2014 Red Ribbon Week


It’s the 29th year for Red Ribbon Week, from October 23-31, 2014, the nation’s largest and oldest drug prevention campaign in the U.S.  This year’s theme is “Love Yourself, Be Drug Free.”  The ribbon movement began in 1985 by a community in California committed to keep the memory alive of a murdered federal drug agent.   National Family Partnership, (formerly National Federation of Parents for Drug Free Youth established in 1980), went on to adopt the red ribbon as a symbol of NFP’s commitment to raise awareness of the destruction caused by drugs and alcohol as well as tobacco, which could be considered a gateway drug.

A gateway drug is one that is easy to get, that leads the user to possibly use more dangerous illicit drugs in the future.  Tobacco would be considered in this category because it is easily available for adolescents, and legal for those over 18 to purchase.  In a national survey, researchers found that over 90% of adult drug users “between the ages of 18 and 34 were cigarette smokers before they began using drugs.  The changes in the brain from nicotine is one reason tobacco users seem to be more susceptible to certain drug addiction.

The Red Ribbon Campaign not only teaches students about drug prevention, but also helps inform parents about their other program called Lock Your Meds.  It urges parents to lock up all prescription medication to reduce prescription drug abuse among children.  You can find out more about the program by clicking the highlighted link.

Teaching students about the dangers of tobacco, as well as other drugs, helps students to say_nomake healthy decisions through their life.  Our teachers and schools make a difference in the lives of our students, and Red Ribbon Week is a great start to opening dialog between students, teachers and their parents about drug prevention.

Click HERE for more information about Red Ribbon Week.
Click HERE to learn how you can enter the 2015 Red Ribbon Theme Contest.

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Breast Cancer Awareness and Smoking

The month of October as been designated as National Breast Cancer Awareness Month to remind women the need for self-exams and mammograms.  The stigma of breast cancer has gone from being whispered about in the past to now being discussed on live television during football games.

pink_ribbonAs new treatments and therapies are developed for breast cancer, there are more survivors, but sadly there are also too many who have lost their life to this disease. Some of the risk factors for breast cancer can’t be controlled, such as being a woman, age, or family history, but one factor can, and that is your use of tobacco.

When looking at the relationship between breast cancer and smoking, researchers have found risks that increased the possibility of getting the disease.  One such increased risk factor is for those women who start smoking early, before their first menstrual cycle.  Those women had a 61% higher risk of invasive breast cancer.  If a woman started smoking after her first menstrual cycle, but “11 or more years before having a child,” she still had a 45% higher risk” than nonsmokers.  The reason given is that “breast tissue is not fully developed until after a woman has her first child, and that makes it more sensitive to the harmful effects of tobacco.”

Being exposed to high levels of secondhand smoke may also increase the risk of breast cancer. According to the 2014 Surgeon General’s report, “the evidence is suggestive but not sufficient to infer a causal relationship between tobacco smoke and breast cancer… or between exposure to secondhand tobacco smoke and breast cancer.” Secondhand smoke and the risk for breast cancer is still being studied, however, it has produced breast cancer in laboratory rodents.

Smoking not only raises your risk of breast cancer, but raises the risk of other cancers and health issues, such as lung cancer, heart disease, and chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD).  Smoking also makes it difficult to heal after surgery, and women who smoked and opted for breast reconstructive surgery after a mastectomy were three times more likely to suffer implant loss than nonsmokers.

There are many factors for the risk of breast cancer that you can’t control, but smoking is one that you can.

Pink ribbon from Breast Cancer Awareness

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Fire Prevention and Smoking

Fire2Home is where the heart is, unfortunately it is also where a person may be more likely to die in a fire. More house fires are caused by cooking equipment, but smoking materials, such as cigarettes, cigars, and pipes, caused more home fire deaths.

During 2007-2011, 43% of house fires happened in the kitchen and resulted in approximately 17% of home fire deaths.  Smoking materials caused a substantially lower number of structure fires (5%), but they resulted in the highest number of fire deaths at 22%.  These smoking material fires are usually started in the trash, in bedding or in furniture; however, the most fatal of these fires start in the living room, family room or den where a smoker was sitting on upholstered furniture.

Fires started by smoking are “the number one cause of  home fire deaths,” and are preventable.  You can protect yourself and your family by following these simple rules:

- Only smoke outside, and ask family and friends who are smokers to do the same.
– Provide sturdy ashtrays in your smoking spot and
– Discard the matches and butts into a can of water or pail of sand to make sure they are completely put out.

You can also protect your family by checking your smoke alarms every month and changing batteries twice a year, when you move your clock back in the fall and forward in the spring.  Smoke alarms should be replaced every 10 years.

