St. Martin Students "Kick Butts" - - The News for South Mississippi

St. Martin Students "Kick Butts"

More than 400,000 Americans will die this year from a smoking-related disease. So on Wednesday, some students at St. Martin High School took a stand to stop young people from getting hooked on tobacco.

The school hosted "Kick Butts Day." It's a nationwide push to encourage students to become leaders in the fight against tobacco use among children.

Here are some more startling numbers. According to the Campaign for Tobacco-Free Kids, everyday in the United States, roughly 5,000 children under the age of 18 try smoking for the first time. Currently, more than five million high school students are smokers.

That's why St. Martin High students took the pledge to never pick up a cigarette.

St. Martin High School students helped carry a coffin with a cigarette inside. They wanted to make a dramatic statement of what can happen if students smoke.

"The long term, the short term effects of smoking, and also just to take a stand against the advertising they put out to get the kids to say 'no' and to not be another victim of the terrible diseases that come from smoking," organizer Charlotte Snell said.

As part of Kick Butts Day, students got to see a graphic example of what smoking can do to their bodies.

"It's like nasty, just to think that could be my lung," Kim Bryan said.

She knows all too well the dangers of tobacco use. She picked up her first cigarette at the age of 10. Two years later, she kicked the habit.

"I started coughing up this black stuff," she said. "I was tired of being sick. I have asthma and I was just out of shape because of it."

That's why students like Kim signed their names and took the pledge to be tobacco-free.

"Smoking is not good for you, and it's not worth it, especially if you have sports like I do," LaToya Reddix said. "It slows you down, it causes cancer."

Teachers hope giving students a dose of reality will help cut down on the number of teenage smokers.

"I want them to know that I care about them, the school cares about them, we do care about what they do, and the choices they make in life," Snell said.

National Kick Butts Day is actually celebrated on April 3.

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