Special to the Minden Press-Herald
NEW ORLEANS – Today is National Kick Butts Day according to a press release from the Louisiana Smoking Cessation Trust.
While Kick Butts Day is targeted to youth and young adult smokers, everyone in the community, including parents, grandparents, and elected officials, should stand with young people as they take a stand against Big Tobacco.
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), each day in the United States, more than 3,000 youth aged 18 years or younger smoke their first cigarette, and an additional 700 youth and young adults become daily cigarette smokers.
“The current epidemic of e-cigarettes is not helping as it targets young smokers, while serving as a convenient justification for older smokers to embrace what they feel is a healthier way to smoke.,” the release said. Evidence is mounting that shows that nicotine in any form is still the most highly addictive drug on the market, to the point that the FDA is considering banning e-cigarettes until further studies are conducted.
“Children are three times more likely to smoke if a parent or guardian smokes,” says Mike Rogers, Chief Executive Officer of SCT Management Services. “While the Trust’s primary target audience is Louisiana citizens who smoked their first cigarette before Sept. 1, 1988, we are also committed to keeping the next generation from becoming addicted to nicotine. And to that end, we encourage Louisiana legislators to follow the lead of a growing list of states who are raising the age to buy tobacco products to 21. Regardless of age, we are committed to saving everyone from the dangers of smoking.”
National data show that about 95 percent of adult smokers begin smoking before they turn 21. The ages of 18 to 21 are also a critical period when many smokers move from experimental smoking to regular, daily use. While less than half of adult smokers become daily smokers before age 18, four out of five do so before they turn 21. As a result, the Trust encourages all young people to never start smoking and ask that they share the ‘kick butts’ empowerment message with their parents, grandparents and other older adults in their lives.
Cigarette smoking is responsible for more than 480,000 deaths per year in the United States, including more than 41,000 deaths resulting from secondhand smoke exposure. According to the Louisiana Department of Health and Hospitals, smoking accounts for 6,500 deaths in our state every year contributing significantly to our state’s challenging health status, which costs taxpayers $1.89 billion dollars annually in actual healthcare expenditures and $2.49 billion in lost productivity.
To counteract the numerous messages targeting young smokers, Kick Butts Day was started in 1996 as a day of activism to empower youth to stand out, speak up and seize control against Big Tobacco. It is organized by the Campaign for Tobacco-Free Kids. By hosting “kick butts” events around the country, including those here in Louisiana, they aim to explain the dangers of cigarettes to this young, vulnerable audience.
Through observances like Kick Butts Day and other annual smoking-related observances and events, and in addition to its work with numerous Louisiana health care providers and hospital systems, the Smoking Cessation Trust has reached nearly 100,000 Louisianans with the message that quitting is one of the best things they can do for their health, their families and their finances.
For more information or to apply for the free products and services provided by the Trust, visit www.smokefreela.org; call locally at 504-529-5665 or toll-free at 855-259-6346.