JUNEAU — The SouthEast Regional Health Consortium (SEARHC) supports thousands of kids across the country taking part in Kick Butts Day, a national day of activism that empowers young people to lead in the efforts against youth tobacco use. On March 16, K-12 students nationwide will participate in a variety of Kick Butts Day activities to educate the community about the toll of tobacco use.

In Juneau, SEARHC and National Council on Alcoholism and Drug Dependence (NCADD) will host an art workshop for high school students on Sunday, March 13 at The Canvas from 12:00-3:00 pm. Students will create art installations that expose the tobacco industry’s youth marketing strategies, and display tobacco facts and statements.

On Wednesday, March 16, the Heritage Coffee Roasting Co. in Juneau will display the students’ anti-tobacco art installations at the Downtown Café location. SEARHC and NCADD will host an informational table there from 3:00-5:30 pmwith tobacco cessation resources and youth anti-tobacco advocates.

In Sitka, SEARHC will partner with HOPE Force Task members and volunteers to facilitate a cigarette butt clean up on Tuesday, March 15 from 1:30-3:00 pm on the Blatchley Middle School property.

On Wednesday, March 16 SEARHC and HOPE Task Force members will host an informational booth in Sitka from 11:00 am-2:00 pm at AC Lakeside in honor of Kick Butts Day. The booth will include tobacco cessation resources, materials about youth tobacco use, guest “Mr. Ciggy Butts,” and a “guess the butts” activity for prize drawings.

SEARCH will present the same display at the Mt. Edgecumbe High School Health Fair on Saturday, March 19 and engage with students about the national Kick Butts Day initiative.

Today nearly 3 million middle and high school students smoke cigarettes nationwide. Every day, 2,100 young people aged 18 years or younger become addicted smokers, and one-third of them will get sick and die prematurely as a result. Alaska has made tremendous progress in reducing youth tobacco use, yet there is more work to be done.  More than 11% of Alaska high school students currently smoke cigarettes, but electronic vapor product use has increased among students to almost 18%. 

Additionally, Alaska Native students are twice as likely to use tobacco compared to their non-Native peers. Kick Butts Day aims to reverse those numbers.

For more information about the Juneau events, contact Leah Todd at 907-364-4549, and for Sitka events, contact Amanda Roberts at 907-966-8745 in the SEARHC Tobacco Program. For information on the Kick Butts Day national initiative, visit kickbuttsday.org.

Quitting tobacco is hard, but free help is available for Alaska adults by calling Alaska’s Tobacco Quit Line at 1-800-QUIT-NOW or visiting alaskaquitline.com for free cessation counseling and nicotine replacement therapies.