Students from Wausau alternative school EEA Learning Academy participated in "Kick Butts Day" Wednesday, creating a "human billboard" to display their feelings about Big Tobacco's tactics.
Teen smoking rates are down, dropping from 33% a decade ago to 13% today. But that hasn't stopped Big Tobacco companies from spending more than $8.5 billion a year to market and promote their products.
"Kick Butts Day" is a national day of activism to empower youth to stand out, speak up and gain control against Big Tobacco's tactics. It's also a chance for teens and parents alike to get educated, especially about new products on the market. Products targeted specifically at teens include chewing tobaccos, snus, dissolvables and little cigars all flavored like candy.
Destinee Raiten, a Health Educator for the Marathon County Health Department, reminds us that just because you don't see an add, doesn't mean they're not targeting you.
"If you look at like the point of purchase on a tobacco counter, they would have maybe the 'Big Red' gum sold here and then they would have chewing tobaccos sold on top of it. So they're kind of trying to market these things next to each other," Raiten explained.
It's covert tactics like these that have students in the "Youth for Youth" program at EEA Learning Academy stepping up, making their feelings known in a very artistic way. Fourteen teens gathered outside of Wausau East High School Wednesday, creating human billboards to speak out against Big Tobacco. Three different groups were stationed at each school entrance ensuring every student saw their message. They're hoping their message will make students more aware about its dangers.