S.T.A.R.S. Fights Youth Tobacco Use
Joins National Kick Butts Day Initiative on Sunday April 4,2004The Forum Courier of South Queens
April 7th - 13th, 2004 - page 8
Young people from around the country took part in Kick Butts Day, a nationwide initiative to make kids leaders in the effort to stop youth tobacco use.
As part of the Kick Butts Day celebration, Striving to Achieve & Reach Success (STARS) held a one day event to promote the campaign against the nationwide problem, at its youth center.
Kids in the Howard Beach community came together to show that they will not be sucked in by peer pressures and advertisements on cigarette smoke.
Children ages nine to 12 took part in activities such as cigarette butt clean-ups, an effort to pick up discarded filters in our surrounding neighborhood. They also expressed their feelings artistically about Big Tobacco through collages. They were given information about the dangers of smoking as well.
"The tobacco companies make smoking look cool in their ads, but that's nothing but a lie," said 15-year-old Valon Hidra, who helped put together the event, which talked about smoking and the effects of smoking on youth. "There's nothing cool about bad breath, smelly clothes and tobacco-stained teeth, and that is a fact."
Tobacco use is the leading preventable cause of death in the United States, killing more than 400,000 people every year. Every day, more than 4,000 kids try their first cigarettes. Another 2,000 kids become addicted smokers, a third of whom die prematurely as a result.
"Kids are a powerful part of the solution to reducing youth tobacco use," said Matthew L. Myers, president of the Campaign for Tobacco-Free Kids, which coordinates Kick Butts Day nationally. "For Kick Butts Day 2004, kids are sending two important messages: They want the tobacco industry to stop targeting them with advertising, and they want elected leaders at all levels to do more to protect them from tobacco. But for Kick Butts Day to take place we need the help of you, the future of America."
STARS offers a variety of programs and activities for the youth in the neighborhood.