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Arkansas Kids Will 'Kick Butts' on March 19

State Leaders Urged to Support Tobacco Prevention Initiatives

WASHINGTON, March 13, 2014 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- Kids in Arkansas will stand up against tobacco on March 19 as they join thousands of young people nationwide for the 19th annual Kick Butts Day. More than 1,400 events are planned across the nation. (See below for a list of local events.)

Campaign for Tobacco-Free Kids logo

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

This year, Kick Butts Day comes as new information reaffirms the urgent need for action. The United States is marking the 50th anniversary of the first Surgeon General's Report on Smoking and Health, and a new Surgeon General's report released in January found that smoking is even more hazardous than previously thought. Key findings of the report include:

  • Each year, smoking kills 480,000 people in the U.S. and costs the nation at least $289 billion in health care bills and other economic losses.
  • Without urgent action to reduce smoking, 5.6 million U.S. children alive today will die prematurely from smoking-caused disease. That includes 69,000 children in Arkansas alone.
  • Tobacco marketing causes kids to start and continue using tobacco products.

Nationwide, tobacco companies spend $8.8 billion a year – one million dollars each hour – to market cigarettes and smokeless tobacco products. In particular, tobacco companies target youth with magazine ads, store ads and discounts, and fruit- and candy-flavored small cigars that look just like cigarettes.

"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. "Elected officials must stand with them by supporting proven measures to protect kids from tobacco addiction, including tobacco taxes, smoke-free laws and prevention programs. On the 50th anniversary of the first Surgeon General's report, we need bold action to create a tobacco-free generation and end the tobacco epidemic for good."

In Arkansas alone, tobacco use claims 5,100 lives and costs $1.2 billion in health care bills each year. Currently, 18.2 percent of the state's high school students smoke.

On Kick Butts Day, kids turn the tables on Big Tobacco in creative ways, with events that range from small classroom activities about the harmful ingredients in cigarettes to large rallies at state capitols.

Activities in Arkansas include:

On March 15, the Youth Extinguishing Tobacco Items team will pick up cigarette butts in Minnie Harris Park and present the butts and a petition highlighting the new tobacco-free policy to the City Council. Time: 12 PM. Location: Intersection of Lakeshore Drive and S. Willow Street, Harrison. Contact: Tawana Manning (870) 688-4321.

On March 18, the Youth Extinguishing Smoking team, supported by students from across the state of Arkansas, will hold a "YES on the Hill" press conference and anti-tobacco rally at the State Capitol in Little Rock. Time: 11 AM. Location: 500 Woodlane Drive, Little Rock. Contact: Genine Perez (501) 310-0607.

On March 18, Nettleton and Valley View High School's boys and girls soccer teams will partner with the NEA Baptist Charitable Foundation's Center for Healthy Children to host a "Be Tobacco Free/Kick Butts Awareness Game." Time: 5 PM. Location: 4201 Chieftan Lane, Jonesboro. Contact: Ron Teat (870) 897-9057.

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

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SOURCE Campaign for Tobacco-Free Kids

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