Information surrounds us all about how the use of tobacco products affects our healthcare and lives. The question remains, have we made any real progress in decreasing the number of people who smoke?
In 1965, 42% of Americans smoked. By 2012, this rate had dropped to 18%. However, in 2012, 30% of high school students used some form of tobacco product. This equates to 800 million packs of cigarettes consumed by our kids every year, nearly 2 billion in revenue for tobacco companies. In Arkansas, nearly 40% of high school students use some form of tobacco, a rate that is equal to the rate of use in 1965. Tobacco use among adults in Arkansas is at 25%, which is lower than the rate of high school students, but higher than the national average. Our kids in Arkansas smoke 7.2 million packs of cigarettes every year. The data for Oklahoma is almost identical to the Arkansas numbers. Statistics show that for kids under the age of 18 who live in Arkansas and Oklahoma, 160,000 of them will die prematurely due to smoking.
So, what can we do? One way is to participate in Kick Butts Day, a national day of activism, held March 19, which empowers youth to stand out, speak up and seize control against big tobacco. This month, more than 1,000 events are planned by independent organizers across the United States and around the world. By getting involved in Kick Butts Day, people can raise awareness about the tobacco problem, encourage peers to be tobacco-free and support effective solutions to reduce tobacco use. Please visit www.fsro.net or www.kickbuttsday.org to learn more about Kick Butts Day.