The lawsuits start against new FDA rules on e-cigarettes

A liquid nicotine manufacturer, Nicopure Labs LLC of Tampa, Florida became the “first liquid nicotine manufacturer to file a federal lawsuit against the FDA back in May for the controversial smokeless tobacco rules that went into effect Aug. 8.”  It has several complaints about the new rules.

Nicopure claims that both the Administrative Procedure Act and the First Amendment of the U.S. Constitution are violated by the FDA’s rules.  By banning free samples, the company feels the FDA is in violation of the First Amendment, however, the ban “regulates conduct, not speech,” according to the FDA.

Also, the FDA regulations on electronic cigarettes are much more burdensome than those for traditional cigarettes, according to the company, by requiring manufacturers to list all ingredients of the liquids used in electronic devices.  While conventional cigarettes have 599 ingredients and two flavorings – tobacco and menthol – there are up to 8,000 liquid flavorings for electronic vaping devices.

Switching to e-cigarettes may be beneficial for adults by reducing the risk associated with smoking conventional tobacco cigarettes, however, the ingredients in the liquids used in electronic devices “may still pose a health risk.”  The FDA states that “Nicopure does not disclose its actual ingredients for its e-liquids, so what consumers are really inhaling is largely unknown.”  It should be noted that many of the flavorings are candy and fruit flavored and are a big appeal to youth, many of whom have not smoked traditional cigarettes.

It will be interesting to see the outcome of this lawsuit.

Click HERE for the entire story.

 

 

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More cancer-causing chemicals in vapor

cloudsThose gigantic plumes of vapor from electronic cigarettes may come at a cost to your health, according to a study that looked at not only the chemicals, but if the temperature of the heating coil changed the level of chemicals emitted.

This latest study found propylene glycol and glycerin, both respiratory irritants and “probable carcinogens”, “among 29 other chemicals released in” vapor to create the artificial smoke.  Glycidol, another “probable carcinogen not previously identified in the vapor”, propylene oxide, a “possible carcinogen and respiratory irritant” and “acrolein a powerful irritant” are also in the list of chemicals.  When heated, these chemicals decompose which release other toxic chemicals.

According to the study, chemicals emitted were “significantly higher for single-coil vs a double-coil vaporizer.”  When the voltage is increased in a single-coil device, “the mass of e-liquid consumed doubled per puff and total aldehyde emission rates tripled per puff.” When the vapor device is used several times, “aldehyde emissions increased by more than 60%”, “due to a buildup of byproducts that degraded upon heating.” Aldehydes “can alter breathing patterns by narrowing airway openings.”

We already know that conventional cigarettes have thousands of chemicals which damage the body.  We are still learning about the possible long-term health effects of using electronic cigarettes.

Click HERE for the entire story.

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How does Florida measure up?

ACSCAN_reportThe American Cancer Society Can Action Network (ACS CAN) has released their 14th edition of How Do You Measure Up? which details what each state legislature is doing to reduce cancer in their state.  According to the report, “for every dollar spent to increase physical activity, improve nutrition, and prevent smoking and other tobacco use, the return on investment is almost $5.60.”  When it comes to tobacco, some of the suggestions made in the report include tobacco tax increases, smoke- and tobacco-free policies and fully funded “statewide tobacco prevention and cessation  programs” as well as increasing comprehensive insurance coverage for cessation. The future benefits would far outweigh the initial costs.

Tobacco companies understand that tax increases would “have an adverse impact on salesTax_rates_on_cigarettes of tobacco products,” especially with teens who are more sensitive to price increases of tobacco products.   The current cigarette tax in Florida, which has not been increased since 2009, is $1.34/pack, putting our state in 29th place and below the average state cigarette excise tax of $1.63/pack.  Currently, Florida has no tax on cigars or e-cigarettes and only taxes snuff and chewing and smoking tobacco at 85% of wholesale/manufacturer’s price. Taxes on these items have not increased since 2009.

