GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. — March 18 is National Kick Butts Day — a day for kids and teens to take a stand against smoking. And with the huge rise in popularity of flavored tobacco products and e-cigarettes, advocates say it’s more important than ever to raise awareness.
Organizers of the 20th annual Kick Butts Day describe it as a day of empowerment that aims to not only educate kids and parents about tobacco, but also give them opportunities to let their voices be heard. They say the tobacco industry spends huge amounts of money on marketing strategies that aim to reach young, potential customers, citing the $8.8 billion spent nationwide by the industry. With the popularity of e-cigarettes skyrocketing, there are more temptations than ever for young people to pick up the habit.
That’s why Kick Butts Day is giving kids and teens an opportunity to combine their voices, and share them via social media. They’ve created the hash tag “#NotAReplacement” for teenagers around the country to take selfies and share their stances. Organizers say the tobacco industry treats potential new smokers as replacements for those who quit, or who are unable to continue with the habit due to health issues.
There are also several Kick Butts Day events planned around West Michigan. Below is the information on those events, provided by kickbuttsday.org
The Teens Talking Truth (T3) youth advocacy group is partnering with the Macomb County Tobacco Coalition to facilitate an interactive presentation for fourth and fifth graders at Messmore Elementary. The presentation will focus on the thousands of harmful chemicals in cigarettes, discuss the negative health effects of tobacco, and promote a lifelong commitment to staying tobacco-free. Time: 9:30 AM. Location: 8742 Dill Drive, Sterling Heights. Contact: Lynda Zott (586) 218-5271.
Students at Union City High School will show posters and public service announcements they created about the health risks, costs and effects of using tobacco. Students, family members and the community will be encouraged to attend. Time: 10:30 AM. Location: 430 Saint Joseph Street, Union City. Contact: Richard Maples (517) 741-3323.
SAFE (Substance Abuse Free Environment) Youth in Emmet and Charlevoix Counties will produce a video highlighting the similarities between Big Tobacco’s advertising methods from the 1950s and the advertising of e-cigarettes today. They will partner with pizza shops in six communities to place anti-tobacco stickers on pizza boxes. Time: 12 PM. Location: B.C. Pizza, 910 Spring Street, Petoskey. Contact: Susan Pulaski (231) 347-5813.
The Barry-Eaton District Health Department and the Eaton County Substance Abuse Advisory Group will partner with the local Biggby Coffee franchise to promote youth anti-tobacco advocacy by sticking Kick Butts Day stickers on coffee cups for Biggby’s 20th Anniversary. Time: 9 AM. Location: 504 Lansing Street, Charlotte. Contact: Lauren Cibor (517) 541-2624.
Cherry Health in Grand Rapids will host an interactive informational table at the Leonard Street Counseling Center to raise awareness about the health issues caused by tobacco, especially for youth. “Swag bags” will be awarded for correctly answering trivia questions. Time: 10 AM. Location: 1400 Leonard Street N.E., Grand Rapids. Contact: Allison Young (616) 648-9519.
For a full list of Kick Butts Day activities in Michigan, visit www.kickbuttsday.org/map. Additional information about tobacco, including state-by-state statistics, can be found at www.tobaccofreekids.org.