2015-03-11 / Front Page

Kick Butts Day coming on March 18

Facts that could save your life

Every day more than 3,000 kids under 18 try smoking for the first time and 700 become new, regular daily smokers, says Southwest Georgia Health District Epidemiologist and Health Promotions Manager Jacqueline Jenkins.

“Kick Butts Day, March 18, is a day of activism that empowers youth to raise awareness about the tobacco problem and encourage peers to be tobacco-free and support effective solutions to reduce tobacco use,” Jenkins said.

“As a nation we have made progress in the fight against tobacco use,” Jenby kins said. “However, tobacco use continues to be the No. 1 cause of preventable death in the United States.” It kills more than 480,000 people annually.

Events have been planned in Terrell and Dougherty counties March 18 to help boost awareness among young people about the dangers of tobacco use, Jenkins said.

“An assembly on Kick Butts Day will be conducted at the Terrell County Middle/High and will feature speakers from Greater Atlanta Voice Masters who are former smokers and are now part of a laryngectomy group,” she said. At Terrell Middle, a song and poetry contest encouraging being tobacco-free will be conducted while the high school is planning a poster contest with the theme “You can soar high without tobacco.”

Cooper-Carver Elementary School’s event is a Kick Butts Day coloring contest, Jenkins said.

Rounding out Terrell County’s activities will be a Selfie Scavenger Hunt, she said.

In Dougherty County, activities will include skits, a presentation on the importance of being tobaccofree by Dougherty County Health Department.

Although no planned events have been announced at Miller County Health Department or the Miller County Schools for Kick Butts Day, they all are "smoke-free" as much as is possible.

“In Georgia, 18.8% of adults smoke, and 12.8% of high school students smoke,” Jenkins said. “Also, 15.7% of Georgia’s male high school students use smokeless or spit tobacco.”

To put that in perspective, she said, the adults who die each year from their own smoking in Georgia total 11,700. “The number of kids now under 18 and alive in Georgia who will ultimately die prematurely from smoking is 204,000,” she said.

“Smoking kills more people than alcohol, AIDS, car crashes, illegal drugs, murders and suicides combined – and thousands more die from other tobacco-related causes—such as fires caused by smoking (more than 1,000 deaths/year nationwide) and smokeless tobacco,” Jenkins said.

“It doesn’t have to be this way,” she stressed. “Tobacco use is the leading cause of preventable death in the U.S. and around the world. It causes terrible and deadly diseases, including many forms of cancer, heart disease and emphysema, and lung disease. Tobacco use damages nearly every organ in the body.”

To learn more about Kick Butts Day, go to http://www.kickbuttsday.org/.

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