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Kicking Butts Against W.Va. Teen Smoking

Kick Butts Day stunts and events in West Virginia and around the country were aimed at stopping young people from smoking. (The Campaign for Tobacco Free Kids)
Kick Butts Day stunts and events in West Virginia and around the country were aimed at stopping young people from smoking. (The Campaign for Tobacco Free Kids)
March 17, 2016

CHARLESTON, W.Va. – Wednesday was Kick Butts Day in West Virginia and around the country.

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

Rachel Skubis, a teacher at Robert C. Byrd High School in Clarksburg, said her students made selfie signs – small signs that students, staff and faculty could hold up while they took a selfie picture.

She added they used the signs to signify how they identify themselves – that is, as anyone other than just another tobacco consumer lining up to replace a smoker taken out by death or illness.

"Whether it be a Netflix watcher to a sports enthusiast, or a friend to all,” she explained. “Whatever you were. And it just shows that there is more to be in life than a tobacco user or a replacement smoker."

Skubis said the tobacco corporations market to teens, to take the place of the adults they lose.

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, young people picketed with anti-smoking posters. Some even kicked an actual giant, fake cigarette.

Christine Compton, government relations director for the American Heart Association in West Virginia, said given the high rate of teen smoking, West Virginia could use more of this kind of thing.

"Being that we have the highest rate of youth smokers in the country, getting youth to stop smoking or not to start at all, that's a reason for us here in West Virginia to pay close attention to an effort that's going on like this," she stated.

Compton noted that one proposal that would have lowered youth smoking – a $1 a pack higher cigarette tax - just died at the Legislature.

Dan Heyman, Public News Service - WV