SAULT STE. MARIE – The public is invited to attend the second annual “Smoke Pigs Not Cigs” tobacco awareness event March 21 at the Big Bear Arena on Ice Circle off Shunk Road starting at 5 p.m.
Like last year’s inaugural running, the Sault Tribe Health Services hosted event will feature a pig roast. The day falls in conjunction with National Kick Butts Day – a countrywide initiative to raise awareness on the harmful effects of tobacco.
It is made possible thanks to the Sault Tribe Good Health and Wellness in Indian Country Grant, which is funded by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
“We’re celebrating National Kick Butts Day. it’s an awareness movement sponsored by Campaign for Tobacco Free Kids,” said Colin Welker, a community health educator with Sault Tribe Health Services. “We kind of take it to another level.”
Beginning at 5 p.m. a full meal will be available courtesy of Flannigan’s Goat. The BBQ specialist will be offering the namesake pig and takes on traditional native food.
Ultimately though the day is about the dangers of tobacco in its smoke and smokeless forms.
“It’s highlighting that tobacco risks are still a problem even as the number of users decreases,” added Welker. “Native Americans and Alaskan Natives are the minority with the highest smoking rates. We know that big tobacco companies are targeting youth and these minority populations as customers.”
The CDC reports that cigarettes alone cause more than 480,000 deaths per year in the United States. They also reported that as recently as 2013, 43.8 percent of current Native American and Alaskan Native adults actively use commercial tobacco.
Informational booths will be set up on the second floor of the Big Bear following the pork BBQ.
“There’s free public skating from 6 p.m. until 7:30 p.m. that includes rentals,” said Welker. “The community, not just the tribe, is encouraged to come out.”