Study finds toxic chemicals in e-cigarette flavorings

One study in 2016 found about two-thirds of teens were using e-cigarettes for the “sweet and fruity flavors,” rather then the nicotine.   We are barely into the new year and the latest study has found that the toxic chemicals in the flavorings are damaging to male fertility, even when nicotine is not present.

Two of the popular flavors, cinnamon and bubblegum, are raising fertility health concerns.  Bubblegum flavoring  has been found to kill “off cells in the testis which helps to produce sperm,” while cinnamon flavoring causes sperm to make “slower swimmers.”  The lead author of the study said the study results were “shocking” and there was clearly a “detrimental effect” to the sperm.

The experiments were two-part, using healthy sperm of men undergoing IVF treatment and then using mice to see how they reacted to the flavorings.  In the first part, samples were take from 30 men and the flavorings were  “inserted into the sperm in concentrations” the men would be exposed to if they used the devices directly.   In the second experiment, the mice were “exposed to the flavorings” and researchers found “cells in the testes were killed off by the chemicals in them.”

Male fertility is not the only health concern from using the e-cigarette flavorings.  Another study, due to be published soon, found that certain flavorings increased the risk of lung damage.  The nine flavorings – cherry, strawberry, ice-mint, menthol, tobacco, blueberry, vanilla, bubble-gum and butterscotch – were all found to be toxic on human bronchial cells.  On a scale of bad to worse, the fruit flavors are at the lower end while “coffee, butterscotch and tobacco are the worst offenders.”  “Cells did not recover after being exposed for more than 72 hours.”

Many of the flavors are considered food-grade, hence the ability of the industry to get around regulation.  They are normally ingested into the stomach which is an acidic environment and the tissue is much different rather than inhaled into the sensitive membranes of the lungs.   The researchers found that prolonged exposure to some of the flavors killed bronchial cells completely “especially the ingredients of the e-liquid which can change in structure after the process of heating.”

E-cigarettes have not been on the market long enough for researchers to determine all the hazards, and with 7,000 different flavors it may be years before all tests are conducted.  The e-cigarette industry is promoting the devices as a healthy alternative to cigarettes, but they are not without their own harmful effects.  It took decades for the public to learn the truth about smoking and cigarettes, it should not have to take that long for consumers to heed the warnings about e-cigarettes.

Click HERE to read the entire article


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Attitudes on e-cigarette use are changing

As more information becomes available regarding electronic cigarettes, more Americans are perceiving them “to be as harmful as regular cigarettes,” according to a survey on health attitudes.

Information was taken from the National Cancer Institute’s Health Information National Trends Survey (HINTS) and showed changes in attitudes regarding e-cigarettes between 2012 and 2014.  In the earlier surveys about three-fourths of participants knew about e-cigarettes, compared to about 95% in 2014.  In 2012 50.7% of the participants considered them “to be less harmful than regular cigarettes,” while in 2014 that number had dropped to 43.1%.

The authors of the survey noted that e-cigarettes were introduced in the U.S. market in 2007 and while smoking rates were in a decline, e-cigarette use “increased dramatically.”  From 2009 to 2014 “e-cigarette market share for all tobacco products more than doubled each year.”  As the major tobacco companies introduced their own e-cigarette products, the marketing increased, often with the message that “e-cigarettes are safer than combustible cigarettes.”

From each year between 2012 and 2014, the “awareness of e-cigarettes increased from 77.1% in 2012 to 85.4% in 2013 to 94.3% in 2014.”  Respondents with a higher income level or a college education were “more likely to believe” that e-cigarettes were less harmful.

The FDA has recently begun regulations of e-cigarettes believing they “represent a risk to the public.”  It will be interesting to see if the public sides with the FDA or whether they see the devices as less harmful compared to combustible cigarettes.

Click HERE for the entire article.



