Trinkets and Trash for November 2018

Trinkets and Trash is a surveillance project that keeps tabs on what the tobacco industry is doing to advertise and market its products.  The report comes out at the beginning of the month and reports on the previous month’s activities.  Their articles are a great way to keep up with current and future tobacco and vaping products.

November held many special days and the tobacco industry used the opportunities to provide discounts to their customers to keep them coming back.  Veterans had special offers from MYLÈ vapor and Stoker’s smokeless  tobacco.  But Red Seal grabbed our  attention by hitting  on the red truck theme that has been featured so prominently in the latest trending farmhouse decor on Pinterest and other websites.  Here is a sign from ebay (on the top right) that was on Pinterest.  Even more interesting is that I happened upon a book jacket with this same picture.  Look familiar?  They also reminded customers that Thanksgiving was about being together for the holiday.  Of course, if you have a lip of tobacco, you really won’t be able to taste the great flavors of the day.

And let’s not forget about Black Friday and Cyber Monday sales.  Juul was front and center on those specials by featuring a limited edition maroon device.   The ad also shows the eight flavor pods users can purchase.  We are confused because earlier in November Juul said they were going to stop selling the flavors in retail shops.  Yet they come out with a limited edition device and are still promoting the flavors.  Juul’s Facebook and Instagram pages were to be deactivated in mid-November.  Their Twitter page will continue, and its YouTube channel will have “testimonials of former adult smokers.”  By exiting social media they “can better prevent teens and non-smokers from ever becoming interested in the device.”  Preventing teens from using Juul and then coming out with a “limited edition” vaping device?  Doesn’t sound like they are sincere in their position on teen prevention.  Other vaping devices like MarkTen also had a special going on for Black Friday.  And if sucking on 28 carcinogenic chemicals is your thing, Grizzly smokeless tobacco also had their ad campaign for the Black Friday/Cyber Monday retail holiday.

Swisher Sweets had a special promotion in New Orleans during November.   A special sampler of four flavored cigarillos called the Swisher Sweets Goodies 504 New Orleans Edition was available for $1 at a hip-hop concert.  Swisher has ties to The Artist Project which “provides unique opportunities for artists to create, share and pursue their passion.” The brand is also sponsoring a contest where users can “enter for a chance to party in New Orleans at the NOLA Takeover concert featuring hip-hop artists.  One rapper thanked Swisher for starting “The Artist Project to give back to the hip-hop community that made the brand what it is.”  Swisher uses these music venues to appear like they are giving back to the community and hooks another generation of users.  No doubt the NOLA Takeover concert will feature more cheaper, flavored cigarillos by Swisher Sweets.

Tobacco marketing and advertising knows how to reach that emotional attachment in its users, whether it is pictures of the great outdoors, a red truck carrying a Christmas tree, or a maroon Juul that every teen will want.  The tobacco industry isn’t losing money by giving you discounts and coupons.  You are keeping them in business and paying for it with your health.

Click HERE to see the entire article

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Residual Tobacco Smoke Continues to Pollute

Just how bad is third hand smoke?  Not only does it stick around long after a smoker has quit, it continues to pollute new material that comes into the house, according to a new study.

Everyone has pillows in their homes and San Diego State University used brand new pillows to see if the fabric would absorb lingering nicotine in the environment.  Pillows were placed in two types of homes:  non-smokers, and homes of former smokers who “had quit smoking before the study started.”

After three weeks, air samples were collected and the pillows were analyzed “for nicotine concentrations using isotope-dilution liquid chromatography MS/MS.”  The pillows in the homes of non-smokers were similar to those kept in the laboratory – nicotine was virtually  non-existent.  While the researchers expected nicotine residue to be on the pillow fabric in the homes of former smokers, they were surprised at how the nicotine became embedded deep within the pillow, in the “interior fabrics and filling” and of the “sheer mass of nicotine that becomes embedded.”