Florida enacted the Clean Indoor Air Act in 1985 and added an amendment in 2003 after 71% of Florida voters voted to prohibit smoking in enclosed indoor workplaces, and public and private businesses including restaurants.  There are exceptions to the rules with stand-alone bars, retail tobacco shops and airport smoking lounges still allowing smoking. There is no doubt that everyone would benefit from 100% smoke-free laws for all public areas in Florida.

“States can reduce their smoking rates and health care costs” by providing cessation services but not all states do.  According to American’s Health Rankings, our state is ranked 33rd due to our high percentage of uninsured population.  The American Cancer Society reports Florida has “no type of counseling or no FDA approved tobacco cessation medication covered for all enrollees.” Yet the State of Tobacco Control, put out by the American Lung Association, states the Florida Medicaid program covers five types of medications, and counseling varies by plan.  Participants may have co-payments and may have to use one type of the treatment before trying another.  Medications are limited to 6 months and dollar limits vary by plan.  There is no provision for private insurance.

In a perfect situation, all public spaces would be smoke- and tobacco free, all states would increase tobacco prevention and cessation funding which would reap results now and would save states money in the future, and all states would increase tobacco taxes.   We may not live in a perfect world, but we all have room to improve upon measures that would improve public health.

 

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Welcome Back to School!

WelcomeThe Tobacco Prevention Training for Educators online course welcomes back Florida educators and students to the 2016-2017 school year. Whether your classes are in full swing, or just getting started today like in Palm Beach County, we know the year will be great.

This year marks the seventh year for the statewide Florida Tobacco Prevention Training for Educators online course.   Almost 800 K-12 educators from 49 districts enrolled last year in either our 30- or 60-point course, with over 300 participants completing the course and receiving continuing education units towards renewal of their certificate.   Full-time teachers made up the majority of our participants, with school counselors and administrators rounding out the top three participant categories.  Almost 90% of our participants were from public schools, with charter schools and private schools also listed. All subject areas were represented with elementary, English/language arts, science, physical education and social studies as the top five.

So why is teaching tobacco prevention so important?  According to the 2015 Florida Youth Tobacco Survey cigarette smoking among teens in our state has seen a decrease with only 6.9% of high school students reporting current cigarette smoking, one of the lowest in the nation.  But while cigarette use is decreasing, new products, such as electronic cigarettes, are “‘recruiting‘ kids who would have never smoked to vape.”  Florida middle and high school students have seen drastic increases in electronic cigarette use since 2011 with 326.7% of middle school and 409.7% of high school students reporting current use. Teaching your students tobacco prevention not only educates them about the health dangers of tobacco, but helps them make informed decisions for their future.

The new school year has barely begun and already we have 35 participants from 14 districts.   Take a moment to look at our course and register at the link below.  If you have any questions, please call us at the number listed under “user support” on our home page.

Click HERE to go to the course.
Click HERE for the August 2016 Newsletter.

 

 

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2015 Youth Risk Behavior Survey – Tobacco

The Centers for Disease Control has released the results of the 2015 Youth Risk Behavior Survey (YRBS) which tracks youth tobacco use (among other behaviors) in grades 9-12 in the United States.  So how do Florida students compare to the national results?  Included below are the results for the YRBS and the Florida Youth Tobacco Survey (FYTS) for specific categories:

Cigarettes:                                        YRBS 2015    FYTS 2015
Ever tried cigarettes                              32.0%              22.9%
Current cigarette use                             11.0%                 6.9%
Frequent cigarette use                            3.0%                 2.5%
Daily cigarette use                                   2.0%                 N/A
Current users tried to quit                   45.0%                 N/A

Smokeless Tobacco & Cigar Use:
Current use smokeless                           7.0%                 5.0%
Current use cigars                                 10.0%                 9.3%
(cigars, cigarillos or little cigars)
Flavored smokeless                                N/A                   3.9%

Electronic Vapor Use:
Ever used                                                45.0%               37.6%
Current use                                             24.1%               15.8%
(at least 1 day during past 30 days)

As you can tell from the figures above, Florida high school students are below the national averages, and the lowest in the nation when it comes to current cigarette use (at least one use in the past 30 days).   In fact, Florida high school students are showing decreases in every category from 2014 except for electronic cigarettes which went up 5 percent.   Hookah use, which is not reported in the YRBS, is up 26.0% for Florida high school students since first reporting in 2009, but is down from the 2014 figure.

