Local students urging smokers to #8216;Kick Butts#8217;

Published 12:00 am Saturday, June 3, 2006

Kids across Lawrence County are hoping that others will join together with them today to “Kick Butts.”

Sponsored by the Campaign for Tobacco-Free Kids, today has been designated as Kick Butts Day, a nationwide annual celebration of youth leadership and activism against smoking.

STAND is an arm of the kids’ campaign and has chapters in six school districts in Lawrence County, both in high schools and middle schools.

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According to local STAND organizers, Kick Butts Day has a two-fold purpose; one is to urge tobacco companies to stop targeting kids and the other is to urge elected leaders to protect kids from second-hand smoke by passing stricter anti-smoking ordinances.

John Goodwin, county STAND team advisor, said he hopes the day makes people think about the consequences of smoking.

Goodwin said anti-smoking events and kids’ organizations can be a vital part of keeping youngsters — and maybe even their parents — away from tobacco.

“There is evidence that peer prevention programs are highly effective in keeping kids from smoking or getting them to stop,”

Goodwin said. “The programs have been successful, more so than adults telling them not to smoke.”

In honor of Kick Butts Day, local STAND chapters have collected shoes to be displayed from 4 to 6 p.m. Thursday at the Burlington Wal-Mart Supercenter.

The shoes, which will be donated to the Salvation Army in Portsmouth, represent the 1,200 Americans who die everyday from smoking-related or second-hand smoke diseases.

According to STAND, more than 22 percent of Ohio high school students smoke, with nearly 26,000 becoming regular smokers every year. Tobacco use kills 18,600 Ohio residents and costs the state $4 billion in health care bills.