Local students join nation in effort to ‘Kick Butts’
Posted: Friday, March 30, 2012 5:00 pm
In nearly 1,200 events across the United States, thousands of youth, including those in Obion County, took action against Big Tobacco on March 21 — the 17th annual Kick Butts Day.
Students in the Union City School System and Obion County’s elementary schools attended assemblies promoting a tobacco-free life; were entertained by “Ciggy,” whose message is “Don’t Smoke Me, Be Tobacco Free”; signed pledge cards and participated in “Tobacco Free” door decorating contests, according to Obion County Prevention Coalition coordinator Regina Hendon.
Organized by the Campaign for Tobacco-Free Kids and sponsored by the 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 across America encouraged their peers to stay tobacco-free and educate their communities about the dangers of tobacco and the tobacco industry’s harmful marketing practices.
This year, Kick Butts Day came just after a new report by the U.S. Surgeon General found that while the nation has made tremendous progress in reducing youth smoking, youth tobacco use remains a “pediatric epidemic” that requires urgent action.
The Surgeon General’s report reached the following conclusions:
• While the high school smoking rate has been cut nearly in half since the mid-1990s, more than 3.6 million middle and high school students still smoke.
• In addition to long-term consequence such as cancer and heart disease, tobacco use immediately harms the health of youth and young adults. Smoking quickly causes nicotine addiction, cardiovascular damage, slower lung growth and shortness of breath.
• Tobacco marketing causes children to start and continue using tobacco products. Tobacco companies spend more than $10 billion a year — more than $1 million an hour — to advertise and promote their products.
• Science and experience have identified proven strategies to reduce youth tobacco use. These include mass media campaigns, increasing the price of cigarettes through higher tobacco taxes, smoke-free policies and school and community prevention programs.
Tobacco use is the No. 1 cause of preventable death in the United States, killing more than 400,000 people and costing $96 billion in health care bills each year. Nationally, 19.5 percent of high school students still smoke, and another 1,000 children become regular smokers every day.
In Tennessee, tobacco use claims 9,700 lives and costs $2.16 billion in health care bills each year. Currently, 20.9 percent of the state’s high school students smoke.
Published in The Messenger 3.30.12