One statistic the YRBS reported is the percentage of high school students who were able to purchase “their own cigarettes by buying them in a store or gas station.”  The percent of ninth grade students able to purchase – 6.3; 10th grade – 6.1%; 11th grade – 20.2%; and 12th grade – 16.5%.  The decrease in 12th grade student percentage could be explained that many have reached the 18 year minimum age requirement to purchase tobacco products, and therefore would not be included in the report.

The FYTS does not ask how students obtain tobacco, but asked how they obtained electronic cigarette devices, and 21.9% of high school students stated they purchased them from a convenience store, supermarket or gas station.  Prior to this past year there was confusion in Florida about the minimum age to purchase these devices, but electronic cigarettes are now in line with other tobacco products.  A troubling statistic for Florida is that 7.6% of middle school students and 3.5% of high school students stated they got their e-cigarette devices from their parents, while 9.8% of middle school students and 7.7% of high school students reported giving money to someone else to make these purchases.

It is obvious the U.S. could do better in keeping tobacco products out of the hands of youth by raising the minimum tobacco age to 21 and increasing federal taxes on all tobacco and electronic nicotine products.  We just have to determine how important the health of our future generations is to us and to them.

Click HERE for the full report of the YRBSS results
Click HERE for the 2015 FYTS State Level Reports

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Florida Tobacco Prevention Training for Educators Final Numbers

The Florida Tobacco Prevention Training for Educators on-line course has officially closed for the 2015-2016 school year.  This year marks our sixth year of offering a 60 point statewide tobacco prevention course, and it also marks the first year for our 30 point course which proved popular with participants.  We thought we would share some numbers with you as we wrap up our year.

FL_map_6_13We had a total number of 786 participants registered for our two courses:  256 participants in the 30 point course and 530 in the 60 point course.  The top three groups that registered were classified as full-time teacher, guidance counselor and administrator.   Teachers were broken down by the following grade levels: elementary – 368, middle school – 156, and high school 227, with 35 participants listed as other or combination.  In the 15 categories under “primary subject,” the top five were Elementary-mixed, English/Language Arts, Science, Physical Education, and Social Studies.  The majority of our participants (690) listed their school type as public/district.

Of the 67 Florida school districts, 49 districts had at least one participant registered in one of our two courses.  The top three school districts with the most participants registered were Palm Beach – 401 registered (51% of the total participants), Dade – 143 registered (18.19% of total participants) and Florida Virtual- 29 registered.

We take into account that some of our Florida school districts are small, so we also rank registrants as to the percentage of their districts’ educators.  The top three small districts include Bradford with 6 registrants, which equaled 2.24% of their district, Taylor – 4 registrants which equaled 1.71% of their district, and Hamilton –  2 registrants equaled 1.57% of their district.  Eighteen districts had no registrants.  Jefferson County, one of the three Florida school districts with fewer then 100 educators, had one participant registered.

Of the 786 participants who enrolled in the course, 313 completed.  The fastest participant completed the course in 14 days, the slowest 306 days, with an average of 125 days.  Six school districts have the distinction of having 100% of their enrolled participants complete the course: Gadsden, Glades, Hardee, Holmes, Liberty and Orange.

While all these statistics are wonderful, and receiving either 30- or 60 in-service credits to renew your Florida Department of Education certificate is great, the reason why we continue the Florida Tobacco Prevention Training for Educators on-line course is for participants to teach tobacco prevention lessons to our Florida students.   This year our actual student impact was 22,386 students, the most of any previous year.

We are proud of our participants who completed the course and taught lessons to their students.  Whether you are computer savvy or barely know how to turn a computer on, we are here to help you through the course of your choosing.  Our 2016-2017 course pre-registration starts July 18 and our course will open August 18.   We invite you to consider taking our course to help your students make healthy decisions in their lives regarding tobacco.  See you in July!

