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Mitchell students speak out against tobacco use for Kick Butts Day

Mitchell students are "kicking butt" this week. Today is designated National Kick Butts Day, in which advocates across the country take action against tobacco use. In Mitchell, Unfiltered REALity took this task in stride with displays in both the...

T-shirts hang in the cafeteria of the Mitchell High School with quotes and facts about tobacco use among youth. The display is part of National Kick Butts Day, which brings awareness to tobacco use in adolescents. (Sara Bertsch/ Republic)
T-shirts hang in the cafeteria of the Mitchell High School with quotes and facts about tobacco use among youth. The display is part of National Kick Butts Day, which brings awareness to tobacco use in adolescents. (Sara Bertsch/ Republic)

Mitchell students are "kicking butt" this week.

Today is designated National Kick Butts Day, in which advocates across the country take action against tobacco use. In Mitchell, Unfiltered REALity took this task in stride with displays in both the Mitchell Middle School and Mitchell High School on Tuesday.

At the high school, T-shirts were hung in the cafeteria featuring facts about tobacco, along with quotes from tobacco company executives. At the middle school, two mirrors were set up asking students how they see themselves.

Bailey Vearrier, a senior at Mitchell High School, is a longtime member of Unfiltered REALity member since joining in sixth grade.

She joined the program because her mother smokes, and Vearrier has been trying to help her quit for "a long time." She also has seen her classmates and peers use tobacco.

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"I see it a lot and it shouldn't be a problem, but it is a problem," Vearrier said. "After doing more research on tobacco and cigarettes I thought, 'That's gross.' "

In South Dakota, 1,300 people die from tobacco use each year, and 10.1 percent of the state's high school students smoke, according to the Campaign for Tobacco-Free Kids.

This year's focus of Kick Butts Day was on the marketing tactics of tobacco companies and the targets placed on adolescents, according to Mitchell School District prevention specialist Samantha Olson.

"It's a time to really educate youth and Unfiltered Reality members' peers about the dangers of tobacco, whether that be heart disease, lung cancer or addiction in general ... " Olson said. "It's an addiction. People don't understand how powerful it can be."

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