A healthy living blog from Marshfield Clinic Health System

Kicking butt to kick cigarette butts

Illustration of hands breaking a cigaretteOne day each year, youth across the U.S. stand up and speak out against Big Tobacco and their one day of action sets the tone for 364 days of making healthy choices that can last a lifetime.

Kick Butts Day is March 18. It’s a national day of activism that empowers youth to stand up, speak out and seize control against Big Tobacco. More than 1,000 events in schools and communities across the country are anticipated to participate.

Older kids can set an example

Why is Kick Butts Day still important after 20 years? More than 600,000 middle school students and three million high school students still smoke cigarettes, according to the U.S. Surgeon General’s Office.

While many Kick Butts Day participants will be high school students, community anti-smoking coalitions encourage teens to set an example for younger students.

“Older kids are role models and mentors for younger kids,” said Jenna Green, a respiratory therapy coordinator at Lakeview Medical Center, Rice Lake, a division of Marshfield Clinic Health System. “When younger children see good behavior in older kids, they are more likely to follow.”

Green is on a Rice Lake community coalition organizing Kick Butt Day activities in Rice Lake. Teachers, youth leaders and health advocates organize events to:

  • Raise awareness of the problem of tobacco use in their state or community.
  • Encourage youth to reject the tobacco industry’s deceptive marketing and stay tobacco-free.
  • Urge elected officials to take action to protect kids from tobacco.

Social media use will be big for Kick Butts Day 2015. In Rice Lake and communities across the U.S., teens will post photos promoting anti-smoking on Facebook, Instagram, Twitter and Snapchat. It’ll be all about hashtags like #KickButtsDay or #KickButtsDayBC in Barron County and challenging other youth to get involved.

“The popularity of social media allows teens to say ‘This is my voice’ and ‘I’m not a replacement for the people tobacco products kill,’” Green said. “It sends a message not only in their community but to a world-wide audience.”

In Rice Lake, you’ll see youth groups, student organizations and sports teams share their photos on social media. Law enforcement also are encouraged to participate.

“Everyone is used to seeing law enforcement saying ‘stay away from tobacco,’ but when they are out there in a sociable environment and willing to take anti-smoking selfies, it shows they support kids and will stand strong with them,” Green said.

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