 

 

 

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World No Tobacco Day 2016

WHO_plain_packaging_002According to the World Health Organization (WHO), “tobacco-related illness is one of the biggest public health threats the world has ever faced.”  Every year WHO and World No Tobacco Day select a theme to bring attention to this issue, and this year it is plain packaging, which if implemented throughout the world, will help to reduce the “demand for tobacco products.”

Australia became the first country in the world to require all cigarettes to be sold in plain packaging in 2012, but other countries have looked at it as far back as 1989.  Although it is not yet in force, Ireland passed their Standardized Packaging of Tobacco Act in 2015, making it the first country in the European Union to require plain packaging.  France, Great Britain and Northern Ireland have also “begun implementation of plain packaging.”

Removing colors, specialized fonts, logos and brand images removes the attractiveness of the product, especially for youth.   Since the introduction of plain packaging in Australia, studies have shown that the change in packaging has “increased negative perceptions and feelings about the pack and about smoking.”  Smokers were more likely to hide the pack, reduce their smoking and increase their attempts on quitting.

In the short time since its implementation, the results of plain packaging in Australia have been impressive.  Between December 2012, when plain packaging went into effect, and September 2015, smoking fell “an additional 0.55 percentage” points, or “more than 108,000 people “quitting, not relapsing or not starting to smoke during that period.”

Imagine the worldwide health benefits if plain packaging for tobacco products was instituted.  As “more countries defy the industry’s tactics and implement plain packaging to reduce demand for tobacco products” the goal of improving the health of these countries and reducing tobacco harm is more and more within reach.

Click HERE for the World No Tobacco Day information.

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New numbers show a downward trend in smoking

A new report from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control (CDC) states that “cigarette smoking among adult Americans dropped to a historic low in 2015.”  Why is that important to us when the Florida Tobacco Prevention Training for Educator on-line course is designed for teaching tobacco prevention lessons to students?  Preventing youth and teens from starting smoking means fewer adults smoking in the future.

The current rate stands at 15.1 percent, down from 16.8 percent just two years ago.  When broken out between males and females, “about 16.7 percent of adult men smoke traditional cigarettes, compared with 13.6 percent of women.”  The group with the highest number of smokers are males between the ages of 18 and 44.  If you break the numbers down by race, white males smoke the most at 17.4 percent, followed by blacks at 16.8 percent and Hispanics at 9.9 percent.

Anti-smoking advocates suggest falling smoking rates have been attributed to “higher cigarette excise taxes, anti-smoking campaigns, higher retail prices, socioeconomic shifts,” as well as stricter smoking bans prohibiting indoor smoking.   Those in favor of electronic cigarettes and vaporizers, as well as hookahs, suggest their popularity has helped the downward turn of traditional tobacco.  The U.K. Royal College of Physicians have gone on record stating electronic cigarettes and vaporizers could be up to 95 percent less harmful to smokers, while the “CDC and the U.S. Preventive Services Task Force have found there is not enough evidence to conclude whether e-cigarettes are a safe and effective smoking cessation device.”

You would think with these falling numbers we would see concern from the tobacco industry of the possibility of them going out of business, but unfortunately that is not the case.  The top three companies “continue to show quarterly and annual revenue gains” despite falling numbers.

“The Healthy People 2020 initiative has set a goal of reducing the adult smoking rate to at least 12 percent.”   If statewide tobacco prevention programs, such as the Florida Tobacco Prevention Training for Educators, continue to reach youth and teens so they can learn to make informed decisions about tobacco use, the future goal of a lower number of adult smokers is well within reach.

Click HERE for the entire article.

 

 

 

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Finally, FDA oversight on e-cigs and all tobacco

In 2009 The Family Smoking Prevention and Tobacco Control Act was signed into law, giving the “FDA authority to regulate the manufacture, distribution, and marketing of tobacco products.”  The law, commonly known as the Tobacco Control Act, placed restrictions on “marketing tobacco products to children” and gave the FDA authority to ban sales to minors as well as provide other restrictions.  In 2014 the FDA announced new regulations “to gain regulatory authority over tobacco products not yet regulated by the FDA,” including electronic cigarettes.

