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Minnesota Kids 'Kick Butts' on March 24
Date:3/18/2010

Minnesota Leaders Urged to Increase Cigarette Tax by $1

WASHINGTON, March 18 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- Kids in Minnesota will take center stage in the fight against tobacco on March 24 as they join thousands of young people nationwide for the 15th annual Kick Butts Day.  More than 1,000 events are planned in all 50 states and the District of Columbia (for a list of local events see below).

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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.  Kids are sending two powerful messages on Kick Butts Day: They want the tobacco companies to stop targeting them with marketing for cigarettes and other tobacco products, and they want elected leaders to do more to protect them from tobacco.

In Minnesota, health advocates are calling on state leaders to increase the cigarette tax by $1 per pack in order to prevent kids from smoking and raise much-needed revenue to address the state's budget shortfall and fund critical programs such as health care and education.  According to a recent report by the Campaign for Tobacco-Free Kids, a $1 cigarette tax increase in Minnesota would have the following benefits:

  • Prevent 41,000 kids from becoming smokers;
  • Spur 19,400 current adult smokers to quit;
  • Save 18,200 residents from premature, smoking-caused deaths; and
  • Save $901.8 million in health care costs.

"On Kick Butts Day, kids are standing up to the tobacco companies, and Minnesota leaders should stand with them by increasing the cigarette tax," said Matthew L. Myers, President of the Campaign for Tobacco-Free Kids.  "A higher cigarette tax is truly a win-win-win for Minnesota: a health win that will prevent kids from smoking and save lives; a budget win that will help protect vital programs like health care and education; and a political win that is popular with the voters."

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 significant progress in reducing youth smoking, 20 percent of high school students still smoke.

In Minnesota, tobacco use claims 5,500 lives and costs $2.06 billion in health care bills each year.  Currently, 19.1 percent of the state's high school students smoke, and 25,700 kids try cigarettes for the first time each year.

On Kick Butts Day, kids turn the tables on Big Tobacco with events that range from "They put WHAT in a cigarette?" demonstrations to mock-funerals for the Marlboro Man to rallies at state capitols. Activities in Minnesota include (all events are on March 24 unless otherwise noted):

Mesabi East Elementary, Middle and High Schools in Aurora are celebrating Kick Butts Day with an interactive carnival where students will learn about the dangers of tobacco use through games, trivia contests and educational displays.  Time: 10 AM.  Location: Mesabi East High School, 601 North First Street West, Aurora.  Contact: Rose Anttila (218) 229-3321, x274.

Hills Beaver Creek High School in Hills will partner with four other area high schools to display 1,200 shoes to illustrate the 1,200 Americans that die each day in the U.S. from tobacco and secondhand smoke.  Time: 12 PM.  Location: 205 East 2nd Street, Hills.  Contact: Kristin Their (507) 226-4851.

East High School students in Duluth will create seven original public service announcements (PSAs) to educate their peers about the dangers of tobacco use.  Time: 9 AM.  Location: 2900 East 4th Street, Duluth.  Contact: Heidi Bowen (715) 529-2308.

At Adrian Public High School, students will ring the school bell every 15 seconds to signal each time someone dies in the U.S. of tobacco and secondhand smoke.  In honor of Kick Butts Day, students will also display 1,200 paper t-shirts to further illustrative the harmful effects of tobacco. Time: 8 AM.  Location: 415 Kentucky Avenue, Adrian.  Contact: Tammi Heronimus (507) 483-2232.

Note to the media: For a list of Kick Butts Day events in Minnesota, visit www.kickbuttsday.org/events.  Additional information about tobacco, including state-by-state statistics, can be found at www.tobaccofreekids.org.

SOURCE Campaign for Tobacco-Free Kids

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