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Char-Em SAFE Youth join National Kick Butts Day Initiative on March 20

NORTHWEST MICHIGAN – Young people from Charlevoix and Emmet Counties are joining thousands across the country to take part in Kick Butts Day, a day for youth to speak up and take action in support of tobacco-free living. There are more than 1,000 Kick Butts Day events scheduled worldwide.

In preparation, Susan Pulaski, Community Health Coordinator for the Health Department of Northwest Michigan, has worked with Substance Abuse Free Environment (SAFE) Youth in Charlevoix and Emmet Counties to produce a video ( that will be shown in middle schools on Kick Butts Day – Wednesday, March 20.

“The video brings awareness about how the big tobacco companies are targeting our youth by making cigars in candy flavors, using bright wrappers and containers that look similar to candy,” Pulaski explains. “It entices kids to try their products.”

There are more than 17,000 new youth smokers each year in Michigan, and 298,000 kids alive in Michigan today will eventually die from a tobacco-related disease. The tobacco industry spent $253 million in 2010 to market their products in Michigan alone. In comparison, Michigan spends only $1.8 million on tobacco prevention programming annually. Tobacco is the leading preventable cause of death in Michigan, killing nearly 15,000 people each year. Fourteen percent of Michigan youth are smokers.

“The good news is that evidence-based programs and policy changes, now being implemented at state and community levels, reduce smoking rates,” Pulaski noted. “New 24/7 tobacco-free school policies, tobacco-free recreation areas, smoke-free multi-unit housing, and improved access to tobacco dependency treatment options are all effective in reducing youth and adult tobacco use rates.”

SAFE Youth members are high school students from Charlevoix and Emmet County who take part in efforts to raise awareness of substance abuse, expose issues that are of concern, and encourage their peers to be tobacco, alcohol and drug free. For more information about Kick Butts Day, visit For local event and tobacco prevention information, contact Pulaski at (231) 347-5813. For help in quitting tobacco, talk with your healthcare provider or call the Michigan Tobacco Quitline, (800) 784-8669.

The Health Department of Northwest Michigan is mandated by the Michigan Public Health Code to promote wellness, prevent disease, provide quality healthcare, address health problems of vulnerable populations, and protect the environment for the residents and visitors of Antrim, Charlevoix, Emmet, and Otsego counties.