On March 18th, thousands of young people joined together nationwide for the 20th annual Kick Butts Day. They demanded that tobacco companies stop marketing to them and encouraged elected officials to do more to protect them from these lethal products. Tobacco use is the number one cause of preventable death in the United States, killing 480,000 people and costing the nation $170 billion in health care bills each year.
This year, Kick Butts Day comes as a new report reaffirms the urgent need for action. The report released by the Campaign for Tobacco-Free Kids shows that tobacco companies are circumventing youth marketing restrictions and adopting new strategies to entice young customers to smoke cigarettes and use other tobacco products such as e-cigarettes. Tobacco companies are marketing to youth through magazine ads, store ads and discounts. Nationwide, tobacco companies spend $8.8 billion a year - one million dollars each hour - to market tobacco products.
Organized by the Campaign for Tobacco-Free Kids, Kick Butts Day is an annual celebration of youth leadership and activism in the fight against tobacco. On Kick Butts Day, kids turn the tables on Big Tobacco in creative ways, with events that range from small classroom activities about the harmful ingredients in cigarettes to large rallies at state capitols.
In addition to classroom activities and rallies for Kick Butts Day, youth are advocating on social media through the #NotAReplacement selfie campaign. The tobacco industry's own documents reveal they target kids as "replacement smokers" for the nearly half a million people their cigarettes kill each year in the United States. Hundreds of youth have already posted their Selfie Statements to tell Big Tobacco they are "NotAReplacement." To participate, youth are encouraged to take a photo while holding their Selfie Statement and share them on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram using the #NotAReplacement hashtag.