Kicking butts: Community works to end smoking

Published 4:54 pm Tuesday, March 14, 2017

More than a dozen students from Phoenix Academy gathered at Robert D. Campbell Jr. High School Monday to kick off a weeklong anti-smoking initiative.

Led by the Clark County Health Department, groups from across the community are partnering for a week of events around Kick Butts Day, a national smoking cessation day happening Wednesday.

In addition to picking up cigarette butts in areas across the community with students and Girl Scout Troop 491, George Rogers Clark High School put on a presentation Monday afternoon about the dangers of smoking and how tobacco corporations target young people with their advertising.

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In addition to focussing on prevention, the health department will also be celebrating those who have quit smoking. Representatives will also be out in public to help those interested kick the habit.

“Our big event on (Wednesday) will consist of an informational booth at Kroger as well as a smoking cessation celebration for the employees participating in our Freedom From Smoking class at Rose Mary C. Brooks Place,” health department representative Haley Tye said.

An additional smoking cessation class will be today at the Clark County Home Health Agency on Shoppers Drive.

The class begins at 6 p.m. and costs $5 for attendees.

These events are part of more than 1,000 going on across the country, sponsored by the Campaign for Tobacco-Free Kids.

This year, Kick Butts Day is focusing 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, according to a news release from Campaign for Tobacco-Free 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.

“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 Kentucky, tobacco use claims 8,900 lives and costs $1.92 billion in health care bills each year. Currently, 16.9 percent of Kentucky’s high school students smoke, the second highest high school smoking rate in the United States.