State Leaders Urged to Make the Next Generation Tobacco-Free
WASHINGTON, D.C.—Kids in Illinois 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:
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 Illinois, tobacco companies spend $400.5 million annually on marketing efforts.
In Chicago, health advocates are urging the City Council to approve a strong package of measures to reduce tobacco use, which will be considered on March 16 – Kick Butts Day. These measures would prohibit tobacco sales to anyone under age 21, tax non-cigarette tobacco products (cigars, roll-your-own tobacco and smokeless tobacco) to discourage youth use and end tobacco industry discounts that lure customers, especially price-sensitive youth.
Health advocates also urge the Chicago City Council to prohibit tobacco use in amateur and professional sports, including Major League Baseball (including Wrigley Field and U.S. Cellular Field, home of the Cubs and White Sox).
“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. The Chicago City Council should seize this opportunity to stand with its kids and approve these proposals to further reduce tobacco use.”
In Illinois, tobacco use claims 18,300 lives and costs $5.49 billion in health care bills each year. Currently, 14.1 percent of Illinois’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 Illinois, activities include:
On March 15, OSF Saint Francis Medical Center, Cancer Services, and Cancer Support Community will award the winner of the “Respect Your Selfie” art contest for grades 4 through high school to spread awareness and start conversations on living a tobacco free life. Time: 4 PM. Location: 1007 NE Monroe Street, Peoria. Contact: Kathleen Copelen (309) 363-6429.
DeKalb County Health Department at Clinton Rosette Middle School will celebrate Kick Butts Day by sparking conversation with a graffiti wall displaying anti-tobacco messaging, and will pick up cigarette butts around the area. Time: 8:30 AM. Location: 650 North First Street, DeKalb. Contact: Chess Osiecki (815) 748-2431.
The Make a Change Carbondale (MACC)teens will work with the Jackson County Health Department and the REALITY IL initiative to advocate for smoke-free parks of Carbondale by hosting educational seminars at Turley Park. Time: 1 PM. Location: 1010 North Glenview Drive, Carbondale. Contact: Sandra Schwartz (618) 684-3143 Ext. 303.
DCP/SAFE will spread tobacco awareness at Sandwich High School with a #NotAReplacement board and sidewalks covered in anti-tobacco messages to spark conversations in school and through social media, highlighting the dangers of smoking. Time: 7:45 AM. Location: 515 East Lions Road, Sandwich. Contact: Marisa Kafka (815) 786-2157.
The University of Illinois at Chicago’sLet’s Kick Butts student-led organization will clean the quad one butt at time. Students will raise awareness on the dangers of smoking providing their peers with the tools to pursue healthier habits, and promoting the campus’s new no-smoking policy. Time: 10:30AM. Location: 750 North Halsted Street, Chicago. Contact: Bryce Griffin (773) 759-0663.
All events are on March 16 unless otherwise indicated. For a full list of Kick Butts Day activities in Illinois, visit www.kickbuttsday.org/map. Additional information about tobacco, including state-by-state statistics, can be found at www.tobaccofreekids.org.