Thirdhand smoke residue is absorbed into every area of the home such furniture, carpets, drapes, walls, bedding and other material, but researchers were surprised that new material coming into the home was also being polluted even after the smoking had ended.  We use pillows all the time and don’t think of them containing toxic, carcinogenic properties.  This is just one way our families, especially our children, are being exposed to thirdhand smoke.

The team who worked on this project will be working on two new projects: how to remove thirdhand smoke from homes, and an investigation of secondhand smoke exposure in multi-unit housing.   The results will be interesting.

Click HERE for the news article.

 

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New Study Finds Younger Women More Severely Affected by COPD

COPD is a disease characterized by increasing breathlessness and includes the diseases of emphysema, chronic bronchitis and refractory, or non-reversible, asthma.   It is the third-leading cause of death in the U.S. and was once thought to be an “older” person disease primarily among men.  During COPD Awareness Month in November, it is important to understand this disease and how it may affect your life.  Although COPD affects both men and women, a new study has found that age-associated gender differences are seen in this disease and younger women seem to be more burdened by the effects.

Researchers drew 4484 participants from the Genetic Epidemiology of COPD study which looks at the genetic factors in COPD, according to the article.  The individuals in this study were between 45 and 80 years and were both current and former smokers with at least 10 pack-years of cigarette smoking.  Pack-years are determined by multiplying the number of packs of cigarettes smoked per day by the number of years the person smoked.  Of the participants 2522 individuals were under 65 years of age. The researchers used the Global Initiative for Chronic Obstructive Lung Disease (GOLD) guidelines which looks at three factors: symptoms, exacerbation risk, and airflow limitation severity.

Gender associations were more pronounced among younger women, although older women 65 years or older were “still more likely to experience dyspnea and present with more severe COPD than older men.” Women overall “are more significantly burdened by the symptoms of COPD than men.”

When it came to women and COPD symptoms, researchers found:
– Younger women with COPD had higher odds of reporting severe dyspnea compared with younger men with COPD.  But older women also reported more severe dyspnea than older men.
– Younger women had higher odds for exacerbation risk (a worsening) compared to younger men.
– Younger women also had higher odds of having more severe airflow limitations compared to younger men.
– Despite lower pack-years of smoking, younger women had higher odds of being classified with worse GOLD classifications compared to younger men.

At the moment researchers don’t have the answers as to why younger women seem to have more severe COPD symptoms and more studies are necessary.  However, several factors were not mentioned in the study which could have impacted the outcomes.  Smoking while young causes the lungs to never fully develop.  While the youngest participants in the study were 45 and had at least 10 pack-years of smoking, it does not mention when these participants actually started smoking.  Women’s lungs also tend to be smaller than men’s, making them more likely to suffer lung damage from smoking at a younger age.  Researchers know smoking can effect a women’s hormones, but could this change in hormone levels also be worsening the symptoms of COPD?

There are so many questions that still need to be answered regarding COPD, but we know that smoking causes 80% of COPD cases.  COPD has no known cure, but quitting smoking will improve your overall health and prevent symptoms from getting worse.  Talk to your doctor about programs and ways to help you quit.

Click HERE for the entire COPD Disease Burden Study article.
Click HERE for The Smoking and COPD Connection
Images above from a Mayo Clinic article on COPD.

 

 

 

 

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Great American Smokeout 2018

It’s hard to believe the 2018 Great America Smokeout is right around the corner.  Always celebrated the third Thursday of November, the Smokeout is a great time to give up nicotine for one day.  That one day could turn into a lifetime quit and a healthier lifestyle.

