Our Kids Have Seen Enough Tobacco

Photo from Seenenoughtobacco.org

There is some scary stuff out there and we aren’t talking Halloween; it’s tobacco marketing and advertising hiding in plain sight.  Adults may not notice it, but your kids see it every day as Big Tobacco tries to lure them in as replacement smokers, costuming the products in bright packaging and disguising the dangers with candy and fruit flavors.  Reality Check, a youth led movement against the marketing practices of Big Tobacco in New York, and Tobacco Free New York State declared Friday the 13th as Seen Enough Tobacco Day to highlight this problem.  With all the information out there, we need to be scared for our kids.

Photo submitted by Kristy M of Atlanta, GA to Counter Tobacco showing her 17 month old in front of a 3 ft tall cigarette display.

Tobacco display from Counter Tobacco

Tobacco advertising restrictions were signed into law in 1971 and 2009 in order to protect overall public health; however, the laws have just moved the advertising from the screen and into the point of sale.  Drive into any convenience gas store and you can see advertising on the pumps, windows and along the property.  Go inside and it is like carnival of signage and a kaleidoscope of color as tobacco competes with soft drinks, food and candy for shelf space and your attention, like in the picture on the left.  The tobacco industry claims they market to adults, but displays are often surrounded by candy and advertising is at a child’s eye level.

According to the Seenenoughtobacco.org site, the average age for a new smoker in New York State is 13 years old.  These kids are five years away from being legal age at 18 and eight years away from the Tobacco 21 laws in the 16 counties, cities and municipalities in New York that have raised the age.  How are they getting tobacco?  And New York isn’t unique to the teens having access to tobacco.   Florida boasts one of the lowest teen smoking rate in the nation at 6.9% but it still means easy access.  And cheap prices aren’t helping.

photo from Campaign for Tobacco-Free Kids

Cheap flavored little cigars are easy to find and extremely affordable for teens and are just one form of tobacco that is easy to come by.  While they are marketed, taxed and sold as cigars, they are highly flavored and many could pass as filtered flavored cigarettes that are banned in the U.S.  According to the US Department of Health and Human Services website, 60% of middle and high school students who used tobacco products in 2014 smoked flavored little cigars.

What can we do about all this?  Education is the key.  The American public needs to educated about the tactics of the tobacco industry, as well as the health-related illnesses and number of deaths caused by tobacco.  Comprehensive tobacco education needs to take place in schools so that every child is reached.  According to the 2015 Florida Youth Tobacco Survey, only 26.6% of high school students said they received tobacco education in schools, yet every teacher in Florida’s public, private and charter school system has the opportunity to take the Florida Tobacco Prevention Training for Educators online course and teach tobacco prevention to their K-12 students for credits to renew their teaching certificate.

Protecting our kids from tobacco now means fewer adults using tobacco later and fewer tobacco-related health illnesses and deaths in the future.  How much is the health of our future generation worth?

Click HERE for the SeenEnoughTobacco.org site











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Fire Prevention Week 2017

It’s National Fire Prevention Week and a great time to check around your house for possible fire hazards.  Also, check the batteries in your smoke alarms to make sure all are in working order.  No one plans for a house fire, but if it happens “Every Second Counts: Plan 2 Ways Out!” which is the theme for the 2017 Fire Prevention Week.  Your family can put together their own fire escape plan using the tips and ideas at the link above.

According to the NFPA.org website, the top causes of fire in the house include: arson and intentional fires, candles, cooking, electrical, heating, smoking and young firesetters.   Cooking equipment may cause the most home structure fires and home fire injuries, but smoking is the leading cause of fire deaths in the U.S. because so many of these fires happen at night after the family has gone to bed.  Smoking material such as cigarettes, pipes and cigars caused 17,200 or 5% of the reported home fires in 2014, however, they were responsible for 21% of home fire deaths.   If you must smoke, follow some simple rules that will protect you and your family from a possible house fire:

