Kentucky Kids to ‘Kick Butts’ on March 18



Kids in Kentucky will stand up to Big Tobacco on March 18 as they join thousands of young people nationwide for the 20th annual Kick Butts Day. More than 1,000 events are planned nationwide for this 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 stay tobacco-free, demand that tobacco companies stop marketing deadly, addictive products to them and encourage elected officials to do more to reduce youth tobacco use.

This year, Kick Butts Day is focusing attention on how the tobacco industry still spends huge sums on marketing and is adopting new strategies to reach young customers. Nationwide, tobacco companies spend $8.8 billion a year – one million dollars every hour – to market tobacco products. In Kentucky, tobacco companies spend $271.1 million annually on marketing efforts. The industry’s tactics that entice kids include:

  • Splashy ads in magazines with large youth readership, such as Sports Illustrated, ESPN the Magazine and Rolling Stone.
  • Widespread advertising and price discounts in stores, which make tobacco products appealing and affordable to kids.
  • New, sweet-flavored tobacco products such as small cigars and electronic cigarettes. The latest surveys show that youth use of e-cigarettes has skyrocketed.

In addition to organizing events, kids are standing up to the tobacco industry on social media through the #NotAReplacement selfie campaign. The tobacco industry’s own documents reveal that they have long targeted kids as “replacement smokers” for the more than 480,000 people their products kill each year in the United States. Kids are taking selfies to say they’re not a replacement and sharing the photos on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram with the #NotAReplacement hashtag. (view the #NotAReplacement selfie gallery)

“On Kick Butts Day, kids stand up and reject Big Tobacco’s manipulative marketing,” said Matthew L. Myers, President of the Campaign for Tobacco-Free Kids. “We can make the next generation tobacco-free and end the tobacco epidemic for good. Elected officials can help reach that goal by standing with kids and supporting proven strategies to prevent youth tobacco use, including higher tobacco taxes, strong smoke-free laws and prevention programs.”

In Kentucky, health advocates are working to pass a comprehensive, statewide smoke-free law that applies to all workplaces, including restaurants and bars, and protects everyone’s right to breathe clean air. The General Assembly approved such legislation for the first time this year. It’s time for the state Senate to vote on the bill.

In Kentucky, tobacco use claims 8,900 lives and costs $1.92 billion in health care bills each year. Currently, an alarming 17.9 percent of Kentucky’s high school students smoke.

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

In Kentucky, activities include:

Students from the Phoenix Academy in Winchester will display socks, shoes or canned goods to visualize the 17.9 percent ofKentucky high school students who are current smokers. The items will be donated to the local homeless shelter and food pantry. Time: 9:30 AM. Location: 100 Vaught Road, Winchester. Contact: Ashley Vaughn (859) 779-0637.

The Girl Scouts of Winchester will pick up cigarette butts in community parks throughout the county. Volunteers will present all the collected butts to shoppers as they enter and exit the Winchester Kroger. Time: 10 AM.  Location: 1661 Bypass Road, Winchester. Contact: Ashley Vaughn (859) 779-0637.

Students Making a Change in Our Community (SMACC) will march as zombies—carrying signs depicting which tobacco-related illness killed them—to send the message that youth from Paris are not replacement smokers. The march will begin at the local CVS, to commemorate its decision to stop selling tobacco, and end at the Bourbon County Fiscal Courthouse and City Commission buildings. Time: 3:30 PM. Location: 101 Lacy Lane, Paris. Contact: Cyndi Steele (859) 509-0310.

On March 20, the Monroe County Youth Prevention Ambassadors will host a display on the lawn of the Monroe County Court House, including tombstones that will feature tobacco-related causes of death, as well as a “dirty laundry” display that will visualize the lives lost to tobacco. Time: 9 AM. Location: 300 N. Main Street, Tompkinsville. Contact: Kelli Long (270) 427-1232.

All events are on March 18 unless otherwise indicated. For a full list of Kick Butts Day activities in Kentucky, visit Additional information about tobacco, including state-by-state statistics, can be found at

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