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Iowa Kids Will 'Kick Butts' on March 19

State Leaders Urged to Support Tobacco Prevention Initiatives

WASHINGTON, March 13, 2014 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- Kids in Iowa 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 55,000 children in Iowa 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 Iowa alone, tobacco use claims 4,500 lives and costs $1.3 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 Iowa include:

Students at Exira-Kimballton Middle School in Exira will decorate T-shirts and wear them to school in an effort to raise awareness about the dangers of tobacco. The students will also provide information to their peers about being tobacco-free. Time: 9 AM. Location: 105 E. School Street, Exira. Contact: Regina Jackson (712) 792-9266 ext. 603.

Students at Glenwood Middle School in Glenwood will feature an educational booth to teach their peers about the harmful effects of tobacco use. Time: 11:15 AM. Location: 400 Sivers Road, Glenwood. Contact: Melody Ragland (712) 527-9699.

Members of the Sioux City Mayor's Youth Commission in Sioux City will organize a cigarette butt cleanup to remove the growing eyesore around the city. Groups of students will rid the city of the litter and raise awareness of the dangers of tobacco among their peers. Time: 4 PM. Location: Siouxland District Health Department, 1014 Nebraska Street, Sioux City. Contact: Becky Carlson (712) 279-6119.

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

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