SYS-CON MEDIA Authors: Elizabeth White, Xenia von Wedel, Peter Silva, Glenn Rossman, Ava Smith

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Illinois Kids Will 'Kick Butts' on March 19

State Leaders Urged to Support Tobacco Prevention Initiatives

WASHINGTON, March 13, 2014 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- Kids in Illinois 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 230,000 children in Illinois 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 Illinois alone, tobacco use claims 16,000 lives and costs $5.5 billion in health care bills each year. Currently, 17.5 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 Illinois include:

On March 18, students at Schuyler Industry Middle School in Rushville will display donated shoes, collected by the school's student council, to illustrate how many people die each day in the U.S. from tobacco and secondhand smoke. The event will also include general information on the dangers of smoking and pledge cards for students who commit to being tobacco-free. Time: 10:45 AM. Location: 750 N. Congress Street, Rushville. Contact: Tami Zeeck (217) 323-2980.

OSF Saint Francis Medical Center in Peoria, in conjunction with the Children's Hospital of Illinois, will host a Kick Butts Day poster and art contest to showcase 4th- to 12th-grade students' artwork throughout central Illinois with the theme of "Don't Let Your Community Go Up in Smoke." Prizes will be awarded to the top students from each grade level. Time: 4 PM. Location: 530 Northeast Glen Oak Avenue, Peoria. Contact: Kathleen Copelen (309) 363-6429.

Students at Holy Family School in Granite City will participate in a Kick Butts Day assembly, which will include displays of shoes symbolizing the number of people who die daily from smoking and secondhand smoke and guest speakers from Barnes Hospital to discuss the dangers of smoking. Time: 12:30 PM. Location: 1900 Saint Clair Avenue, Granite City. Contact: Cathy Webb (618) 604-9276.

Organizers at Ann & Robert Lurie Children's Hospital of Chicago will offer materials to patients and visitors on the dangers of smoking, in support of a smoking prevention program being administered through connected pulmonary clinics. Time: 11 AM. Location: 225 E. Chicago Avenue, Chicago. Contact: Tony Talley (708) 822-7066.

On March 22, students involved in the Korean American Resource and Cultural Center youth program in Chicago will hold an anti-smoking event. Activities include a cups-in-a-fence visual display and a banner showing the harmful effects of smoking. Time: 11 AM. Location: 5941 N. Richmond Avenue, Chicago. Contact: Mara Hontanosas (312) 678-7043.

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

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

Logo - http://photos.prnewswire.com/prnh/20080918/CFTFKLOGO

SOURCE Campaign for Tobacco-Free Kids

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