Kick Butts Days 2017

Kick Butts Day is happening March 15, 2017 and if you haven’t thought of using your power to affect social change, this is the perfect opportunity.  Although Kick Butts Day is held just one day a year, every day should be a fight against tobacco, a product that kills roughly 480,000 people a year in the U.S. alone.  While the majority of victims are themselves tobacco users, many others suffer from the effects of exposure to secondhand smoke.   According to the official Kick Butts Day website, there are more than 1,000 events planned across the U.S.

In 1996, when Campaign for Tobacco-Free Kids started the campaign, approximately 25% of 12th grade students were smokers.  Now that number is at about 6%.  It may seem low, but “more than 3,000 kids under 18 try smoking for the first day every day”, and of that number about “700 kids become new regular, daily smokers.”

KBD brings teens and health advocates together in events to bring attention in three areas: “to raise awareness of the problem of tobacco in their state or community; encourage youth to reject tobacco industry’s deceptive marketing and stay tobacco-free; and urge elected officials to take action to protect kids from tobacco.”  While it may be too late to organize an activity this year, here is a list of activities that may be planned in your school or community.

Wouldn’t it be great if more people understood the dangers of smoking and secondhand smoke?  Until then, events like Kick Butts Day hopes to spread the word to prevent kids from smoking.

Click HERE for more information on Kick Butts Day.





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CVS Health and their plan to deliver the First Tobacco-Free Generation

In 2014 CVS Caremark, the second-largest drugstore chain in the U.S., dropped tobacco from their stores stating it was the right thing to do in light of their new image of becoming a health care company.  Analysts’ and CVS expected the profits to drop, and they did, for a time.  But something happened that wasn’t expected: the CVS effect, in which tobacco sales decreased and nicotine patch sales increased in 13 states.  The company also developed Be The First, a “five year, $50 million commitment to help deliver the nation’s first tobacco-free generation.”  As the second year of the program rolls out, $10 million will be used to fund “expanded partnerships and programs,” developed during the first year in the areas of “anti-smoking education, tobacco-control advocacy, and healthy behavior programming.”

Introduced in March 2016, Be The First targets groups in three areas: elementary school children, who will receive tobacco education to decrease the risk of becoming future tobacco users; youth and young adults “who currently smoke or are at risk of becoming regular tobacco users; and “adult smokers who expose children to tobacco use.”  In the first year CVS Health had anti-smoking programs reaching nearly 5 million young people. They have also helped 20 colleges and universities pursue 100% smoke- and tobacco-free campus policies.

In order to reach more youth and youth adults in the area of tobacco prevention education, CVS Health Foundation is partnering with the Campaign for Tobacco-Free Kids with a $5 million commitment.  This funding will provide online training courses for young people to become tobacco prevention ambassadors and will focus on “how tobacco affects youth” and “ways for people to advocate for tobacco-free communities.”  With flavored cigars and the explosion of e-cigarettes on the market, it is essential that youth be educated in the targeting methods of the tobacco industry. The announcement comes during the week of “Kick Butts Day on March 15, the Campaign for Tobacco free Kids’ national day of activism that empowers youth to stand out, speak up and mobilize their communities in fighting tobacco use.”

While the CVS Health Foundation is encouraging the tobacco prevention education of youth, they are also teaming up with the American Lung Association’s LUNG FORCE to “win the battle against lung cancer.” They hope to become an advocate in the communities and have customers take “advantage of tobacco-free resources for their towns, schools and public areas.”  CVS Health Foundations will also focus on helping adult smokers with cessation programs to improve their health and the health of their families and children due to secondhand smoke exposure.  By partnering with the National Cancer Institute later this year, and investing nearly $1 million, they will “address smoking cessation in the oncology setting across several of the nation’s leading cancer hospitals.

Removing tobacco in CVS stores “reduced the number of cigarette purchases across all retail settings with an even greater impact on those who bought cigarettes exclusively at CVS Pharmacy.”  Ending tobacco sales may have lowered their profits, but it increased their commitment to make communities healthier. Educating our youth and young adults about the dangers of tobacco and providing providing customers with the ability to spread tobacco-free messaging throughout their communities, can bring us one step closer to “delivering the first tobacco-free generation.”

Click HERE to read more about the CVS Health Foundation and HERE to read more about the newest Be The First partnerships and programs.








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March Celebrations to Help You Quit Tobacco

There are plenty of days and ways to celebrate March.  Why is any of this important?  If you are quitting tobacco, you need some ideas to change up your routine, so get out your calendar and start filling it in.

Once you quit smoking, food will taste better to you, and the month of March has plenty of celebrations to tickle your taste buds.  If you love food, you will sing for joy with some wonderful sweets in March and here are just a few “national” days: Blueberry Popover (10th), Oatmeal Nut Waffles (11th), Coconut Torte (13th), and Pi Day on the 14th (my favorite is Chocolate Silk).  There is also Chocolate Caramel (19th) Bavarian Crepes (22nd), Chocolate Covered Raisin (24th), Black Forest Cake (26th), and Lemon Chiffon Cake on March 29th.

That is quite a list of sweets, and they could increase your blood sugar levels.  But did you know that smoking not only dulls your taste buds, it also increases your risk of diabetes because there is a LOT of sugar in cigarettes and smokeless tobacco? In case you are concerned about your blood sugar numbers, March 28th is National American Diabetes Association Alert Day. Click on the highlighted diabetes link above to find out more about this disease.

Of course, March is not filled with all sweets, there are some other “national” celebrations as well.  For example, Crabmeat, Meatballs, Corned Beef and Cabbage, Sloppy Joes, Corn Dogs, Poultry and Ravioli are all celebrated in March.  Let’s not forget French Bread, Chip and Dip, Lobster Newburg, Spinach, Spanish Paella and Clams on the Half Shell.  Now that we have just about covered your grocery list for the month, there are a few other days that deserve your attention.

Breaking up with tobacco isn’t easy and if you haven’t succeeded yet, Get Over it (9th), and just try again.  Plan some activities to keep your mind off tobacco and enjoy some fresh air, by Planting a Flower (12th), or Learning About Butterflies (14th).  And if you make mistakes on your way to quit, it’s okay, Let’s Laugh (19th) about it.  A new Puppy (23rd) will help you in your quit because you will want to Take a Walk in the Park (30th) or just Goof Off (22nd) with your new four-legged friend.

Of all the celebrations during March, the biggest one is probably Kick Butts Day, held this year on March 15th.  This is a “national day of activism that empowers youth to stand out, speak up and seize control against Big Tobacco.”  Local schools are planning creative activities to raise the awareness to the problems of tobacco.  Support the students and contact your area schools to find out how you can help.

As you go through your quit journey, remember, there may be some Awkward Moments (18th), but celebrate the fact that  “I Am in Control” (30th)

To see the entire list of national days for March, click HERE.




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Trinkets and Trash – February 2017 edition

Every month Trinkets and Trash releases their report from the previous month regarding the latest tobacco news, including ads and contests.

The February edition of Trinkets and Trash boosts something unusual in the world of tobacco…a recall of tobacco products by U.S. Smokeless Tobacco Company that actually took place at the beginning of February.  Customers complained of “sharp metal objects found in select cans” of Skoal, Copenhagen, Cope and Husky causing the recall of 32 varieties.  If you hadn’t heard about this recall, you can check out the list here.  And whether you have been thinking about quitting or not, now is a great time.  You don’t have to find bits of metal in your can of smokeless tobacco to be harmed from using it.

zonnicIf you have already broken your New Year’s resolution to quit tobacco, you aren’t alone. And one company is letting you know that perhaps you “started to darn big” by trying to end smoking all at once.  Just take it one cigarette at a time and use Zonnic gum and mini lozenges instead.  They even go as far as to suggest that if you wanted to lose weight, you wouldn’t starve yourself, you just taper off.  Zonnic will help you with your quit by providing coupons.

The pressure was on Walgreens during their shareholder’s meeting at the end of January to end tobacco sales, much the same way CVS did.  The Walgreens motto “at the corner of happy and healthy” seems contrary with the sale of tobacco products.  It appears Walgreens is considering ending tobacco sales.

Internal tobacco industry documents showed the industry targeted minority and African American neighborhoods in marketing  menthol cigarettes.  It appears the tobacco industry is targeting them once again.  Although menthol cigarettes only count for about a third of all cigarette sales, 85% of African Americans smoke the mint cigarettes, compared to 29% of whites.   In July 2016, the N.A.A.C.P. “voted to support state and local efforts to restrict the sale of menthol cigarettes.”  Now the tobacco industry is countering efforts by public health advocates to restrict menthol sales by enlisting black leaders such as Rev. Al Sharpton to hold meetings to “warn of the unintended consequences of banning menthol cigarettes,” and using the possibility of harassment by police “to counter efforts by public health advocates to restrict menthol sales.”  The flyers for these forums fail to mention Reynolds American’s sponsorship.

You can read more of Trinkets and Trash by joining their mailing list and following them on Twitter @trinketsantrash.



