Undead urge smokers to kick the habit

Young people dressed as the undead marched through the streets of Providence on Wednesday to send a message: If you smoke, you'll end up like us.

The Zombie Walk was part of national Kick Butts Day and a chance to make a statement about living tobacco-free.

"I really hope they stop smoking because it's not good for you at all," said Mohamed Keita of Pawtucket.

The young people gathered for a rally inside the State House and heard from speakers like former Major League Baseball player Ken Ryan about the dangers of tobacco.

"Trust me when I tell you, the best thing you can do is stay away from any type of tobacco. It's not going to help you," Ryan said.

Then the zombie parade took to the streets to raise anti-smoking awareness.

"It means a lot that everybody is standing up for what they believe in and everybody has a right to their own opinion," said Joseph Garcia of Providence.

Along with marching the city streets, the zombies made sure to hand out smoking cessation resources to people who they saw smoking, hoping that they will at least think twice about their decisions.

"A lot of the marketing that happens, happens to kids. And I think it's great that they can come here and take a stand against it and make such a dramatic statement," said Erica Collins of the Rhode Island Department of Health.

In Rhode Island, 1,500 people die every year from tobacco use, and health care bills total more than $600 million. Even with all the education regarding the dangers of tobacco, more than 11 percent of high school students smoke.

"I think we've all lost somebody to tobacco-related disease, and it's time that we said, 'Enough! We're not going to fall victim to tobacco-related disease anymore,'" Collins said.

Organizers said they hope this kind of visible anti-smoking campaign continues in the years to come.