TOPEKA – Today, members of the Kansas Department of Health and Environment’s Resist program and the Tobacco Free Kansas Coalition hosted Take Down Tobacco Day at the Capitol – a national day of activism where youth are encouraged to speak out against commercial tobacco companies and speak with policymakers about tobacco prevention.
“Take Down Tobacco Day is a great opportunity to unite communities and create a unified voice to stand up to commercial tobacco companies,” said Bryce Chitanavong, youth tobacco prevention coordinator. “Tobacco companies use deceitful marketing tactics to target the youth because they see them as future customers. We want them to know that we won’t allow it.”
For most people, tobacco use starts when they are young. Nearly 9 out of 10 adults who smoke cigarettes daily first try smoking by the age of 18. Young people are even more vulnerable to nicotine addiction as their brains develop. Commercial tobacco use is the leading cause of preventable disease, disability and death in the United States. The use of tobacco products in any form is unsafe, regardless of whether it is smoked or not.
Previously known as Kick Butts Day, Take Down Tobacco Day provides an opportunity to educate students about the importance of youth advocacy in tobacco prevention. The American Heart Association provided advocacy training on the evening of March 1 to prepare students to speak with their policymakers. Each group that registered will get a chance to meet with their local representative and discuss tobacco prevention with them.
Resist is a youth-led program focusing on peer-to-peer education, awareness and policies preventing tobacco and electronic cigarette/vaping use. Resist chapters are locally established and hold community awareness events to promote tobacco-free environments. Resist is made possible with the support of the Kansas Department of Health and Environment and the Tobacco Free Kansas Coalition.
Resources are available for people who want to quit smoking or vaping. Call 1-800-QUIT-NOW (784-8669) or visit ksquit.org.