Click here for additional ideas or watch the FEMA video by clicking on the image above on how you can prevent home fires caused by smoking

For more information on this subject check out these links:
The Consequences of Fire
The Smoking-Material Fire Problem
Facts About Smoking and Home Fires


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World Heart Day 2014

World Heart Day is an annual event with a different theme each year relating to heart heart1health.  You hear the media talk about “heart healthy choices” but have you ever considered how your environment may increase your risk of cardiovascular disease?  This year’s theme of World Heart Day is creating heart-healthy environments because “the places in which we live, work and play should not increase our risk of cardiovascular disease (CVD).”

Most people associate smoking with increased breathing problems, such as emphysema. They never take into account that tobacco use is also damaging to the heart, as well as the lungs, and causing damage to blood vessels that could lead to stroke.  Nonsmokers exposed to secondhand smoke at home, at work or in places they frequent, can also develop cardiovascular disease in addition to breathing problems by being exposed to smoke.

At this current time, there is no national federal smoking ban in the U.S., and as of January 2, 2014, only “28 states have enacted statewide bans on smoking in all enclosed public places, including bars and restaurants.”  Those states with smoking bans have made it healthier for both patrons who frequent the businesses and the employees who work there. Smoke-free policies in multi-unit housing have also become important because it reduces the amount of secondhand smoke to which nonsmokers are exposed, reducing heart attacks in adults and respiratory illnesses in both children and adults.

Creating smokefree policies create healthy environments for everyone involved.

Click HERE to learn how you “can make more heart healthy choices.”



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The Dream of Tomorrow or a New Nightmare?

Lights, camera, action, cue the music for the commercial, and throw in as much symbolism as possible.  Bring in the sun, rising over the rotating earth, to symbolize the dawning of a new day.  Show some beautiful star shots, the Milky Way and the Northern lights.  Have a sunrise and a sunset.  A night shot of a cityscape is great, especially a time lapse at dusk so all the lights gradually brighten the night.  Video some traffic moving in and out of the city. Although it is already dark in the scene before, show some twilight off in the distance in this traffic shot; no one will notice.  All the while the smooth voice of the announcer gears you up for the product:

“Tomorrow……it’s where great things happen.  Dreams… opportunities…the promise of new things to come.”

After several more words and 21 seconds into the commercial, the announcer states: “it’s time smoking changed forever.”

WHAT??  After years of not seeing any type of tobacco marketing on television, this is a shock. The announcer is promising new things and telling us how to get there, and it certainly isn’t behind the wheel of a new car as one might expect, it’s by “smoking.”  The viewer has been introduced to Vuse, the “first and only digital vapor cigarette.”  The screen shot zooms into the inner workings of this device to show it has a microprocessor, and not just any processor, but a “VaporDelivery Processor v1.0.”  Think there will be a v1.1 or v2.0 in the near future? This “microprocessor controlled” device “ensures a perfect puff, first time, every time.”

If buying USA-made nicotine products is important to you, this device was “designed and assembled” right here by “tobacco experts,” although no information is given as to whether the experts are the robots assembling the devices or the lab-coated “scientist.”  No matter, they “know what smokers want.” Perhaps the “tobacco expert” looking through her microscope found the “truly satisfying taste” that smokers want.  According to the commercial, “only Vuse delivers on the promise.”  Does that mean all the others are lying to consumers?  As the commercial comes to the end, their products are shown and the announcer says, “Vuse, welcome to tomorrow.”


This highly stylized commercial was brought to you by R.J. Reynolds Vapor Company. In their credit, the final screen shot of the product does say “not for sale to minors.” in all caps.  The small print also tells the viewer than the product contains nicotine “extracted from the tobacco plant,” and goes on to state that “nicotine is addictive and no tobacco product has been shown to be safe.”  This statement might be confusing to some since this product technically does not contain actual ground leaf tobacco.  But they don’t inform the viewers and potential users that nicotine on its own can also have negative health effects.

When gathering information on Vuse, one of their sites stated “minors should never use tobacco products,” and “marketing of tobacco products should not be targeted to minors,” and for that reason they restrict their website to those age 21+.

Another site states several ways they are transforming the tobacco industry, one of which is “accelerating the decline in youth tobacco use.”  Feel-good words, but does that mean fewer youth using tobacco and more youth moving over to e-cigarettes, or fewer youths using any type of nicotine products?  It’s an interesting statement, but they are vague on how they will keep that promise.

Click HERE to see the entire commercial on the Ad Age site.



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Smoking in the Home is Out, Smoke-free is In

Smoking bans in workplaces and indoor public places protect people from exposure to secondhand smoke, but the bans have no affect on the amount of smoking people do in their own homes.  According to the Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report, released September 5, that is changing.  Smoking in the home is out, living in a smoke-free home is in.

