Tag Archives: anti-smoking activists

Kick Butts Day(s) the Young People’s Great American Smoke Out

Quitting smoking is hard.

And the more help and support that we can give smokers to help them quit, the better off we all – men, women, children, dogs, cats, etc. will be.

March 24th was the 15th Annual Kick Butts day celebrated across the country.

Kids and young adults across the country will stand up to ask legislators to protect them from the tobacco industry. Protect them? The tobacco industry is not pulling teens and young adults out of their beds, homes or schools and telling them that they must smoke cigarettes or else.

Kick Butts Day – Are They Sending the Wrong Message?

toxic cigsThe way this Kick Butts Day is designed is open for discussion, because the creators of the day are pointing fingers at the legislators, the tobacco industry and everyone else except those that are currently smoking. Why should just legislators and the tobacco industry get all the blame? Yes, advertising campaigns that target youth is an indirect way to entice young adults to start smoking, but they didn’t force them …did they? Why are the creators of this day not also taking responsibility?

What if the Kick Butts Day focused more on getting teens and young adults to quit if they have started smoking and their friends rallying in support of them quitting. The day could commemorate the commitment to quitting, like a commitment to sobriety. The Kick Butts Day could be rallying around those that we know smoke and asking them to commit to quitting while also pointing them to support systems to help them.

What if we also celebrated those who have quit! Honoring them for taking responsibility for their life, health, and the impact smoking has on their loved ones. We could also remember  those we have lost to cigarette smoking.

Putting a Positive Spin on a Positive Effort

We have rehabs for alcohol, drugs, sex, gambling, perhaps we need more rehab centers offering innovative approaches to smoking cessation. And we don’t need rehab centers because if we can rally to vote, rally to fight for healthcare, then we can rally to help teens and young people quit on the Kick Butts Day.

So let’s take a step to help smokers stop. An educational and positive spin on this day could implemented, instead of just name calling, or what some might label as cry baby blaming and finger pointing at legislators and the tobacco industry. The Kick Butt Day creators could make this a day of positive action rather than a day of focusing on negative reaction.

A Different Approach

Let’s think about this a moment.

Kick Butts Day could be a rally cry one day each month of the year. One day a month could be a way to check in and hold accountable those who have made the commitment to quit smoking.

One day a month and if that is too much then one day every three months those that have committed to smoking will be obligated to answer to their peers, parents, friends, etc. as to what they are doing and if in fact they have quit.

Diaries should be kept on a daily basis so that the potential quitters are mindful of what they have promised to do and make note of the bad habits that keep them from fulfilling their commitment to quit smoking.

This would certainly be a morale booster for those who have quit and an example to peers and those who want to kick but have been afraid to try.

Kick Butts Day could create a movement to eradicate the need to smoke if we focus inwards instead of outwards.

notable references:

Georgia Kids ‘Kick Butts’ on March 24 – CNBC

On March 26 at Manteo High School in Manteo, students will hold a cigarette butt cleanup to determine if the tobacco-free campus policy is successful. …

STUDENTS at Joseph Priestley College tackled the effects of smoking in association with National No Smoking Day last week.

UT takes $445,000 of Philip Morris Money for Tobacco Grower Research

Should the University of Tennessee accept money from the tobacco industry to help promote the growth of domestic tobacco production?

That ethical question has yet to be debated—even nearly six months after UT quietly received a one-year $445,000 grant from Philip Morris to establish and operate a Center for Tobacco Grower Research in Morgan Hall on the Knoxville campus.

News of the grant is coming as a surprise to anti-smoking activists and even UT staff.

“It blows me away that UT would take money from a cigarette manufacturer, knowing that smoking kills,” says Douglas Benton, an Alcoa resident who earned a business degree at UT and founded No Smoking in Restaurants in Tennessee (NoSIR) in 2005. “I don’t like people making one penny off killing other people. I don’t understand why my university would try to help farmers to make more money selling something that has no possible benefit at all to a human.”

UT initially released its big news to ag extension agents, tobacco growers, and Burley strade publications where the reaction was positive. The inaugural Nov. 29 press release unabashedly quotes Philip Morris’ Vice President of Leaf, Jeanette Hubbard: “Because American tobacco is the backbone of our blends, a stable supply of U.S. tobacco is very important to Philip Morris USA. That’s why we are pleased to work with the University of Tennessee to support sustainability of U.S. tobacco production through the research conducted by the center.”

But there’s been hardly a murmur about the ethics of accepting funding from a manufacturer of tobacco products, which the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention say cause 438,000 deaths in the United States per year, representing 5.5 million years of potential life lost and $167 billion in health-care costs and lost productivity annually.

“I’m not really catching any heat,” says the center’s director Daniel Green, who also worked with the Burley Tobacco Growers Cooperative Association. “Obviously you get some questions about, ‘Why tobacco?’ but we’re getting a lot of support from the growers.”

This support from growers will probably continue—after all, they stand to gain production and industry information that hasn’t been available since the 2004-2005 federal tobacco-quota buyout terminated federal tobacco price-support and supply-control programs, and the center’s research will undoubtedly provide them with ways to produce more competitively in the new free-market economy.

But away from the burley fields, opposition and outrage are mounting as more members of Tennessee’s public health community and UT alumni learn of the center’s creation and the source of its funding.

Jenny Carico, a nurse at Student Health Services who earned her Bachelor’s of Nursing at UT, says tobacco money funding anything on campus is ill-advised and unethical. “I think a great deal of tobacco marketing is geared to my patient population and it makes me spitting mad,” she says.