The Smokeout started as an event in Massachusetts in 1970, and by 1977 the American Cancer Society had taken it nationwide making this the 43rd year.   Quitting is hard, but with support, you too can be successful.  There are many ways to quit and everyone is different, but the best way is to start with a plan.  Here are some ways of quitting to consider according to WebMD:
Cold turkey.  About 90% of people who try to quit do it without outside help, but it isn’t considered the most successful method.
Behavioral therapy.  Working with a counselor can help you pinpoint your triggers that make you want to smoke.  Together you can make a plan to help you through the cravings.
Nicotine replacement therapy.  This method involves using a product that gives you the nicotine without using tobacco.  It works best if you use this method along with behavioral therapy as this method isn’t intended to be used as a permanent replacement for tobacco.
Medications.  Prescription medications, such as bupropion and varenicline (Chantix), are available to help you through cravings and withdrawal symptoms.  Chantix is a nicotine-free pill that can be taken for 3 or 6 months as you wean yourself off smoking.  As these meds are by prescription only, discuss the use with your doctor.
Combination therapies.  Everyone is different, and you may need to use more than one method to help you have a successful quit.  Don’t give up.

Your employer may be able to provide you with information and your health insurance may pay for medications.  There are also many websites that provide helpful information and phone numbers to talk to a quit specialist.  One such number is the American Cancer Society’s Quit For Life 1-866-784-8454.  Here in Florida, Tobacco Free Florida is ready to help you with Quit Your Way at 1-877-822-6669.

Whether you smoke, chew or vape, giving it up for one day will start you on a healthy life journey.  We provide information without endorsing any particular program and provide links to help you get started.

Kill The Can – a resource to quit dip and chewing tobacco by former users
Smokefree.gov – this site also provides information for vets, women, teens, those over 60, and offers information in Spanish.
QuitNet – an app for your phone.
UCanQuit2 – an education campaign for the U.S. military

 

 

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Smoking in the war to end all wars 100 years ago

On the eleventh hour of the eleventh day of the eleventh month, the guns from World War I fell silent on the war to end all wars.  It was one of the deadliest conflicts on the planet, with about 40 million military and civilian causalities; 9 to 11 million military personnel died in battle, or from accidents or disease, according to Wikipedia.  Those who made it out alive were forever changed, emotionally and physically, but they didn’t stop being targets.  The tobacco industry started their deadly assault on the soldier during WWI and it continues to this day 100 years later.

In 1914 when the war first started, pipes were popular and “only less precious than the rifle,” and loose tobacco was part of a soldier’s rations.  Pipe smoking was seen as a masculine pursuit, and a form of camaraderie among military regiments and officers.  However, as the war dragged on, it was clear that the cigarette was the more convenient mode of smoking; it was easier to carry that a pipe, didn’t need to be relit to be enjoyed, and was easily shared and traded among troops.  They were even used as currency in the trenches.  Today we regard cigarettes as a “moral hazard,” but during the war they were considered as necessary as bullets, according to General John Joseph “Black Jack” Pershing, and were given “priority for their shipment to the front.”

An article in the New York Times during WWI said cigarettes “‘lighten the inevitable hardships of war,'” and who didn’t want to do their part on the home front to help the soldier?  In Britain, clubs did their patriotic part by raising large sums of money to purchase tobacco for the troops with donors receiving a postcard from the recipient.   The Red Cross and the YMCA organized fundraising events for cigarettes, and even individuals could purchase tobacco to send to troops serving from their hometown.  Cigarettes were also donated free to the troops by the cigarette companies.

Medical concerns about smoking didn’t go away during the war, but were overlooked due to the psychological benefits of the cigarette; it relieved boredom between battles, reduced stress and boosted morale.  How can you deny the comfort of a cigarette to a battle weary soldier for fear of harming his health?  Let him be comforted now for he may die in battle tomorrow.

Those soldiers who didn’t die on the battlefield brought their smoking habit home, and continued to provide an economic boost to the tobacco industry as ready-made consumers.  Nothing has changed from WWI in that regard.  The tobacco industry continues to target the military with cheaper tobacco prices and our veterans continue to pay with their lives in a different kind of war.  We educate and train our men and women in combat readiness; we need to educate them on the dangers of an enemy that is hiding in plain sight.

To all our military members currently serving and those who served before, thank you.

