Meridian Star

March 19, 2013

Youths to voice opposition to smoking

Special to The Star
The Meridian Star

MERIDIAN —     Mississippi youth in Lauderdale and Newton counties will join kids in the U.S. and across the world on Wednesday to voice their opposition to big tobacco companies during 2013 Kick Butts Day.

    Kick Butts Day is an international day for activism when thousands of youth around the world will speak out against the tobacco industry, according a press release.

    As part of this year’s Kick Butts Day celebration, the Mississippi Tobacco-Free Coalition of Lauderdale and Newton County is working with students at Union Public School District, Newton Municipal School District, Newton County School District, Meridian Public School District, Calvary Christian School and Youth Organizations and churches in Lauderdale and Newton Counties to help empower youth to speak up and take action.

    “Kick Butts Day is an opportunity for participating youth to speak out and tell others they are not going to be influenced by pressure to use tobacco products," said Sabrina Wilson, director of Mississippi Tobacco Free Coalition of Lauderdale and Newton County. "While Kick Butts Day is officially held on one day each year, our hope is that every day will be Kick Butts Day in the fight against tobacco.”

    According to the press release:

    • Tobacco use is the leading preventable cause of death in the United States, killing more than 400,000 people every year.

    • Each year, 3,900 Mississippi kids under the age of 18 become new, daily smokers.

    • Sixty-nine thousand Mississippi kids now under 18 will ultimately die prematurely from smoking, according to the Campaign for Tobacco-Free Kids.

    “Mississippi’s kids play a huge role in helping to reduce youth tobacco use in our state,” said Roy Hart, director of the Mississippi State Department of Health (MSDH) Office of Tobacco Control. “The kids participating in Kick Butts Day 2013 are sending two very important messages: they want to raise awareness of the problem of tobacco use in their community and they want to urge elected leaders to do more to protect them from tobacco.”

    Through MSDH’s local tobacco-free coalitions, young advocates take part in a variety of tobacco prevention activities throughout the school year, including working with elected leaders to develop policies that reduce youth tobacco use and exposure to secondhand smoke, and educating their peers about the risks of tobacco use.

    For more information about Kick Butts Day events in Lauderdale and Newton County or for tobacco cessation information, contact Mississippi Tobacco Free Coalition of Lauderdale and Newton County at 601-479-0753, visit or