Local Students Kick Butts, Support Tobacco Prevention Initiatives

By Tamas Mondovics

Butt Day_IMG_2059Once again proving their willingness to work hard on behalf of their fellow classmates and the community, Randall Middle School seventh and eighth grade students took part in multiple activities in order to raise awareness of the physical and economic impact of tobacco use.

Students stood up against tobacco as they joined thousands of young people nationwide for the 19th annual Kick Butts Day through presentations from the local Anti-Drug Alliance and tobacco-related facts sharing while encouraging their peers to stay tobacco-free. According to recent data released by the United States Surgeon General, which is celebrating its 50th anniversary of the first report on smoking and health this year, found that smoking is even more hazardous than previously thought and that it kills 480,000 people in the U.S. each year, costing the nation at least $289 billion in health care bills and other economic losses. The report also states 5.6 million U.S. children alive today will die prematurely from smoking-caused disease. That number includes 270,000 children in Florida alone.

“We hope that by taking such a strong stand against the use of tobacco, our students will avoid taking that first, initial step of smoking,” said Randall teacher and Randall Area Youth Service Council (RAYS) director, Kristy Verdi.

Kick Butts Day, which saw more than 1,400 events across the nation organized by Campaign for Tobacco-Free Kids, is said to be a celebration of youth leadership and activism in the fight against tobacco.

“On Kick Butts Day, kids stand up and reject Big Tobacco’s manipulative marketing,” said Matthew L. Myers, President of the Campaign for Tobacco-Free Kids.

RAYS members Kate Luke, 13, and Kelsey Bauman spoke highly of the day-long event and its importance.Butt Day_IMG_2051

“I hope the kids will listen,” Bauman said. “It is an important topic and I feel like I am doing something to help kids see the effects of smoking and help them listen to the message.”

Luke, who has family members that smoke, said that she is proud to have a share in the campaign.

“With all the activities planned for the day, I am confident that it will have a positive effect,” she said.

The event included the sale of wristbands which raised $500 for the upcoming Relay for Life celebration. Randall Middle School is located at 16510 FishHawk Blvd., in Lithia. For a full list of Kick Butts Day events in Florida, visit www.kickbuttsday.org/map.