Author: Melissa R. Martin, Office of Public Health
Well-Ahead Louisiana, an initiative of the Louisiana Department of Health recently helped East Baton Rouge Parish students Kick Butts.
Kick Butts Day is an annual celebration of youth leadership and activism in the fight against tobacco use. Schools across America participate in interactive activities and events that empower youth to stand up, speak out and seize control against Big Tobacco – and commit to stay tobacco-free.
In partnership with the East Baton Rouge Student Alliance Council (SAC), Well-Ahead Louisiana organized eight Kick Butts Day events at local high schools: Broadmoor High, McKinley High, Woodlawn High, Northdale High, Glen Oaks High, Scotlandville High, Lee High, and Belaire High. The SAC developed two interactive Kick Butts activities – Smoker’s Obstacle Course and Body Bag for a Cigarette.
On March 15, students at Broadmoor High participated in Body Bag for a Cigarette. Headstones, accompanied by body bags, were set up throughout the school’s courtyard. Each included a startling tobacco statistic. At lunch, students were shocked to find their courtyard had turned to a graveyard! After pledging to stay tobacco-free, students received stickers and pens to show off their commitment.
Later this month, the remaining high schools will participate in a Smoker’s Obstacle Course. SAC members at these schools will create an obstacle course with pool noodles, traffic cones and more. Students will compete in teams while breathing through obstructed straws, simulating a smoker’s damaged lungs.
More than 480,000 people in the United States will die this year from a tobacco-related disease and 90 percent of smokers start using tobacco regularly by the time they are 18 years of age.
The December 2016 Surgeon General’s Report says that three million middle and high school students used e-cigarettes in 2015. In Louisiana, 13.2 percent of middle school students and 27.6 percent of high school students use tobacco.
Today’s youth are part of the solution. Louisiana students want Big Tobacco to know that on Kick Butts Day, and every day throughout the year, they will fight to stay tobacco-free!