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Virginia Kids 'Kick Butts' on April 2
Date:3/27/2008

New Poll: Teens Still Feel Targeted By Tobacco Advertising and Find It Easy to Buy Cigarettes

WASHINGTON, March 27 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- Kids across Virginia will rally against tobacco on April 2 as they join thousands of young people nationwide for the 13th annual Kick Butts Day, sponsored by the Campaign for Tobacco-Free Kids. Hundreds of events are planned across the nation (for a list of local events, go to http://www.kickbuttsday.org/events).

This year, Kick Butts Day is raising awareness about continued tobacco marketing and sales to kids and the need for Congress to crack down on these harmful practices by passing legislation granting the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) authority to regulate tobacco products.

Ten years after the 1998 state tobacco settlement, a new poll conducted for Kick Butts Day 2008 finds that kids still feel targeted by tobacco advertising and still find it easy to buy tobacco products. The national telephone survey of 507 teens (12-17 year olds) and 1,008 adults found:

-- Three-fourths of teens (74 percent) think tobacco companies want them to smoke, and 70 percent think tobacco companies target them with their advertising.

-- Teens are twice as likely as adults to remember tobacco advertising. While almost half (47 percent) of teens recalled tobacco advertising from the last two weeks before the survey, only 24 percent of adults did. Among teens who recalled tobacco advertising, the most commonly mentioned source was "in or outside a store."

-- Nearly two-thirds (65 percent) of teens think it is easy for teenagers to buy tobacco products. Among 15-17 year olds, 76 percent think it is easy.

The survey was conducted March 5-10, 2008, by International Communications Research and has a margin of error of plus or minus 4.4 percentage points for the teen survey and 3.1 percentage points for the adult survey. A report about the poll findings and the impact of tobacco marketing on youth can be found at: http://www.tobaccofreekids.org/kbd2008poll

To protect kids from tobacco addiction and save lives, health advocates are urging Congress to pass pending legislation (S. 625/H.R. 1008) granting the FDA authority to regulate tobacco products. The House Energy and Commerce Committee is expected to vote on the legislation on Kick Butts Day (April 2). Public health organizations and youth advocates called on Representative Rick Boucher (D-VA), a member of the House committee, to support the legislation.

Among other things, the legislation would grant the FDA authority to crack down on tobacco marketing and sales to kids; require that tobacco companies disclose the contents of their products and reduce or remove harmful ingredients; stop tobacco companies from misleading the public about the health risks of tobacco products; and require larger, more effective health warnings on tobacco products.

"It is unacceptable that tobacco products are the number one cause of preventable death in the United States, yet they are virtually unregulated to protect our kids and the nation's health," said William V. Corr, Executive Director of the Campaign for Tobacco-Free Kids. "By granting the FDA authority over tobacco products, Congress can stop the tobacco industry from targeting our children and misleading the public. We hope Kick Butts Day will inspire our nation's leaders to take effective action to protect children and save lives."

At the state level, health advocates are urging governors and legislators to adopt proven measures to reduce tobacco use and exposure to secondhand smoke, including higher tobacco taxes, smoke-free workplace laws, and well-funded programs to prevent kids from smoking and help smokers quit.

Since the 1998 tobacco settlement, tobacco companies have nearly doubled their annual marketing expenditures, from $6.9 billion in 1998 to $13.4 billion in 2005 - more than $36 million per day, according to the Federal Trade Commission. In Virginia, tobacco companies spend $438.5 million a year to market their products.

Nationwide, tobacco use kills more than 400,000 people and costs the nation nearly $100 billion in health care bills each year, and 23 percent of high school students smoke. In Virginia, tobacco use claims 9,300 lives and costs the state $2.08 billion in health care bills a year, and 21.7 percent of high school students smoke.

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 Virginia include (all events are on April 2 unless otherwise noted):

In Lynchburg, Lynchburg High Schools and Colleges will display 1,200 pairs of sneakers to represent the 1,200 people who die each day in the U.S. from tobacco and secondhand smoke. Time: 8 AM. Location: E.C. Glass High School, Memorial Avenue, Lynchburg. Contact: Cheryl Burnette (434) 610-0614.

In Arlington, Washington Lee and Science Focus PTA will welcome fourth-graders from local schools to celebrate Kick Butts Day with tobacco prevention materials and activities for students. Time: 10:30 AM. Location: Washington and Lee High School. Contact: Jennifer Hall (703) 973-4547.

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


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SOURCE Campaign for Tobacco-Free Kids
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