first, don’t smoke inside.  Most house fires deaths are from fires in living rooms, family rooms, dens and bedrooms.  It is too easy to ignite curtains or for ash to fall onto furniture and carpeting and smoulder for hours before a blaze erupts.  If you must smoke inside, use a deep, sturdy ashtray and douse the butts in water before throwing them in the trash.
second, when you smoke outside, be careful where you discard the butt.  Landscape mulch acts like dry kindling and could easily spark a fire long after you leave the area. Have a bucket of sand or water handy in which to throw butts.
third, keep smoking materials and lighting equipment out of sight and away from the hands of children.  It only takes a second for a young child to experiment with fire and unintentionally start a deadly blaze.
fourth, if oxygen is being used in the home, smoking should never be allowed.
fifth, never leave electronic cigarettes unattended while charging.  Batteries have been known to fail resulting in explosion and fires.

While no one plans for a house fire, you can plan to keep your family safer by quitting smoking and using this handy Quit Kit from Tobacco Free Florida, or from Smokefree.gov.  There is no time like the present to get started.

Click HERE for more tips on fire prevention in the home.  Save




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A New Type of Tobacco Ad Will Soon Appear

Don’t be surprised if you start seeing tobacco ads on television and in newspapers starting as soon as next month.  This time, however, these ads aren’t promoting tobacco.  If you haven’t been following this for the past 20 years, here is a brief history as to why these ads will run.

In 1999, the U.S. Department of Justice went after the tobacco industry for seven civil fraud and racketeering violations under the RICO act.  One of the requests from the DOJ was for “funding for programs dedicated to smoking cessation and public education.”

The decision finally came in 2006 when Judge Gladys Kessler  handed down a ruling that for over 50 years the tobacco industry “lied, misrepresented, and deceived the American public, including smokers and the young people they avidly sought as ‘replacement smokers’,” about the dangerous health effects of smoking and secondhand smoke.   The judge also noted that while the industry says they don’t want children to smoke, they continue to track “youth behavior and preferences” to reach their target audience.  She also faulted their youth smoking prevention programs for not “effectively preventing youth smoking.”

The Justice Department wanted the tobacco industry to pay for “smoking cessation and public education programs” but RICO provisions couldn’t force the industry to do so.  What they could be forced to do was to make “corrective statements on topics about which they had historically defrauded and deceived the American public.”  Appeals were made by both sides and the court finally ruled on the judgment.   The tobacco industry appealed once again, this time to the Supreme Court, which rejected their final appeal.

It has taken nearly two decades but Altria Group, the parent company for Philip Morris (maker of Marlboro cigarettes and others) and British American Tobacco PLC, parent company of Reynolds American Inc, (maker of Newport, Camel, and others) will be running court mandated ads over “misleading statements the industry had made about cigarettes and their health effects.”

The article cited at the bottom of the page says the 30 to 45 second ads will run five days a week for 52 weeks on the major networks of ABC, CBS or NBC, while another article says just once a week.  There won’t be any graphic image warnings like you see on some cigarette packs from other countries, but there will be voice narration of black text on a white background that can be seen on the screen.  While ads will appear on television and in newspapers, the article doesn’t mention any ads appearing on the Internet, which was still growing when this court case started, or whether the ads will be required on the tobacco companies own websites.

It has taken 50 years to bring the tobacco industry to the point of finally admitting they manipulated the design and chemical composition of a cigarette to make it more addictive and lied about it, as well as lying about the addictive nature of smoking.  It sounds like the tobacco industry is still controlling the amount of information getting out to the public while thousands continue to die every week from tobacco use.  Let’s hope the American public finally opens their eyes to the deadly deceit.

Click HERE for article relating to the above topic.  Click any of the above highlighted clicks to read more about the court case or additional news articles.

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Marketing Ideas of Tobacco

September has ended and our Trinkets and Trash newsletter for that month has just arrived in our mail box.  Let’s see what marketing strategies the tobacco industry has come up with.

