WASHINGTON, March 10, 2017 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ — Kids in Kentucky will unite against tobacco use on March 15 as they join thousands of young people nationwide to mark Kick Butts Day. More than 1,000 events are planned across the United States and around the world for this annual day of youth activism, sponsored by the Campaign for Tobacco-Free Kids. (See below for a list of local events.)

On Kick Butts Day, kids encourage their peers to be tobacco-free, reject tobacco companies’ devious marketing and urge elected officials to help make the next generation tobacco-free.

This year, Kick Butts Day is focusing attention on how tobacco companies are enticing kids with a growing market of sweet-flavored products such as electronic cigarettes and cigars, threatening to addict a new generation. These products have proved popular with kids. From 2011 to 2015, e-cigarette use among high school students jumped from 1.5 percent to 16 percent nationwide, and more kids now use e-cigarettes than regular cigarettes. In addition, more high school boys now smoke cigars than cigarettes. E-cigarettes and cigars are sold in a wide assortment of candy and fruit flavors, such as gummy bear, cotton candy and fruit punch.

Tobacco companies also continue to spend huge sums to market cigarettes and smokeless tobacco, much of it reaching kids. Nationwide, tobacco companies spend $9.1 billion a year – one million dollars every hour – on marketing. In Kentucky, tobacco companies spend $266.2 million annually on marketing efforts.

«On Kick Butts Day, kids stand up to the tobacco industry, and our nation’s leaders must stand with them,» said Matthew L. Myers, President of the Campaign for Tobacco-Free Kids. «We’ve made great strides in reducing youth smoking, but candy-flavored products like e-cigarettes and cigars threaten this progress. We need strong FDA regulation to protect kids from these sweet-flavored products. And elected officials at all levels should support proven strategies that prevent youth tobacco use, including higher tobacco taxes, strong smoke-free laws, funding prevention programs and raising the tobacco age to 21.»

In Kentucky, tobacco use claims 8,900 lives and costs $1.92 billion in health care bills each year. Currently, 16.9 percent of Kentucky’s high school students smoke, the second highest high school smoking rate in the United States.

On Kick Butts Day, kids join in creative events that range from classroom activities about the harmful ingredients in cigarettes to rallies at state capitols.

In Kentucky, activities include:

On March 13, students at George Rogers Clark High School in Winchester will host a presentation on the dangers of tobacco products and how tobacco companies target youth. Time: 3:45 PM. Location: 2745 New Boonesboro Road, Winchester. Contact: Haley Tye (859) 595-6211.

On March 14, the Purchase District Health Department will visit students from McCracken County High School in Paducah and host an interactive booth where kids will learn about the dangers of tobacco use through games, trivia contests, educational displays and a costumed «Mr. Gross Mouth.» Time: 10:15 AM. Location: 6530 Old Hwy 60, Paducah. Contact: Rana Gordon Sullivan (270) 444-9625.

Schools across Tompkinsville will take a stand against big tobacco by constructing visual reminders about the dangers of tobacco use. Time: 10:30 AM. Location: 160 Old Mulkey Road, Tompkinsville. Contact: Kelli Smith (270) 487-1368.

Teens Against Tobacco Use members at Burgin Independent School will host a #NotaReplacement selfie station to encourage their peers to post anti-tobacco messages on social media. «I am not a Replacement» signs will hang throughout the school to take a stand against tobacco. Time: 11 AM. Location: 440 E. Main Street, Burgin. Contact: Emily Steer (859) 734-4522.

All events are on March 15 unless otherwise indicated. For a full list of Kick Butts Day activities in Kentucky, visit www.kickbuttsday.org/map. Additional information about tobacco, including state-by-state statistics, can be found at www.tobaccofreekids.org.

To view the original version on PR Newswire, visit:http://www.prnewswire.com/news-releases/kentucky-kids-to-kick-butts-on-march-15-300421744.html

SOURCE Campaign for Tobacco-Free Kids