After 25 years of kicking the butts of tobacco industry leaders, the Campaign for Tobacco-Free Kids is now leading the way to Take Down Tobacco.

The Campaign for Tobacco-Free Kids has been a leading force in the fight to reduce tobacco use and its deadly toll in the United States and around the world since 1996 via Kick Butts Day. National Kick Butts Day, a day of anti-smoking activism, has helped teachers, kids, youth leaders and health advocates come together and organize events that raise awareness of the problem of tobacco use in their communities, encourage kids to stay tobacco-free and try to get anti-tobacco legislation passed.

Take Down Tobacco is a fresh take on Kick Butts Day. It will now be the signature platform for empowering people to stand up and speak out against the tobacco industry. This program is a 365-day a year effort that culminates every March with the Take Down Tobacco National Day of Action. This year’s day of action is March 18.

Amy Winter, director of the Office of Tobacco Control at the Mississippi State Department of Health, said remarkable progress has been made to dramatically reduce the number of Mississippians that use tobacco products. But even though youth smoking rates are on a downward trend and at an all-time low, skyrocketing youth e-cigarette rates are reversing the progress that has been made toward achieving the first tobacco-free generation.

Tobacco use remains the number one cause of preventable disease and death in the U.S. Tobacco kills more than 480,000 people per year. In addition, 16 million people in the U.S. currently suffer from smoking-caused illness, 37.9 percent of kids ages 3 to 11 are exposed to secondhand smoke daily, 5.6 million kids under 18 alive today will ultimately die from smoking (unless smoking rates decline), and $170 billion is spent each year on tobacco-related medical bills.

From cigarettes and cigars to smokeless tobacco to e-cigarettes, the tobacco industry peddles a wide range of addictive and dangerous products that put kids at risk across the globe. This definitely poses a threat that needs to be looked at daily, especially as we continue to receive more research that shows potential harm from e-cigarette use.

For more information and resources about the dangers of e-cigarettes or tobacco products, visit www.healthyms.com/tobacco. For help with quitting visit www.quitlinems.com, or call the Mississippi Tobacco Quitline at 1-800-QUIT-NOW.

Helen Boerner is the project director of the Mississippi Tobacco-Free Coalition of Itawamba and Monroe Counties.

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