Labor Day weekend is seen as a great time to relax as it signals the end of summer, and the only way to relax, according to the tobacco industry, is with tobacco.  The Timber Wolf advertisement, on the left, however, is a little confusing.  If you aren’t a tobacco user, you probably would not even know it was a smokeless tobacco product if the warning didn’t mention it “is not a safe alternative to cigarettes.”  The ad itself wishes the reader Happy Labor Day and states “work can wait, enjoy the quiet.”  But Timber Wolf is a smokeless product, so work doesn’t have to wait since you can put it in your mouth and go on with your workday.  Longhorn smokeless tobacco also wished users a happy day showing a fisherman on a mist-covered lake.  Apparently you need something mist-covered and a mouth of tobacco to truly enjoy yourself.  Copenhagen smokeless tobacco went to the other side and rather than displaying tranquil scenes, celebrated “the hands that hold America together” all September long.   Their ads featured men at work, and if you weren’t sure they were working, another ad featured a dirty hand with a can of Cope nearby to prove it.  Which makes us ask, are you really going to use that dirty hand to put tobacco in your mouth?  And why would you take the can out of your pocket and lay it somewhere?  According to another ad, by being a “man of Copenhagen” they would be sending you something soon, probably more coupons to keep your addiction going.

E-cigarette ads also featured the end of summer and the changing seasons with new flavors by MarkTen. The limited edition, end-of-summer flavor is Caribbean Oasis and the beginning of fall flavor is Harvest Blend.  Since they are showing colorful leaves on the ad it makes you wonder if it will have a hint of decaying leaves or a touch of burning logs in the vapor.  We were really expecting Pumpkin Spice, but that will probably be debuted in October. 

And finally, in case you have been following the Natural American Spirit issue with the brand using “natural” and “additive-free” to describe their cigarettes, you will no longer see those terms used on their cigarette packs or in advertising.  Natural American Spirit and Santa Fe Natural Tobacco Company however will retain “Natural” as part of their name.  They will also feature a “revised disclosure” on packs that state: “Natural American Spirit cigarettes are not safer than other cigarettes.”  The letter in its entirety is on the right.

The Florida Tobacco Prevention Training for Educators online course has a section on media and marketing to teach students (and teachers) how tobacco is incorporated into our everyday lives.  You could say it is hiding in plain sight but unless you are a tobacco user, you may not even notice the ads and marketing all around you, at least according to former participants.  Teens, however, are very aware of the marketing which is why teaching them prevention will help them make informed decisions about the health effects of tobacco. Click HERE for more information on Florida Tobacco Prevention Training for Educators.  

Click HERE to read more on Trinkets and Trash and to subscribe to their site.




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World Heart Day 2017

Heart disease is the number one killer for both men and women in the United States and around the world.  According to information from the CDC, it accounts for almost 1 in 4 deaths in the U.S. and affects more men than women.   Many problems associated with heart disease involve the build up of plaque in the artery walls which narrow the arteries making it difficult for blood to flow.  This increases the risk of a heart attack or a stroke.  On World Heart Day let’s educate ourselves on how we can reduce the risk of future heart disease.

The first thing is to meet with a doctor for a physical.  Even if you feel good, getting a check up can give you a starting point and help you understand your numbers for blood pressure, cholesterol, and blood sugar.  Many people who have high blood pressure don’t even know it because there are no warning signs or symptoms. According to the World Health Day “know you risk,” as high blood pressure is the number one factor for CVD or cardiovascular disease. The same can be said of diabetes. CVD accounts for 60% of all deaths in people with diabetes.  Not treating this problem puts you at an increased risk.

You can’t protect your heart if you are not fueling your heart with healthy food choices.  Eating fruits and veggies, lean meats and fish, and limiting your fats such as oil and butter is the way to go.  Processed and prepackaged foods may be convenient, but are high in sugar, salt and fat.  Replace soft drinks and other sugar-heavy beverages with water or unsweetened fruit juices.  Taking home-made lunches to school or work can help you make healthy choices and keep you on track.

