In recognition of national Kick Butts Day on March 25, the Juneau chapter of Teens Against Tobacco Use is sponsoring its Memorial Wall for the second year in a row, to be on display at the Nugget Mall the weekend of March 21-22.
The public is invited to submit names, photographs, stories or poems to be placed on the TATU Memorial Wall for those they wish to remember. Submissions can be made to www.juneautatu.org or call Jackie Wagner, TATU Coordinator, at 463-3755. The deadline for submissions is March 16.
The TATU Memorial Wall is dedicated to the memories of those who have died from tobacco use.
"We can become numb to statistics and numbers," said Wendy Hamilton, Tobacco Program Coordinator at the National Council on Alcoholism and Drug Dependence. "The purpose of the TATU Memorial Wall is to put faces to the numbers. Most people have lost a friend or family member to tobacco use. Each death from tobacco use has a ripple effect on the family, friends and community."
The Campaign for Tobacco Free Kids began Kick Butts Day 13 years ago as a day of youth advocacy, leadership and activism in speaking out about the dangers of using tobacco.
Preventing youth from starting tobacco use is a vital component of tobacco control programs because studies show that more than 90 percent of adult smokers started as teenagers. Nicotine is an extremely addictive drug and the majority of smokers become addicted with their first cigarette. Many adolescent tobacco users think they can start smoking and quit at any time and yet find themselves still smoking or chewing tobacco years later.
The statistics of tobacco's toll on society are staggering. In the U.S. alone, more than 400,000 people die each year from smoking related diseases. That's approximately 1,100 people a day or one person every 72 seconds. Tobacco kills more people than alcohol, AIDS, car accidents, illegal drugs, murders and suicides combined.
Each day in the U.S., approximately 4,000 new kids will try their first cigarette. Each year, approximately 400,000 kids will become daily smokers and one third will ultimately die from their tobacco use. The annual public and private combined healthcare costs for tobacco related illnesses is $96 billion.