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Stop selling flavored cigarettes labeled as cigars

In 2009 the Family Smoking Prevention and Tobacco Control Act was signed into law giving the Food and Drug Administration the power to regulate the tobacco industry.  Flavored cigarettes, “including cloves, cinnamon, candy and fruit flavors,with a special exception of menthol,” were banned as part of this act.  But it didn’t stop the tobacco industry from selling these same products labeled as “little cigars.”  Fast forward to 2016 and the FDA is issuing warnings to stop selling the flavored products that are “misleadingly labeled as cigars or “little cigars.”  Upon receiving the letters, the tobacco companies have 15 days to respond.

cigars_and_cigarettesIf you put a little cigar and a cigarette next to each other, you may think they look alike as they are the same size, shape and “both can have filters.”  According to the cigar industry, “cigars are wrapped in tobacco leaf or brown paper that must contain at least two-thirds tobacco by weight,” while cigarettes are wrapped in paper.   Little cigars are also cheaper and can be sold individually, while cigarettes must be sold in packs of 20 here in the U.S.   The reason for the warning letters is that the FDA “argued ‘their overall presentation, appearance, and packing and labeling’ mean they are likely to be ‘offered to or purchased by’ consumers as cigarettes.”

While many people know the hazards of cigarettes, they may perceive cigars as less harmful, especially youth who use the products because of flavors and cost.  In fact, in a 2013-2014 study “nearly 80 percent of current youth tobacco users reported using a flavored tobacco product in the past 30 days.”   If it wasn’t for the flavors, the number of youth users would be lower.


Click HERE for the entire article via Twitter @TobaccoFreeSC







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Big Tobacco: the Pied Piper of Modern Times

Most people know the fairy tale of the Pied Piper who was hired to rid the German town of Hamelin of rats in the late 1200s.  He did his job, but the townspeople reneged on their promise to pay, and so the Piper returned and his magical flute lead the children away, never to be seen again.  Our participant Dr. Juan Céspedes, from Miami-Dade Public Schools, compared the marketing of tobacco to youth by Big Tobacco with the Pied Piper of Hamelin in his refusal skills assignment.  His clever comparison to the fairy tale should open our eyes to what is happening in present day with the lives of our children.  Thank you, Dr. Céspedes, for allowing us to share your assignment.

It is said the northern German town of Hamelin, in Lower Saxony, was infested, indeed completely overrun, by rats during the Middle Ages. The townspeople were desperate, but to their relief in 1284 a mysterious man appeared who would achieve legendary fame as the Rattenfänger von Hameln (in English literature, the Pied Piper of Hamelin, or the Pan Piper. Naturally, the Piper had to find a means to earn his livelihood, thus the service he provided was not to be gratuitous (Macmillan Reference, 2001).

pied_piper1 Most people are familiar with the fairy tale of the Pied Piper, probably having first heard it as a child during bedtime (although I cannot fathom how they would sleep peacefully after hearing it). The townspeople of Hamelin welshed on their commitment to pay the Piper, who left angrily vowing revenge. He returned and led the children away, and they were never to be seen again. Nonetheless, a few of the children were spared (depending on the version of the story being told). One child could not keep up with the others because he was lame, the other was blind and could not see where he was going, and another was deaf and could not be enchanted by the music (Ancient Origins, 2014).

You can read the entire assignment submission at this link:








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What is the tobacco industry promoting now?

Trinkets and Trash is your go-to site for all the news about tobacco products soon to be hitting the shelves, and the ads that seem to draw in users.  Not only is it educational by keeping you ahead of the new products, it is entertaining as well as you can see how the tobacco industry targets their users.

zynIt would almost appear Big Tobacco is getting rid of tobacco altogether and selling straight nicotine in a tobacco-free nicotine pouch by Swedish Match, called ZYN (sort of sounds like zen).  The six flavors and two nicotine strengths (3 mg or 6 mg) come in a “child-resistant” round can.  The company says the nicotine is derived from tobacco leaves and food-grade ingredients.  Truthfully, with no tobacco in the pouch and all that flavoring, it looks like a new product designed for the youth market.  Does the tobaccozonnic industry hope to slip through loopholes since it is tobacco-less? If kids use this in school and get caught, does it count as a tobacco product? Is this another gateway product, like vaping, that increases the likelihood youth may use tobacco in the future?  Another nicotine-only lozenge called Zonnic is now available on the market, but is being promoted as a smoking cessation product.   Two new products, neither contains tobacco, yet one is a cessation tool, and one isn’t.  Are the lines between cessation and use becoming more blurred to anyone else?

