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Oklahoma Youth to Take a Stand Against Tobacco During Annual Kick Butts Day

OKLAHOMA CITY (March 14, 2019) – Tobacco Stops With Me encourages Oklahomans to participate in Kick Butts Day on March 20. Kick Butts Day is a national day of activism that empowers youth to stand up, speak out and seize control against Big Tobacco. 

“The use of JUUL and other e-cigarettes is rising among teens and young adults in our state, but Oklahoma youth also have the power to educate their peers and decision makers about the harm caused by these tobacco products,” said Julie Bisbee, TSET interim executive director. “On Kick Butts Day, youth in Oklahoma and across the country will stand up to the tobacco industry and its deceptive practices so that more of their friends and peers won’t ever take up its addictive products.”

Tobacco use is still the leading cause of preventable death in Oklahoma, killing more than 7,500 people every year. Each year in Oklahoma, 1,800 kids become new daily smokers. There has been a significant increase in e-cigarette use by youth, according to the 2018 National Youth Tobacco Survey by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).

The survey data showed that a decade of progress in lowering youth use of addictive nicotine products has been erased by increases in young people using e-cigarettes. The 2018 survey showed a 78% increase in e-cigarette use among high school students and a 48% increase in e-cigarette use among middle school students.

In December 2018, the U.S. Surgeon General issued an advisory on the youth e-cigarette epidemic.

“We have evidence-based strategies to prevent tobacco use that can be applied to e-cigarettes,” said U.S. Surgeon General Dr. Jerome Adams. “We must take action now to protect the health of our nation’s young people.”

To keep youth from ever starting to use tobacco, TSET grantees partner with organizations across the state to hold events for Kick Butts Day.

"We are deeply concerned for our youth," said Courtney Hamby, TSET Healthy Living Program assistant coordinator in Cherokee County. "Many people are not aware that most tobacco use starts in adolescence and that exposure to nicotine during adolescence can cause addiction and harm to the developing brain."

Although Oklahoma smoking rates have declined, tobacco companies still spend $172 million yearly to market tobacco products in Oklahoma, particularly to youth and young adults. Companies know that if kids are addicted to tobacco by age 18, they are likely to become lifelong smokers.

Tobacco Stops With Me, a program of TSET, provides tools and information to Oklahomans so they can choose to support healthier tobacco-free environments where they live, work, learn and play.

More information about JUUL, other e-cigarettes, and traditional tobacco products is available at StopsWithMe.com. Oklahomans 14 and older can also learn more about the free cessation resources offered by the Oklahoma Tobacco Helpline at OKhelpline.com.

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

For more information, contact:

Whitney Dinger, whitneyd@tset.ok.gov 

(405) 521-4959 (office)

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About Tobacco Stops With Me Tobacco Stops With Me is a statewide campaign, funded through the Oklahoma Tobacco Settlement Trust, that provides an efficient, emotional and highly recognizable tobacco-free message for Oklahomans to rally around. By educating the public about the negative effects and impact of tobacco, the goal of Tobacco Stops With Me is to prevent and reduce tobacco use and improve the health and quality of life of every Oklahoman. Tobacco Stops With Me aims to inspire individuals to make positive changes—not only for their own health, but for the health of the entire state as well.

About TSET The Oklahoma Tobacco Settlement Endowment Trust (TSET) serves as a partner and bridge builder for organizations working towards shaping a healthier future for all Oklahomans. TSET provides leadership at the intersections of health by working with local coalitions and initiatives across the state, by cultivating innovative and life-changing research, and by working across public and private sectors to develop, support, implement and evaluate creative strategies to take advantage of emerging opportunities to improve the public’s health. TSET – Better Lives Through Better Health. To learn more, go to tset.ok.gov.