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Annual Kick Butts Day reinforces tobacco prevention for youth

March 19 is the Campaign for Tobacco-Free Kids' annual observance of Kick Butts Day, and a good time to remind patients and community leaders about the importance of tobacco prevention for young people.

According to the Washington, D.C.-based organization, every day more than 3,000 kids under 18 try smoking for the first time and 700 kids become new regular, daily smokers. Tobacco use is still the leading cause of preventable death in the U.S., killing more than 400,000 people every year.

Since 1996, Kick Butts Day has been observed as a national day of activism that empowers youth to raise awareness about the tobacco problem, encourage peers to be tobacco free and support effective solutions to reduce tobacco use. More than 1,000 events in schools and communities worldwide are planned this year.

Organizers encourage teachers, youth leaders and health advocates to plan events to raise awareness of the problem of tobacco use in their state or community; encourage youth to reject the tobacco industry marketing and stay tobacco free; and urge elected officials to take action to protect kids from tobacco.

Participating planners are also encouraged to host events for any day of the year to fit their community's needs. The Kick Butts Day website, kickbuttsday.org, features resources that include an activities database and promotional materials. Programs can also apply for grants to hold a future Kick Butts Day program.

Last month, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration launched its new campaign, The Real Cost, a national public education campaign targeting 12-17 year-olds with "real cost" messages about cosmetic, oral and other health consequences of tobacco use.

ADA policy supports FDA regulation of all tobacco products as authorized by the 2009 Family Smoking Prevention and Control Act, including those with risk reduction or exposure reduction claims, explicit or implicit, and any other products offered to the public to promote reduction in or cessation of tobacco use. ADA's National Action Plan for Tobacco Cessation supports the "launch [of] an ongoing, extensive paid media campaign to help Americans quit using tobacco."

For more on ADA tobacco policy and resources, visit ADA.org/2056.aspx. For tobacco cessation resources, visit MouthHealthy.org.