March 21st is Kick Butts Day, an awareness day created by the Campaign for Tobacco Free Kids. Today is a national day of activism aimed at empowering young people to “stand up, speak out, and seize control against Big Tobacco”. Events organized today seek to raise awareness of the problem of tobacco use in their community, encourage youth to reject tobacco marketing, and contact elected officials to advocate for policies to protect youth from tobacco.
The Campaign for Tobacco Free Kids outlines what policies they advocate for, calling it the Roadmap to a Tobacco-Free Generation:
- Raise tobacco sale age to 21: Delaying the age when young people first start using tobacco can reduce the risk of transitioning to regular use – and increase their chances of quitting. Additionally, increasing the age gap between adolescents starting to use tobacco and those who can legally get it will help keep tobacco out of schools.
- Increase tobacco taxes: Nationally, every 10% increase in cigarette prices reduces youth smoking by about 7%, and total cigarette consumption by about 4%.
- Run hard-hitting media campaigns: The federal government’s “Tips from Former Smokers” national advertising campaign drove 1.6 million smokers to make a quit attempt, and more than 100,000 succeeded.
- Fund prevention programs: Florida spends $68.6 million on tobacco prevention, still only 35.3% of the $194.2 million that the CDC recommends. Click here to learn about the free tobacco cessation groups offered by Suwannee River AHEC.
- Pass smoke-free laws: Secondhand smoke causes health problems for non-smokers. The only way to protect non-smokers from secondhand smoke is to require completely smoke-free public spaces.
- Ban all flavored tobacco products: 81% of youth who have ever used tobacco started with a flavored product. Young people also say that flavors are the reason they keep using e-cigarettes.
Advocating for all of these policies can help improve both youth and adult tobacco use rates. According to the latest county health rankings, every county in our service area has adult smoking rates equal to or greater than the state average for Florida, which is 15%: