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Alaska Kids Will 'Kick Butts' on March 19

Campaign for Tobacco-Free Kids logo.

Campaign for Tobacco-Free Kids logo.

PRNewsFoto/Campaign for Tobacco-Free Kids

State Leaders Urged to Support Tobacco Prevention Initiatives

WASHINGTON, March 13, 2014 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ --Kids in Alaska will stand up against tobacco on March 19 as they join thousands of young people nationwide for the 19(th) 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 50(th) 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
        14,000 children in Alaska 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 50(th) 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."

Health advocates in Alaska are working to pass a comprehensive, statewide smoke-free law that applies to all workplaces, including restaurants and bars.

In Alaska alone, tobacco use claims 500 lives and costs $438 million in health care bills each year. Currently, 10.6 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 Alaska include:

On March 18, the American Lung Association in Fairbanks will team up with Teens Against Tobacco Use (TATU) and the Alaska Tobacco Control Alliance (ATCA) Youth Leaders to raise awareness about the dangers of smoking and tobacco use.  The event will be held during the Arctic Winter Games Health Fair at Barnette Magnet School.  Time: 9 AM.  Location: 1000 Barnette Street, Fairbanks.  Contact: Allen Grunin (907) 450-2467.

Kennecott Youth Center Torch Club and Keystone Club members in Anchorage will commit to being tobacco-free by signing a pledge wall and educating others on the positive outcomes of not smoking.  Time: 4:15 PM.  Location: 6104 Carswell Avenue, Anchorage (Joint Base Elmendorf-Richardson).  Contact: Deandra Wood (907) 522-2266.  [Note: Media that wish to attend the event must get approval through the base's Public Affairs office.] 

Youth from Nenana City Public School will display cups in a fence to show the number of Alaskans that die each year from tobacco use.  Youth will also use a software program to show what one may look like due to the long term effects of smoking.  Time: 12 PM.  Location: Corner of Second and C Streets, Nenana.  Contact: Maryellen Robinson (907) 347-8091.

Teens Against Tobacco Use (TATU), Nome Native Youth Leadership Organizations (NNYLO), Leaders of Life (LOL), Jr. High Culinary Club, and Teller Youth Leaders from Nome will celebrate Kick Butts Day to educate the whole community about the dangers of smoking through a variety of interactive games and educational displays.  Time: 6 PM.  Location: Anvil City Square, Nome. Contact: Danielle Slingsby (907) 443-5259.

Teens Against Tobacco Use (TATU) in connection with the National Council on Alcoholism and Drug Dependence Juneau affiliate will have a table at the Gold Medal Basketball Tournament with visual displays to take a stand against big tobacco and demonstrate the dangers of smoking.  Time: 11 AM.  Location: 1639 Glacier Avenue, Juneau.  Contact: Liz Weber (895) 240-8801.

(Note: all events are on March 19 unless otherwise indicated.)

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

SOURCE  Campaign for Tobacco-Free Kids

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