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'Kick Butts Day' pays tribute to lives cut short by tobacco

Wednesday, March 20, 2013 | 03:12am

NASHVILLE — The Tennessee Department of Mental Health and Substance Abuse Services (TDMHSAS) has teamed up with Oasis Center, a nationally recognized organization based in Nashville that helps young people transition to adulthood, to sponsor a statewide youth-led project as part of National Kick Butts Day, a national day of anti-tobacco activism that takes place on Wednesday, March 20.

Over the past few months, Tennessee middle and high school students have participated in “Cig-Regrets: TN Lives Cut Short” in which they wrote stories and decorated a pair of shorts in honor of a life cut short by tobacco use. More than 250 shorts were submitted to the project from all over the state. Judges then narrowed down the selections and named their favorites. First place went to Christina Chitwood, and Dakota Reese of Jellico High School in Campbell County; second place went to David Smith, also of Jellico High School in Campbell County; and third place went to Lawrencia Harrison of Martin Luther King Magnet in Davidson County.

All of the submitted shorts will be displayed from 8:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. on Wednesday, March 20, in Nashville’s Legislative Plaza. Jenn Garcia, Youth Engagement Director for Oasis Center, will also be at the event, along with participating students Maria Campos and Josselin Aguilar, who worked with Oasis Center to help organize the project.

According to the Campaign for Tobacco-Free Kids (online at www.tobaccofreekids.org):

  • 21.6 percent of Tennessee high school students smoke, higher than the national rate of 18.1 percent
  • 23 percent of Tennessee adults smoke, higher than the national average of 19 percent
  • More than 7,500 Tennessee youth under age 18 become new daily smokers each year
  • More than 488,000 Tennessee youth are exposed to secondhand smoke.
  • Smoking kills more people than alcohol, AIDS, car crashes, illegal drugs, murders, and suicides combined — and thousands more die from other tobacco-related causes, such as fires caused by smoking and smokeless tobacco use.
  • Smoking directly leads to $2.16 billion being spent every year on health care in Tennessee; each residents' state & federal tax burden from smoking-caused government expenditures is about $589 per household

For more information about Oasis Center, please go online to www.oasiscenter.org. For more information about National Kick Butts Day, please go online to www.kickbuttsday.org.

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