Youth tobacco prevention rally at courthouse

Posted: Tuesday, March 22, 2011

Teens Against Tobacco Use – Juneau will sponsor its fourth-annual memorial wall on Wednesday at 11 a.m. at the Dimond Courthouse Plaza to commemorate people who have died from tobacco related diseases. Local high school students will display posters and hand out cessation materials. Kids in Alaska will take center stage in the fight against tobacco as they join thousands of young people nationwide for the 16th annual Kick Butts Day. Hundreds of events are planned across the nation.

Sponsored by the Campaign for Tobacco-Free Kids, Kick Butts Day is an annual celebration of youth leadership and activism in the fight against tobacco use.

The Campaign for Tobacco-Free Kids and other public health advocates are calling on elected officials to support proven measures to reduce tobacco use and its devastating toll. As states struggle with budget deficits, anti-tobacco activists feel legislators should increase tobacco taxes both to prevent kids from smoking and to raise revenue to balance budgets and fund critical programs and enact smoke-free air laws that apply to all workplaces and public places. They also seek well-funded tobacco prevention and cessation programs.

“On Kick Butts Day, kids are standing up to the tobacco companies, and elected officials should stand with them by supporting proven tobacco prevention measures,” said Matthew L. Myers, President of the Campaign for Tobacco-Free Kids. “We know what works to reduce smoking and other tobacco use. Every state should implement these proven solutions, including higher tobacco taxes, well-funded tobacco prevention programs and smoke-free air laws.”

Tobacco use is the number one cause of preventable death in the United States, killing more than 400,000 people and costing $96 billion in health care bills each year. While the nation has made progress in reducing youth smoking, 19.5 percent of high school students still smoke.

In Alaska, tobacco use claims 490 lives and costs $169 million in health care bills each year. Currently, 15.7 percent of the state’s high school students smoke, and 4,000 kids try cigarettes for the first time each year.

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