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Montana Kids Will 'Kick Butts' on March 19

State Leaders Urged to Support Tobacco Prevention Initiatives

WASHINGTON, March 13, 2014 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- Kids in Montana 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 19,000 children in Montana 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 Montana alone, tobacco use claims 1,400 lives and costs $440 million in health care bills each year. Currently, 16.5 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 Montana include:

Washington Middle School students involved in the Teens in Partnership (TIP) program are taking a stand against Big Tobacco by hosting an anti-tobacco public rally during morning drive-time at the Badlands Federal Credit Union to educate the community about the dangers of smoking.  Joining the students will be Representative Alan Doane.  Time: 7:30 AM.  Location: 302 W. Towne Street, Glendive. Contact: Laureen Murphree (406) 377-5213.

Kids from the Boys & Girls Club of Dawson County will stand at busy intersections during drive-time with educational signs featuring anti-tobacco messages.  The goal of the demonstration will be to educate the community about the dangers of smoking.  Time: 3:30 PM.  Location: Merrill Avenue and W. Towne Street, Glendive. Contact: Jen Hawkinson (406) 939-2594.

Students at Cut Bank Middle School will teach their peers about the "deadly" marketing strategies tobacco companies use to appeal to youth by showcasing information about their tactics and the dangers of smoking.  Time: 11 AM.  Location: 101 3rd Avenue S.E., Cut Bank.  Contact: Jenny Krapf (406) 873-5887.

In efforts to reinforce the newly implemented tobacco-free zones in Great Falls parks, kids and teens in Great Falls will participate in a cigarette butt cleanup to remove this growing eyesore on the park grounds.  Time: 3:45 PM.  Location: Gibson Park, 1700 River Drive N., Great Falls.  Contact: Kati Antonich (406) 836-2740.

Students at Sidney Middle School will participate in a RAT-SCAT to celebrate Kick Butts Day.  STAND students will strategically place fake rats around the school to reinforce to students that arsenic (which is used in rat poison) is one of the many dangerous chemicals found in cigarettes.  Time: 9 AM.  Location:  415 S. Central Avenue, Sidney. Contact: Jacklyn Damm (406) 489-2779.

On March 20, students from Noxon School District's National Honor Society will hold a carnival to educate Noxon Public School elementary students about the dangers of tobacco use through games, contests and educational displays.  Time: 12:40 PM.  Location: 300 Noxon Avenue, Noxon.  Contact: Jan Parmelee (406) 210-2745.

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

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