LONDONDERRY - On Thursday, March 20, The Collaborative with the help of Vermont Kids Against Tobacco (VKAT), Students Against Destructive Decisions (SADD), and Our Voices Exposed (OVE) will host an anti-tobacco carnival at Flood Brook School in Londonderry beginning at 8:30 a.m. The event is part of the 19th annual Kick Butts Day, which was held in Vermont on Wednesday, March 19.

Organized by the Campaign for Tobacco-Free Kids, Kick Butts Day is an annual celebration of youth leadership and activism in the fight against tobacco. On Kick Butts Day, youth encourage their peers to stay tobacco-free and educate their communities about the tobacco industry's harmful marketing practices.

This year, Kick Butts Day comes as new information reaffirms the urgent need for action. The United States is marking the 50th anniversary of the first Surgeon General's Report on Smoking and Health, and a new Surgeon General's report released in January found that smoking is even more hazardous than previously thought. The report found that each year, smoking kills 480,000 people in the U.S. and costs the nation at least $289 billion in health care bills and other economic losses. The report also found that without urgent action to reduce smoking, 5.6 million U.S. children alive today will die prematurely from smoking-caused disease. That includes 10,000 children in Vermont alone. Additionally, the report stated that tobacco marketing causes kids to start and continue using tobacco products.

Nationwide, tobacco companies spend $8.


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8 billion a year - one million dollars each hour - to market cigarettes and smokeless tobacco products. In particular, tobacco companies target youth with magazine ads, store ads and discounts, and fruit- and candy-flavored small cigars that look just like cigarettes.

"On Kick Butts Day, kids will stand up and reject Big Tobacco's manipulative marketing," said Matthew L. Myers, President of the Campaign for Tobacco-Free Kids. "Elected officials must stand with them by supporting proven measures to protect kids from tobacco addiction, including tobacco taxes, smoke-free laws and prevention programs. On the 50th anniversary of the first Surgeon General's report, we need bold action to create a tobacco-free generation and end the tobacco epidemic for good."

In Vermont alone, tobacco use claims 900 lives and costs $348 million in health care bills each year. Currently, 13.3 percent of the state's high school students smoke.

On Kick Butts Day, kids turn the tables on Big Tobacco in creative ways, with events that range from small classroom activities about the harmful ingredients in cigarettes to large rallies at state capitols.

For a full list of Kick Butts Day events in Vermont, visit http://www.kickbuttsday.org/map. Additional information about tobacco, including state-by-state statistics, can be found atwww.tobaccofreekids.org.