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Minnesota Kids Will 'Kick Butts' on March 19

State Leaders Urged to Support Tobacco Prevention Initiatives

WASHINGTON, March 13, 2014 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- Kids in Minnesota 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 102,000 children in Minnesota 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 Minnesota alone, tobacco use claims 5,400 lives and costs $2.51 billion in health care bills each year. Currently, 18.1 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 Minnesota include:

Students of Itasca Community College will give away "quit cold turkey" sandwiches along with information on the effects of tobacco and e-cigarettes.  A regional American Lung Association representative will offer cessation materials and guidance to help students quit smoking.  Time: 11 AM.  Location: Media Center Building (outside the library), 1851 E. Highway 169, Grand Rapids.  Contact: Bill Marshall (651) 236-0558.

Students from John Glenn Middle School will spell out "tobacco kills" with cups in a fence and display the deadly ingredients in a cigarette.  In addition, the Minnesota Association for Non-Smokers will hand out incentives to students who commit to be tobacco-free and will videotape students holding up signs stating why they choose not to smoke.  Time: 12 PM.  Location: 1560 E. County Road B., Maplewood.  Contact: Becky Muotka (612) 751-8016.

Lancaster Public School will display tombstones with statistics about how many tobacco-related deaths are caused on a daily and yearly basis.  Students will educate elementary students about the dangers of smoking and will pass out brochures, bracelets and pencils.  Time: 8 AM.  Location: 401 Central Avenue South, Lancaster.  Contact: Sandie Nelson (218) 762-5400.

On March 24, members of the Student Health Advisory Committee, from the University of Minnesota in Duluth, will hold a demonstration of how tobacco affects your health by showing the amount of tar that gets trapped in a smoker's lungs after one year.  Information and cessation resources will be available and students will be asked to make a pledge to be tobacco-free.  Time: 11 AM.  Location: Kirby Center, 1049 University Drive, Duluth. Contact: Dori Decker (218) 726-7046.

(Note: all events are on March 19 unless otherwise indicated.)

For a full list of Kick Butts Day events in Minnesota, 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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