DeSoto County Kids’ campaign aims to snuff out smoking

Kids across DeSoto County will encourage others to kick butts today as part of an annual awareness event to fight tobacco use.

Hundreds of events are planned across the nation, including in DeSoto County and elsewhere in Mississippi, for the 16th annual Kick Butts Day.

Sponsored by the Campaign for Tobacco-Free Kids, the event encourages tobacco companies to stop targeting youth with marketing for cigarettes and other tobacco products. Organizers also want elected leaders to do more to protect children from tobacco.

In DeSoto County, students at Olive Branch High School will set up a lobby display focusing on the dangers of smoking. A team of 10 students also will give out key chains with an anti-smoking message and will set up grave stones with tobacco facts on them.

“They do some type of display each year,” said Linda Wallace, Mississippi Tobacco Free Coalition project director for DeSoto and Tate counties. “This is what they decided on this year.”

Wallace said the Olive Branch YMCA will also participate, setting up a display consisting of 14 pairs of shoes to represent the average 14 people a day who die in Mississippi from tobacco-related illnesses.

Statistics show that 19.6 percent of the state’s high school students smoke, and 15,800 children try cigarettes for the first time each year.

Mississippi health advocates are urging state legislators to enact a strong, statewide smoke-free law that applies to all workplaces, restaurants and bars.

To date, 29 states and the District of Columbia have enacted smoke-free laws that cover all restaurants and bars.

“We know what works to reduce smoking and other tobacco use,” said Matthew L. Myers, president of the Campaign for Tobacco-Free Kids. “Every state should implement these proven solutions, including higher tobacco taxes, well-funded tobacco prevention programs and smoke-free air laws.”

Other Mississippi events planned for today include:

A display and tombstone at Wilkinson County Christian Academy in Woodville.

Classes at Watkins Elementary School in Jackson will compete to get the most signatures on their graffiti walls and pledge to not smoke.

source: www.commercialappeal.com

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