Add some moderate exercise, such as walking, to your day.  You don’t have to join a gym to get the exercise you need.  Go to YouTube and type “walking exercise” to see a list of easy to do routines, many of them endorsed by the American Heart Association.  If you are out of shape, start out moving slowly and build from there.  When the weather is nice, tie up your tennis shoes and head outside for some fresh air.  If winter is cold where you live, head to a mall and walk around the area at least one full circuit before you stop to window shop.   Treat yourself to a pedometer or fitness watch to measure your steps and challenge yourself to reach higher numbers.  You will be surprised at the number of steps you actually walk.

Above all, if you are a cigarette smoker, use smokeless tobacco or e-cigarettes, give it up.  The nicotine increases your heart rate and blood pressure causing arteries to stiffen.   Chemicals in cigarette smoke replaces the oxygen with carbon dioxide, causing your blood to thicken, making it more difficult to pass through narrowed arteries.  Smoking also causes your muscles to fatigue quicker and makes exercise more difficult.  Besides heart disease, cigarette smoking can cause cancer, COPD and a laundry list of other problems.  Smoking around family members also increases their risk of cardiovascular disease.  The good news is within 2 years of quitting smoking, the risk of coronary heart disease is reduced; within 15 years the risk is that of a non-smoker.

Be good to your heart.  It will appreciate every step you take to reduce your risk of CVD.

Click HERE for the article and HERE for more information.









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E-cigarette News and It’s Not Good

During the European Respiratory Society International Congress held in September, several new studies on e-cigarettes and their effects on health were presented.

One such study dealt with vaping and the effect on artery stiffness.  Researchers already know that smoking can contribute to atherosclerosis or hardening of the arteries, which can lead to heart attack and stroke.  A new study presented at the Congress showed vaping can also cause “stiffening in the arteries,” as well as a higher blood pressure leading to speculation that vaping can produce the same health issues as smoking.

The small study of 15 young people were asked to vape for 30 minutes.  Some individuals were asked to vape with nicotine in the liquid while the others vaped without nicotine. In measurements taken at two and four hour intervals after vaping researchers discovered a “significant” increase in blood pressure.

Those who vaped with nicotine in the liquid also presented with additional “arterial stiffness” and an increased heart rate although these effects were just temporary.  But smoking cigarettes also has the same temporary effects on arteries.  And since it has already been shown that smoking and being exposed to secondhand smoke causes “a permanent increase in arterial stiffness,” it lead the researchers in this study to speculate that the same exposures to e-cigarettes with nicotine will cause the same reaction in the arteries.

Another study that was presented was the topic of using e-cigarettes for smoking cessation.  A Swedish survey of 30,000 people found smokers are more likely to use e-cigarettes versus nonsmokers or former smokers.  If e-cigarettes were used for smoking cessation, more former smokers than current smokers would be using them.   It was also noted that those who used both e-cigarettes and traditional cigarettes “were more likely to experience respiratory symptoms” versus those who only used one smoking product or those who were nonsmokers.

Out of all the studies presented on e-cigarettes, the more controversial one has to do with the liquids used in the devices.  Researchers looked at 122 of the most popular brands of e-liquids sold in nine European countries. “Every single liquid contained at least one substance with some level of health risk,” according to the researchers.  The chemical ingredients used caused respiratory irritation.

While e-cigarettes are currently marketed as a safe alternative to traditional smoking, in reality it is too soon to give a stamp of approval on a product whose long-term effects have yet to be determine.  It is important for teens to understand there are risks involved when using e-cigarettes and any other tobacco product.

The Florida Tobacco Prevention Training for Educators online course is one way for those in a school setting to educate students on all aspects of tobacco products so students can make an informed decision regarding tobacco/nicotine products.  Participants in any Florida school district can take the online course to receive either 30- or 60-points towards the renewal of their certificate.  Click the link below to learn how you can teach your students about tobacco while at the same time earning points to renew your certificate.

Click HERE and HERE for the articles.
Click HERE for the Florida Tobacco Prevention Training for Educators online course.

