Wellington, other youths in Larimer County will ‘Kick Butts’ today

Kids in Larimer County will stand up against tobacco today as they join thousands of young people nationwide for the 20th annual Kick Butts Day. More than 1,400 events are planned nationwide.

Organized by the Campaign for Tobacco-Free Kids, Kick Butts Day is an annual celebration of youth leadership and activism in the fight against tobacco. On Kick Butts Day, youth will encourage their peers to stay tobacco-free and educate their communities about the tobacco industry’s harmful marketing practices.

This year marks 20 years of kicking butts. Since it first launched in 1996, thousands of people around the world have hosted successful Kick Butts Day events to stand out, speak up, and seize control against Big Tobacco. While much has changed in the past 20 years, some things remain the same: tobacco use is still the number one cause of preventable death, and 90 percent of smokers still start before the age of 18. While we’ve made tremendous progress, there is still work to be done.

Nationwide, tobacco companies spend $8.8 billion a year – one million dollars each hour – to market cigarettes and smokeless tobacco products. In particular, tobacco companies target youth with magazine ads, store ads and discounts, and fruit- and candy-flavored small cigars that look just like cigarettes.

“Kick Butts Day provides an opportunity to engage youth and empower them to make a positive difference in their community,” said Dr. Adrienne LeBailly, Director of the Larimer County Department of Health & Environment.

In Larimer County, 14.6 percent of high school students used tobacco in the last 30 days. Of those, over 40 percent had tried to quit at least once in the last year.

On Kick Butts Day, kids turn the tables on Big Tobacco in creative ways, with events that range from small classroom activities about the harmful ingredients in cigarettes to large rallies at state capitols.

Activities in Larimer County, hosted by local tobacNO coalitions include:
• On March 18, youth from the Boys & Girls Club of Wellington will “Chalk the Walk,” creating a visual to bring attention to the toll of tobacco and tobacco industry marketing. They will also be making pledges to be tobacco-free. Contact: Lisa Laake, 970-498-6735.
• On March 18, students from Estes Park High School will participate in tobacNO’s own scavenger hunt. Participants will complete various activities aimed at raising awareness of tobacco dangers and increasing knowledge about tobacco prevention and resources available to teens. Contact: Lisa Laake, 970-498-6735.
• On March 18, students from Thompson Valley High School in Loveland, CO will “Chalk the Walk,” creating a visual on their school sidewalks to bring attention to the toll of tobacco and tobacco industry marketing. They will also be sharing tobacco facts attached to LifeSavers to students as they enter class. Contact: Christa Timmerman, 970-498-6718.
• On March 18, Bill Reed Middle School in Loveland, CO will be invaded by zombies. Students, dressed as the zombies of dead smokers, will make a dramatic statement about the health effects of tobacco. They will also encourage students to participate in the “Not a Replacement “campaign to tell Big Tobacco with a selfie statement why they are not a “replacement smoker”. Contact: Christa Timmerman, 970-498-6718.
• On March 28, Fort Collins youth will conduct cigarette butt pickups at 8 local parks and the downtown area. Youth will then come together to create a visual display with the collected butts, which they will show to the community and leaders at the Oak Street Plaza. They will use this event to celebrate and thank the city for expanding the smoking ordinance to include smoke-free parks, trails, natural areas, a downtown area, and events and festivals. Free coffee, hot chocolate and treats will be provided to celebrate smoke-free areas. Contact: Christa Timmerman, 970-498-6718.

For a full list of Kick Butts Day events across the country, visit http://www.kickbuttsday.org/map. Additional information about tobacco, including state-by-state statistics, can be found at www.tobaccofreekids.org.

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