Today Kids in Utah stood up against tobacco as they join thousands of young people nationwide for the 18th annual Kick Butts Day.
Organized by the Campaign for Tobacco-Free Kids and sponsored by United Health Foundation, Kick Butts Day is an annual celebration of youth leadership and activism in the fight against tobacco use. Today "Kick Butts Day", youth encouraged their peers to stay tobacco-free. They also educated their community about the dangers of tobacco and the tobacco industry's harmful marketing practices.
Today "Kick Butts Day", the Campaign for Tobacco-Free Kids highlighted the tobacco industry's products and marketing that entice kids to use tobacco. According to the Federal Trade Commission, tobacco companies spend $8.5 billion a year – nearly one million dollars each hour – to market cigarettes and smokeless tobacco products. This marketing has an impact on kids:
While the U.S. has greatly reduced youth smoking, 18.1 percent of high school students still smoke, and nearly 1,000 kids become regular smokers each day. Among youth smokers, 86 percent prefer Marlboro, Newport and Camel, which are the three most heavily advertised cigarette brands, according to the government's National Survey on Drug Use and Health.
Tobacco companies have also introduced new products that appeal to kids, including cheap, sweet, colorfully-packaged small cigars that look just like cigarettes. Many cigars come in fruit and candy flavors such as strawberry, vanilla, peach and apple.
In a 2012 report, the U.S. Surgeon General concluded that tobacco marketing causes kids to start and continue using tobacco products.
Today, students stood up and rejected Big Tobacco's manipulative marketing,. It's was also a chance for elected leaders to commit to protecting kids from tobacco through policies such as tobacco taxes, smoke-free laws and prevention programs.
Tobacco use is the number one cause of preventable death in the United States, killing more than 400,000 people and costing $96 billion in health care bills each year.
In Utah, tobacco use claims 1,100 lives and costs $345 million in health care bills each year. Currently, 5.9 percent of the state’s high school students smoke.
Additional information about tobacco, including state-by-state statistics, can be found at www.tobaccofreekids.org.
BY RHETT SPENCER