Wednesday, March 21, 2012

Kicking Butts and Helping Kids Stay Tobacco-Free

Happy Kick Butts Day!

Today – and every day – youth across Wisconsin are working hard to expose and counteract the deadly tactics of the tobacco industry. These young people know that Big Tobacco is targeting them to become lifetime customers. They also know that it is essential to talk peer-to-peer about the importance of being tobacco-free.

It is incredibly inspiring to see young people fight back against Big Tobacco. It’s also critical to the health of their generation.

Recently the U.S. Surgeon General released a report on youth and tobacco. The report concluded that our progress in lowering rates of tobacco use has stalled.

The report included a lot of daunting facts about youth tobacco use. Here are three:
  • The younger a person is when they start using tobacco, the more likely that person will be addicted.
  • Nearly 90% of smokers start before age 18 and 99% start before age 26.
  • We have a staggering replacement rate – every person who dies from smoking-related causes is replaced by two new, young smokers. 

In short, we are facing a pediatric epidemic.

In Wisconsin, tobacco companies spend $233 million a year marketing their deadly products, which blows away the $5.3 million we spend on the state’s tobacco prevention and control program each year. From colorful packaging and onscreen smoking in children’s movies to candy-flavored mini-cigars and smokeless tobacco that looks like breath mints, it is clear that tobacco corporations are finding creative ways to reach young customers.

To counter the $1 million an hour that tobacco spends marketing their deadly products in the U.S., last Thursday the CDC launched its first-ever national advertising campaign encouraging people to quit smoking. The hard-hitting campaign, “Tips from a Former Smoker,” features real people who are suffering from life-altering health problems and major diseases as a result of tobacco use.

The campaign highlights that tobacco is not only the leading preventable cause of death (killing nearly 8,000 a year in Wisconsin alone) – it also leads to serious long-term suffering. The “Tips from a Former Smoker” ads hit the airwaves this week in communities across Wisconsin. You can view the compelling ads here

We know what works in the fight against tobacco – higher tobacco taxes, well-funded tobacco prevention programs, and strong smoke-free laws. We also know that reducing tobacco use will save lives and help our businesses, families and state save money. Let’s use Kick Butts Day as an opportunity to re-dedicate ourselves to protecting our kids from Big Tobacco.

Join our youth today in telling tobacco companies to stop targeting our kids and encourage your communities and leaders to take a stand against Big Tobacco.

Click here for a list of Kick Butts Day events in Wisconsin.

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