04-02-2008: news-local

Bismarck Tribune

Kick Butts Day kicks off its 13th year today helping children to fight the tobacco industry.

Kick Butts Day is sponsored each year by the Campaign for Tobacco Free Kids, an organization formed in 1995 to prevent kids from smoking and to change public attitudes and policies toward smoking.

This year its mission, on a federal level, is to convince Congress to pass two bills that would put the tobacco industry under Food and Drug Administration control. The tobacco industry has a special exemption from FDA control.

FDA contol would mean tighter restrictions on advertising and flavored cigarettes, more funding for state tobacco compliance checks and other changes.

On the state level the campaign aims to increase awareness of what it sees as continued targeting of children by tobacco companies and tobacco sales to minors.

The state level campaign was prompted by a telephone survey involving 507 children, ages of 12-17 and 1,008 adults.

In the survey, 74 percent of the children said that they feel that tobacco companies want them to smoke, 70 percent said they feel that tobacco companies target them with their advertising and 65 percent said they think it is easy for minors to purchase cigarettes.

"The goal of our marketing is to target adults who smoke," said Bill Phelps at Philip Morris tobacco company.

In fact, Phelps said that Philip Morris supports increased federal regulation, although he said they are the only American tobacco company that does.

In celebration of Kick Butts Day, events will be held in all 50 states, with some in Bismarck.

Bismarck events include a graffiti wall at Horizon Middle School to promote awareness of big tobacco; pledges not to smoke at Simle Middle School; and a presentation on tobacco advertising at St. Mary's High School.

For more information on Kick Butts Day or the Campaign for Tobacco Free Kids go to their Web sites, www.kickbuttsday.org and www.tobaccofreekids.org.


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