Now, a proposed ruling two years in the making will finally go into effect starting August 8, 2016, banning the sale of “e-cigarettes, cigars, pipe tobacco and hookah e-cig2tobacco to people under age 18.”  This new rule brings the above tobacco/nicotine products in line with the rules for cigarettes, smokeless tobacco and roll-your-own tobacco.

The tobacco companies will be required “to submit these products to it (FDA) for regulatory review.”  The FDA will also require the list of ingredients in these products, with a “staggered review period.”  Health warnings will also need to be placed on packages and in advertisements.  In addition to reviewing the ingredients in tobacco products, the FDA will have authority to: “review new tobacco products not yet on the market; help prevent misleading claims by tobacco product manufacturers; and communicate the potential risks of tobacco products.”

While the new ruling stops teens from purchasing electronic cigarettes, it falls short.  It does not stop the marketing to youth “or the use of sweet e-cigarette flavors such as gummy bear and cotton candy.”  Even research conducted by the FDA stated that those youth “who had ever experimented with tobacco started with a flavored product, including 81% of youth who had ever used e-cigarettes.”  This ruling also doesn’t prevent “online sales of e-cigarettes and refill liquids to youth.”

While the FDA is trying to protect youth from addictive products, they are being cigarsblackmailed by “two provisions recently approved as part of the House appropriations bill that funds the FDA” which may take some of that control back unless the FDA “exempts certain cigars”.  The bill will also “limit FDA review of e-cigarettes and cigars already on the market, including the many candy-flavored products” youth are drawn to.  The question is why is Congress putting special interests ahead of public health, especially the future health of youth, by once again limiting the authority of the FDA?

Click HERE to read the Campaign for Tobacco-Free Kids article, and HERE to read the FDA link on this subject.

 

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Earth Day 2016

“Earth Day is more than just a single day,” according to the Earth Day website.  The movement that started in 1970 is still going strong and growing.   This year’s theme is “Trees for the Earth,” and it is very fitting considering the amount of deforestation that takes place every year.   Deforestation “increases the atmospheric level of carbon dioxide,  deforestationbut also affects the environment by inhibiting water recycling, triggering severe flooding, aquifer depletion, soil degradation and the extinction of plant and animal species.”   You may not think of tobacco when you think of deforestation, but the industry is known for massive amounts of deforestation.

In poorer, third-world countries trees are cut down to make way for tobacco farming, with more wood being needed to dry out and cure the picked tobacco leaves.  According to the World Health Organization, “an average of 7.8kg of wood is needed to cure 1kg of tobacco,” or stated another way, “5.7lbs of wood to make one pack of cigarettes.”  The site ydouthink.com states “35 countries are now facing environmental crises” due to tobacco production in their county with the percentage of deforestation ranging from 12% in South Africa, to 45% in the Republic of Korea.

photo from Wikimedia Commons

photo from Wikimedia Commons

If the trees are not being used to dry tobacco leaves, then they are being used to make paper for a cigarette.  One site suggests “modern cigarette manufacturing machines use six kilometers of paper per hour.” If a cigarette plant is running 24 hours a day, that’s 144 kilometers or about 89.48 miles worth of paper, the distance from Jupiter, Fl down to Miami, FL.

Deforestation is not the only environmental problem due to cigarette production. Erosion from the loss of these trees also strips the land of valuable soil.  Huge amounts of pesticides are needed during the tobacco growing process and the chemical run off contaminates the water supplies.  Growing tobacco strips the soil of nutrients needed to grow other crops “leaving soil in poor condition for essential food and cash crops.”  And then there is the “1.69 million pounds of toxic litter” each year from cigarette butts, the most littered item in the world.

If you won’t give up smoking for your health, at least consider giving it up for the environment.  Our planet Earth will be grateful.

Click HERE for Earth Day information.

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