March 15 marks Kick Butts Day, a day of activism that empowers youth to stay tobacco free by standing out, speaking up, and seizing control against Big Tobacco. Fargo Cass Public Health and the North Dakota Center for Tobacco Prevention and Control Policy (BreatheND) encourage North Dakota youth to understand how addictive tobacco products are, and that tobacco can hold you in its grip for life. These are all reasons never to start.
Despite promising to stop marketing to youth in the 1998 tobacco settlement, tobacco companies continue to find new ways to recruit new customers. Tobacco companies know that if you are not using tobacco by your 18th birthday, chances are you will be tobacco free for life. That is why they target our kids, and it is working. Every day more than 2,500 kids in the U. S. will try smoking for the first time and 400 of these kids will become new daily-addicted smokers.
Overall, tobacco use is still the leading cause of preventable death in the U.S., killing more than 480,000 people every year.
“Many young people are not aware of how addictive nicotine products are or that tobacco companies are targeting them to be the next addicted tobacco user,” said Melissa Markegard, tobacco prevention coordinator with Fargo Cass Public Health. “Kick Butts Day gives us the opportunity to get that message across and encourage North Dakota youth to be tobacco free.”
“We know that education is key to tobacco prevention. The more our youth know about the addictive and negative effects tobacco has on health, the better able we are to encourage them to remain tobacco free,” said Markegard. “It is our goal to continue educating and empowering North Dakota youth to make healthy choices.”
To learn about tobacco prevention, contact Fargo Cass Public Health at 701-476-4083 or go to www.breathend.com.