Speaking of tobacco-free nicotine products, blu eCigs will launch a new device, blu Max that will offer “Responsive blumaxDraw Technology” in “the best vaping experience ever” by responding “to the rate of the consumer’s inhalation, producing as little or as much vapor based on the intensity of their draw.” The indicator light on the tip glows brighter depending on the strength of your inhalation.  A lot of big words that basically say the harder you draw on the device, the bigger the vapor, and the brighter the indicator light.  It’s not rocket science, but reading the press release from the company sure makes the device sound impressive.

knittingCamel is promoting its Hump feature, “which has interesting new articles every week.”  The article mentioned in November was about woven glass that appears as if they are knitting it (don’t try this at home).  The article has nothing to do with tobacco and requires such a specialized talent that an ordinary person would never to able to accomplish it.  But they saw the word “knitting” and decided it would be a great way to target women.  Not to be outdone, Virginia Slims still has their fashionable models (sans cigarette) and includes a couple of autumn recipes for you to try because a girl has gotta eat.

Newport has two new arm wrestling ads out, sort of a girls vs boys competition.  The girls are promoting menthol products while the guys are promoting the non-menthol products.  Everyone is having fun, and not one single cigarette is pictured in either ad, proving you can have fun without smoking.

Grizzly has been promoting their “Tellin’ it like it is” ad campaign for awhile now, suckincluding a discussion topic which for November was between solar use vs fossil fuels use.  By going to the website users can see other discussion topics as well as “claim a weekly coupon for their dark mint product.” Nothing like rewarding addiction with more product to keep you addicted.  Email recipients are also “asked to create ‘ads that don’t suck’ on the brand website.”  If you aren’t creative enough, they provide some ideas such as those on the right.

Nothing goes together better than wine and cigars, especially if it is Black and Milds wine cigars.  Their website is still promoting unique artists and different ways people are “kicking it.”  According to the ad, the only way you can make the moment more enjoyable is to smoke their product.

We certainly don’t have the talent to work at a top-notch advertising company and it may not be very creative, but do you think anyone is brave enough to write an ad that says “Freedom from tobacco products is not bought…it’s earned?”

Click HERE for more Trinkets and Trash news, and sign up for your monthly dose of tobacco news and ads.








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Broken Promises in Florida

campaign_for_tobacco_free_kids_logoThe Campaign for Tobacco Free Kids has released their 18th annual report Broken Promises to Our Children: A State-by-State Look at the 1998 State Tobacco Settlement 18 Years Later.  Since 1998 states have received an estimated $246 billion, yet despite promises to use “a significant portion to attack the enormous public health problems caused by tobacco use,” the states continue to shortchange tobacco prevention and cessation programs.”  In 2017, “the states will collect $26.6 billion from the settlement and tax revenues, but will only spend 1.8 percent, or $491.6 million on program to prevent kids from smoking and help smokers quit.”