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State Regulations for E-cigarettes

The Public Health Law Center has published information on U.S. e-cigarette regulations for all 50 states and the District of Columbia.  The areas covered include definition of “tobacco product,” taxation, product packaging, youth access/other retail restrictions, and smoke-free air legislation.   While some of the states may not have state laws, there may be local laws in place.  Florida is a pre-emptive state when it comes to tobacco meaning no local laws can be stronger than the state level.

For the definition, electronic cigarettes are considered a nicotine dispensing device and are defined in Florida as follows:

Nicotine dispensing device means “any product that employs an electronic, chemical, or mechanical means to produce vapor from a nicotine product, including, but not limited to, an electronic cigarette, electronic cigar, electronic cigarillo, electronic pipe, or other similar device or product, any replacement cartridge for such device, and any other container of nicotine in a solution or other form intended to be used with or within an electronic cigarette, electronic cigar, electronic cigarillo, electronic pipe, or other similar device or product.”  Fla. Stat. § 877.112(1)(a) (2016)

The second part of the definition is slightly confusing as it defines “nicotine product” as a product that contains nicotine, but doesn’t include a tobacco product.  The definition reads:

Nicotine product means “any product that contains nicotine, including liquid nicotine, that is intended for human consumption, whether inhaled, chewed, absorbed, dissolved, or ingested by any means, but does not include a: (1) Tobacco product, as defined in § 569.002 . . . .”  Fla. Stat. § 877.112(1)(b) (2016)

According to 2016 Florida statutes 569.002, a tobacco product is defined as “loose tobacco leaves and products made from tobacco leaves, in whole or in part, and cigarette wrappers, which can be used for smoking, sniffing or chewing.  But there are vaporizers which use loose dry herbs, although they claim to “boil out the water in the leaves to create vapor,” rather then by burning tobacco.   Since loose tobacco is used, do these fall in that grey area?

In 2014, the State of Florida restricted who can purchase e-cigarettes and put into place restrictions for retail or youth access.  Not only can persons under 18 not purchase electronic cigarettes, they cannot possess them either.   Self-service displays of these products cannot be accessible to those under 18 years “except when under direct control or line of sight of retailer.”  That also includes vending machines.

In Florida, cigarettes are taxed at $1.339 per pack, a number that has not been raised since 2009, while cigars are not taxed.  At the time the report was written, no information was available regarding excise or special taxes on e-cigarettes, although buyers do have to pay sales tax.  Retailers do not need a retail license or permit to sell e-cigarettes in Florida.

According to the report there only two restrictions exist for e-cigarette use: “the courthouses of Sixth Judicial Circuit and within 50 feet of entrances thereto,” and use in “all firefighter employee places of employment.”  However, most workplaces, restaurants and bars that are already smoke-free have restricted electronic cigarette use indoors.

If you would like to see restrictions for other states click HERE.



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Chemicals in E-cigs could hurt your heart

Valentine’s Day, the day of hearts, has passed but taking care of your own heart should be a year round priority because heart disease is a leading cause of death for both men and women in the United States.  Genetics may play a role in determining your risk, but not controlling your blood pressure or cholesterol can increase those risks.  Other factors include diabetes, overweight and obesity, poor diet, physical inactivity and excess alcohol use, according to the CDC.  One of the biggest lifestyle choices you can control is your choice to smoke, which by itself is a major factor in heart disease.  Many smokers, and even nonsmokers, are turning to electronic cigarettes because they were told they were safer, but a new study found they may be just as bad for your heart.

E-cigarettes may not have all the chemicals of cigarettes, but researchers found users had “increased levels of adrenaline in their hearts, and inflammation and oxidative stress (a process that can damage cells)” in their bodies, versus non-users.  They also contain some “heart-related toxins present in tobacco smoke, including formaldehyde and acetone.”  And let us not forget they also contain nicotine which affects blood pressure and heart rate.

A small study was conducted with 16 e-cigarette users who had been using e-cigarettes for at least one year and at the time did not smoke cigarettes.  A group of 18 nonusers were also involved in the study.  The age range of the men and women were between 21 to 45.  The researchers used blood tests to look “at markers of oxidative stress and inflammation” in the body.

The researchers did say the study was quite small and they “cannot confirm a cause-effect relationship between e-cigarette use and cardiovascular risk based on this single study.”  But they urge more research on this subject.  And their final conclusion?  “If you don’t already smoke tobacco cigarettes, don’t start using e-cigarettes –they are not harmless.”

Click HERE for the entire article.


