Kids in Washington will unite against tobacco use on March 21 as they join thousands of young people nationwide to mark Kick Butts Day.
More than 1,000 events are planned across the United States for this annual day of youth activism, sponsored by the Campaign for Tobacco-Free Kids.
On Kick Butts Day, kids encourage their peers to be tobacco-free, reject tobacco companies’ devious marketing and urge elected officials to help make the next generation tobacco-free.
This year, Kick Butts Day is focusing attention on the progress the U.S. has made in reducing youth smoking and the actions needed to create the first tobacco-free generation.
Since 2000, the national smoking rate among high school students has fallen by 71 percent— from 28 percent in 2000 to 8 percent in 2016. Despite this, Tobacco use is still the biggest cause of preventable death in the U.S., killing over 480,000 people and costing about $170 billion in health care expenses each year.
Additionally, Tobacco companies spend $8.9 billion a year – $1 million every hour – to market tobacco products in the U.S., often in ways that appeal to kids.
Electronic cigarettes have become the most popular tobacco product used by kids – nationwide, 11.3 percent of high school students use e-cigarettes compared to 8 percent who smoke cigarettes. The latest trend with teens is JUUL, an e-cigarette that looks like a computer flash drive and comes in flavors like mango and fruit medley.
In Washington, tobacco use claims 8,300 lives and costs $2.81 billion in health care bills each year. Currently, 6.3 percent of Washington’s high school students smoke.
On Kick Butts Day, kids and health advocates are calling on elected officials to implement proven strategies that make up a “roadmap to a tobacco-free generation.”
These strategies include tobacco tax increases, comprehensive smoke-free laws, raising the tobacco sale age to 21, well-funded tobacco prevention programs and banning the sale of flavored tobacco products.
“On Kick Butts Day, kids are celebrating the progress we’ve made to reduce tobacco use and building momentum to get us across the finish line,” Matthew L. Myers, president of the Campaign for Tobacco-Free Kids said. “Elected leaders in every state can help create the first tobacco-free generation by supporting proven strategies to prevent youth tobacco use.”
On Kick Butts Day, kids join in creative events ranging from classroom activities to educate their peers about the harmful ingredients in cigarettes to rallies at state capitols.
Students from the Mercer Island High School’s Students Acting For the Environment (SAFE) will hang posters and hand out flyers in the middle and high schools to demonstrate the health consequences of smoking and vaping, as well as host educational peer-to-peer meetings between middle schoolers and high schoolers. The event will take place at 11 a.m. at 9100 SE 42nd St.
For a full list of Kick Butts Day activities in Washington, visit www.kickbuttsday.org/map. Additional information about tobacco, including state-by-state statistics, can be found at www.tobaccofreekids.org.