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Oklahoma Youth Band Together to Stand Up to Big Tobacco

Oklahoma Youth Band Together to Stand Up to Big Tobacco

Kick Butts Day is March 18

TULSA, OK – [March 10, 2015] – Youth across the nation will band together March 18 to raise awareness about Kick Butts Day in an effort to end youth tobacco use. Organized by the Campaign for Tobacco-Free Kids, Kick Butts Day is a day of activism that empowers young Americans to stand out, speak up and seize control from Big Tobacco.

Tobacco Stops With Me, a statewide campaign dedicated to educating Oklahomans about the dangers of tobacco use, is encouraging young Oklahomans to motivate their peers to stay tobacco-free. Tobacco Stops With Me also works to help young Oklahomans learn and educate their schools and communities about the deceptive marketing practices used by the tobacco industry to target and recruit young people.

Each year, more than 270,000 American youth under the age of 18 start smoking. Of that, 4,200 are Oklahoma youth. In Oklahoma, nearly 18 percent of the state’s high school students smoke. Nationally, nearly 16 percent of high school students are current smokers.

“Tobacco companies target youth with magazine ads, product placement, candy flavored small cigars and more,” said Tobacco Free Coalition for Tulsa County Chair Paula Warlick. “On Kick Butts Day, Oklahoma youth will turn the tables on Big Tobacco by hosting events across the state that expose the truth behind the tobacco industry’s aggressive marketing tactics.”

Tulsa County Students Working Against Tobacco (SWAT) Teams will participate in the international Kick Butts Day signature activity by making a selfie statement to let Big Tobacco know that they are #NotAReplacement for the people tobacco products kill. 

Although certain advertising practices, such as the use of cartoon characters and billboards, were banned as part of the 1998 Master Settlement Agreement, tobacco companies spend $8.8 billion a year (more than $24 million each day) nationwide, and more than $160 million in Oklahoma, to market cigarettes and smokeless tobacco products particularly to youth and young adults. The tobacco industry needs these “replacement smokers” to replace the 20 Oklahomans that die every day from a tobacco related illness or disease.

Additionally, tobacco use in films has rebounded in the past two years. According to the 2014 Surgeon General’s Report, studies show youth who are more frequently exposed to onscreen smoking are almost twice as likely to begin smoking compared to those exposed less frequently.

If smoking prevalence does not decrease, 5.6 million U.S. children alive today will die prematurely from smoking related diseases. That includes 88,000 children in Oklahoma alone.

"As educators, it is our responsibility to encourage students to take initiative and lead their peers, and Kick Butts Day allows students to influence their friends and fellow students to be healthier," said Nedal Nofal, Tulsa Health Department tobacco prevention & control coordinator and SWAT coordinator. “Young people sharing the message of Big Tobacco’s deceptive marketing, and the hazards of tobacco use, have a tremendous impact on their peers.”

To join a SWAT Team near you, contact Nedal Nofal at (918) 595-4551. For more information about Kick Butts Day, please visit www.kickbuttsday.org or www.StopsWithMe.com.

Tobacco Free Coalition for Tulsa County
The Tobacco Free Coalition is a Communities of Excellence grantee of the Oklahoma Tobacco Settlement Endowment Trust serving Tulsa County and promoting smoke free environments, tobacco cessation and tobacco prevention.  For more information about joining the Tobacco Free Coalition contact Vanessa Hall-Harper, vhharper@tulsa-health.org  or 918-595-4226.

Oklahoma Tobacco Settlement Endowment Trust
The Oklahoma Tobacco Settlement Endowment Trust (TSET) serves as a partner and bridge builder for organizations working towards shaping a healthier future for all Oklahomans. TSET provides leadership at the intersections of health by working with local coalitions and initiatives across the state, by cultivating innovative and life-changing research, and by working across public and private sectors to develop, support, implement and evaluate creative strategies to take advantage of emerging opportunities to improve the public’s health. TSET – Better Lives Through Better Health. To learn more go to: www.tset.ok.gov.

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