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Spit it out and be Through With Chew

dip_ringWhen people think of smokeless tobacco, the image of a can of dip in the back pocket may come to mind.  So much attention is given to the risks of smoking, but smokeless tobacco users face many risks using their products.  That’s why the third week in February is dedicated to providing users health information on various forms of smokeless tobacco and encouraging them to be Through With Chew.  Smokeless tobacco comes in many forms and has changed over the years but in the end, users all become addicted to the nicotine.

Various varieties of smokeless tobacco include chewing tobacco, Snus, a highly sweetened tobacco in a tea-bag-like pouch (you don’t spit out the juices),and Snuff, a finely ground tobacco inhaled (snuffed) into the nose.  And then there are the dissolvable products, such as lozenges, orbs, strips, and sticks, which are finely ground tobacco held together with a binder to hold their shape.  These products are not popular with the public.

The most recognizable of the smokeless tobacco products is the dry snuff that evolved into dipping tobacco.  The tobacco in a can goes by names like dip, chew, snuff, rub and chaw.  It is placed between lip and gum or cheek and gum and the chemicals are absorbed through the tissues of the mouth.  The juices need to be spit.  This tobacco is typically flavored and comes in various cut sizes and length of tobacco strands.  It is the product that people associate with Major League ball players and the one that “almost half (46%) of new users under 18 try.”  In 2015, “6 out of every 100 high school student reported use of smokeless tobacco,” according the the CDC.  It is highly addictive and very habit forming.

Many teens believe that since the tobacco isn’t smoked, it is safe, but smokeless tobacco contains at least 28 cancer-causing chemicals which put users at a higher risk for oral cancer, as well as esophagus and pancreatic cancer, than non-users.  It stains the teeth, and can cause receding gums and gum disease.  A can of dip contains approximately 144 milligrams of nicotine, or the equivalent of about 80 cigarettes, or roughly four packs.  Nicotine affects you by increasing your blood pressure as well as your risk of heart disease and stroke.

According to the 2015 Florida Youth Tobacco Survey, the number of current youth smokeless tobacco users in our state had decreased in both middle school and high school by 73% and 29% respectively between 1998-2015.   But grade level numbers show an increase in use as students move through school.   Between middle school and high school, the number of male users more than triple with 2.4% and 7.9% respectively.  The number of middle school and high school students who reported ever trying it is higher at 3.1% and 8.8% respectively.   Smokeless tobacco use doubles alone between eighth grade (2.1%) and ninth grade (4.4%).

There is no proof that smokeless tobacco products can help you quit smoking, but it could get you hooked to another tobacco product.  If you need help quitting spit tobacco, there are several websites below to check out and find the one that works for you.  Good luck!

Tobacco Free Florida
NSTEP Resources for Quitting Spit Tobacco

Quit Tobacco: – an educational campaign for the U.S. military, sponsored by the U.S. Dept of Defense.
Kill the Can – a site of former smokeless tobacco users helping users quit
Smokeless Tobacco: A Guide for Quitting – U.S. Department of Health and Human Services National Institutes of Health
Quit Smokeless








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Metals in your e-liquids

So what’s in your e-cigarette?  If you talk to many youth, they will tell you water vapor and flavoring, but beyond that, many do not have a clue.  A study on the liquids in first generation electronic cigarettes found users were puffing away on more than they thought, including “high levels of toxic metals in the liquid that creates the aerosol.”

e-cigaretteThe first generation e-cig models, which were referred to as “cigalikes,” looked like cigarettes, and consisted of three parts: a battery, an atomizer and a cartridge that holds the e-liquid.  While some cigalikes were a single unit that is discarded when the e-liquid was expended or the battery was depleted, others could be rechargeable with a replaceable e-liquid cartridge.  The batteries were small and the voltage could not be adjusted.

The study used five e-cigarette brands and checked for cadmium, chromium, lead, manganese and nickel.  Cadmium is been shown to reduce bone density, cause kidney issues, and has been linked to cancers of the breast, prostate, colon, rectum, kidney and lung.  Chromium causes DNA-damage, and can cause issues with the respiratory tract including ulceration, chronic rhinistis and pharyngitis, impaired lung function and emphysema.  Lead accumulation may be responsible for hypertension and peripheral arterial diseases and cataracts.  Manganese is a potent neurotoxin.  And nickel has been shown to cause a number of different forms of cancer, especially to the respiratory tract.

Although “levels varied by brand,” all five e-cigarette brands contained the heavy metals in different concentrations. Researchers believe the coil that heats the liquid is the “main source of the metals.”  It should  be noted the metals “can be toxic or carcinogenic (cancer-causing) when inhaled.”  Researchers suggest “regulators might want to look into an alternative materials for e-cigarette heating coils.”