Donor Post card picture above is from Picture Postcards from the Great War.
I Need Smokes poster from @SmokingSoldiers on Twitter.

 

 

 

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New restrictions on sales of flavored e-cigarettes

There is always that one person who ruins it for everyone else; the proverbial straw that breaks the camel’s back.  In this case it was Juul e-cigarettes with their unique style, flavors and internet sales that drove teen use skyrocketing into epidemic proportions and prompted the Food and Drug Administration to finally take control of the situation.

Next week the FDA will start putting restrictions in place which “are aimed at limiting access to pod-style e-cigarettes” such as the Juul, which has gained 75% of the U.S. e-cigarette market, not including online sales.  To be fair all cartridge style e-cigarettes popular with teens will fall under these new restrictions; however tank systems are exempt.  The policy will take effect immediately.

If you want to sell flavored pod-style e-cigarettes, they must be in a separate area inside the store that is unavailable to minors or you restrict minors from the store.  Flavors not under the new restrictions include mint, menthol and tobacco, but these flavors could face restrictions if youth use continues to rise.

Nationwide high school use has increased 75% since last year with 20% of high school students using vaping devices; middle school use has increased 50%.  Florida youth ages 11-17 has seen a 60.2% increase in current use of electronic vaping in the past year alone.  Broken down, high school students who have ever tried vaping is at 37.9% for 2018, an increase of 18.1% in the past year, with middle school students at 14.7% for 2018, an increase of 18.5% over 2017.  High school students currently vaping is at 24.8%, up 58.0% over 2017; middle school is at 7.8%, an increase of 44.4% over last year.  Kids in Florida and throughout the U.S. cannot continue seeing increases in nicotine product use.

The head of the FDA considered removing e-cigarettes totally from the market back in September.  Instead, he gave the major e-cigarette manufacturers an ultimatum: work with the FDA on a plan to reduce teen use or risk having their products banned.  “Strict age verification controls for online sales” will also be required.

The new proposals are a great start, not quite a total ban, but enough to hopefully see a decrease in use.  But there are some issues with the plan:
–   first, kids know how to refill closed pod-type cartridges; YouTube is filled with instructions.  Unless kid-friendly flavors are totally banned for all vaping devices, the trend can continue with nary a blimp.
–  second, all internet sales of nicotine products should be outright banned, not merely restricted.  Nicotine products should only be sold in face-to-face transactions, no matter the age of the purchaser.  Wasn’t that one of the reasons for putting limits on cigarette vending machine sales?  At least there should have been a six month moratorium on internet sales.
–   third, increasing the national tobacco age to 21 will further deter teen use.  It is easy for at 15 or 16 year old to look 18, it is more difficult to look 21.  And it will keep high school students who are 18 from purchasing products for younger peers.
–  finally, while the FDA talked to e-cigarette manufacturers to give them a say in the new restrictions, were public health advocates and those on the front lines of national youth tobacco prevention programs also given a say on the new restrictions?

The new restrictions cover how e-cigarette manufacturers are going to keep kids from purchasing their products, but it doesn’t mention what will happen to retailers who continue to sell to minors.  It’s time for tougher restrictions in that area as well.

Click HERE for the article

 

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We need to keep working to lower youth nicotine use

Current use of cigarettes by Florida youth is one of the lowest in the nation at 2.2%, so why are we working so hard to reduce youth smoking even further?   Kids who never would have started smoking are turning to electronic vaping devices, making it the number one used nicotine device. The low smoking rate in Florida doesn’t give the entire story of nicotine addiction by youth in our state.

