Kids in New Mexico 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.)
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 40,000 children in New Mexico 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 New Mexico alone, tobacco use claims 2,200 lives and costs $844 million in health care bills each year. Currently, 19.9 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 New Mexico include:
Boys & Girls Club of Valencia County afterschool program in Belen will facilitate activities to teach youth about the dangers of tobacco products. Students will also construct a pledge board and sign it to commit to being tobacco-free. Time: 4 PM. Location: 900 Esperanza Drive, Belen. Contact: Cristina Jaramillo (505) 859-2217.
Students at Los Alamos High School and Los Alamos Middle School will celebrate Kick Butts Day by hearing from a local oncologist about the dangers of smoking. Time: 11:15 AM. Location: 1300 Diamond Drive, Los Alamos. Contact: Bernadette Lauritzen (505) 470-0841.
The New Mexico State University Health Center in Las Cruces will celebrate Kick Butts Day by hosting an educational event at the Corbett Center for members of the community to learn about the dangers of tobacco, and get resources and references to help quit. Time: 10 AM. Location: Jordan Road and University Avenue, Las Cruces.
Contact: Alexandra Maus (937) 728-6256.
(Note: all events are on March 19 unless otherwise indicated.)
For a full list of Kick Butts Day events in New Mexico, visithttp://www.kickbuttsday.org/map. Additional information about tobacco, including state-by-state statistics, can be found at www.tobaccofreekids.org.