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New Jersey 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 New Jersey 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.

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 New Jersey, tobacco use claims 11,200 lives and costs $3.17 billion in health care bills each year.  Currently, 15.8 percent of the state's high school students smoke, and 36,800 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 New Jersey include (all events are on March 24 unless otherwise noted):

On April 14, the Ocean County Community Against Tobacco Community Partnership in Toms River will present to 1,200 students and chaperones a "Choose to be Free" tobacco education program.  The school superintendent, mayor and other city officials will be present at the event.  Time: 9:30 AM.  Location: Poland Springs Arena at the Ritacco Center, 1245 Old Freehold Road, Toms River.  Contact: Albert Petroni (609) 319-0777.

The Branch Brook Park Roller Skating Center in Newark will encourage youth to lead a tobacco-free lifestyle by demonstrating the effects of tobacco use.  Time: 4:30 PM.  Location: 7th Avenue & Clifton Avenue, Newark.  Contact: Danica Raney (973) 482-8900.

Students from Newton High School in Newton will be participating in a "Hands of Hope Project" to remember those who died from smoking related illnesses.  The cutout hands will also encourage peers and loved ones to quit smoking.  Time: 2 PM.  Location: 44 Ryerson Avenue, Newton.  Contact: Jill Aquino (973) 383-7692.

Students at Long Branch High School will display 1,200 pinwheels at the school to represent the 1,200 people who die each day in the U.S. from tobacco and secondhand smoke.  Time: 10:30 AM.  Location: 404 Indiana Avenue, Long Branch.  Contact: Brenda Itzol (732) 768-6506.

Note to the media: For a list of Kick Butts Day events in New Jersey, 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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SOURCE Campaign for Tobacco-Free Kids
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