SYS-CON MEDIA Authors: Roberto Medrano, Dmitriy Stepanov, Gilad Parann-Nissany, Srinivasan Sundara Rajan, Sean Houghton

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Kansas Kids Will 'Kick Butts' on March 19

State Leaders Urged to Support Tobacco Prevention Initiatives

WASHINGTON, March 13, 2014 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- Kids in Kansas 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 61,000 children in Kansas 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."

Health advocates in Kansas are urging leaders to raise the cigarette tax to protect kids from tobacco and save lives.

In Kansas alone, tobacco use claims 3,800 lives and costs $1.1 billion in health care bills each year. Currently, 14.4 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 Kansas include:

Students at Hutchinson Community College will hold a variety of anti-tobacco events throughout the campus including informational displays from the business club and tombstones from the art club to raise awareness of the campus' newly updated tobacco policy. Time: 10 AM. Location: 1300 N. Plum Street, Hutchinson. Contact: Christina Long (620) 665-3521.

RESIST Youth and the Tobacco Free Kansas Coalition will participate in Kick Butts Day by organizing a cigarette butt cleanup around the Capitol in downtown Topeka. Time: 11 AM. Location: 300 Southwest 10th Avenue, Topeka. Contact: Erica Anderson (785) 272-8396.

On March 26, Students Against Destructive Decisions (SADD) members will expose the truth about how the tobacco industry targets youth with candy flavored tobacco products during lunch period at Kenneth Henderson Middle School. Students will also set up a display to help students visualize the number of lives lost in 30 minutes due to tobacco. Time: 11:25 AM. Location: 2406 Fleming Street, Garden City. Contact: Roy Cessna (620) 805-7014.

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

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