March 22, 2007
The Texas Department of State Health Services (DSHS) and the Center for Safe Communities and Schools (CSCS) are sponsoring Texas Tobacco-Free Kids Day March 28 to encourage students to live tobacco free.
“Students across the state will focus on heightening awareness of the harmful effects of tobacco,” said Penny Harmonson, manager of the DSHS Tobacco Prevention and Control Program. “Young people are taking the lead in tobacco prevention through their activities.”
The Texas day is being held in conjunction with the 12th annual national Kick Butts Day sponsored by the Campaign for Tobacco-Free Kids.
Dozens of Texas activities will range from school assemblies and information sharing to student-sponsored events and displays. The Ector Student Council in Odessa, for example, will display 1,200 pairs of shoes to symbolize that 1,200 people die from tobacco use every day in the United States. The Thomason Teen Advisory Board in El Paso plans to hold a wrestling match featuring a local professional wrestler challenging “Cigarette Man.” The PECAT Youth Coalition in Longview is planning a cigarette litter cleanup as are members of the Zapata Youth Coalition in San Ygnacio.
The City View High School PALS group from Wichita Falls will have their principal dress in a padded cigarette suit while students pay $1 to “kick” tobacco. Money raised from this event will go to a local cancer group. And students from several schools in Harris and Fort Bend counties will visit the Texas Capitol in Austin on March 28.
In Texas, 24.7 percent of high school students and 9.5 percent of middle school students smoke. Nearly 90 percent of adult smokers began using tobacco before age 18. Every year, tobacco use kills more than 24,000 Texans and costs the state approximately $10 billion in medical costs and lost worker productivity.
For more information on Texas Tobacco-Free Kids Day, go to www.dshs.state.tx.us/tobacco/.
(News media: for more information contact Emily Palmer, DSHS Assistant Press Officer, 512-458-7400.)