OKLAHOMA CITY — The 2017 Kick Butts Day celebration encouraged youth across Oklahoma to stand up for tobacco-free environments by attending events and exploring the resources offered by Tobacco Stops With Me.
“Young people have a voice and on March 15, Oklahoma youth (gathered) to educate their peers, family and friends about Big Tobacco and their youth-focused marketing strategies,” said John Woods, executive director of Tobacco Settlement Endowment Trust or TSET. “We support their efforts for Kick Butts Day and encourage all young people to build healthy futures – free from tobacco.”
Each year in Oklahoma, 2,400 kids become new regular, daily smokers. Tobacco use is still the leading cause of preventable death in Oklahoma, killing more than 7,500 people every year.
TSET grantees partner with organizations across the state to hold events for Kick Butts Day. The TSET Healthy Living Program in Cherokee County hosts an annual event with local youth from Students Working Against Tobacco or SWAT action groups who will join forces with community and coalition members to pick up cigarette butts in the city parks.
“When we started, it was just a few youth picking up thousands of nasty cigarette butts,” said Carol Choate, grant coordinator for the TSET Healthy Living Program in Cherokee County. “Now, our small group has become much larger and includes a lot of other local organizations.”
“In fact, the cigarette butts collected from our parks have been presented to city councils by our youth to show that it’s time to look at whether we should even allow smoking in our parks,” Choate said. “That’s the difference a few youth can make on our communities.”
Although Oklahoma smoking rates have declined, tobacco companies still spend $169 million yearly to market cigarettes and smokeless tobacco products, particularly to youth and young adults, according to TSET. As a result of tobacco marketing, more than 9 million packs of cigarettes are bought or smoked by Oklahoma kids each year, the group reports.
For more information, visit StopsWithMe.com or OKhelpline.com.