While the study was focused on first-generation devices, newer devices allow the user to use larger coils and adjust the wattage and voltage to higher heat levels to produce massive vapor clouds.  Does this mean newer e-cigarette devices could be emitting greater levels of metals?  It will be interesting to learn of newer studies.

Clink HERE for the entire article on the study.  Click HERE for information on the metals listed in this study as well as other metals found in cigarettes.




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New teen trend of “dripping” for e-cigarettes

We have all read the articles about e-cigarettes, both good and bad.   The good news may include information how e-cigarettes have helped adults quit smoking combustible cigarettes.  Bad news that was trending just last week said e-cigarette smoking may be bad for your heart, among other things. Get ready to add another article to the bad side of e-cigarettes. A new study out Monday in Pediatrics shows one in four high school teens has tried “dripping” which involves putting e-liquid directly on the hot coils of the atomizer.

Normal e-cigarette use involves the liquid being slowly released “from a wick onto a hot atomizer” which produces a vapor that users inhale.  Dripping involves “dropping e-cigarette liquid directly onto the hot coils of the device to produce thicker, more flavorful smoke.” The problem is that it exposes “users to higher levels of nicotine” as well as higher levels of toxins that are known carcinogens.

dripping_resultsNot all e-cigarette liquids contain nicotine, but by using the dripping method it appears the users are using nicotine which produces a “stronger sensation” or “throat hit.”  Of those using the method, 64% said it was for the “thicker smoke, 39% for the better flavor, and 28% for the stronger throat hit or sensation.”  The report suggests that those using this method may be using “e-cigarettes for smoke tricks and vape competitions.” It also exposes the user to higher levels of nicotine then they would receive from a puff.

A study of almost 2,000 high school students in Connecticut found that half of the teens had used e-cigarettes and about “26% had also tried dripping.” Most were white, and male who “had tried more tobacco products or used an e-cigarette more in the past month.”  The students weren’t asked if their dripping was “habitual,” or what flavors were being used.

The CEO of Tobacco Vapor Electronic Cigarette Association believes those who are dripping are a small segment of users, the ‘do-it-yourself’ guys who are “manufacturing their own hardware,” and going for the monster clouds.  Although the CEO called e-cigarettes an “adult product,” he said he would rather see a teenager use an e-cigarette than a traditional cigarette.  The problem is two-fold: it addicts a teen to nicotine who otherwise would not smoke and creates a higher nicotine hit which may be more addicting, and many who start with e-cigarettes become tobacco users.

Although this survey was conducted in Connecticut, the researchers “cannot speak to the generalizability of these findings to youth from other states in the U.S.”  However, they did mention the information was found online so the method can easily be accessed by anyone.  The researchers admit there are a lot of questions that weren’t asked, and the results may be limited because the results were self-reported, but they feel larger, national surveys are needed to collect “alternative e-cigarette use behaviors.

Click HERE for the article in USA Today and HERE for the actual study that was reported in Pediatrics








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Kudos to our SWAT students in Florida

swatWe love hearing stories about the work our SWAT clubs are doing throughout Florida. In July, the SWAT club from Washington County  became one of 16 teams nationwide to attend the National Truth Initiative’s Youth Advocacy Summit.  The goal of Truth is to achieve “a culture where all youth and young adults reject tobacco.”  The SWAT students came up with a project to decrease “exposure to secondhand smoke by building examples of smoke-free business entrances.”

Studies show that certain areas in the community, such as entrances to buildings, parks and bus stops, provide more secondhand smoke exposure to the public.  So the SWAT students identified business willing to support their Clean Air Zones at their entrances.  By removing the smoking containers at these entrances, it improves the health of both employees and patrons by reducing “the number of cigarettes smoked per day.”  It also increases the “success rate for smokers who are trying to quit,” and decreases the amount of secondhand smoke.

The SWAT students worked with local businesses to establish a 25-foot clean air zone around each entrance.  “Several local business, such as McDonald’s restaurant, Burger King, Morris Industries, Hobbs Heating and Air Conditioning, King’s Drugs, Javier’s Mexican Restaurant, and Skins and Bubbas restaurant,” have established their Clean Air Zones.  The SWAT students and the Washington Country Department of Health encourage other businesses to take part in this plan to protect the health of everyone.

Kudos to the work of the SWAT students and the local businesses for taking steps to make the air smoke-free for everyone to breathe.

Click HERE for the entire story.  You can see some of the local businesses featured in the story.




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