In 2006 Florida voters had the foresight to approve a ballot proposal to earmark “15 percent of tobacco funds for programs aimed at prospective young smokers, with adjustments for inflation.”  From this, the Tobacco Free Florida program was borne, including “media campaigns, community programs such as the youth-led Students Working Against Tobacco (SWAT) groups and help for smokers trying to quit.”  In the 10 years since the amendment, the high school smoking rate has dropped by two-thirds, from 15.5 percent” to a record low 5.2 percent, placing Florida in 14th place nationwide.  This year Florida will spend $67.8 million, which is only about a third “of the $194.2 million recommended by the Centers for Disease Control (CDC).”  While Florida has made tremendous progress over the years to reduce youth smoking, 7,400 Florida kids still “become regular smokers each year,” and 32,300 Floridians die prematurely, costing “the state over $8.6 million in health care bills annually.”  Every household in Florida pays $763 for their share of the state and federal tax burden from smoking-caused government expenditures.

Tobacco companies spend more than $1 million every hour in the U.S. to “market their deadly and addictive products.”  They spend over $560 million each year in Florida alone – “8 times what the state spends on tobacco prevention.”  It is difficult for states to compete with tobacco industry spending but simple steps would have a large impact here in Florida.   Educating more Florida students in every grade level with tobacco prevention lessons would help decrease youth use.  Teens are price sensitive and raising the state’s cigarette tax, which has not been increased since 2009, would be a further deterrent to use.  And raising the tobacco age to 21 would further decrease teen use.

Education is key to decreasing tobacco use and the FLDOE Office of Healthy Schools sponsors the Florida Tobacco Prevention Training for Educators online course for teachers, administrators and school counselors to take at no cost to receive points toward renewing their certificate.  Last year alone the participants in our course reached over 20,000 students with tobacco prevention lessons.  Currently, 30 out of the 67 Florida school districts have participants in one of our two courses (30- or 60-points).  We would love to see every district participate so we can reach more students and further decrease youth tobacco use in our state.

Decreasing youth nicotine use will decrease future adult nicotine use, protect the health of our citizens, and save Florida millions in health care expenses.  Can we really afford not to make Florida tobacco free?

The Broken Promises report is issued by the Campaign for Tobacco-Free Kids, American Heart Association, American Cancer Society cancer Action Network, American Lung Association, Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, American for Nonsmokers’ Right and Truth Initiative.

Click HERE for the Broken Promises report and HERE for the West Orlando News online article from which the quotes were taken.


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New Online Resource to Help Parents Learn About E-Cigarettes

A new online resource has been published to help parents understand the risks and benefits of electronic cigarettes and vaping products and hopefully clear up the “inconsistent, inaccurate and confusing” information.   Entitled “Expert Views: E-Cigarettes,” it has been written by experts and launched by the National Center on Addiction and Substance Abuse.  The site has three main categories: About E-Cigarettes, Recreational Vaping and Tobacco Replacement, with subcategories to help users learn more.

The “About E-Cigarettes” category describes what e-cigarettes are and what parents should know about them, 10 surprising facts about e-cigarettes and weighing the pros and cons.  The one fact that the article stresses is that these devices contain “highly concentrated nicotine along with other chemicals,” which pose health risks.  “The younger a person is when they try nicotine, the greater the risk of addiction.” “Although it’s generally agreed that these products are less harmful than smoked cigarettes, there is no evidence that they are in fact, safe.”  They aren’t a proven method of reducing or quitting smoking either.  And teens who never intended to smoke a traditional cigarette, may begin first_genusing cigarettes after using e-cigarettes.

The Recreational Vaping page defines vaping, shows the different vaping devices, and lets parents know vaping goes beyond the use of nicotine.   Original e-cigarettes looked like cigarettes, but today’s models can be customized.  First generation devices were less expensive, looked like cigarettes and many on the second_genmarket were disposable.   Second-generation devices come in various sizes.  These devices are not shaped like a cigarette, but are still slim.  They can be disposable or rechargeable, and can be refilled with e-juice/e-liquid.  Third-generation devices are third_genlarger, customized to the user, contain a larger tank for holding e-liquid and can “deliver more nicotine than earlier generations.” Since they burn at a higher temperature, they produce a bigger cloud of vapor.  One troubling trend parents need to be aware of is vaping devices are being used for more than just e-liquids.  The vaporized drugs do not produce the “telltale smells” and users can go undetected.

