I don’t smoke. I’ve never in my life even taken a puff off a cigarette. Maybe it was all of those DARE videos we watched in school, maybe it was because my parents often talked to me about how bad cigarettes are, maybe it was because I thought (correctly) cigarettes were gross, maybe it was because I developed asthma by the age of 13, maybe it was all of the above.
Whatever the reason, I wish that 270,000 children would find a reason to say no to cigarettes and never take that first puff. Why 270,000? Because that is the number of Florida children who the Campaign for Tobacco-Free Kids says will die prematurely due to smoking. I don’t know about you, but that number is staggering. The number is more overwhelming when you look at the national statistics — 5.6 million U.S. children alive today will die prematurely from smoking-caused deaths.
What can we do?
We can join the Campaign for Tobacco-Free Kids in its efforts to put an end to this epidemic.
We can say no to allowing our children to be targeted with cigarette ads geared toward kids like magazine ads, store ads and discounts, and fruit- and candy-flavored small cigars that look just like cigarettes.
Did you know that tobacco companies spend $8.8 billion (yes, billion with a “b”) to market cigarettes and smokeless tobacco products nationwide? That breaks down to $1 million an hour — just to keep cigarettes in front of the public’s mind. Here in Florida tobacco companies spend $562.6 million on marketing efforts.
We can patronize businesses that are making a stand and let them know we appreciate what they are doing. This year CVS announced the elimination of tobacco products in its stores starting later this year. Who is next to take such a stand?
We can support Kids Kick Butts Day. On March 19, 2014, kids across the country will take part in activities and rallies to support the anti-tobacco movement. It is a national day of activism that empowers youth to stand out, speak up and seize control against Big Tobacco. Teachers, youth leaders, health advocate and parents are encouraged to organize events to raise awareness of the tobacco problem, encourage youth to stay tobacco-free and urge strong action to protect kids from tobacco.
Whatever it takes to keep kids from taking that first puff and to help those who have already started kick the habit — let’s join together and Kick Butts!
For a full list of Kick Butts Day events visit the Kids Kick Butts website. Additional information about tobacco, including state-by-state statistics, can be found at www.tobaccofreekids.org.