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National Kick Butts Day Observed in Tennessee: Three State Agencies Aim to Reduce Youth Tobacco Sales and Consumption

Wednesday, March 21, 2012 | 05:57am

NASHVILLEThe Tennessee Department of Mental Health (TDMH) along with the OASIS Center  today are highlighting National Kick Butts Day  by unveiling a statewide art project in the Legislative Plaza that displays 172 pairs of shorts  to  illustrate  the lives of Tennesseans cut short due to tobacco use.    Kick Butts Day is a national event that works to engage children and youth nationwide in learning about the negative impacts of tobacco use.   

Over the past year, the Tennessee Youth Prevention Working Group, comprised of staff from three state agencies including Mental Health, Health, and the Office of the Attorney General has worked with tobacco retailers across the state to remind them of both the health and legal risks associated with selling tobacco to minors.  

“Kick Butts Day serves as a great reminder to our young people about the risks of tobacco use as well as to tobacco retailers about their responsibility regarding minors,” said TDMH Commissioner Doug Varney.  “Research shows that those who start smoking at a young age form stronger addictions.  By only selling tobacco products to customers over 18, tobacco merchants help ensure that Tennessee complies with federal law and reduces the overall number of youth smokers.”

 Facts from www.tobaccofreekids.org about Tennessee youth and tobacco:

Most individuals with an addiction to cigarettes started smoking before they turned 18 years old. 

•   Tennesseans under the age of 18 will purchase and consume over 16.8 million packs of cigarettes this year. 

•   Approximately 7,600 young people in Tennessee become new youth smokers each year. 

•   Approximately 412,000 of today’s Tennessee children will become smokers and nearly 132,000 of them will die prematurely from tobacco related causes. 

"Decades of research have proven the devastating impact of smoking on our bodies and our health. Our best advice to Tennesseans of any age is to never start smoking,” said Tennessee Health Commissioner John Dreyzehner, MD, MPH.  "For those who do smoke, we urge you to talk with your health care provider about ways to quit, and to take advantage of the free Tennessee Tobacco QuitLine counseling service at 1-800-QUIT-NOW for added support."

The Tennessee Tobacco QuitLine is a statewide, free tobacco cessation treatment program made possible through the Department of Health.  There is no charge to callers for services, and callers have unlimited access to a “quit coach” through the QuitLine.  This service is available to teens as well as to adults. Call to learn more about the QuitLine or visit the Web site at http://health.state.tn.us/tobaccoquitline.htm.

For more information on Kick Butts Day, or to find a list of events in your area, please visit http://kickbuttsday.org/.  For more facts and information about smoking and youth in Tennessee or in other states, please visit http://www.tobaccofreekids.org

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