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

State Leaders Urged to Support Higher Tobacco Taxes, Other Tobacco Prevention Initiatives

WASHINGTON, March 18 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- Kids in Missouri 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).

(Logo:  http://www.newscom.com/cgi-bin/prnh/20080918/CFTFKLOGO)

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.

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 record budget deficits, state leaders should increase tobacco taxes both to prevent kids from smoking and to raise revenue to balance budgets and fund critical programs.  States should also enact smoke-free air laws that apply to all workplaces and public places and implement 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 significant progress in reducing youth smoking, 20 percent of high school students still smoke.

In Missouri, tobacco use claims 9,500 lives and costs $2.13 billion in health care bills each year.  Currently, 23.8 percent of the state's high school students smoke, and 30,500 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 Missouri include (all events are on March 24 unless otherwise noted):

On April 17, Smokebuster teams from across the southwest region of Missouri, in collaboration with Hickory County Health Department, will display 1,200 pairs of shoes in Springfield during a home game of the minor league Springfield Cardinals to represent the 1,200 people who die each day in the U.S. from tobacco and secondhand smoke.  Time: 2 PM.  Location: Hammons Field, 935 East Traffic Way, Springfield.  Contact: Pam Jackson 417-399-2172.

The Cardinal Glennon Hospital's program for the Elimination of Cancer will present an entertaining yet powerful program to 5th and 6th graders at Cardinal Glennon Hospital.  Lead by Cardinal Glennon's pediatricians, students will learn about the harmful effects of tobacco and secondhand smoke through interactive demonstrations.  Time: 10 AM.  Location: Dannis Auditorium, 3535 Vista Avenue, St. Louis.  Contact: Dr. Tony Scalzo (314) 402-7460.

On March 25, Rock Bridge High School students in Columbia will be gathering for an interactive school-wide health fair to address health issues in their community.  Students will learn about and discuss the dangers of tobacco and secondhand smoke as well as the benefits of quitting.  Time: 11 AM.  Location: 4303 South Providence Road, Columbia.  Contact: Lucas Blount (573) 881-4574.

Note to the media: For a list of Kick Butts Day events in Missouri, 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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