Kids Across America `Kick Butts' On April 4
WASHINGTON, April 3 /U.S. Newswire/ -- Thousands of kids across America will step up to the front lines of the tobacco wars on April 4 for the sixth annual Kick Butts Day. This year's Kick Butts Day promises to be the largest ever, with more than 1,500 ev
Kick Butts Day is an annual initiative that encourages activism and leadership among elementary, middle and high school students.Kids are sending two powerful messages on Kick Butts Day 2001: They want the tobacco industry to stop targeting them with advertising and they want Congress and state legislatures to do more to protect them from tobacco. From mock-funerals for the Marlboro Man to rallies at state capitols to surveys of tobacco advertising, kids will be making their presence felt both vocally and visually.
Kick Butts Day comes just weeks after the Federal Trade Commission released a report showing that the tobacco companies are spending more money than ever to market their products, including in magazines and stores popular with kids. Contrary to the tobacco companies' efforts to appear reformed since the November 1998 state tobacco settlement, the report showed that in 1999, the first year after the settlement, the tobacco companies spent a record $8.24 billion on marketing, an increase of 22.3 percent from 1998. In other words, the tobacco companies spend $22.5 million a day to market their deadly products.
"This report shows that the tobacco companies have changed -- for the worse," said Matthew L. Myers, president of the CAMPAIGN FOR TOBACCO-FREE KIDS, which sponsors Kick Butts Day. "That makes Kick Butts Day more important than ever before. Kids are standing up against the tobacco companies, and it's important that lawmakers across this country stand with them.
"Congress must pass legislation granting the U.S. Food and Drug Administration effective authority over tobacco, including the authority to restrict tobacco marketing and sales to kids," Myers said. "And state lawmakers must invest tobacco settlement money in tobacco prevention programs that have produced dramatic successes in states such as Florida and Massachusetts that have implemented them."
Tobacco use is the leading preventable cause of death in the United States, killing more than 400,00 Americans every year. Ninety percent of smokers start at or before the age of 18. Every day, 3,000 kids become regular smokers, one-third of whom will die prematurely as a result. Nationally, 34.8 percent of high school students are current smokers.
On Kick Butts Day, kids take their turns as leaders in the fight against tobacco.
U.S. Surgeon General David Satcher and members of Washington Freedom, the new professional women's soccer team, will help students literally "kick butts" from 2-2:30 p.m. at Charles Barrett Elementary School, 1115 Martha Custis Drive, Alexandria, Va. After hearing about the dangers of tobacco, students will kick soccer balls at a mural plastered with tobacco ads and anti-tobacco messages. Mr. Butts will serve as the hapless goalie. (Contact: Tony Iallonardo, 202-296-5469)
Across the nation, and just a few hundred miles from Russian territorial waters, in Nightmute on Nelson Island, Alaska, teacher Starr Jensen and his students will survey tobacco advertising in local stores. Tobacco use is ingrained in the culture of the island's native population, the Yupik Eskimos. (Contact: Starr Jensen, 907-647-6313)
In New York City, Public Advocate and Kick Butts Day co-sponsor Mark Green will speak at a rally from 10 a.m. to 11:30 a.m. at The School for Academic and Athletic Excellence. Students will present results of their own research showing that the tobacco companies continue to target youth with advertising.
In Owings Mills, Md., Anthony Poindexter and Brandon Stokely of the Super Bowl Champion Baltimore Ravens will speak to students and parents who will conclude a weeklong effort to stop smoking by spending the night in the gym at Owings Mills High. This "lockdown", from 6:30 p.m. April 4 to 7 a.m. on April 5, is being organized by Teens Against Tobacco Use (T.A.T.U.). (Contact: Cindy Wasserman, 410-887-1700)
In state capitals across the country, youth will rally and lobby in support of using tobacco settlement money for tobacco prevention and other legislative measures to reduce the toll of tobacco. Capital events and locations include:
-- Hartford, Conn.: Attorney General Richard Blumenthal and state legislators will join students for a 10:30 a.m. rally. (Contact: Mirelle Freedman, 860-586-8820)
-- Dover, Del.: Attorney General Jane Brady and Mayor James Hutchinson are scheduled to speak to 800 youth at the Tobacco Slam 2001 Rally at 9 a.m. in front of Legislative Hall. Participants will create a "Rope of Hope" by joining together thousands of hospital bracelets marked with the names of family and friends whose lives have been affected by tobacco-related disease. (Contact: Pam Finkelman, 302-655-7258)
