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Kids to kick butts and Juul March 20 in Delaware

Leaders urge to fight skyrocketing epidemic of youth e-cigarette use
March 18, 2019

Kids in Delaware will unite against tobacco use Wednesday, March 20, as they join thousands of young people nationwide to mark Kick Butts Day, an annual day of youth activism sponsored by the Campaign for Tobacco-Free Kids. More than 1,000 events are planned across the United States.

This year, kids are focused on kicking Juul, an e-cigarette that has become enormously popular among youth across the country.

While cigarette smoking among high school students nationwide has fallen to 8.1 percent, e-cigarette use among high schoolers rose – by an alarming 78 percent in 2018 alone – to 20.8 percent of the student population. In 2018, more than 3.6 million middle and high school students used e-cigarettes. U.S. public health leaders have called youth e-cigarette use an epidemic that is addicting a new generation of kids.

In Delaware, 13.6 percent of high school students use e-cigarettes, while 6.2 percent smoke cigarettes. Tobacco use claims 1,400 lives in Delaware and costs the state $532 million in healthcare bills each year.

On Kick Butts Day, youth and health advocates are calling for strong action to reverse the youth e-cigarette epidemic. In particular, they are calling on the Food and Drug Administration, states and cities to ban all flavored tobacco products, including e-cigarettes in kid-tempting flavors like cotton candy, gummy bear and mango. Other effective strategies to reduce youth tobacco use include laws raising the tobacco sale age to 21, significant tobacco tax increases, comprehensive smoke-free laws and well-funded tobacco prevention programs.

In Delaware, youth advocates are encouraging state lawmakers to pass legislation that would raise the tobacco sale age to 21.

“This year on Kick Butts Day, we’re challenging policy makers at every level to do their part to reverse the youth e-cigarette epidemic and continue driving down youth tobacco use,” said Matthew L. Myers, president of the Campaign for Tobacco-Free Kids. “We cannot allow e-cigarettes, especially Juul, to addict another generation and reverse the enormous progress we’ve made in reducing youth tobacco use.”

The main cause of the youth e-cigarette epidemic is Juul, which looks like a computer flash drive, is small and easy to hide, delivers a powerful dose of nicotine, and comes in kid-friendly flavors like mango, fruit and mint. According to the manufacturer, each Juul pod, or cartridge, delivers as much nicotine as a pack of 20 cigarettes.

E-cigarettes pose serious health risks for kids. The U.S. Surgeon General has found that youth use of nicotine in any form – including e-cigarettes – is unsafe, causes addiction and can harm the developing adolescent brain, affecting learning, memory and attention. Studies also show that young people who use e-cigarettes are more likely to become cigarette smokers.

On Kick Butts Day, youth join in creative events including signing pledges to be tobacco-free, learning about the harmful chemicals in tobacco products, and organizing rallies at state capitols.

In Georgetown, the First State Community Action Agency hosted Airing Out Big Tobacco’s Dirty Laundry March 16. The event included informational sessions, games, experiments and activity stations to highlight the harmful effects of smoking.

For more information, go to www.kickbuttsday.org/map or go to www.tobaccofreekids.org.