Arizona Youth Mobilizing Activities for National Kick Butts Day

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
March 22, 2010

Youth Statewide Mobilizing for Activities
For National Kick Butts Day, March 24, 2010

PHOENIX — Young people from across Arizona are joining thousands of kids across the country who are taking part in the fifteenth annual Kick Butts Day (KBD), a national day of activism that empowers youth to speak up and take action against tobacco use.

On March 24, elementary, middle and high school students in Arizona are organizing KBD events to raise awareness about the dangers of tobacco use. Events around the State include pledge/memorial walls and banners in Mohave, Pima, Pinal and Santa Cruz counties as well as drawing/poster contests in Graham, Greenlee, Navajo and Yuma counties. In addition to creative efforts, youth in La Paz and Navajo counties will show their civic pride by cleaning up parks. Youth on the Hopi reservation will be doing a skit to their peers educating them about the dangerous ingredients in a cigarette. To show the impact and quantify the loss of life due to tobacco related causes, youth in Mohave County will hang 50 t-shirts to represent the number of people who will die during their lunch period alone while youth in Pima County will honor their lost loved ones by putting their names on balloons to memorialize the tragic effects of tobacco use. There are several active youth coalitions throughout Arizona where youth utilize their talents, skills and unique perspective to mobilize themselves and their peers. Throughout the year, young advocates take part in a variety of activities to inform kids about tobacco.

“Many teenagers perceive smoking as an intermediary activity, one that they will stop in a year or two. The reality, however, is that they find themselves addicted,” said Wayne Tormala, Bureau Chief for Arizona Department of Health Services Bureau of Tobacco and Chronic Disease. “While most teen campaigns focus on health impacts, research pointed us in a new direction, one we believe will forever change the way youth perceive commercial tobacco.”

Prevalence of tobacco use among Arizona’s teenagers is 19.7 percent, which is about the same as the national average. This year alone, 5,600 Arizona youth will become addicted to tobacco. Nationally, approximately 3,900 teens try smoking each day; of those, more than 1,000 become daily cigarette smokers. Nearly 80 percent of adult smokers were addicted before the age of 18, and 90 percent were addicted before age 20.

“With about 20 percent of Arizona high school seniors smoking cigarettes, it is critical that we continue to work locally and with our national organizations and Partners to participate in important awareness days like “Kick Butts Day,” Tormala added. “Prevention now is much more cost effective than cessation — and paying for increased health care costs — later.”

The Washington, DC-based Campaign for Tobacco-Free Kids initiated Kick Butts Day and is one of the largest non-governmental education and advocacy initiatives ever undertaken to decrease youth tobacco use in the United States. The Campaign strives to build a healthier future for our children by reducing tobacco use and exposure to secondhand smoke.

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About Venomocity: Brought to you by addiction this youth tobacco prevention campaign illustrates the realities of tobacco addiction for 12 to 17 year-old Arizonans. Components of the campaign include television and radio commercials, statewide outreach events, and “addiction’s lair” located at http://www.venomocity.com.

Contact:
Janelle Brannock, Riester

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