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Tulsa County Youth Band Together to Stand Up to Big Tobacco

Kick Butts Day is March 19

TULSA, OK – [March 18, 2014] – Youth in Oklahoma and across the nation will band together March 19 to raise awareness about Kick Butts Day in an effort to end youth tobacco use.

Each day, more than 3,200 American youth under the age of 18 smoke their first cigarette and another 2,100 who are occasional smokers become daily smokers.

This day of activism empowers young Americans to stand up to Big Tobacco by exposing the underhanded tactics used by the tobacco industry to hook youth and young adults.  Kick Butts Day events are planned nationwide, including more than 25 events in Oklahoma. Several Tulsa County Students Working Against Tobacco (SWAT) Teams are planning events at their school, like drawing 16 chalk outlines of bodies to represent the number of Oklahomans who die each day from tobacco-related causes.

“Kick Butts Day provides a wonderful opportunity for young Oklahomans to encourage their peers to learn about the deceptive marketing tactics the tobacco industry uses to target children, teens and young adults,” said Paula Warlick, Tobacco Free Coalition for Tulsa County chair.

In 2006, the tobacco industry was convicted of racketeering under the federal Racketeer Influenced Corrupt Organizations (RICO) act for defrauding the American people by lying about the health risks of smoking and industry marketing practices toward children.  In 2009, a three-judge panel affirmed the conviction in federal court.

Although certain advertising, such as the use of cartoon characters and billboards, was banned as part of the 1998 Master Settlement Agreement, Big Tobacco still spends $160.3 million in Oklahoma each year to attract the next generation of smokers. The tobacco industry needs these “replacement smokers” to replace the 16 Oklahomans that die every day from a tobacco-use related illness or disease.

Additionally, tobacco use in films has rebounded upward in the past two years according to the 2014 Surgeon General’s Report. Studies show youth who are more frequently exposed to onscreen smoking are almost twice as likely to begin smoking compared to those exposed less frequently. If this pipeline of tobacco use continues, 87,000 Oklahoma kids alive today will ultimately die prematurely from a smoking related illness. Kick Butts Day events and activities aim to reverse that trend by educating both young people and adults about the tobacco industry’s deceptive marketing practices and the benefits of a tobacco-free lifestyle.

“As educators, it is our responsibility to encourage students to take initiative and lead their peers, and Kick Butts Day allows students to influence their friends and fellow students to be healthier,” Nedal Nofal, Tulsa Health Department tobacco prevention & control coordinator. “Tobacco products are harmful in many ways, and that message can have a greater impact on young people when communicated by peers their own age.”

To join a SWAT Team near you, contact Nedal Nofal at (918) 595-4551. For more information about Kick Butts Day, please visit or

Tobacco Free Coalition for Tulsa County
The Tobacco Free Coalition is a CX grantee of the Oklahoma Tobacco Settlement Endowment Trust serving Tulsa County and promoting smoke free environments, tobacco cessation and tobacco prevention.  For more information about joining the Tobacco Free Coalition contact Vanessa Hall-Harper,  or 918-595-4226.

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