Kick Butts Day highlights the dangers of tobacco use

March 16 2010

The 15th annual Kick Butts Day is Wednesday, March 24, and on this day SEARHC Tobacco Quit Program Health Educator Rowena J. Reeves and Juneau-Douglas High School students are spreading the word about the dangers of youth tobacco use and providing information about resources available to those wanting to quit using tobacco. Kick Butts Day is a national day of activism that empowers youth to speak up and take action against tobacco use at more than 2,000 events across the nation. These events are designed to get tobacco users to think about quitting tobacco, and to help youth make the decision not to start. Youth smoking is of particular concern because the younger a person is when he or she starts smoking, the more difficult it is to quit and the more likely the youth will become addicted. This year’s event takes place at 11:30 a.m. on Wednesday, March 24, at Juneau-Douglas High School. Rowena and the students will greet Gold Medal basketball tournament attendees and the general public at the school’s main entrance, where they will gather signatures from Alaska residents to support a statewide clean indoor air policy. The students will be “Taking it to the Streets” by handing out fliers that feature lies from Big Tobacco, quotes and tobacco-related topics. Rowena will provide free and low-cost resource information for those interested in quitting tobacco use. Every year in the United States 440,000 Americans die from tobacco-related illnesses. That is 1,200 people a day, or the equivalent of three full-capacity jumbo jets crashing every single day on U.S. soil. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, smoking kills more people than homicide, suicide, motor vehicle crashes, alcohol, cocaine, heroin, fires and AIDS combined. Tobacco use remains the No. 1 cause of preventable death in the United States. Big Tobacco targets our youth to make up for those thousands of human lives lost each year. It is never too soon nor too late to quit tobacco. However, left untreated, 60 percent of smokers will die from this deadly “habit.” The good news is more people are quitting smoking than ever before; tobacco use now is at a 50-year low in the U.S. On average, 50-75 percent of children whose parents smoke become smokers themselves. If you have children and hope they never start using tobacco, the best thing you can do for them is to quit smoking or chewing. Also, more resources are available today to assist you than ever before. Support and nicotine therapy products increase a person’s likelihood of quitting tobacco to 20-40 percent compared to just 2-5 percent for “cold turkey” attempts. For information about the SEARHC Tobacco Quit Program and other resources in Juneau to help you quit smoking, contact Rowena Reeves at 364-4440, the State of Alaska Tobacco Quit Line (for all Alaskans) at 1-888-842-QUIT (7848) or Bartlett Regional Hospital’s “Let’s Quit” program at 796-8920. To learn about tobacco’s health and financial impact on Alaska, go to http://www.tobaccofreekids.org. There also are many online resources available to help you quit tobacco, including http://becomeanex.org/ or http://kickbuttsday.org/. ###