(WAFB) - For National Kick Butts Day on Mar. 20, the Louisiana Smoking Cessation Trust (CST) is encouraging adults to quit, and teens to never start.
According to the Centers for Disease Control (CDC), everyday in the U.S., more than 3,000 young people 18-years-old or younger smoke their first cigarette. Another 700 young people also become daily smokers.
The Smoking Cessation Trust says the current epidemic involving e-cigs is not helping their cause by targeting young smokers and by making older smokers feel they are smoking in a healthier way. The group says evidence is mounting showing nicotine in any form is still the most highly addictive drug on the market and that the FDA is even considering banning e-cigs until further research can be done.
“Children are three times more likely to smoke if a parent or guardian smokes. While the trust’s primary target audience in Louisiana citizens who smoked their first cigarette before Sept. 1, 1988, we are also committed to keeping the next generation from becoming addicted to nicotine. And to that end, we encourage Louisiana legislators to follow the lead of a growing list of states who are raising the age to buy tobacco products to 21. Regardless of age, we are committed to saving everyone from the dangers of smoking,” said Mike Rogers, CEO of Smoking Cessation Trust Management Services.
CST says national data shows about 95 percent of adult smokers start before they turn 21. Many users between the ages of 18 and 21 move from experimental smoking to regular, daily use. Although half of all adult smokers don’t start smoking daily before 18, four out of five do so before they turn 21, making this period a crucial time. CST encourages all young people to not start smoking and share their “kick butts” message with other adults in their life.
Cigarettes kill nearly half a million people in the U.S. every year, CST says, including more than 41,000 deaths from secondhand smoke exposure. The Louisiana Department of Health says smoking accounts for 6,500 deaths in Louisiana every year, which significantly contributes to the state’s challenging health status, which costs taxpayers almost $2 billion each year in healthcare costs and about $2.49 billion in lost productivity.
Kick Butts Day was launched in 1996 as a day of activism to empower young people to not smoke. It’s organized by the Campaign for Tobacco-Free Kids.