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New Trinkets and Trash for August 2017

Have you ever tried to keep up with all the new tobacco marketing out here but feel that you are at a loss?  Subscribe to Trinkets & Trash, a surveillance project and archive that monitors the tobacco industry marketing for you.  Here is what was happening in August:

You have heard of zen, but how about “ZYN?”  ZYN is the “smoke-free, spit-free, tobacco leaf-free” nicotine pouch, and the ads are featuring couples enjoying life while supposedly having a nicotine pouch in their mouth.  Many of the ads prominently feature women because you wouldn’t want to leave out this large segment of the market.  “The roads are endless, and so are the possibilities,” according to their tag line.   One possibility is that you will become addicted to the either 3mg or 6mg of nicotine in flavors such as coffee, cinnamon, and a variety of mint flavors offered by the company.  They have even made their name into a verb to ingrain it into your lexicon.  Seems like the tobacco industry is moving away from selling tobacco, and going straight to selling an addictive substance.

JUUL vapor took one step forward by raising the age to purchase its products on their website to 21.   But the new rule it doesn’t count if you are a current user, 18-20 and are on their auto-ship subscription.  Anything to keep a customer.

And let’s not forget the solar eclipse that took place in August.  Grizzly took advantage of it by making their Grizzly Dark the “official dip” of the solar eclipse.  Really??   If you were part of the bluNation, the brand’s online reward program, and lived in the path of totality, you received a pair of eclipse-watching glasses.  Anything to keep the brand in, and apparently on, your face.

As fall approaches, the tobacco industry will be out with new ads, recipes and advice for hunting.  While all tobacco contains nicotine, not all nicotine comes in tobacco.  When you decide your nicotine addiction is getting the best of you and your health, you can speak to an expect to help end your dependence on tobacco and nicotine.  If you live in Florida, Tobacco Free Florida can help.  If you live outside of Florida call 1-800-QUIT-NOW (1-800-784-8669) for help.  It’s never too late, and always a great time to quit.

Click HERE for the Trinkets & Trash article.  Save






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Americans still underestimate smoking risks

Everyone knows smoking is bad for you, because it says so on the side of the cigarette pack in little words.  But do they really understand the risks and how those risks increase when you smoke?   Apparently not, because people continue to start smoking while others don’t even try to quit.  But Stanford researchers found it is the way in which people look at the risk that determine how high that risk really is to them.

More than 13,000 U.S. smoking and non-smoking adults were interviewed on their “perceptions about the link between smoking” and the risk of disease.  Researchers asked “how likely they thought it is that smokers and non-smokers will develop lung cancer.”  They discovered that respondents looked at risks between smokers and non-smokers in one of two ways: as a percentage or as a ratio.

When looking at the risk as a percentage, the example they used was if respondents thought a smoker had a 30 percent chance of developing cancer and a non-smoker only a 10 percent chance then smokers are 20 percentage points more likely to develop cancer.   However, if respondents looked at risk of developing cancer as a ratio between the 30 percent for smokers vs the 10 percent for non-smokers, then the smoker would be three times more likely to develop lung cancer.

How people looked at the risk would determine if they over- or underestimated the risks. The researchers determined that the “vast majority underestimated the relative risk” of a smoker to develop lung cancer.  However, smokers and non-smokers who looked at  smoking in terms of the ratio “were less likely to start and more likely to quit smoking.”   According to the researchers, “people seem to think naturally about relative risk.”

American cigarette packs include warnings that smoking causes certain diseases, but the warnings are small and rarely seen on the side of the package.  None of the warnings state the risk of smoking, which may prompt more people to think about their habit and quitting.  If we truly want to reduce the number of smokers in the United States, perhaps it is time for us to be truthful to them about the risk of smoking on their health.

Click HERE for the article.
Cigarette Health Warnings image:  From the First to the Last Ash:  The History, Economics and Hazards of Tobacco.
Health warnings on cigarette packs image: Tobacco Free Florida.


