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Organizations stand with local youth to speak against tobacco company’s exploitation of youth

Students from schools in the greater Biddeford-Saco area are partnering with Coastal Healthy Communities Coalition, Southern Maine Medical Center and Thornton Academy to speak out against the exploitation of youth by tobacco companies during National Kick Butts Day. Each year, tobacco manufacturers spend nearly $60 million directly targeting youth in Maine promoting tobacco products. Local students are fighting back against this practice by reaching out to their peers and educating them about the impacts of smoking and how tobacco companies are cashing in at their expense.

WHAT: Kick-Butts Day is a national observance where youth speak up
against tobacco and teen exploitation in an effort to lower youth tobacco use. Local events will kick-off at a rally and press event held at Thornton Academy. The event will include an assembly where students will learn about how tobacco use impacts overall health and ways in which tobacco manufacturers are specifically targeting youth. In addition, community members and youth have collected shoes that will be piled up in the front foyer of Thornton Academy as a visual display of how tobacco use impacts overall health. Each pair of shoes represents a person who has died from a tobacco related disease. It is estimated that 13,100 people die each day in the United States from tobacco related diseases.

Richard Kahn, M.D. will also discuss the recently released Annual Cancer Program Report from The Cancer Committee at Southern Maine Medical Center (SMMC), featuring an in-depth site study of lung cancer - the most common cause of cancer mortality worldwide for both men and women.  The key to fighting this disease is prevention and early detection.

WHEN:  Wednesday, March 23 from 8:30-9:30am

WHERE: Thornton Academy Gym

WHY: Currently, 18.1% of high school students in Maine smoke, with
1,600 kids becoming new daily smokers each year. Smoking kills more people than alcohol, AIDS, car accidents, illegal drugs, murders, and suicides combined, with thousands more dying from spit tobacco use. Of the roughly 400,000 kids who become new regular smokers each year in the United States, almost a third will ultimately die from it.

In 2010, the tobacco industry will spent nearly $ 59 million in Maine marketing their deadly products to kids. Research studies have found that kids are three times as sensitive to tobacco advertising than adults and are more likely to be influenced to smoke by cigarette marketing than by peer pressure; and that a third of underage experimentation with smoking is attributable to tobacco company advertising and promotion.

Kick Butts Day provides youth the opportunity to fight back against Big Tobacco through advocacy, policy change and anti-tobacco messaging to raise awareness in their schools and communities about the dangers of tobacco

WHO:  The following community members will present at the Kick Butts
Day kick-off event held at the Thornton Academy Gym:
- Richard Kahn, M.D. from Southern Maine Medical Center’s PrimeCare Pulmonary Practice will speak on the impact tobacco use has on your overall health.
- Hattie Simon, freshmen at Thornton Academy and Mary Cook, York District Tobacco Coordinator will discuss how tobacco companies target youth with their messages, product placement and advertising

In addition to the community event and shoe display, the following school and youth organizations will also be reaching out to their peers to highlight the impact tobacco has on your health and how tobacco companies are targeting youth:
- Old Orchard Beach High School: Members of the Nat ional Honor Society and Natural Helpers will be reaching out to their peers through to bring awareness to the dangers of tobacco use and how tobacco companies target youth.
- Bonny Eagle Middle School: Health Club students have developed a Kick Butts Day video to be shared with students and staff at the school that will creatively depict how tobacco impacts your health.
- Biddeford High School: Students and staff are offering a resource table in the school cafeteria during lunch period around tobacco use.
- Middle School of the Kennebunks: Teachers will be presenting a curriculum unit to all students during their health class that day.
- Biddeford Teen Center: Students from the Teen Center are hosting a Kick Butts Day event for Biddeford middle school and high school students. Anti-tobacco messages and educational material will be given away, as well as prizes.

Coastal Healthy Communities Coalition (CHCC) is a community-based health promotion coalition working to promote tobacco prevention/cessation, substance abuse prevention, physical activity and nutrition in both the community and schools. The coalition is a program of the University of New England’s College of Osteopathic Medicine.
CHCC is one of 28 Healthy Maine Partnerships (HMP). HMP is a collaborative effort among local coalitions, the Maine DHHS (Maine CDC and Office of Substance Abuse) and DOE, supported primarily by the Fund for Healthy Maine with federal grants from US CDC, SAMHSA, and DOE.

Named one of the best regional universities in America by U.S. News & World Report, the University of New England (UNE) is a leader in health sciences education and biomedical research, offering student-centered, interdisciplinary programs in the College of Osteopathic Medicine, Westbrook College of Health Professions, College of Arts and Sciences,
College of Pharmacy, and the College of Graduate Studies.   For more
information about UNE and CHCC, visit