The <a href=”http://bearrivergyc.blogspot.com/”>Bear River Governing Youth Council</a> (GYC) will take to the streets on Thursday, March 16, with a “Chalk the Walk” activity in support of national <a href=”https://www.kickbuttsday.org/”>Kick Butts Day</a>. The event takes place from 5:00 p.m. to 6:00 p.m. at the <a href=”http://www.brhd.org/”>Bear River Health Department’s</a> Cache County office, located at 655 E. 1300 N. in Logan.
BreeAnn Silcox, a BRHD health educator who advises the GYC, said the activity is an opportunity for Cache and Box Elder county students to speak up against big tobacco marketing practices that target youth. Using sidewalk chalk as their medium, members of the council will share messages promoting prevention and cessation.
Kick Butts Day (officially March 15) is an annual day of activism and awareness sponsored by the <a href=”http://www.tobaccofreekids.org/”>Campaign for Tobacco-Free Kids</a>. “On Kick Butts Day, kids stand up to the tobacco industry, and our nation’s leaders must stand with them,” said the organization’s president, Matthew Myers, in a statement released by the campaign. “Elected officials at all levels should support proven strategies that prevent youth tobacco use, including higher tobacco taxes, strong smoke-free laws, funding prevention programs and raising the tobacco age to 21.”
According to Kick Butts Day coordinators, tobacco use in Utah claims 1,300 lives each year and costs $542 million in preventable healthcare expenses. Currently, 4.4 percent of Utah’s high school students smoke, and many more are vulnerable given the tobacco industry’s increased marketing of e-cigarettes and cigars flavored like gummy bears, cotton candy and fruit punch.
“We’ve made great strides in reducing youth smoking,” said Myers, “but candy-flavored products threaten this progress. We need strong FDA regulation to protect kids from these sweet-flavored products.”
Reflecting the theme “Speaking Truth for the Unspoken,” the Bear River GYC’s efforts will draw attention to the impacts tobacco use and tobacco industry marketing have on individuals and families. Adviser Annie Parker said the GYC plans to emphasize positive messages that facilitate community empowerment.
“You know, adults often make choices for young people,” she said, “and this is an opportunity for the youth to take the issues that they see in their schools and their communities, the things they’re seeing firsthand, and it’s an opportunity for them to share their voice and their message.”
More information about national Kick Butts Day is available at <a href=”http://www.kickbuttsday.org/”>www.kickbuttsday.org</a> and <a href=”http://www.tobaccofreekids.org/”>www.tobaccofreekids.org</a>.