Youth ages 11-17 who have ever tried cigarettes has decreased 47.2% between 2012 and 2018; 10.2% decrease in the past year alone. It would seem it is all good news, but cigars and smokeless tobacco saw slight increases this year after steady decreases since 2012.  Between 2012 and 2017, youth who had ever tried cigars dropped from 16.2% to 7.9%, a 50.6% decrease.  This year that number is 8.0%.  Smokeless tobacco decreased from 7.0% in 2012 to 4.1% in 2017, a 37.1% decrease.  The 2018 number stands at 4.4%.  The number of youth who have ever tried cigarettes, cigars, or smokeless tobacco has decreased 39.9%, from 27.6% in 2012 to 16.6% in 2018.  Hookah use, which had been increasing between 2012-2016, has been decreasing the past two years and saw a 26.2% decrease in the past year alone.  When looking at data for just high school students, the numbers are much higher with 17.2% ever tried cigarettes, and 37.9% ever tried electronic vaping, a 362.2% increase between 2012-2018, and a 18.1% in the past year alone.  Middle school students who have ever tried vaping is up 297.3% between 2012-2018, and 18.5% in the past year.

We admit that the low number of youth currently using cigarettes is impressive, and has decreased 63.9% since 2012 from a high of 6.1%.  Cigar use had a high of 6.5% in 2012 and had decreased every year until 2017.  In the past year it increased from 2.7% to 3.0% for 2018.  Current use of smokeless tobacco has seen its ups and downs since a high of 3.0% in 2012 and again in 2014; since then the trend has been down and has seen an overall decrease of 43.3%.  After starting out at 3.0% in 2012, hookah use increased to a high of 7.1% in 2014 and has fallen every year since.  It has seen a 26.8% decreased between 2012-2018 and a 21.1% decrease in the past year alone. Current use of cigarettes, cigars or smokeless tobacco has seen a steady decrease between 2012-2018 with a high of 11.0% in 2012 to a low of 5.1% in 2017.  The 2018 number is 5.2%.

Seeing decreases in tobacco use is something to celebrate; however, the current trend in electronic vaping is disheartening and scary.  While the ever tried use of cigarettes was 11.4% in 2018, ever tried electronic vaping increased to 26.3% after two years of declines, and increased 17.9% in the past year alone.  Overall, ever tried electronic vaping saw an increase of 361.4% between 2012-2018.  In 2012, current use of electronic vaping was at 2.3%, but now stands at 15.7%, with a 60.2% increase between 2017-2018 alone.  Even with a decrease between 2016-2017, current use of electronic vaping increased 582.6% between 2012-2018.  Data for high school student use of electronic vaping is much higher with 24.8% use in 2018.  Between 2012 and 2018, current use of electronic vaping increased 651.5% among high school students with a 58.0% increase between 2017-2018.  Current use of vaping for middle school students increased 387.5% between 2012-2018 and 44.4% in the past year alone.

Not all youth who try tobacco or nicotine products go on to become current or daily users, but in the area of electronic vaping, we can certainly see why the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) says vaping is at an epidemic level. One way to decrease tobacco and nicotine use is to educate our youth regarding the dangers of addiction. The Florida Tobacco Prevention Training for Educators online course allows all educators with a current FLDOE certificate to take the course at no cost to them or their district.  At course completion, participants will teach six (6) tobacco prevention lessons to their students before being awarded either 30- or 60-points to renew their certificate.  Both courses now have an entire chapter dedicated to vaping and electronic cigarettes.  Palm Beach teachers can take a 10-point course just on vaping, provided they haven’t already taken one of the other courses.

The vaping industry has told our kids that vaping is “safer” and “less harmful” than cigarettes, but they haven’t been truthful about the dangers of their products.  By educating our students, we can make a difference in their lifelong health.

Click HERE for the 2018 Florida Youth Tobacco Survey state level reports
Click HERE for the 2018 Florida Youth Tobacco Survey county reports

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October 2018 Health Observances

As the month of October draws to a close, there are so many health-related observances we didn’t have a chance to write about but need to mention.

