100 Students Urge Kansas Lawmakers to ‘Kick Butts,’ Prevent Youth Tobacco Use

March 7, 2019

TOPEKA, Kan. – March 7, 2019 – Today, more than 100 middle and high school students from across the state gathered in Topeka to ask lawmakers to prevent youth tobacco use.

The event recognized Kick Butts Day – a national day of activism that empowers youth to stand out, speak up and seize control against Big Tobacco. Students joined advocates from the American Cancer Society Cancer Action Network, Resist and Tobacco Free Kansas Coalition to tell lawmakers that they play a critical role in passing policies that reduce death and disease from tobacco use.

Specifically, students asked lawmakers to support legislation to raise the minimum age for tobacco sales to 21 years old. Currently, more than 400 cities and counties in 25 states have tobacco 21 laws on the books, and six states and Washington, D.C., have enacted statewide laws. More than 95 percent of people who smoke start before age 21.

“Studies have shown that if someone doesn’t begin using tobacco before they’re 21, they’re less likely to start later in life,” said Jordan Feuerborn, Kansas government relations director for ACS CAN. “When paired with regular and significant tobacco tax increases, smoke-free air laws and funding for prevention and control programs, a tobacco 21 law can help prevent young people from ever picking up a tobacco product. It’s great to see so many students get involved in this issue and tell their lawmakers why it’s so important to them.”

One of those students was Hailey Kisner from Hutchinson High School. She met with her state representative and state senator to explain how the Legislature can help lower Kansas’ 7.2 percent high school smoking rate and 10.6 percent high school e-cigarette use rate.

“In Kansas, 1,200 kids become new daily smokers every year,” Kisner said. “Those are our friends, our classmates and our siblings. We’re all here today because we want lawmakers to help keep kids from such a deadly addiction before they even have a chance to grow up.”

According to the Campaign for Tobacco-Free Kids, more than 61,000 young people alive in Kansas today will ultimately die from tobacco use.                                                                              

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Tracy Lytwyn
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