Cedar City kids take action against tobacco on ‘Kick Butts Day’

4-H Club coordinator Heidi Baxley uses trail mix to teach youth about diverse personalities they will encounter in life, Cedar Middle School, Cedar City, Utah, March 16, 2016 | Photo by Carin Miller, St. George News

CEDAR CITY — Youth members of the Iron County Prevention Coalition and the Iron County 4-H club from both Cedar City middle and high schools came together Wednesday to play kickball and take a stand against tobacco and e-cigarettes for national “Kick Butts Day.”

Iron County Prevention Coalition Coordinator Heidi Baxley talks to youth about the dangers of tobacco and e-cigarettes, Cedar Middle School, Cedar City, Utah, March 16, 2016 | Photo by Carin Miller, St. George News
Iron County Prevention Coalition Coordinator Heidi Baxley talks to youth about the dangers of tobacco and e-cigarettes, Cedar Middle School, Cedar City, Utah, March 16, 2016 | Photo by Carin Miller, St. George News

Iron County Prevention Coalition Coordinator Heidi Baxley, who organized the afternoon’s activities, said “Kick Butts Day” is part of a nationwide campaign to educate youth about the dangers of tobacco products.

The number of youth experimenting with e-cigarettes is on the rise at an alarming rate in Iron County, Baxley said.

“We’re here to play kickball today and to have a good time,” Baxley said to the kids. “But the real reason we’re here is to educate you guys about the dangers of tobacco and e-cigarettes and so that you guys can spread the word to your friends.”

“Kick Butts Day” is a day for kids to push back against the tobacco industry, said Matthew L. Myers, president of the Campaign for Tobacco-Free Kids, in a press release about the event.

“We’ve made amazing progress in reducing youth smoking and can make the next generation tobacco-free,” he said, adding that elected officials should work to support that goal by including higher tobacco taxes, levying strong smoke-free laws and raising the tobacco age to 21.

Iron County Prevention Coalition - Youth member Ethan Bates emcees the action during the kickball game, Cedar Middle School, Cedar City, Utah, March 16, 2016 | Photo by Carin Miller, St. George News
Iron County Prevention Coalition – Youth member Ethan Bates emcees the action during the kickball game, Cedar Middle School, Cedar City, Utah, March 16, 2016 | Photo by Carin Miller, St. George News

Baxley said the nicotine in cigarette and e-cigarette products can hook a kid for life and really affect the way their brain continues to change and grow.

Data from the 2015 student health and risk prevention survey showed lifetime user rates for Iron County youth that smoke cigarettes is 12.2 percent and 17.6 percent for those who use e-cigarettes, Baxley said.

Iron County 4-H Club coordinator Becky Barton kicked off the afternoon event with a demonstration that compared people to the ingredients in a bowl of trail mix.

“Everybody that comes into our life plays some part in our ‘trail mix’ of life,” Barton said to the kids as they gathered around a giant empty bowl and watched her carefully as she pulled each new item out of a bag next to the makeshift table.

There were many ingredients, each representing a different type of personality: M&M’s, for the sweet people in life that come in all different shapes and sizes; freeze dried strawberries, for the healthy people in life; yogurt covered craisins, because sometimes people are covered in sweet, but they’re not so great once you dig below the surface.

Erick Tapia, Cedar Middle School eighth grader and 4-H Club member, said the demonstration really made him think.

4-H Club coordinator Heidi Baxley uses trail mix to teach youth about diverse ppersonalities they will encounter in life, Cedar Middle School, Cedar City, Utah, March 16, 2016 | Photo by Carin Miller, St. George News
4-H Club coordinator Heidi Baxley uses trail mix to teach youth about diverse personalities they will encounter in life, Cedar Middle School, Cedar City, Utah, March 16, 2016 | Photo by Carin Miller, St. George News

“The marshmallows, they’re sticky and when things are sticky, they’re hard to get off like super glue,” Tapia said. “That’s how bad influences can happen — it might seem okay on the outside, but once you get to know them they could be a bad influence.”

If he had a friend who was smoking, Tapia said, he would do whatever he could to convince them to stop, because he knows how harmful the chemicals can be to a person.

“And it doesn’t matter if it’s an e-cigarette,” he said. “They are just as dangerous as any other cigarette that has nicotine and other chemicals in them.”

Following the demonstration the kids split off into four teams, the Ash Kickers 1 and 2, Weed Killers and Kick Butt Cougars, and played several rounds of kickball until the Ash Kickers 1 were declared the overall winners.

Baxley said the event was an overall success and she couldn’t wait to see the turnout in 2017.

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Email: cmiller@stgnews.com

Twitter: @STGnews

Copyright St. George News, SaintGeorgeUtah.com LLC, 2016, all rights reserved.

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