United Methodist Women Push for Tobacco-Free Kids
by YVETTE MOORE*
United Methodist Women members and local units can help children and youth in their communities say no to cigarettes and tobacco products March 28: Kick Butts Day. The national effort is part of the United Methodist Women-endorsed Campaign for Tobacco-Free Kids, one of the largest non-governmental initiatives seeking to decrease youth tobacco use and exposure to secondhand smoke in the United States.
“This is an opportunity for United Methodist Women members and units to work with youth to jointly organize events that will raise awareness and educate young people about the dangers of tobacco,” said Julie Taylor, Women’s Division’s executive. “From organizing local rallies to actions of public witness or teach-ins, United Methodist Women can use Kick Butts Day to gather people and advocate for a healthier world for children.”
Kick Butts Day is an opportunity for United Methodist Women members to help empower youth advocates to expose and counter the tobacco industry’s $15.4 billion promotional efforts aimed at young people.
Suggested Kick Butts Day activities are available online at www.kickbuttsday.org. They include:
- Kick Butts Day carnivals.
- Local units can partner with youth groups and public-health organizations to sponsor health fairs that include games and information about tobacco products’ impact on the body.
- Survey tobacco advertising.
- Where is tobacco advertising placed? Who do the ads target? At a United Methodist Women unit or circle meeting, discuss these questions and create a mural of cigarette ads cut out of magazines and newspapers. Share the mural and start a discussion with youth at your church. This will help youth see how hard tobacco companies are pursuing them.
- Urge local officials to support anti-tobacco ordinances.
- Cigarette Butt Clean-up event.
- Select a local park, beach or other public place and clean up the cigarette butts in that area.
Directors of the Women’s Division of the United Methodist General Board of Global Ministries voted to endorse the Campaign for Tobacco-Free Kids because everyday in the United States, 5,000 minors try their first cigarette and 2,000 become addicted daily smokers, Ms. Taylor said. Projections are that one-third of those youngsters will die prematurely as a result of tobacco-related diseases. Tobacco use is the leading preventable cause of death in the United States, killing more than 400,000 people every year.