Kick Butts Day highlights the dangers of tobacco use

March 14 2012

The 17th annual Kick Butts Day is Wednesday, March 21, and on this day the SouthEast Alaska Regional Health Consortium (SEARHC) Tobacco Quit Program is 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.

The SEARHC Tobacco Program will be honoring Kick Butts Day, and joining other groups to honor the day.

  • In Juneau, SEARHC will join NCADD-Juneau (National Council on Alcoholism and Drug Dependence) for a Kick Butts Day cookout from noon until 1 p.m. at Courthouse Plaza, where a Memorial Wall will be set up so people can post notes about the role tobacco has played in their lives, a Wall of Hope for those wanting to quit tobacco, a petition that can be signed by high school students and a proclamation from Mayor Bruce Botehlo.
  • In Sitka, the SEARHC Tobacco Program will host an informational booth about tobacco’s impact on health from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. at the Sitka McDonald’s Restaurant.
  • On Prince of Wales Island, the SEARHC Tobacco Program will host informational displays at the Alicia Roberts Medical Center in Klawock and the Alma Cook Medical Center in Hydaburg.

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, contact 1-866-966-8875 (toll-free in Alaska), and for the Alaska Quit Line contact 1-800-QUIT-NOW (1-800-784-8669) To learn about tobacco’s health impact on Alaska, go to http://www.hss.state.ak.us/dph/chronic/tobacco/Alaska_Tobacco_Facts.pdf. There also are many online resources available to help you quit tobacco, including http://becomeanex.org/, http://kickbuttsday.org/ or http://www.tobaccofreekids.org/.