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Florida School Districts Upgrade Tobacco-Free Policies

Florida is a preemptive state when it comes to tobacco laws and regulations.  In other words, “the state, not local governments, regulates smoking wherever it may occur.”  While school buildings were covered under the smoke-free law, and minors under 18 were not allowed to smoke on school grounds, the law as it was written meant smoking could still take place on school property.  In 2011 Gov. Rick Scott signed a law that amended that Florida Clean Indoor Act giving “school boards the authority to designate all district property as tobacco-free.”  While many districts made changes immediately, others are still working through the process to include the 12 tobacco-free policy components adopted by K-12 school district in their board policies.  It should be noted the latest map is from 2016.

As of 2016, 62 out of the 67 school districts in Florida had some or all of the tobacco-free components in place. And of those 62 districts, 56 included electronic cigarettes.  Although cigarette smoking rates of youth in Florida has gone down, use of electronic cigarettes or vaping devices has increased in Florida, as it has for teen users throughout the U.S.

One Florida district, Sarasota, just developed a new ban on smoking and implemented it this school year.  While smoking inside the school buildings has been banned for years, smoking outside was not due to language in the union contracts that stated the district had to designate smoking areas.  Students on SWAT (Students Working Against Tobacco) “told district officials they could smell when staff, including bus drivers, had smoked on breaks.” It not only “sent an unhealthy message to students,” it continued to normalize smoking for teens at a time when we know smoking is a danger to health.  About 800 “tobacco-free” signs are now part of Sarasota County School District.

The Florida Tobacco Prevention Training for Educators has links in the course for participants to view their district policy.  However, according to the above information, not every Florida district has updated their tobacco-free policy to include electronic cigarettes.  While Florida teens are below the national average when it comes to smoking, we still have work to do to educate all Florida students about the dangers of nicotine addiction and the health problems due to tobacco use in all forms.

Every educator, administrator or school counselor who holds a Florida DOE certificate can take one of two tobacco prevention on-line courses (30- or 60-credits) at no cost to them or their district.  Participants are required to teach six (6) tobacco prevention lessons to their students at the end of the course in exchange for 30- or 60-credits to renew their certificate.  Information and registration for the course can be found at tobaccopreventiontraining.org

Click HERE for the news article.   Click the “12 Tobacco-free policy components” link above for more information on the components.


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Welcome Back to School!

The Florida Tobacco Prevention Training for Educators on-line course would like to welcome back Florida educators and students to the 2017-2018 school year. Whether your district started last week, today, or you have one more week of summer vacation before your first day, we know this will be a great school year.

This year marks the eighth year for the Florida Tobacco Prevention Training for Educators online course.  Last year over 600 educators teachers, school counselors, and administrators from 51 districts registered for either the 30- or 60-point course, and almost 200 participants earned certificates of completion after teaching six (6) tobacco lessons to their students.  The majority of those registered were from public schools (86%), however charter and private schools also participated.   The top five subject areas included: Elementary, Physical Education, English/Language arts, Science, and Counseling, but teachers in any subject area can take our course.  Slightly more than 45% of our completers had their certificate up for renewal in 2017.

We were excited to see the number of completers last year, but the number of students our participants taught was even more impressive with over 16,200 students receiving tobacco prevention instruction during the past year.  Can you imagine the number of students who would receive tobacco prevention lessons if more teachers participated?

So, why is it important that tobacco prevention be taught to our students?  Cigarette smoking for Florida students may be at an all time low at 6.9% (2015), but electronic cigarette use tripled between 2013 and 2015.   According to the 2015 Florida Youth Tobacco Survey, that means “one in three high school students has tried e-cigarettes.”  While many students believe e-cigarettes are safe, most contain nicotine which can “disrupt the formation of brain circuits that control attention, learning, and susceptibility to addiction” in the still developing adolescent brain.   Other forms of tobacco, such as smokeless tobacco, cigars and hookah, are being used by our students and all forms of tobacco contain nicotine.

Our tobacco prevention online course teaches our educators facts about tobacco products and how to help their students make better informed life choices before they are targeted by the tobacco industry or face peer pressure.   The school year has barely started and already we have almost 30 participants from five school districts registered.  We are off to a great start.

Let’s help our students be a tobacco-free generation.

Click HERE to go to the Florida Tobacco Prevention Training for Educators online course to register.






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