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SYS-CON MEDIA Authors: Elizabeth White, Pat Romanski, Yeshim Deniz, Liz McMillan, tru welu

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Mississippi Kids Will 'Kick Butts' on March 19

State Leaders Urged to Support Tobacco Prevention Initiatives

WASHINGTON, March 13, 2014 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- Kids in Mississippi 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 68,000 children in Mississippi 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 Mississippi alone, tobacco use claims 4,700 lives and costs $1.23 billion in health care bills each year. Currently, 17.9 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 Mississippi include:

The Community Students Learning Center in Lexington will hold an anti-tobacco rally highlighting personal stories about the harmful effects of smoking.  Rally participants will also dance and rap the "Kick Butts Shuffle."  Time: 10 AM.  Location: 333 Yazoo Street, Lexington.  Contact: Beulah Greer (662) 834-0905.

Students in Bay Springs will display a large canvas depicting the number of lives affected by tobacco use on the front lawn of Bay Springs High School.  There will also be a pledge wall and a cigarette display table during lunch periods to educate teens about the dangers of smoking.  Time: 12 PM.  Location: 5091 Highway 58 East, Bay Springs.  Contact: Katherine Gross (601) 344-8082.

Area organizations will host a Kick Butts Day health fair for kindergarten through 2nd grade students at Franklin Academy in Columbus.  Students will gain knowledge about the harmful effects of tobacco products through educational displays and booths.  Time: 9 AM.  Location: 501 3rd Avenue North, Columbus.  Contact: Sharon Patrick (662) 251-4519.

G. N. Smith Elementary School students in Jackson will commit to be tobacco-free by constructing and signing a graffiti/memorial wall.  The display will feature tobacco facts and pictures of loved ones that have died from smoking-related causes.  Time: 12 PM.  Location: 3900 Parkway Avenue, Jackson.  Contact: Jacqueline Carter (601) 566-5474.

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

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