State Leaders Urged to Make the Next Generation Tobacco-Free

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CONTACTS: Dori Zweig, 202-745-5118

Mina Radman, 202-296-5469

California Kids to ‘Kick Butts’ on March 16

State Leaders Urged to Make the Next Generation Tobacco-Free

WASHINGTON, D.C.—Kids in California will stand up to Big Tobacco on March 16 as they join thousands of young people nationwide for Kick Butts Day. More than 1,000 events are planned across the United States and around the world for this annual day of youth activism, sponsored by the Campaign for Tobacco-Free Kids. (See below for a list of local events.)

On Kick Butts Day, kids demand that tobacco companies stop marketing deadly products to them and encourage elected officials to help reduce youth tobacco use.

This year, Kick Butts Day is focusing attention on the outrageous marketing tactics tobacco companies still use to target youth. These tactics include:

  • Splashy ads in magazines with large youth readership, such as Sports Illustrated, Glamour and Rolling Stone.

  • Widespread advertising and price discounts in stores, which make tobacco products appealing and affordable to kids.

  • Sweet-flavored tobacco products such as electronic cigarettes and small cigars that come in flavors like gummy bear, cotton candy, watermelon and fruit punch. While youth cigarette smoking has fallen to record lows, the most recent government survey shows that e-cigarette use among high school students tripled from 2013 to 2014 (from 4.5 percent to 13.4 percent).

Nationwide, tobacco companies spend $9.6 billion a year – over one million dollars every hour – to market tobacco products. In California, tobacco companies spend $636.7 million annually on marketing efforts.
In California, health advocates are urging Gov. Jerry Brown to sign legislation that prohibits tobacco sales to anyone under age 21, adds electronic cigarettes to state tobacco regulations and closes loopholes in the smoke-free workplace law. The California Legislature recently approved these measures. California would join the state of Hawaii and at least 125 cities and counties in nine states that have already increased the tobacco age to 21.

Health advocates are also supporting a proposed November ballot initiative to increase California’s cigarette tax by $2 per pack. Increasing tobacco taxes is a proven way to reduce smoking, especially among kids.

“On Kick Butts Day, kids stand up to the tobacco industry and all of us, especially our elected officials, should stand with them,” said Matthew L. Myers, President of the Campaign for Tobacco-Free Kids. “We’ve made amazing progress in reducing youth smoking and can make the next generation tobacco-free. California should stand with kids by raising the tobacco age to 21, increasing the tobacco tax and taking other strong steps to reduce tobacco use.”

In California, tobacco use claims 40,000 lives and costs $13.29 billion in health care bills each year. Currently, 10.5 percent of California’s high school students smoke.

On Kick Butts Day, kids join in creative events that range from classroom activities about the harmful ingredients in cigarettes to rallies at state capitols.

In California, activities include:

Students at Bell High School will engage in a Flash Mob during lunchtime, where they each will hold up a sign with a statistic or fact about tobacco use. In the end, students will gather and spell out ‘Tobacco Kills.’ Time: 12 PM. Location: 4328 Bell Avenue, Bell. Contact: Fatima Salame (323) 832-4864.
The Boys & Girls Club of Palm Springs will host a #NotAReplacement event, which will include a photo booth and information stands to spread the news on social media about the dangers of smoking. Time: 2:30 PM. Location: 450 South Sunrise Way, Palm Springs. Contact: Lois Bondurich (760) 327-1304.
The PHAST Club at the Elliott Alternative Education Center will spread tombstones around the school to inform students how many Americans die each day from smoking. All students who guess are entered in a raffle and the student with the closest guess wins a prize. Time: 10:45 AM. Location: 1440 Sunrise Avenue, Modesto. Contact: Fred Johnston (209) 241-8009.
American River College in Sacramento will celebrate Kick Butts Day by drawing awareness to their brand new smoke, tobacco and vape-free campus environmental standard that was passed at the beginning of the year. Informational tables as well as various anti-tobacco activities on campus. Time: 9:30 AM. Location: 4700 College Oak Drive, Sacramento. Contact: Scott Crow (916) 484-8647.
On March 23, Pajaro Valley High School students will gather during lunchtime to learn more about the dangers of smoking. The event will be informational, with plenty of visuals, and presentations about e-cigarettes, and tutorials. Time: 12 PM. Location: 500 Harkins Slough Road, Watsonville. Contact: Darlene Torres (831) 728-8250.
All events are on March 16 unless otherwise indicated. For a full list of Kick Butts Day activities in California, visit Additional information about tobacco, including state-by-state statistics, can be found at

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