Hundreds of middle and high school students in Nebraska will take part in “Kick Butts Day” rallies and events today that aim to keep young people from starting to smoke and to urge current smokers to quit.
Danny McGoldrick, spokesman for the Campaign for Tobacco-Free Kids, says more than 22% of Nebraska high school students smoke and almost 8,100 kids in the state try cigarettes for the first time each year.
“They can speak from their own experience about how they’re targeted by the tobacco companies,” McGoldrick says. “They’ll be participating in hundreds of events around the country to bring attention to the problem of tobacco use but also the solutions to the tobacco problem. We know what to do to reduce tobacco use, we just need to put those policies and programs in place that we know work.”
He says tobacco claims 22-hundred Nebraskans’ lives every year, and costs 537-million dollars in health care costs. McGoldrick says today’s events will be very visible in cities across Nebraska.
“Students in Grand Island are going to educate customers at stores about the hazardous effects of tobacco use and encourage tobacco users to take the first steps to quit,” McGoldrick says. “Some kids will be involved in cleaning up cigarette butts to see if their schools are making progress in getting tobacco off school campuses.”
He says one sure way to discourage smoking is to make cigarettes more expensive.
“Nebraska’s tobacco tax is about half of the national average and we estimate that increasing Nebraska’s tobacco tax by $1.35, which is what’s being considered, would not only prevent almost 20,000 Nebraska kids from becoming smokers and encourage about 10,000 Nebraska smokers to quit, but it would also raise important new revenue for the state.”
This is the 16th annual Kick Butts Day and events are planned in all 50 states. McGoldrick says 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.
Learn more at: www.tobaccofreekids.org