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Arkansas Tobacco Free Kids Day | Business

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Arkansas Tobacco Free Kids Day
Arkansas Tobacco Free Kids Day

LITTLE ROCK, Ark. (Ark. Youth Leadership Initiative) - Kids from across Arkansas will convene in Little Rock to join in the fight against tobacco and other nicotine use on Wednesday, March 18th with a Silent March and Mock Funeral along Capitol Avenue, followed by a press conference on the steps of the State Capitol.

Sponsored by the Arkansas Youth Leadership Initiative and other public health partners, Arkansas Tobacco Free Kids Day is an annual celebration of youth leadership and activism in the fight against tobacco use. Kids are sending two powerful messages on this day: They want the tobacco companies to stop targeting them with marketing for cigarettes, e-cigarettes, and other tobacco products and they want elected leaders to do more to protect them from tobacco.

“On Arkansas Tobacco Free Kids Day, kids are standing up to the tobacco companies, and it’s important that elected officials stand with them by supporting proven tobacco prevention measures,” said Genine Perez, Executive Director of the Youth Leader Initiative. “We know what works to reduce smoking. Now we need Arkansas to implement the proven solutions, including higher tobacco taxes, well-funded tobacco prevention programs and smoke-free/tobacco-free/nicotine-free air laws.”

In Arkansas, 19.1 percent of high school students’ smoke and 3,300 kids become daily smokers every year. Every year, tobacco use kills 5,800 residents and costs the state $1.21 billion in health care bills. Nationally, about 15.7 percent of high school students smoke (down from a high of 36.7 percent in 1997). Tobacco use kills more than 480,000 people in the U.S. and costs the nation more than $170 billion in health care bills each year. 

Arkansas Tobacco Free Kids Day comes as the tobacco industry is spending record amounts to market its deadly products, especially the electronic cigarettes. The electronic cigarette is the tobacco industry’s latest weapon that is enticing a whole new generation of youth to smoke. The tobacco industry resurrected an old tactic to market the electronic device by using candy and fruit flavors that are likely to appeal to kids. The number of U.S. youth who used electronic cigarettes, but have never smoked a regular cigarette, more than tripled in three years, from 79,000 in 2011 to over 263,000 in 2013. And these youth are nearly twice as likely to intend to smoke regular cigarettes as those who have never used e-cigarettes, according to Centers for Disease Control (CDC) study published in the journal Nicotine and Tobacco Research.

On Arkansas Tobacco Free Kids Day, Arkansas’ kids turn the tables on Big Tobacco with a Silent March and a mock funeral down Capitol Avenue and end with a press conference on the steps of the Arkansas State Capitol.

Over 500 youth are expected to participate in the Silent March. The march will begin at 10:30 a.m. at Capitol Avenue and Cross Streets. At the Capitol, participants and other attendees will hear from pro-health advocates, including local politicians such as Rep. Greg Leding, and Rep. Fredrick Love. Also speaking is a lung cancer survivor known as Mr. Billy “P”. The press conference is scheduled to start at 11:15 a.m.

For more information about the Silent March and press conference, please contact Genine Perez at (501) 310-0607.