Taking action against the tobacco industry marketing tactics in the United States is the primary message that the youth will be exposed to on Kick Butts Day, a national day of observance encouraging youth to speak out on the dangers of tobacco and secondhand smoke.

Kick Butts Day, an annual day of youth activism and leadership against tobacco use, organized by the Campaign for Tobacco-Free Kids, falls this year on Wednesday, March 15, where groups nationwide and in Georgia will take action through events to raise awareness to urge elected officials to take action to protect youth from tobacco.

Statistically, tobacco companies spend $9 billion on advertising and promotional expense for smokeless tobacco and cigarettes nationwide which is equivalent to over one million dollars every hour to market tobacco products[KD1]. In Georgia, tobacco companies spend $332.9 million annually on marketing efforts[KD2].

Health Educator of Chronic Disease and Prevention at Cobb & Douglas Public Health Department (CDPH) D’Jillisser Kelly, said Kick Butts Day is an important community initiative for Cobb County, to cultivate long-lasting experience for youth to select healthy habits and to be informed on the dangers of tobacco products, smokeless electronic device, and secondhand smoke which will further influence their adulthood lifestyle decision making in a positive manner.

In honor of this day, the Cobb2020 Breathe Easy initiative partnered with James T. Anderson Boys and Girls Club.  This year’s Kick Butts Day program is designed to instruct approximately 50 youth between the ages of 12 – 18.  This age group is often targeted through tobacco advertisements.  In Georgia, approximately 22,800 (39%) middle school students have tried their first cigarette by the age of 11 and 72,900 (15.7%) of high school students in Georgia reported that they have tried smoking electronic cigarettes even one or two puffs[KD3]. In today’s society, with great emphasis on increasing marketing for tobacco and electronic smokeless device it is important to help provide youth with resources to combat the tobacco industry.

This year’s event will include many fun activities which allow youth to think critically about tobacco marketing and ways to make healthful choices in real-life settings event. An open discussion and education session on tobacco and e-cigarettes, a hands-on anti-tobacco graffiti pledge wall and kickboxing session will be implemented for each individual to express how they will maintain their momentum of a tobacco-free lifestyle. Participants will also be given a take-home packet to share with his or her family to further open the conversation within the household for everyone in their home to be tobacco-free.