is the number one cause of preventable death in the United States, killing more than 400,000 people and costing $96 billion in health care bills each year.

In Arizona, tobacco use claims 6,800 lives and costs $1.28 billion in health care bills each year. Currently, 17.4 percent of the state's high school students smoke.

On Kick Butts Day, kids turn the tables on Big Tobacco with events that range from "They put WHAT in a cigarette!?" demonstrations to health fairs to rallies at state capitols. Activities in Arizona include:

  • The Ahwatukee Children's Theatre in Phoenix will celebrate "Butt Out Day" with an original production starring local children about the dangers of smoking, avoiding peer pressure and pledging to "not pick up a stick." The performance is free of charge. Time: 10 AM. Location: Ahwatukee Children's Theatre, 5051 E. Elliot Road, Phoenix. Contact: Michele Rubino (602) 561-9060.
  • Youth will hold a rally at the Mohave County Administration Building in Kingman. Students will dramatically drop every 30 minutes to visually signify tobacco's death toll. The event will also feature an anti-tobacco pledge wall, AshLine cessation program information and a visual representation of tobacco's effects on health. Time: 11:30 AM. Location: Mohave County Administration Building, 700 W. Beale Street, Kingman. Contact: Annie Meredith (480) 203-3087.
  • The Tanner Community Development Corporation will collaborate with Students Taking A New Direction (STAND), the Phoenix Youth Taking Charge (YTC) and members of Native American Health to hold an interactive anti-tobacco rally in downtown Phoenix . Youth will hold a flash mob and create an anti-tobacco pledge wall. Time: 11:30 AM. Location: CityScape Phoenix, 1 E. Washington Street, Phoenix. Contact: Clyde Miller (602) 486-8192.
  • Arizona STAND, in collaboration with Tucson Indian Center (TIC) and the Pima County Health Department, will sponsor an anti-tobacco pledge wall outside of City Hall in Tucson . Students will "drop dead" to represent the number of deaths each day due to tobacco use. Time: 3:30 PM. Location: Presidio Park, 160 W. Alameda Street, Tucson. Contact: Claire Scheuren (520) 977-7786.
  • On March 27, Native Americans for Community Action and Coconino County will collaborate to host a pledge wall in front of City Hall in Flagstaff . Youth will collect anti-tobacco and quit pledges from passersby. Time: 2:30 PM. Location: Flagstaff City Hall, 211 W. Aspen Avenue, Flagstaff. Contact: Contact: Candice Koenker (928) 814-6679.

(Note: all events are on March 20 unless otherwise indicated.)

For a full list of Kick Butts Day events in Arizona, visit http://www.kickbuttsday.org/events. Additional information about tobacco, including state-by-state statistics, can be found at www.tobaccofreekids.org.

CONTACTS: Mike Warner, 704-333-9868 Catherine Butsch, 202-296-5469

SOURCE Campaign for Tobacco-Free Kids

Copyright 2011 PR Newswire. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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