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Char-Em SAFE Youth kicks butts with new video and Sticker Shock campaign

NORTHWEST MICHIGAN - A volunteer youth group is preparing to kick butts in Charlevoix and Emmet Counties. Armed with a new YouTube video and supported by a partnership with Johan's Pastry Shops, students participating in Substance Abuse Free Environment (SAFE) Youth will be celebrating the annual Kick Butts Day on Wednesday, March 19, as a way 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. According to Susan Pulaski, Community Health Coordinator for the Health Department of Northwest Michigan, this is the first year SAFE Youth will be partnering with all six Johan's Pastry Shop locations in Petoskey, Harbor Springs, Charlevoix and Boyne City for a special "Sticker Shock" event. Johan's customers will find a green Kick Butts Day sticker on their coffee cups, carrying a specially-designed logo and the 1-800-QUIT-NOW (784-8669) tobacco help line.

Pulaski said she is also excited about SAFE Youth's new tobacco awareness video on YouTube:

"The SAFE Youth student volunteers created this new video to deliver some alarming facts about the harmful effects of tobacco on our bodies and on our communities," she said. "For example, they found that nine out of 10 smokers began smoking before age 18. There are more than 15,000 new youth smokers each year in Michigan."

While the tobacco industry spends nearly $300 million each year to market tobacco products in Michigan alone, the state spends only $1.5 million each year on tobacco prevention programming. Meanwhile, tobacco use costs Michigan an estimated $3.4 billion in annual health care costs. "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 and 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.

(Left to Right): SAFE Youth members Emilee Evans, Connor Ingleson, Kyle Sitkins and Tanner Evans