Finally, can using e-cigarettes help you quit smoking?  There is agreement that the devices are “less harmful than smoked cigarettes…when used as a complete replacement,” but not when they are used to cut down or quit smoking.  Several studies found “that people who use e-cigarettes may be less likely to successfully quit smoking.” Although some e-liquids are nicotine-free, users are still inhaling toxic chemicals and aerosols which are not safe.  Studies are still ongoing with respect to the chemicals, but “the evidence to date suggest that e-cigarettes and other vaping devices certainly are not risk free.”

Currently, there is limited research in using e-cigarette to quit smoking and researchers suggest you talk to your doctor about your quit options.   You can also call the national 1-800-QUIT-NOW helpline (1-800-784-8669) for support.  Here in Florida you can go to the Tobacco Free Florida website by clicking on the blue link, or call 1-877-U-CAN-NOW (1-877-822-6669).  It should be noted: “E-cigarettes have not been approved by the FDA for smoking cessation.”

Click HERE for Expert Views: E-Cigarettes













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Tobacco Free Florida Turns 10

tobaccofreefla_001The Tobacco Free Florida prevention program was born ten years ago when voters “overwhelmingly approved a state constitutional amendment” guaranteeing  an annual funding of 15 percent of Tobacco Settlement payments to Florida for “tobacco prevention and cessation programs” using the Centers of Disease Control best practices.   This measure has resulted in decreased smoking rates for both youth and adults, “leading to billions of dollars and countless lives saved.”  While there has been great success with this program, “smoking remains the leading cause of preventable disease and death in Florida and the United States.”

The impact of Tobacco Free Florida can be seen in the numbers:

  • The adult smoking rate now stands at 15.8 percent, down from 21 percent in 2006.
  • Youth smoking has dropped 71 percent – 10.6 percent in 2006 to 3 percent in 2016.
  • High school smoking rate has almost been cut in half from 2010- now at 5.2 percent.
  • Between 2007 – 2015, annual smoking-related health care costs decreased 15 percent and saved $17.7 billion.
  • More than 159,000 Floridians quit tobacco.
  • Approximately 451,000 fewer adult smokers in Florida than 10 years ago

Great strides have been made reducing tobacco use in Florida, and work will continue to “decrease the percentage of youth 11-17 years old who are using tobacco products other than cigarettes,” as well as to “eliminate Floridians’ exposure to the deadly effects of secondhand smoke.”  Tobacco use in our state can be decreased as we come together to “increase the number of community partnerships and encourage communities like ours to get involved with events, activities and education on the different ways available to quit” and make our state a Tobacco Free Florida.  Happy Birthday Tobacco Free Florida…here’s to many more years!

Click HERE for article.

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Tobacco control efforts pay off as teen use sees declines

michiganWhen it comes to teens and nicotine use, there is good news at last: “teens are lighting up less often when it comes to e-cigarettes and hookahs,” according to the University of Michigan’s Monitoring the Future national study which is in its 42nd year.  The study tracks substance use by teens in 12th, 10th and 8th grades.

While the study cannot tell if teen “vaping has peaked or only paused” at this time, it did decrease between 2015 and 2016, for the first time since 2011.  The study found “the percentage of adolescents who vaped in the last 30 days declined from 16 percent to 13 percent among 12th grade students, from 14 percent to 11 percent among 10th grade students, and from 8 percent to 6 percent among 8th grade students.”  While usage declined, the perception of harm with vaping increased: from 16 percent to 18 percent in 12th, from 17 percent to 19 percent in 10th, and from 19 percent to 21 percent in 8th.”

One concern among researchers is that “vaping may lead to use of regular cigarettes.”  Even among teens who have no desire to smoke, “vapers may come to believe the dangers of smoking are exaggerated if they do not experience any immediate health consequences from vaping.”

