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

State Leaders Urged to Support Tobacco Prevention Initiatives

WASHINGTON, March 15, 2013 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- Kids in Washington state 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 Washington, tobacco use claims 7,600 lives and costs $1.95 billion in health care bills each year. Currently, 12.7 percent of the state's high school students smoke. Washington health advocates are working to increase funding for tobacco prevention programs.

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 Washington include:

  • Middle and high school students in Bellingham will clean up cigarette butts at Cornwall Park as part of "Billions of Butts," a national effort to clean up cigarette butts from public spaces. The students will also track the number of butts collected and present their findings to the Parks & Recreation Advisory Board to educate them about the importance of smoke-free play areas. Time: 5 PM. Location: Cornwall Park, 3424 Meridian Street, Bellingham. Contact: Amy Hockenberry (360) 961-0807.
  • Middle and high school students from Auburn School District and Muckleshoot Tribal School will host "They put WHAT in a cigarette?!" events where they will display household chemicals that are found in cigarettes during students' lunch periods. They will also ask students to sign cards to pledge that they will live tobacco-free. Time: 10:30 AM. Locations: Rainer Middle School, 30620 116th Avenue SE, Auburn; Cascade Middle School, 1015 24th Street NE, Auburn; West Auburn High School, 401 W. Main Street, Auburn; Muckleshoot Tribal School, 15209 SE 376th Street, Auburn. Contact: Jill Jonier-Wong (206) 714-1984.

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

CONTACTS:

Erica Garland, +1-202-745-5119 Catherine Butsch, +1-202-296-5469



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