WASHINGTON, D.C. – Senator Tom Harkin (D-IA) today praised students in
Knoxville, Decorah and Marion for holding Kick Butts Day events and
taking leadership in the fight against tobacco use. Kick Butts Day is
an annual celebration of youth leadership and activism in the fight
against tobacco use sponsored by the Campaign for Tobacco-Free Kids.
Harkin Praises Iowa Students for Promoting Smoke-Free Lifestyles on Kick Butts Day
“I am proud that Iowa youths are making such a strong statement against
tobacco companies and their marketing of cigarettes and other tobacco
products,” Harkin said. “By getting out the word about the dangers of
tobacco use, these young Iowans are exposing the lies of the Big
Tobacco companies and helping to save lives by promoting a smoke free
In Iowa, 20 percent of high school students smoke, and 5,500 kids
become regular smokers every year. Every year, tobacco use kills 4,400
residents and costs the state $937 million in health care bills.
Nationally, about 22 percent of high school students smoke, and tobacco
costs the nation more than $89 billion in health care bills a year.
Despite efforts during the 1990’s to curtail the manipulative marketing
geared at children, the tobacco industry currently spends more that $11
billion a year – or over $30 million per day to promote its products.
Much of that money is spent in ways designed to tempt children to start
smoking, before they are mature enough to appreciate the enormity of
the health risk. More than 90% of smokers begin as children and are
addicted by the time they reach adulthood.
Harkin is a leader in Congress, fighting for tobacco control and
promoting prevention issues. He introduced the Healthy Lifestyles
and Prevention (HeLP) America Act to reform our health care system to
focus on prevention and healthier lifestyles. It would require tobacco
companies to reduce teen smoking rates or instead face a stiff