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Alaska Kids 'Kick Butts' on March 24


State Leaders Urged to Support Higher Tobacco Taxes, Other Tobacco Prevention Initiatives

WASHINGTON, March 18 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- Kids in Alaska will take center stage in the fight against tobacco on March 24 as they join thousands of young people nationwide for the 15th annual Kick Butts Day. More than 1,000 events are planned in all 50 states and the District of Columbia (for a list of local events see below).

Sponsored by the Campaign for Tobacco-Free Kids, Kick Butts Day is an annual celebration of youth leadership and activism in the fight against tobacco use. Kids are sending two powerful messages on Kick Butts Day: They want the tobacco companies to stop targeting them with marketing for cigarettes and other tobacco products, and they want elected leaders to do more to protect them from tobacco.

The Campaign for Tobacco-Free Kids and other public health advocates are calling on elected officials to support proven measures to reduce tobacco use and its devastating toll. As states struggle with record budget deficits, state leaders should increase tobacco taxes both to prevent kids from smoking and to raise revenue to balance budgets and fund critical programs. States should also enact smoke-free air laws that apply to all workplaces and public places and implement well-funded tobacco prevention and cessation programs.

"On Kick Butts Day, kids are standing up to the tobacco companies, and elected officials should stand with them by supporting proven tobacco prevention measures," said Matthew L. Myers, President of the Campaign for Tobacco-Free Kids. "We know what works to reduce smoking and other tobacco use. Every state should implement these proven solutions, including higher tobacco taxes, well-funded tobacco prevention programs and smoke-free air laws."

Tobacco use is the number one cause of preventable death in the United States, killing more than 400,000 people and costing $96 billion in health care bills each year. While the nation has made significant progress in reducing youth smoking, 20 percent of high school students still smoke.

In Alaska, tobacco use claims 490 lives and costs $169 million in health care bills each year. Currently, 17.8 percent of the state's high school students smoke, and 3,900 kids try cigarettes for the first time each year.

On Kick Butts Day, kids turn the tables on Big Tobacco with events that range from "They put WHAT in a cigarette?" demonstrations to mock-funerals for the Marlboro Man to rallies at state capitols. Activities in Alaska include (all events are on March 24 unless otherwise noted):

The Teens Against Tobacco Use (T.A.T.U.) chapter in Palmer will go to smoke-free restaurants to thank them for being smoke-free and to provide them with a "Breathe Free Mat-Su" decal as well as information about Kick Butts Day and the dangers of secondhand smoke. Time: All Day. Location: Various, Palmer. Contact: Sara Wilber (907) 746-6123.

In Juneau, students at from the Juneau-Douglas High School will set up a body bag display at the entrance to the school during the annual Gold Medal Basketball Tournament to represent the number of people who die from tobacco-related illnesses. Time: 11:30 AM. Location: 1639 Glacier Avenue, Juneau. Contact: Rowena Reeves (907) 364-4440.

The Teens Against Tobacco Use (T.A.T.U.) chapter from Juneau will host a rally and construct a Memorial Wall next to the courthouse and outside the state capital building to show tobacco's toll on them and their loved ones. Time: 11 AM. Location: Courtyard at 4th and Main Street, Juneau. Contact: Tom Lane (603) 321-8973.

For a list of Kick Butts Day events in Alaska, visit www.kickbuttsday.org/events. Additional information about tobacco, including state-by-state statistics, can be found at www.tobaccofreekids.org.
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