SYS-CON MEDIA Authors: Pat Romanski, Michael Jannery, Javier Paniza, Kevin Jackson, Glenn Rossman

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Louisiana Kids Will 'Kick Butts' on March 19

State Leaders Urged to Support Tobacco Prevention Initiatives

WASHINGTON, March 13, 2014 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- Kids in Louisiana 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 98,000 children in Louisiana 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 Louisiana alone, tobacco use claims 6,200 lives and costs $1.9 billion in health care bills each year. Currently, 21.8 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 Louisiana include:

Over 250 youth from across Louisiana will rally at the State Capitol in Baton Rouge with state lawmakers, DEFY anti-tobacco youth leaders and the Louisiana Campaign for Tobacco-Free Living (TFL). The rally will include a photo booth that simulates tobacco's effect on appearance after 10 years of smoking; a body bag demonstration of tobacco's deadly toll, and a press conference with state legislators, DEFY youth leaders, and national and state anti-tobacco experts. Time: 9:30 AM. Location: State Capitol Steps, 900 N. 3rd Street, Baton Rouge. Contact: Lauren Conrad (504) 222-8014.

Louisiana Tobacco Free Living and students at Pine High School in Franklinton will create a clothesline display airing tobacco's "dirty laundry," featuring t-shirts, socks and other items with quotes from tobacco executives. Time: 8 AM. Location: 28315 Louisiana 424, Franklinton. Contact: Gail Brigham (985) 414-2087.

Students, faculty and staff of Dillard University in New Orleans will participate in a series of activities and events about the dangers of tobacco use, and celebrate the university's new 100 percent tobacco-free policy. Time: 12 PM. Location: Kearny Hall, 2601 Gentilly Boulevard, New Orleans. Contact: Darrell Griffin (985) 517-5755.

Louisiana State University in Baton Rouge will host a Kick Butts Day tailgate in collaboration with a home baseball game, celebrating the progress made toward a smoke-free campus. Time: 4 PM. Location: Journalism Building Patio, Louisiana State University, Corner of North Stadium Road and Fieldhouse Drive, Baton Rouge. Contact: Judith Sylvester (225) 578-2067.

On March 20, the Southern University Agricultural Research & Extension Center will host a Kick Butts Day block party in Shreveport featuring a tobacco education scavenger hunt, local health professionals and more. Time: 4 PM. Location: 610 Texas Street, Shreveport. Contact: Urina Holt (318) 344-8065.

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

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