New Jersey youth will "kick butts" on Wednesday at more than a dozen locations throughout the state.

To mark Kick Butts Day, an annual day of youth activism sponsored by the Campaign for Tobacco-Free Kids, events are scheduled at select New Jersey schools in order to educate youth on the dangers of tobacco products, and hopefully motivate them to either quit smoking or never start.

"We will have a banner for students to sign, taking a pledge to be the first generation to go tobacco free," Elena Cromeyer, project director with the Trenton Health Team, told New Jersey 101.5.

In partnership with Trenton Public Schools, the team will demonstrate the difference between healthy and non-healthy lungs, and the mouth of a smoker versus the mouth of a non-smoker. Set up at a table in the cafeteria at Trenton Central High School-Hanover Campus, members hope to reach as many students as possible.

"We will connect students who are currently using tobacco and nicotine to cessation services." Cromeyer added.

This year, the nationwide effort is taking special at Juul, an e-cigarette brand that's exploded in popularity among youth. More than 1,000 events are planned across the country.

While cigarette smoking among high school students has fallen to 8.1 percent nationally, e-cigarette use among high-schoolers rose to 20.8 percent in 2018 — up 78 percent from the year prior.

The e-cigarette usage rate among New Jersey high school students is 9.6 percent, compared to 4.7 percent who smoke cigarettes.

"This year on Kick Butts Day, we're challenging policy makers at every level to do their part to reverse the e-cigarette epidemic and continue driving down youth tobacco use," said Matthew L. Myers, president of the Campaign for Tobacco-Free Kids. "We cannot allow e-cigarettes, especially Juul, to addict another generation and reverse the enormous progress we've made in reducing youth tobacco use."

According to the manufacturer, one Juul cartridge delivers as much nicotine as a pack of 20 cigarettes.

Kick Butts Day activities are planned for Wednesday at schools and/or centers in East Orange, Lawrenceville, Newton and Paterson, among other municipalities.

Contact reporter Dino Flammia at dino.flammia@townsquaremedia.com.

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