Kids in Utah will stand up to Big Tobacco on March 18 as they join thousands of young people nationwide for the 20th annual Kick Butts Day. More than 1,000 events are planned nationwide for this 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 encourage their peers to stay tobacco-free, demand that tobacco companies stop marketing deadly, addictive products to them and encourage elected officials to do more to reduce youth tobacco use.
This year, Kick Butts Day is focusing attention on how the tobacco industry still spends huge sums on marketing and is adopting new strategies to reach young customers. Nationwide, tobacco companies spend $8.8 billion a year – one million dollars every hour – to market tobacco products. In Utah, tobacco companies spend $37 million annually on marketing efforts. The industry’s tactics that entice kids include:
- Splashy ads in magazines with large youth readership, such as Sports Illustrated, ESPN the Magazine and Rolling Stone.
- Widespread advertising and price discounts in stores, which make tobacco products appealing and affordable to kids.
- New, sweet-flavored tobacco products such as small cigars and electronic cigarettes. The latest surveys show that youth use of e-cigarettes has skyrocketed.
In addition to organizing events, kids are standing up to the tobacco industry on social media through the #NotAReplacement selfie campaign. The tobacco industry’s own documents reveal that they have long targeted kids as “replacement smokers” for the more than 480,000 people their products kill each year in the United States. Kids are taking selfies to say they’re not a replacement and sharing the photos on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram with the #NotAReplacement hashtag. (view the #NotAReplacement selfie gallery)
“On Kick Butts Day, kids stand up and reject Big Tobacco’s manipulative marketing,” said Matthew L. Myers, President of the Campaign for Tobacco-Free Kids. “We can make the next generation tobacco-free and end the tobacco epidemic for good. Elected officials can help reach that goal by standing with kids and supporting proven strategies to prevent youth tobacco use, including higher tobacco taxes, strong smoke-free laws and prevention programs.”
In Utah, tobacco use claims 1,300 lives and costs $542 million in health care bills each year. Currently, 4.4 percent of Utah’s high school students smoke.
On Kick Butts Day, kids engage in creative events that range from small classroom activities about the harmful ingredients in cigarettes to large rallies at state capitols.
In Utah, activities include:
Stand in solidarity against the tobacco industry in Salt Lake City‘s Library Plaza on March 18. For more information call organizer Alex Bowman at 801-539-8800 x118.
Youth of Tooele County will visualize tobacco’s deadly health effects with tombstones on the lawn of the Tooele County Building. The event will also feature kids taking selfies proclaiming that they are #NotAReplacement for smokers who die from tobacco. Time: 3 PM. Location: 47 S. Main Street, Tooele. Contact: Hilary Makris (435) 277-2364.
On March 20, youth of Ogden will celebrate the 20th anniversary of the Utah Indoor Clean Air Act with a booth at the Junction Megaplex Theater. The event will include a selfie booth with props to promote anti-tobacco messages, and prizes will be awarded to those who correctly answer tobacco trivia questions. Time: 5 PM. Location: 2351 Kiesel Avenue, Ogden. Contact: Lori Greene (801) 399-7189.
On March 20, the anti-tobacco youth group OUTRAGE!, Island Teens Against Tobacco (ITAT) and the Utah County Health Department will host a kickball tournament in Provo loaded with anti-tobacco activities including: a “pledge banner” for participants to sign, various informational booths, and a costumed “Ciggy Butts” mascot. Time: 6 PM. Location: 100 N. Seven Peaks Boulevard,Provo. Contact: Kale Shillig (661) 219-3971.
On March 25, members of Students Working Against Tobacco (SWAT) at North Davis Junior High in Clearfield will play dead on a tombstone-lined stage in the cafeteria to show how many people die from tobacco every 30 minutes. Time: 12 PM. Location: 835 South S. State Street, Clearfield. Contact: Amy Mikkelsen (801) 529-2866.
The Washington County Youth Coalition (WCYC) is taking a stand against teen tobacco use with a kickball tournament atWashington City Ball Fields, including educational games and tobacco education booths. Time: 3:30 PM. Location: 350 N. Community Center Drive, Washington. Contact: Kaysha Price (435) 652-4064.
All events are on March 18 unless otherwise indicated. For a full list of Kick Butts Day activities in Utah, visit www.kickbuttsday.org/map. Additional information about tobacco, including state-by-state statistics, can be found at www.tobaccofreekids.org.