National Breast Cancer Awareness Month reminds everyone to check for unusual lumps in the breasts.  Cancer not only forms in the lobules and ducts of the breast, but in the fatty tissue or fibrous connective tissue within the breast, as well as lymph nodes under the arms.  It affects both women and men.  Your risk for developing breast cancer increases with age, but it is not unusual for young women to develop this disease.   Check out this link for risk factors and symptoms.  If you are a smoker, you have a higher risk of breast cancer, and smoking can increase complications from treatment.  The best thing you can do if you are a smoker, no matter how long you have smoked, is quit.  Quitting will improve healing, and increase the effectiveness of treatment.

October is also National Dental Hygiene Month and a great time to talk about the importance of good oral health which is more than just brushing your teeth.  As we get older issues with our mouth can impact our overall health. The use of tobacco not only stains your teeth, it damages your gums, makes tartar build up more quickly on your teeth, and affects the blood vessels which delays healing when having dental surgery. Tobacco use of any type will increase your risk of oral cancer.  If you notice a sore in your mouth that doesn’t get better, have pain or tenderness in the mouth or lips, have a lump or color changes, or have difficulty chewing, swallowing or speaking, you need to make an appointment with your dentist to have these issues checked.   And while e-cigarette users believe vaping is safer than cigarettes, toxic ingredients in the e-liquid may produce ulcerations and stomatitis that look like dark colored “pin pricks.”  It can also dry out your mouth and cause tooth decay.  There really is no safe form of tobacco, including vaping.

Another observance this month was Mental Illness Awareness Week.  You might wonder what tobacco has to do with mental illness, but it has been found that adults with mental illness smoke more cigarettes than adults smokers without mental illness, according to the CDC. Nicotine affects your mood and can “temporarily mask the negative symptoms of mental illness,” and can affect the effectiveness of medications.

Bone and Joint Health National Action Week was also this month. We often think of weak bones as something women suffer, but smoking increases your risk of developing osteoporosis whether you are male or female.  “Elderly smokers are 30% to 40% more likely to break their hips versus non-smoking adults.”  Smoking harms your bones in a number of ways including decreased calcium absorption from your diet, and breaking down estrogen which is needed “to build and maintain a strong skeleton in women and men.”  Smokers will also be more likely to suffer from sprains or fractures, and suffer from “overuse injuries, such as bursitis or tendonitis.  And fractures, sprains and other injuries take longer to heal in smokers, and smokers have a higher rate of complications after surgery.

We don’t often think of all the diseases and health-related effects from smoking. but the above are just a few.  There is just nothing good about tobacco and nicotine use.

 

 

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Tougher stance on e-cigarette use in Miami Beach

Federal law prohibits the sale of e-cigarettes to anyone under 18, but that hasn’t stopped under-aged teens from purchasing the devices in record numbers.  The city of Miami Beach, concerned with the high number of youth using e-cigarettes, has taken matters into their own hands and “passed new rules designed to keep the devices” out of the hands of teens.  These new rules come on the heel of a new school district-wide campaign targeting e-cigarette and vaping use in their city.  Hopefully, this one-two punch will help decrease e-cigarette use by youth in this Florida city.

On Tuesday, October 16, Miami Beach school leaders and community officials introduced an awareness campaign with the message for students and parents that “nicotine addiction is dangerous, no matter how you smoke it” with the aim focused on e-cigarettes.  Administrators and teachers will be trained on how to spot teens using the devices in schools, and e-cigarette detection devices will be installed in several of the high schools.  Miami-Dade Public Schools Superintendent Alberto Carvalho placed the blame on the tobacco companies for the increase in teen vaping, saying “all they want is to get you hooked.” While the FDA is stating steps must be taken to address the vaping epidemic among youth, Miami-Dade County is moving forward with their own plans to protect their students to get the situation under control.

