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California Kids to 'Kick Butts' on March 15

Action urged to protect kids from candy-flavored tobacco products


March 17, 2017

Kids in California will unite against tobacco use on March 15 as they join thousands of young people nationwide to mark Kick Butts Day.

More than 1,000 events are planned across the United States and around the world for this annual day of youth activism, sponsored by the Campaign for Tobacco-Free Kids. (See below for a list of local events.)

On Kick Butts Day, kids encourage their peers to be tobacco-free, reject tobacco companies' devious marketing and urge elected officials to help make the next generation tobacco-free.

This year, Kick Butts Day is focusing attention on how tobacco companies are enticing kids with a growing market of sweet-flavored products such as electronic cigarettes and cigars, threatening to addict a new generation. These products have proved popular with kids. From 2011 to 2015, e-cigarette use among high school students jumped from 1.5 percent to 16 percent nationwide, and more kids now use e-cigarettes than regular cigarettes. In addition, more high school boys now smoke cigars than cigarettes. E-cigarettes and cigars are sold in a wide assortment of candy and fruit flavors, such as gummy bear, cotton candy and fruit punch.

Tobacco companies also continue to spend huge sums to market cigarettes and smokeless tobacco, much of it reaching kids. Nationwide, tobacco companies spend $9.1 billion a year – one million dollars every hour – on marketing. In California, tobacco companies spend $592.6 million annually on marketing efforts.

"On Kick Butts Day, kids stand up to the tobacco industry, and our nation's leaders must stand with them," said Matthew L. Myers, President of the Campaign for Tobacco-Free Kids. "We've made great strides in reducing youth smoking, but candy-flavored products like e-cigarettes and cigars threaten this progress. We need strong FDA regulation to protect kids from these sweet-flavored products. And elected officials at all levels should support proven strategies that prevent youth tobacco use, including higher tobacco taxes, strong smoke-free laws, funding prevention programs and raising the tobacco age to 21."

In California, tobacco use claims 40,000 lives and costs $13.29 billion in health care bills each year. Currently, 7.7 percent of California's high school students smoke.

On Kick Butts Day, kids join in creative events that range from classroom activities about the harmful ingredients in cigarettes to rallies at state capitols.

In California, activities include:

On March 13, high school students from across the state, led by the California Youth Advocacy Network, will hold a day-long tobacco-free advocacy event at the California State Capitol in Sacramento. Students will learn about the dangers of tobacco, march to the Capitol, host a press conference, and hold informational meetings with legislators. Time: 12:30 PM. Location: State Capitol, 1315 10th Street, Sacramento. Contact: Kim Homer Vagadori, (530) 304-1958.

Students at Gardena High School will air out big tobacco's dirty laundry by writing their marketing lies on t-shirts and playing a video game where they fight a giant cigarette. Students will also receive informational pamphlets and goody bags. Time: 1 PM. Location: 1301 W. 182nd Street, Gardena. Contact: Travon Tucker (310) 200-4465.

Youth at the Elliott Education Center in Modesto will place tombstones around the school, signifying the number of tobacco-related deaths every 12 hours, to remind students that smoking kills. Time: 10 AM. Location: 1440 Sunrise Avenue, Modesto. Contact: Fred Johnston (209) 241-8009.

Peer counselors will lead students at BTech Academy in Berkeley through educational games and activities. Students will make tombstones for those who have died from tobacco use and will wear black ribbons in remembrance. They will also plant a memorial tree in the center of the campus. Time: 11:45 AM. Location: 2701 MLK Jr. Way, Berkeley. Contact: Ayesha Henderson (510) 644-4596.

Kindergarteners at the Bess Maxwell After School Program in Crescent City will hold a carnival with games and educational activities about the dangers of tobacco. Del Norte High School students and the Del Norte County Prevention Program Youth will assist. Time: 3 PM. Location: 1124 El Dorado, Crescent City. Contact: Denise Doyle-Schnacker (707) 464-0310. Reporters wishing to cover this event in-person should seek prior approval.

Students at Robert Fulton College Preparatory in Van Nuys will celebrate winning a statewide #BeTheFirst PSA contest, supported by BREATHE California of Los Angeles County and the CVS Health Foundation. They created anti-tobacco and nicotine videos to make the next generation tobacco-free. Time: 12 PM. Location: 7477 Kester Avenue, Van Nuys. Contact: Risha Parada Phone: (323) 935-8050 ext. 227.

Students at Newark Junior High School in Newark will hold an interactive carnival with a scavenger hunt, educational displays, student-created commercials and performances, and a visit from "Big Cig," an anti-cigarette mascot. Time: 12:15 PM. Location: 6201 Lafayette Avenue, Newark. Contact: Lisa Merrell (510) 300-4328.

All events are on March 15 unless otherwise indicated. For a full list of Kick Butts Day activities in California, visit Additional information about tobacco, including state-by-state statistics, can be found at


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