MDCH Recognizes Kick Butts Day 2011

Contact: Kelly L. Niebel (517) 241-2112
Agency: Community Health

March 22, 2011

LANSING - Young people in Michigan and across the country will participate in the 16th annual Kick Butts Day Wednesday, March 23. Coordinated by the Campaign for Tobacco-Free Kids, Kick Butts Day is a national day of activism that empowers youth to speak up and take action against tobacco use at more than 1,000 events from coast to coast, including many events in Michigan.

Tobacco use continues to be the number one cause of preventable death in Michigan, killing over 14,000 Michigan residents each year. Ninety percent of all adult smokers began smoking before the age of 19. It is estimated that 930,000 kids alive in Michigan today will become regular smokers, and nearly 300,000 will ultimately die from smoking cigarettes.

Michigan's youth smoking rate was 18.8 percent in 2009. While the smoking rate has steadily declined since peaking at 38.2 percent in 1997, the spit tobacco use rate among high school students in Michigan increased 63 percent between 2003 and 2009.

In addition to cigarettes and traditional spit tobacco, there are numerous other forms of new and emerging tobacco and non-tobacco nicotine products available on the market today. While they are frequently marketed as a less harmful alternative to smoking cigarettes, there is no evidence indicating these new products are any safer. Quitting tobacco use or addiction to nicotine is one of the best steps that people can take to improve their health.

Through grants from the Michigan Department of Community Health Tobacco Section, local tobacco coalitions and youth partners are conducting community scans to determine the level of marketing and availability of these new tobacco products, and to provide follow up education to youth and parents. In addition, these coalitions are working with students and school administrators to identify local tobacco-free school policies, and to assist with strengthening these policies to protect students from tobacco and other tobacco products on a 24/7 basis at all events and school activities.

For more information about Kick Butts Day, visit www.kickbuttsday.org. Visit www.michigan.gov/tobacco for tools and information to help prevent and end tobacco use.