Kids nationwide demand tobacco companies 'butt out' in day of protest

CINCINNATI -- Kids across Ohio will join thousands of kids nationwide in the 19th annual “Kick Butts Day.”

The annual event is aimed at demanding that tobacco companies stop marketing to young people and encourage elected officials to do more to protect children from the harms of tobacco.

The event is organized by the Campaign for Tobacco-Free Kids and sponsored by the United Health Foundation.

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The groups said that tobacco use is the No.1 cause of preventable death in the U.S., killing 480,000 people and costs the nation at least $289 billion each year.

The protest includes events that range from classroom activities about the dangers of tobacco to large rallies at state capitols.

The annual day of protest comes on the 50th anniversary of the first Surgeon General's Report on Smoking and Health, as well as a new report that claims smoking is even more hazardous than previously thought.

The groups said 21.1 percent of Ohio high school students smoke and 11,900 kids become new daily smokers each year. Nationally, 18.1 percent of high school students still smoke.

The groups said that without urgent action to reduce smoking, 5.6 million U.S. children alive now will die prematurely from smoking-caused deaths. That includes 259,000 children in Ohio.

Event organizers said tobacco companies spend $8.8 billion per year to market cigarettes and smokeless tobacco products. Of that figure, about $394.7 million is spent on Ohio.

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