Another area seeing a decline is hookah use, which fell by more than one-third among 12th grade students in the past year (only 12th grade students are tracked).  This is the first decline since hookah tracking began in 2010 when 17.1 percent said they used a hookah. Both hookah use and e-cigarette/vaping are considered alternative forms of cigarette products and reductions in their use is “a real reduction in nicotine consumption, and not just a change from one form of nicotine use to another.”

Cigarette use among teens continues to decline, “and reached the lowest levels recorded since annual tracking began 42 years ago.”  Grade 12 cigarette smoking fell from 11.4 percent to 10.5 percent, “from 6.3 percent to 4.9 percent among 10th grade, and from 3.6 percent to 2.6 percent among 8th grade students.”  Student cigarette smoking peaked in 1997 and since that time “the levels of past 30-day smoking have fallen by nearly 80 percent among 8th- and 10th-graders, and by more than 70 percent among 12th-graders.”  It appears that fewer young people are starting to pick up the smoking habit today.  Twenty years ago “49 percent of 8th-graders said they had tried cigarettes,” versus only 10 percent this year.

Tobacco control policies that include bans on public smoking, increases in tobacco taxes, and increases in the tobacco age decrease the glamor of tobacco and reduce teen use. Educational programs in schools and anti-smoking ad campaigns help teens make informed decisions about the dangers of tobacco.  The reductions in tobacco use now are the first steps in reducing serious illnesses and premature deaths caused by tobacco and nicotine use in the future.

Click HERE for the press release and charts for the 2016 Monitoring the Future.

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2016 Surgeon General E-cigarette Report – Part 2

Last week the U.S. Surgeon General released a new report: “E-cigarette Use Among Youth and Young Adults,” and we shared information from the report regarding how the devices work and their risks.  Most e-cigarettes contain nicotine and many users don’t understand the addictive nature of the drug, or that it can cause depression and difficulty paying attention and concentrating.  Currently, more high school students are e-cigarette users than cigarette smokers and it is a business trend that only sees growth ahead.

In the past, teens chose their brand of cigarette to match their image.  Now they can have an e-cig their way by customizing their vape look and flavor the way they want.  It is a huge $2.5 billion business with $125 million spent per year for advertising.  “In 2014, about 7 in 10 middle school and high school students – more than 18 million youth – said they had seen e-cigarette advertising,” on television, movies, magazines and at retail stores.  All that exposure has dramatically increased teen e-cig use, and the devices are the “most commonly used form of tobacco by youth in the United States.”

flavorsE-cigs appeal to teens for several reasons.  Teens are curious, and the custom devices allow users to create a product that is uniquely their own, which is a big attraction.  “More than 8 of 10 youth ages 12-17 who use e-cigarettes said they used flavored e-cigarettes.”  Users also believe the devices are “less harmful than other tobacco products,” with “more than 60 percent of teens believing that occasional use of e-cigarettes causes only little or some harm.”

Cigarette use is decreasing, but the e-cigarette trend is causing some who never desired to smoke a cigarette to take a look at these devices, which is a concern for public health advocates for several reasons.  Studies have found that teens who start using e-cigarettes begin “smoking conventional cigarettes and other burned tobacco products such as cigars and hookah.”  By using e-cigarettes “the number of youth and young adults who are exposed to nicotine” increases.  Rather than quitting smoking, smokers turn to e-cigarettes to continue their nicotine addiction, and it “increases the likelihood that former smokers will again become addicted to nicotine by using e-cigarettes, and will start using burned tobacco products again.”

E-cigarettes are still a relatively new product on the market and scientists are still learning how they affect health.  Whether through conventional tobacco products or e-cigarettes, there is enough evidence about the harms of nicotine.  Talking about these harms with our children and students, and decreasing their exposure to e-cigarettes can decrease future tobacco and e-cigarette use.  We all need to work together to protect our young people from a lifetime of nicotine addiction and dependency.

Click HERE for the entire 2016 Surgeon General E-cigarette Report.










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