The Centers for Disease Control analyzed data from the Tobacco Use Supplement to theSHS Current Population Survey and found more households had established rules not allowing smoking inside.  Households that went smoke-free with at least one adult smoker living there increased from 9.6% in 1992-1993 to 46.1% during 2010-2011.  Those households with no adult smokers that established smokefree house rules increased from 56.7% in 1992-1993 to 91.4% in 2010-2011.  The report states “increases in smoke-free homes were seen in every state and the District of Columbia.”

seconhand smokeAccording to the 2013 Florida Youth Tobacco Survey “38.4% of middle school students and 43.9% of high school students were exposed to secondhand smoke (SHS) in a room or car in the past week.”  Other locations the teens reported being exposed to SHS include school, work, public places, and someone’s house.  Reports of exposure to SHS in a parent’s car are about even between middle and high school students (6.7% and 6.9% respectively), while high school students report more exposure in someone’s car, 8.0% versus 4.4% for middle school students.  When it came to smoking in the home, 8.9% of middle school students and 8.5% of high school students reported that smoking was allowed inside their homes.

“There is no safe amount of secondhand smoke”as thousands of harmful chemicals can “stay in the air for several hours,” according to Smokefree.gov.  The best way to protect nonsmokers from secondhand smoke is to limit their exposure by making your home smoke-free, asking others not to smoke in your car, and avoiding public places where smoking is allowed.

Click here for the Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report


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Coaches and Tobacco Prevention

There is nothing better than Friday nights under the lights, cheering on your favorite high school football team. The crowd is eagerly footballanticipating their team’s kickoff. The players are pumped up, lined up and waiting for the signal from the refs for the opening kickoff. The cheerleaders are getting the crowd on its feet to make some noise. There’s the signal, and the game has begun.  The visiting team runs the ball back and gets stopped.  Several plays later, another call and Coach is not happy and speaks to the ref.  The ref notices the pouch in Coach’s mouth.  Not good.  Using smokeless tobacco on the sidelines could earn Coach a unsportsmanlike conduct call.

According to the 2011 NFHS Football Rules, using tobacco can get you penalized, whether you are a player or a nonplayer.

ART. 1.. No player shall act in an unsportsmanlike manner once the game officials assume authority for the contest.  Examples are, but not limited to:
h.  Using tobacco or smokeless tobacco.

ART. 1… No coach, substitute, athletic trainer or other team attendant shall act in an unsportsmanlike manner once the game officials assume authority for the contest,  Examples are, but not limited to:
j.  Using tobacco or smokeless tobacco.

PENALTY:  Unsportsmanlike – (S27) – 15 yards.  The second unsportsmanlike foul results in disqualification.

Under the NFHS Coaches Code of Ethics, Appendix F, page 100, the Coach shall:

  • take an active role in the prevention of drug, alcohol and tobacco abuse.
  • avoid the use of alcohol and tobacco products when in contact with players.

Coaches need to stress to players that tobacco and nicotine can’t be part of their lives, on or off the field if they want to be at the top of their game.  That includes electronic cigarettes which contain nicotine in liquid form.   Nicotine increases heart rate and blood pressure within seconds of use, putting extra stress on the heart which may reduce athletic performance.

It’s not about winning or losing on the field, but it is about teaching players about life.  In order to do that coaches have to be good role models by setting good examples, following the rules and expecting the same of their students.

Thank you, Robert K., high school teacher and football official, who took our Florida Statewide Tobacco Prevention online course last year, for providing us with this valuable information.

Click HERE for the 2011 NFHS Football Rules Book
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Time to Spit it Out

Major League Baseball Players have a Basic Agreement that spells out what is expected of them and management during the course of the contractual period.  The current basic agreement, which expires in 2016, has 28 articles with 46 attachments on over 300 pages.   In the final third of the contract, nestled between the ‘alcohol-related conduct’ and the ‘weapon-free workplace policy’ is Attachment 28, two pages dealing with the smokeless tobacco policy.

The policy doesn’t prohibit the use of smokeless tobacco by players.  They just aren’t supposed to use it during interviews, must conceal it, and “may not carry it in their uniform or on their body.”  Does a lip of chew in the mouth count for “on the body?”  According to the Player’s contract, joint education materials will be created for the Players and distributed during Spring Training.  Educational materials will also be created as a public service announcement for radio outlets, websites, and during broadcasts.  Exactly how strong of a deterrent will a PSA be for young kids when this seems to be a case of “do as we say, not as we do?”  Perhaps the two biggest deterrents for using Gwynn1smokeless tobacco happened this year, first with Tony Gwynn and now with Curt Schilling.