-- Des Moines, Iowa: Youth from across the state will attend the 6th Annual Youth Advocacy Day at the Capitol. (Contact: Leanna Brady, American Lung Association of Iowa, 515-278-5864)
-- Trenton, N.J.: From 10-11:30 a.m., members of the Student Coalition Against Tobacco (SCAT) from Ocean City High School will lobby state legislators for action against tobacco, then rally at the State House, where they are scheduled to be introduced by Miss New Jersey, Jill Horner. (Contact: Tom Gahr, 609-399-1290, ext. 235 or 609-646-9177)
-- Oklahoma City, Okla.: Former "Winston Man" and two-time lung cancer survivor Alan Landers will talk about the dangers of smoking to 380 middle school students at Metro Tech Community College. At noon, kids will rally at the Capitol. (Contact: Stephanie Eggeling, American Cancer Society, 405-843-9888)
-- Salem, Ore.: Youth will deliver flowers to state legislators in remembrance of those who have lost their lives to tobacco, then rally at the Capitol beginning at 9 a.m. The events are sponsored by the Tobacco Free Coalition of Oregon. (Laura Culberson, 503-221-7922)
-- Providence, R.I.: From 3 to 6 p.m., students will rally at the State House to express their views through speeches, rap songs and skits. A memorial quit will be displayed on the grounds of the Capitol in remembrance of those who have died of tobacco use. Roving video cameras will record the personal testimonies of youth who have lost loved ones to tobacco. (Contact: Carol Hall-Walker, 401-222-2589)
-- Columbia, S.C.: From 3-6 p.m., youth will hold a rally to remember loved ones who have died from tobacco-related disease. (Contact: Cindy Ogier, 803-896-1138 or Anthony Livingston 803-750-1693)
-- Austin, Texas: Former Brown & Williamson Tobacco Company scientist Jeffrey Wigand, the subject of the movie "The Insider," will keynote a Teens Against Tobacco Use (TATU) Youth Summit beginning at 9 a.m. at the Austin Convention Center. At 12:45 p.m., youth will attend a rally at the Capitol. (Contact: Colleen Miller, 512-467-2534, ext. 25)
"It's important for legislators to listen to young people because 90 percent of smokers start smoking as teenagers. That's why Kick Butts Day is so important. It gives young people like me a chance to get the attention of legislators who are deciding whether or not to fully fund tobacco prevention programs that are proven to save lives," said Shannon Brewer, a CAMPAIGN FOR TOBACCO-FREE KIDS Youth Advocate of the Year, and Washington State tobacco prevention activist.
At 8 a.m. in California, at Long Beach Polytechnic High School, students will place 3,000 trash bags in the shape of body bags around campus to symbolize the 3,000 kids who became regular smokers in the United States every day. (Contact Danielle Sawyer, 562-591-0581, ext. 5415 or 562-433-4792.)
For the second year in a row, a curtain will rise at 10 a.m. at the Orpheum Theater in Phoenix, Ariz., for a performance of the original production, "Tobacco: the Musical." Arizona Governor Jane Hull is scheduled to attend and speak. (Contact: Dr. Sue Sisley, 888-780-6422 or 480-922-9015)
In Florida, members of SWAT (Students Working Against Tobacco), who helped develop one of the nation's most successful tobacco prevention programs, are planning creative events around the state. At New Endeavor High School in Okeechobee, students will participate in an all-day game show called "Who Wants to Breathe Fresh Air" (Contact: Steve Guglich, 863-462-5125). In St. Augustine, the oldest city in the U.S., youth are organizing a mock jazz funeral to mourn the 400,000 lives lost to tobacco each year, complete with procession to the downtown plaza, jazz musicians, a casket and eulogy by members of SWAT (Contact: Nancy Birchall, 904-825-5060).
A Mardi Gras-style tobacco-free parade in Napoleonville, La. will feature floats designed by kids throughout Assumption Parish. The event starts at Assumption High School at 4:30 p.m. Local officials will join more than 500 kids wearing T-shirts saying "Not Everyone's Doing It." (C-Nzct: Barbara Barras, 504-369-2100)
Kick Butts Day is co-sponsored by the Washington, D.C., based CAMPAIGN FOR TOBACCO-FREE KIDS and New York City Public Advocate Mark Green. The CAMPAIGN works to protect kids from tobacco and reduce the deadly toll of tobacco in our society.
The Kick Butts Day logo features Mr. Butts receiving disaffirmation to his hind quarters. The character is the creation of cartoonist Garry Trudeau and has been featured in his Doonesbury comic strip.
--- More information about Kick Butts Day 2001, including a state-by-state list of activities, is available on the Internet at www.kickbuttsday.org. Information about the deadly toll of tobacco in our society can be found at www.tobaccofreekids.org.
"Kick Butts Day" is a protected trademark of the National Center for Tobacco-Free Kids.