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Kick Butts To Stop Youth Smoking in VA

Kick Butts Day events in Virginia and around the country were aimed at stopping young people from starting to smoke. (Campaign for Tobacco-Free Kids)
Kick Butts Day events in Virginia and around the country were aimed at stopping young people from starting to smoke. (Campaign for Tobacco-Free Kids)
March 17, 2016

RICHMOND, Va. – Wednesday was Kick Butts Day in Virginia and around the country.

The national anti-tobacco campaign aims to stop teen smoking with a little creative marketing.

Billie Hogan, child and youth development specialist for the Langley Air Force Base Youth Programs, said they planned a public demonstration that featured – among other things – a giant cigarette made for a good solid kicking.

"The children will be carrying that with some other props that they have made, and with signs as well,” she related. “And then we're going to stage a picket through the Langley Air Force Base housing. And they're going to hold up signs telling about the facts and figures about the dangers of smoking."

Hogan said her programs have to counter the marketing power of the tobacco corporations' appeals to teens.

The cigarette companies insist that they don't market to young people.

Anyone who wants help quitting can call 800-QUIT-NOW, or go to the American Lung Association website – lung.org.

At other Kick Butts events around the country, high school students took selfies with signs saying how they identify themselves – that is, in all sorts of ways other than as smokers.

Hogan said the idea is to use the same kinds of marketing pressures that the cigarette makers use, but to keep young people from even starting a habit that's hard to get out of once it begins.

"We would encourage our children not to even take up that behavior, and this is one way to bring awareness to the issue of smoking,” she stated. “The negative peer pressure that the children go through, we want to put that towards smoking so they don't even start."

Anti-smoking advocates note that one thing Virginia could do to reduce teen smoking is to raise its tobacco taxes – some of the lowest in the country.




Dan Heyman, Public News Service - VA