OGDEN -- Max Poulson, 19, sat outside the CIK Skate Park in his rollerblades, smoking a cigarette.
"I wanted to quit once I started," he said -- smoking, not rollerblading. He quit rollerblading for a while, but recently picked it up again. Sadly, kicking the habit is not as easy as kicking off his skates.
"It tastes gross, smells gross, makes your lungs feel like crap," he said. He started smoking when he was 12 because his friends were doing the same. He's tried to quit for years. But the habit keeps coming back.
Poulson is a case in point for the Weber-Morgan Health Department, which sponsored Kick Butts Day, an annual opportunity to educate young people about the dangers of smoking, at the skate park Wednesday afternoon along with several other youth and anti-smoking groups.
Ninety percent of people who smoke start before the legal age of 19, said Anna Guymon, who is with the Weber-Morgan Health Department's Tobacco Prevention and Control Program.
She dispensed information about smoking at one of several booths in the skate park that were set up to greet attendees as they walked in. The organizers also held contests featuring trivia about cigarettes -- such as what chemicals are inside them -- for prizes.
Will Holland, 10, named off tar, nail polish remover and cadmium, among others for a pair of Skullcandy headphones. The skateboarder was said he does not intend to pick up smoking.
The same goes for Oscar Barrera, 14, and his fellow skateboarders. The five teenage boys, sitting around a table at the skate park's snack bar, cited addiction, lung cancer, loss of breath and the high cost of constantly buying cigarettes as reasons to never start.
And "it messes up your skating," Barrera said.
Tobacco use is the leading preventable cause of death in the United States, killing more than 400,000 people every year, according to the Weber-Morgan Health Department.
Every day, more than 4,000 children try their first cigarettes, another 1,000 become addicted smokers -- one-third of whom will die prematurely as a result, according to the department.
For information about how to quit, call the Utah Tobacco Quit Line at 888-567-87884.