How Are You Celebrating Kick Butts Day?

Mar 21, 2012, 3:34 PM, Posted by NewPublicHealth

It’s Kick Butts Day! Organized by the Campaign for Tobacco-Free Kids, the goal of the day is to empower kids to lead the fight against tobacco use by encouraging their peers, family and community members to stay tobacco-free.

This year, Kick Butts Day comes two weeks after a new report by the U.S. Surgeon General found that, while the nation has made great progress in reducing youth smoking, youth tobacco use remains a “pediatric epidemic” that requires urgent action.

Over 1,000 Kick Butts Day activities will take place today throughout the country including concerts, rallies, health fairs and “They put WHAT in a cigarette?” presentations. The site also offers an extraordinary list of resources that schools, health care professionals and community programs can use to help prevent kids from starting to smoke and to help them quit if they’ve started. Today, Tobacco-Free Kids also released a new video aimed at educating and empowering kids, particularly around the issue of tobacco company marketing targeted to youth. Watch the video here:

A new Tobacco-Free Kids report also released today finds that tobacco companies are circumventing youth marketing restrictions and adopting new strategies to entice young customers, including:

  • Heavy advertising and discounting of tobacco products in stores frequented by kids
  • Increased marketing of smokeless tobacco products, and introduction of new products that look, taste and are packaged like candy
  • Proliferation of cheap, sweet-flavored “little cigars”
file Photo courtesy of Campaign for Tobacco-Free Kids

The report is accompanied by a slideshow capturing images of tobacco advertising in key locations. One photo shows several large, prominent tobacco ads right above an ice cream cooler in a convenience store, and another shows fruit-flavored “cigarillos” (little cigars) right by the gum and small toys at a check-out counter. Others show how closely some of the newer tobacco products resemble candy or mints.

Kick Butts Day activities aim to counter the effects of tobacco marketing and advertising. One  standout program is “Tar Wars,” a program from the American Academy of Family Physicians. Aimed at fourth and fifth graders, a key age to begin tobacco awareness and prevention efforts before most kids light up their first cigarette, Tar Wars uses health professionals including community physicians and school nurses and engages students with efforts such as a poster contest. The program focuses on the short-term, image-based consequences of tobacco use, and how to think critically about tobacco advertising.

Weigh In: What will you plan in your community for next year’s Kick Butts Day?

This commentary originally appeared on the RWJF New Public Health blog.