Clark County kicks butts

Published 2:19 pm Tuesday, March 21, 2017

In the U.S., tobacco use kills more than 480,000 people each year — more than AIDS, alcohol, car accidents, illegal drugs, murders and suicides combined — according to the Campaign for Tobacco-Free Kids.

Ninety percent of all smokers started as a teen or earlier. Another 700 kids become regular smokers each day, and one-third of them will die prematurely from a smoking-related disease.

Clearly, smoking and tobacco use are a matter of life or death in the U.S., and especially in Kentucky, where rates of tobacco use are higher than the national average.

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 U.S.

Last week, students, teachers and health advocates banded together in the fight against tobacco use for Kick Butts Day.

According to the Campaign for Tobacco-Free Kids, “Kick Butts Day is a national day of activism that empowers youth to stand out and speak up,” against tobacco use.

Locally, the collaboration extended beyond just the day of recognition, with events organized throughout the week to raise awareness about the issue of tobacco use and encourage students to avoid tobacco use.

Students from Phoenix Academy and George Rogers Clark High School picked up cigarette butts littering the GRC and Campbell Junior High School campuses.

Girl Scout Troop 491 braved cold temperatures to pick up cigarette butts at College Park.

Clark County Health Department organized the events and had a “Freedom From Smoking” class and public information booth at Kroger.

Staff and residents at Rose Mary C. Brooks Place celebrated three employees who chose to quit smoking last week and Clark County Agency for Substance Abuse Policy challenged students to develop smoking reduction slogans.

Tobacco use and its dangerous affects are a community-wide issue. Consider secondhand smoke, cigarette butts littered on the ground, chewing tobacco spit out on the sidewalks and the cost of health care and treatment for smoking related illness.

Tobacco kills, and its affects go beyond the immediate victim.

Since tobacco use is a community problem, it is refreshing to see the community come together to address the issue.

We applaud the work organizers and students put into Kick Butts Week, and hope the momentum carries throughout the year.