Tony Gwynn admits using a can and a half of chew a day from the time he was first in the majors.  Strike one happened in 1991 when he first noticed a growth in his right cheek.  He even figured it was from using smokeless tobacco.  Biopsy results came back negative, but the experience didn’t stop him for reaching for a dip on his way home from surgery, a testament to how strong his addiction to nicotine was.  In 2001 he retired from baseball, but didn’t retire his chew habit.  He continued it at San Diego State when he become head coach in 2002, even when the NCAA adopted a zero-tolerance tobacco policy.  Strike two happened in 2007 when another growth was found and another biopsy was performed.  His luck held as the biopsy was negative.

In 2010 that luck ran out when a third growth, in the same spot as the others, was discovered.  This time it was bad.  It required not only surgery, but radiation and chemotherapy.  The surgery affected a nerve in his face, causing partial paralysis, and making it difficult to eat and smile.  But it ended his smokeless tobacco habit. He completed the treatments, went into remission and gained his smile back.  Unfortunately, the cancer also came back and more surgery and radiation was required.  He passed away in June 2014; he was only 54.  Although his doctor claims there is no known link between smokeless tobacco and Tony’s cancer, the ballplayer was adamant it was the cause as he always dipped on the right side, the same side as the cancer. Schilling

Now Curt Schilling has come forward with his story of mouth cancer caused by what he believes is his 30 years of using chewing tobacco.  Curt said not only did he have bleeding gum issues when using smokeless tobacco, he lost his sense of smell and taste, but it wasn’t enough to make him quit.  He had surgery this past year and went into remission in June.  Schilling admits he didn’t say something sooner because he didn’t want pity. He also said he didn’t speak up because he didn’t want to get into the chewing tobacco debate, but says it was an addictive habit.  He admits it took the pain of his treatment to make him wish he could go back and never have dipped, “not once.”

In light of Tony Gwynn’s death and Curt Schilling’s cancer diagnosis due to years of smokeless tobacco use, the time has come for the MLB to quit discussing the subject and make ballparks smoke-free and tobacco-free workplaces.  What are the players going to do, quit? strike?  How would that look to the fans, especially the kids when the headlines scream “Players Won’t Play Without Tobacco?”  This is not about the rights of grown men to use a legal substance, but about grown men becoming addicts to a substance that takes prisoners and kills some of its users.  It’s also about the message sent to the kids who watch and imitate what they see and hear on the field.  Right now that message isn’t very good.


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2014 Children’s Health Concerns

The University of Michigan C.S. Mott Children’s Hospital National Poll on Children’s Health is out for 2014 listing the top 10 health concerns adults have for their children and communities.  This is the eighth year for the report, and the first time adults have also been asked about their concerns nationwide as well as in their own communities.

In 2007, out of a list of 17 concerns, smoking was #1 of the top 10 health concerns compiled for the report.  Even with declining smoking rates among teens through the years, parents still see smoking and tobacco use as a health concern, enough so that it remains near the top of the list each year.

The newest report shows that childhood obesity is now the top concern at the local community level, followed by smoking/tobacco use, drug abuse and bullying.   The national level lists the same health concerns in a slightly different order:  childhood obesity, bullying, drug abuse and smoking/tobacco use.

MottDr. Matthew M. Davis, director of the C.S. Mott Children’s Hospital National Poll on Children’s Health, says the newest top 10 report gives “a national agenda of the top health problems of the kids that adults would like to see policy-makers address.”

Click HERE to read the entire article.




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Keep Miss Kitty Safe

LucyHappy World Cat Day!  Ok, we understand you may not be a cat person, not everyone can be so special.  But be honest, you’ve smiled at some of those pictures of kittens seeing their reflection in a mirror, or hissing at each other.  It’s just plain cute.  But something that is not so cute is what secondhand smoke can do to your cat.

Secondhand smoke has over 4,000 chemicals, and while you can get away from the smoke, your inside cat is, well…stuck.  That blue haze of smoke is falling on everything in the house, including your pet.

Cats are not only breathing in the carcinogens from your secondhand smoke, they are Lucy1also ingesting all those chemicals each time they groom themselves, making them more prone to develop cancer of the mouth and lymph nodes. Living with a pack-a-day smoker means the cat is “three times more likely to develop malignant lymphoma than a cat living with a nonsmoker.”  Even a cat living with a light smoker, someone who smokes less than a pack-a-day, is “four times more likely to be diagnosed with squamous cell carcinoma which is the most common and an aggressive type of oral cancer in cats.”

Keep cigarettes and cigarette butts out of reach of your curious cat as tobacco products contain nicotine, and even small amounts are toxic to your pet.

Talk to your vet about how to keep Miss Kitty safe from secondhand smoke and other dangers that lurk in your house.  Your fur baby will thank you.

Click HERE to read how secondhand smoke affects your pet.




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