HONOLULU (HawaiiNewsNow) - Dozens of Hawaii students gathered along Beretania Street in front of the Hawaii State Capitol on Tuesday to spread a powerful message about the dangers of tobacco.
The event, sponsored by the Campaign for Tobacco-Free Kids, was part of National Kick Butts Day; students waved signs to rally for healthier surroundings for Hawaii schools.
"The priority that they picked this year really is to create a buffer zone around their schools, so that tobacco can't be sold within 500 feet of a school," said Jessica Yamauchi, of the Hawaii Public Health Institute.
Researchers say tobacco use is still the number-one cause of preventable death in the United States, killing nearly 500,000 people every year.
"My grandma passed away from lung cancer from second-hand smoke. My grandpa, who smoked, has dementia and Alzheimers, which has been shown to have a linkage to smoking," said Sara Kay, a senior at Punahou. "It just breaks my heart to see all of the youth smoking today without knowing what kind of consequences they might face 40 years in the future."
The Hawaii Public Health Institute says almost 10-percent of the state's high school students smoke.