Westfield kids to ‘Kick Butts’ March 14
Kids in Indiana will unite against tobacco use next week as they join thousands of young people nationwide to mark Kick Butts Day. More than 1,000 events are planned across the United States and around the world for this annual day of youth activism, sponsored by the Campaign for Tobacco-Free Kids.
At 11:15 a.m., March 14 youth from Westfield Middle School will decorate sidewalks with Kick Butts Day messages while completing a pledge to stay smoke free.
On Kick Butts Day, which is annually on March 15, kids encourage their peers to be tobacco-free, reject tobacco companies’ devious marketing and urge elected officials to help make the next generation tobacco-free.
This year, Kick Butts Day is focusing attention on how tobacco companies are enticing kids with a growing market of sweet-flavored products such as electronic cigarettes and cigars, threatening to addict a new generation. These products have proved popular with kids. From 2011 to 2015, e-cigarette use among high school students jumped from 1.5 percent to 16 percent nationwide, and more kids now use e-cigarettes than regular cigarettes. In addition, more high school boys now smoke cigars than cigarettes. E-cigarettes and cigars are sold in a wide assortment of candy and fruit flavors, such as gummy bear, cotton candy and fruit punch.
According to a press release from Kick Butts Day and Tobacco Free Kids, tobacco companies continue to market cigarettes and smokeless tobacco, much of it reaching kids. According to the release, nationwide, tobacco companies spend $9.1 billion a year – one million dollars every hour – on marketing. In Indiana, tobacco companies spend $284.5 million annually on marketing efforts.
In Indiana, a coalition of health, business and education leaders have launched the “Raise It For Health” campaign to raise the state tobacco tax by $1.50 per pack and restore funding for tobacco prevention and cessation programs.
“On Kick Butts Day, kids stand up to the tobacco industry, and our nation’s leaders must stand with them,” stated Matthew L. Myers, President of the Campaign for Tobacco-Free Kids. “We’ve made great strides in reducing youth smoking, but candy-flavored products like e-cigarettes and cigars threaten this progress. We need strong FDA regulation to protect kids from these sweet-flavored products. And elected officials at all levels should support proven strategies that prevent youth tobacco use, including higher tobacco taxes, strong smoke-free laws, funding prevention programs and raising the tobacco age to 21.”
In Indiana, tobacco use claims 11,100 lives and costs $2.93 billion in health care bills each year. Currently, 12 percent of Indiana’s high school students smoke.
On Kick Butts Day, kids join in creative events that range from classroom activities about the harmful ingredients in cigarettes to rallies at state capitols.
For a full list of Kick Butts Day activities in Indiana, visit www.kickbuttsday.org/map. Additional information about tobacco, including state-by-state statistics, can be found at www.tobaccofreekids.org.