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New York Kids Kick Butts On March 24

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Kids in New York will take center stage in the fight against tobacco on March 24 as they join thousands of young people nationwide for the 15th annual Kick Butts Day. More than 1,000 events are planned in all 50 states and the District of Columbia.

Sponsored by the Campaign for Tobacco-Free Kids, Kick Butts Day is an annual celebration of youth leadership and activism in the fight against tobacco use. Kids are sending two powerful messages on Kick Butts Day: They want the tobacco companies to stop targeting them with marketing for cigarettes and other tobacco products, and they want elected leaders to do more to protect them from tobacco.

In New York, health advocates are calling on state leaders to increase the cigarette tax by $1 per pack in order to prevent kids from smoking and raise much-needed revenue to address the state's budget shortfall and fund critical programs such as health care and education. According to a recent report by the Campaign for Tobacco-Free Kids, a $1 cigarette tax increase in New York would have the following benefits:

Prevent 106,500 kids from becoming smokers;
Spur 53,800 current adult smokers to quit;
Save 48,300 residents from premature, smoking-caused deaths; and
Save $2.3 billion in health care costs.

"On Kick Butts Day, kids are standing up to the tobacco companies, and New York leaders should stand with them by increasing the cigarette tax," said Matthew L. Myers, President of the Campaign for Tobacco-Free Kids. "A higher cigarette tax is truly a win-win-win for New York: a health win that will prevent kids from smoking and save lives; a budget win that will help protect vital programs like health care and education; and a political win that is popular with the voters."

Tobacco use is the number one cause of preventable death in the United States, killing more than 400,000 people and costing $96 billion in health care bills each year. While the nation has made significant progress in reducing youth smoking, 20 percent of high school students still smoke.

In New York, tobacco use claims 25,400 lives and costs $8.17 billion in health care bills each year. Currently, 14.6 percent of the state's high school students smoke, and 85,000 kids try cigarettes for the first time each year.

On Kick Butts Day, kids turn the tables on Big Tobacco with events that range from "They put WHAT in a cigarette?" demonstrations to mock-funerals for the Marlboro Man to rallies at state capitols. Activities in New York include (all events are on March 24 unless otherwise noted):

To celebrate Kick Butts Day, South Nassau Communities Hospital will start its countdown to becoming a smoke-free hospital complex. Time: 10 AM. Location: One Healthy Way, Oceanside. Contact Damien Beck 516-377-5373.

Bronx Breathes program at Montefiore Hospital in Bronx will offer materials and activities at nine locations throughout the hospital complex to encourage patients, visitors and personnel to live smoke-free. Time: 10 AM. Location: Montefiore Medical Center Moses Division, Food Pavilion Corridor, 111 East 210th Street, Bronx. Contact: Shaniyya Pinckney 646-456-4326.

At Van Wyck Junior High School in Wappingers Falls, the Council on Addiction Prevention and Education of Dutchess County, Inc., will encourage students to sign a pledge wall to commit to be tobacco-free and to encourage peers and loved ones to quit smoking. Unsightly displays of tobacco's effect on the body will also be presented to show students the dangers of tobacco use. Time: 10 AM. Location: 6 Hillside Lake Road, Wappingers Falls. Contact: Michele Weider 845-594-5612.

Patriots Pride and Reality Check will celebrate Kick Butts Day with a carnival at Binghamton High School in Binghamton. Students will learn about the dangers of tobacco use through games, trivia and educational displays. Time: 8 AM. Location: 56 Main Street, Binghamton. Contact: Lisa Weston-Bialy (607) 321-9965.

Note to the media: For a list of Kick Butts Day events in New York, visit www.kickbuttsday.org/events. Additional information about tobacco, including state-by-state statistics, can be found at www.tobaccofreekids.org.

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