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Utah Kids Will 'Kick Butts' on March 19

State Leaders Urged to Support Tobacco Prevention Initiatives

WASHINGTON, March 13, 2014 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- Kids in Utah 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 39,000 children in Utah 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 Utah alone, tobacco use claims 1,200 lives and costs $542 million in health care bills each year. Currently, 5.9 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.

March 19 activities in Utah include:

Members of the Washington County Youth Coalition (WCYC) in St. George will replace cigarette disposals with locked disposals at six area locations after conducting research to find where youth commonly take and smoke "halfsies."  Time: 3:30 PM.  Location: Southwest Public Health Department, 620 S. 400 E. Street. George.  Contact: Kaysha Price (801) 318-7278.

OUTRAGE, Island Teens Against Tobacco and Latinos in Action will invite youth from Utah County to participate in an "I am not a Target" anti-tobacco television advertising contest, with winning videos showcased in a screening in Provo.  Prior to the screening, winners will participate in a red carpet press event, where former Utah County smokers and Miss Northern Utah County, Kira Hannemann, will speak.  Time: 5:30 PM.  Location: Food Court, Provo Towne Center Mall, 1200 Towne Center Boulevard, Provo.  Contact: Sarah Simons (208) 604-2409.

Students of Richfield Residential Hall will hold a community-wide Kick Butts Day celebration in collaboration with the local public health department, a counseling center and a dentist office.  The celebration will feature a capture the flag game, educational booths and a tobacco-free pledge mural.  Time: 4 PM.  Location: 765 W. 1st Avenue, Richfield.  Contact: Lisa Taylor (435) 896-6121.

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