Tobacco According to the state Department of Health’s Prevalence of Tobacco Use in Tennessee, 1997-2007, smoking prevalence among adults ages 18-24 years is around 29 percent, compared to 22.6 percent of the state’s general population and 20.1 percent for the United States on the whole.

“The cigarette manufacturers are gunning for these kids with marketing that gets them started smoking at an age when they think they’re bulletproof,” she says. “By the time they figure out they’re not, they have to deal with the reality that tobacco is addictive, sometimes at great expense to their health—that’s not the kind of profit we want funding university research.”

The agricultural portion of the university community, though, doesn’t see what all the fuss is about.

“You know, tobacco is still a legal commodity for farm owners to produce,” says Green, himself a non-smoker though he grew up on a tobacco farm in Kentucky. “Here, it’s just a part of agriculture—an important part of agriculture.”

Kelly Tiller, an assistant professor at UT’s Agricultural Policy Analysis Center, whose work is partially funded by Philip Morris, explains the agricultural community’s emotional disconnect between tobacco fatalities and the product they grow as a long-time cultural phenomenon, one that hasn’t changed much even though around three-fourths of the state’s tobacco growers ceased production after the federal tobacco-quota buyout.

“To them, tobacco growing is viewed as a legal farm enterprise that has provided a significant economic base for many of our rural communities for a very long time, and is tightly integrated into those communities,” Tiller says.

The research center, she says, will also emphasize tobacco merely as an agricultural commodity. “The data will revolve around the farm part of production, not cigarettes or any other manufactured products.”

All of the center’s reports and survey results will be available to the general public, ordinarily from summaries on the center’s website—with no proprietary information for Philip Morris. The benefit to the tobacco giant will be shared by other manufacturers and growers, says Tiller.

And Green hopes that more farmers will decide to grow tobacco because of the center’s research, which could also benefit Philip Morris and other national cigarette and tobacco-product manufacturers.

“While the primary objective will be to collect and disseminate information necessary to enhance the long-term sustainability of U.S. tobacco production, research conducted by the center may improve the success of current growers or attract new or former growers to the industry,” he says.

Green insists that more tobacco farmers, in Tennessee and other tobacco-growing states, would be good for the farm economy.

But Chastity Mitchell, contract lobbyist for the grassroots Campaign for Healthy & Responsible Tennessee (CHART), based in Nashville, is skeptical of more farmers getting in—or getting back to—tobacco production. She’s also wary of Philip Morris’ interest in Tennessee starting in 2007, the same year the state passed the Non-Smokers Protection Act prohibiting smoking in most public places and workplaces, increased its cigarette tax by $0.42 to $0.62 per pack, and significantly increased funding for its tobacco control program.

“I find it interesting that after the big policy year that we had in 2007…that Philip Morris would make this kind of significant investment in Tennessee to sustain the tobacco economy and even to try to recruit new growers,” says Mitchell, who has worked in Tennessee in tobacco control for the past eight years, including stints with the American Heart Association and as Government Relations Director for the American Cancer Society. “We’ve seen, over the years, that domestically grown tobacco is just a minute fraction compared to what tobacco companies purchase worldwide.”

And growers had good reasons to get out of the tobacco business back in 2005—and to continue to stay out, says Mitchell. “They wouldn’t make the same money that they did with price supports, they don’t have the allotment anymore…and to try to get them back, especially when manufacturers like Philip Morris are continuing to buy more and more overseas, it’s just a really strange situation.”

The Philip Morris investment may also cast a shadow on UT Agricultural Economics’ relationship with the public health community, says Mitchell, even though they’ve historically collaborated on tobacco issues that affected both groups, facilitated by Tiller, who was a tobacco policy analyst almost nine years before the research center’s creation.

“I think those collaborations fostered a good bit of communication, but now that we know Dr. Tiller is involved with this Tobacco Research Center, and Philip Morris is underwriting it, it would certainly make those in the public health community hesitant to sit down and have an open dialogue with the tobacco growers, knowing how they’re funded.”

At least on the surface, the Philip Morris money does not seem to benefit the University of Tennessee’s bottom line. It does cover Green’s entire salary and overhead at his Morgan Hall office, but he’s a new hire, not an existing member of the faculty. A small portion goes to cover part of Dr. Tiller’s salary, and a graduate assistant who would come from the Agricultural School is budgeted, but hasn’t been hired. The vast majority pays for data collection expenses.

But even if UT won’t get a new wing for the Ag school, or millions in discretionary funds, NoSIR’s Benton can see no excuse for taking Philip Morris money.

“It’s incredible that an institute of higher learning would promote smoking when ordinarily the more educated people are, the less likely they are to smoke,” Benton says. “I think the university has to learn to be like the rest of us…that sometimes you just have to put your foot down and say, ‘No.’”

Source: —Rose Kennedy, Metro Pulse

The Campaign for Tobacco-Free Launches CancerNo9.com

The Campaign for Tobacco-Free Kids has launched a new anti-Camel No. 9  web site.

Smokers can network through facebook and Myspace and share their stories and provide support for one another.

You can learn how to effectively communicate with the government to get them to reduce the appeal of cigarettes along with other important support and information.

Some other Features:

  • A petition asking editors of women’s magazines to stop running ALL cigarette ads.
  • Fact sheets about women, smoking and health.
  • Media coverage of Camel No. 9.
  • Image gallery of Camel No. 9 magazine ads, postcard promotions and novelty items.
  • Message board to share ideas.
  • Resources pages.

Cancer No 9Visit them on the web at CancerNo9.com
Learn more about Campaign for Tobacco-Free Kids