Orange County Commissioners Court proclaimed Wednesday, March 16, as “National Kick Butts Day” on behalf of the Julie Rogers Gift of Life program. Commissioners Barry Burton, Precinct 2; John Banken, Precinct 3; and Jody Crump, Precinct 4, are pictured in back. Front row features members of the Little Cypress-Mauriceville Key Club and Connie Berry, at right, of Julie Rogers Gift of Life. Photo by Tommy Mann Jr.

By Tommy Mann Jr. – The Record

Commissioners approved a special proclamation on Tuesday afternoon on behalf of a well-known organization and its quest to help those in need battle cancer.

Orange County Commissioners approved a special proclamation on Tuesday, March 8, for the Julie Rogers Gift of Life and its Youth Advisory Council in observance of National Kick Butts Day, which is scheduled for Wednesday, March 16, across the country to spread the word as anti-tobacco advocates.

Connie Berry of the Julie Rogers Gift of Life attended Tuesday’s meeting in Orange County, along with seven members of the Little Cypress-Mauriceville High School Key Club, to present information to Commissioners and accept the proclamation from the court.

“Tobacco imposes a terrible toll on everyone,” Berry said. “Our organization works with groups across Southeast Texas, including high schools, and our future rests with students like those that are here today.”

According to findings from the National Youth Tobacco Survey in 2014, e-cigarette use increased among high school students from approximately 660,000 to more than 2 million. Also, 90 percent of all smokers begin smoking as teenagers or earlier.

According to its official website, Kick Butts Day, which was first held in 1996, is a national day of activism that empowers youth to stand out, speak up and seize control against Big Tobacco. As the next National Kick Butts Day is scheduled for Wednesday, March 16, more than 1,000 events in schools and communities across the United States, and even around the world, are being planned.

Such events are designed to help youth leaders, teachers and health advocates raise awareness of the problem of tobacco use in their community or state, encourage youth to reject the tobacco industry’s deceptive marketing and stay tobacco-free and urge elected officials to take action to protect kids from tobacco.

Tobacco use is the number one cause of preventable death in the United States and around the world. Tobacco killed one hundred million people in the 20th century, according to tobaccofreekids.org.

“In the United States, tobacco kills more than 400,000 people every year,” said Connie Berry of the Julie Rogers Gift of Life. “That is more than AIDS, alcohol, car accidents, illegal drugs, murders and suicides combined.”

The Julie Rogers Gift of Life’s Tobacco Control Coalition of Southeast Texas’ mission is to reduce the harm caused by tobacco and its goals are to prevent the initiation of tobacco use among young people and adults, reduce the appeal and acceptability of tobacco use, implement tobacco cessation initiatives, reduce secondhand smoke exposure, which will contribute to the reductions in tobacco-related diseases and deaths.

The coalition is formed of volunteers who serve as advisors and ambassadors of its goals and include representatives from business, education, faith-based organizations, government agencies, healthcare groups, media, non-profit organizations and youth groups.

Visit www.giftoflifebmt.org for more information on the Julie Rogers Gift of Life and its various programs.