LAWTON, OK (KSWO)- Today is National Kick Butts Day, started by the campaign for tobacco-free kids. Every year in March, kids across the nation are encouraged to stand up, speak out against the tobacco industry and companies that target kids to become their replacement smokers.
Every day more than 3,000 kids under the age of 18 try smoking for the first time, and 700 kids become new regular, daily smokers.
"The tobacco industry does a really good job of making smoking appealing to kids. It's sexy. The beautiful women smoke. They're skinny. The spy man, the dangerous, debonair man, they all smoke. And so it's really important for these kids to know that they make it look that way so that it appeals to them," explained Sandy Foster, CCMH Healthy Living Program Director.
Sandy Foster, the Program Director for the Healthy Living Program at Comanche County Memorial Hospital says that by getting involved in events like Kick Butt's day, we can raise awareness about the tobacco problem, and encourage the youth to be tobacco-free.
"What I hope is that they'll never start. That they won't pick up that first cigarette. It's really important that they know that if they pick it up, chances are they're going to become addicted," said Foster.
Dr. Richard Brittingham of CCMH says e-cigarette companies are also targeting teens by making these devices attractive in appearance and in flavors such as bubble gum.
"Now we know that the number of people that are smoking regular cigarettes from people that have been using vaping or e-cigarettes, that number is on the rise. So this tells me this is a bad thing for our kids," explained Dr. Brittingham.
"They are all flavored. They flavor the stuff that goes into it. And some of them even have what looks like to be little gummy bears on them. So it's just important for them to know that they are coming after them. And what you're doing is just making money for a deadly habit," Foster said.
Tobacco use is still the leading cause of preventable death in the U.S., killing more than 480,000 people every year. Foster says adults should feel responsible in helping educate the youth about the dangers of tobacco.
"I think it's really important for us as adults to really support these kids. Even if we're an adult and we're smoking, we need to be really careful to make sure that kids know that if they had to do it over again, they probably wouldn't start," claimed Foster.