Teens themselves said they are able to get around the age restrictions by purchasing the devices through the internet, by having a willing adult purchase them, or by finding a store that doesn’t check ID.  Because of this, Miami Beach city officials passed new rules on Wednesday, October 17 that will hopefully bring an end to underage sales, “strengthen age verification requirements for businesses that sell e-cigarettes and stiffen penalties for violators.”  Businesses, including online stores, will have to obtain proof that a customer is over 18 by getting “a copy of a customer’s driver’s license and verifying the customer’s information in a ‘commercially available database’.” Currently, selling to a minor is a second-degree misdemeanor, punishable by a fine of up to $500 and up to 60 days in jail.  Under the new rules, businesses could have their license suspended up to six months, and a second violation could mean a loss of it altogether.

Miami Beach and Florida aren’t the only areas that have seen skyrocketing e-cigarette use by teens.  The 2016 Surgeon General’s Report on E-cigarettes states high school student use increased 900% between 2011 to 2015, and e-cigs are the most commonly used form of tobacco by youth in the United States.  According to the 2018 Florida Youth Tobacco Survey County Reports, 11.2% of students in Miami-Dade County have ever tried cigarettes, while 28.4% have tried electronic vaping.  Cigarette use in the county is below state levels of 11.4% while e-cigarette use is slightly above the state level of 26.3%.  And while 2.3% currently use cigarettes, 15.2% currently use vaping devices.

Florida is fortunate in that we have one of the lowest youth smoking rates in the nation at 3.6%, but decreases in smoking are currently offset by increases in use of e-cigarettes at 24.8%., according to The Toll of Tobacco in Florida.  One way our state can continue to lower smoking rates as well as decrease youth e-cigarette use is through student education which the Florida Tobacco Prevention Training for Educators online course is able to provide.  School administrators, school counselors and educators, with a current FLDOE certificate, can take either the 30- or 60-point course at no cost to them or their school district.  Both courses now feature an entire chapter dedicated to e-cigarettes and vaping.  At the conclusion of the course, course participants teach six (6) tobacco prevention lessons to students before being awarded points to renew their certificate.  The course is available for public, private and charter schools in all 67 Florida districts.

It is great to see laws passed to protect our youth from an industry that wants addicted, life-long customers, but let’s educate our teens about the products being sold to them so they can make informed decisions about their health and future.

 

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Look. Listen. Learn. Fire Prevention 2018

First Prevention Week is a national observance that takes place during the second week of October and commemorates the Great Chicago Fire that began on October 8, 1871.  The observance has taken place every year since 1925, making it the longest-running public health observance in our country.  During this week, schools will be practicing fire drills and students will be learning how to prevent fires as well as lifesaving ways to safely escape a fire.   The theme of the 2018 Fire Prevention Week is “Look, Listen, Learn.  Be aware.  Fire can happen anywhere.”  Sparky the Fire Dog also has new friend, Simon, who will help him teach this year’s messages.

So how can you help prevent fires?  First, look around your house for places a fire can start, like in the kitchen when you leave something cooking on the stove, a candle burning with no one around to watch it, or a smoking area where cigarettes or matches are discarded.   Second, listen for the sound of a smoke alarm that can warn you about smoke from a fire.  Make sure all your smoke alarms have fresh batteries and now is a great time to replace them.  And finally, learn the fastest way out of your house to escape a fire.  You may need to learn  two ways out in case the first route is blocked by flames.

While many fires start in the kitchen, fires that start from cigarettes and smoking cause the most fire related fatalities.  Most of these fires take place at night, when families are sleeping, and are started in furniture, bedding, and mattresses from discarded cigarettes or matches or from the smoker falling asleep.  Fires from smoking can be avoided by taking precautions, such as only smoking outside and properly disposing of smoking materials using wet sand or water in a bucket.  Many people are switching to electronic cigarettes because they consider them safer than conventional cigarettes, but lithium ion batteries used to power some devices have exploded, causing serious harm to users.  Never leave your device charging unattended.  Of course, never starting to smoke or vape is the best way to avoid fires and personal harm.

Look, listen and learn about fire dangers around your home to protect your family.

Click HERE for information on Fire Prevention Week 2018 and HERE for some fun activities.

 

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