You Only Live Once – Red Ribbon Week 2016

yolo“YOLO.  Be Drug Free” is the theme for the 2016 Red Ribbon Week.  Created by two six grade students in Pennsylvania, “You Only Live Once” encourages other students to be drug free.  This year Red Ribbon Week is celebrated October 23 – 31, 2016.

National Family Partnership was “established in the 1980s as a grassroots organization” by concerned parents in response to the killing of a DEA agent.  Today, over thirty years later, the Partnership works with local coalitions, PTO groups, and parent committees to share information, serve as a resource and as a national voice about drugs through awareness, advocacy and resources.

The Red Ribbon symbol helps to “raise awareness of the killing and destruction caused byred_ribbon_001 drugs in America.”  It also “serves as a catalyst to mobilize communities to educate youth and encourage participation in drug prevention activities.”

Joining NFP “enables parents and coalitions to have direct access to our nation’s leaders and decision makers,” on a local, state, and national level.

The NFP organization also provides resources and “acts as a national clearing house of prevention literature. Partners can use these NFP resources to help educate others in preventative campaigns “such as Red Ribbon Campaign, Red Ribbon Certified Schools, Lock Your Meds, and Safe Homes/Safe Parties.”

While some people may not put tobacco use in the same category as other illicit drugs, nicotine “is one of the most addictive drugs ever used, and is the most common addiction in American.  Some researchers have even called it a “gateway drug” that leads to other drug use. Children who begin using tobacco at an early age, (before graduating from high school) “frequently develop into lifelong regular smoking, which typically turns into a strong addiction,” according to Campaign for Tobacco Free Kids.  Talking to your children about the dangers of tobacco and nicotine use may prevent them from ever starting. Setting clear rules about it and the consequences, could mean the difference between your children trying tobacco or avoiding it.   The same approach can be said for other drugs.  The Red Ribbon blog has some tips to prevent drug use among children.

Check out the Red Ribbon organization to see how you can use their resources and ideas for a Red Ribbon week in your school, and to take the pledge to remain drug free.  And while you are on the site, you can enter the contest for next year’s theme.

Click HERE to learn more about the Red Ribbon organization.





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Menthol use is on the rise

Back in 2013, The Washington Post reported that the Food and Drug Administration said  “menthol-flavored cigarettes probably pose a greater risk to public health than mentholstandard cigarettes.”  Today about a third of all cigarettes sold in the U.S. are menthol and research from a survey has found their use is on the rise.

The latest survey conducted during 2012-2014 shows African Americans still favor the flavor with 84.6% reaching for menthols.  But “almost half of Hispanic smokers” and “almost a third of whites” are now reporting menthol cigarette smoking.  The survey also found that in 2014, “more young adult smokers reported favoring menthol cigarettes over non-menthol cigarettes.”

Surveys were conducted in the time periods of 2008-2010 and 2012-2014 and then compared.  Researches found teens between the ages of 12-17 “were more likely to use menthol cigarettes than smokers in any other age group during both time periods.”  The largest increases went to “Hispanic smokers, as well as adult white smokers between the ages of 26 and 34,” with a 9.8% increase each.

The surveys also noted some decreases which need mention as well.  While African American smokers “continued to smoke menthol cigarettes at higher rates than any other racial group,” there was a slight decline of 1.4% between the two survey time periods.  Young adult, non-menthol smokers in the 18-25 age group also saw a substantial decline” from 26.9% in 2004 to 14% in 2014.”

Three years ago the FDA said the menthol flavoring made it easier to start smoking and more difficult to quit, and hoped to have a ban on the mint-flavored tobacco by the end of 2016.  However, the White House Office of Management and Budget overruled the FDA in May 2016. In September “a group of Black physicians and anti-smoking advocates appealed to the president to revisit the issue” due to the high number of African Americans using menthol tobacco and the “disproportionate impact on their health.”

While standard cigarette use appears to be on a decline, menthol-flavored tobacco is holding strong or increasing, especially in certain populations such as our youth, Hispanics and African Americans.  It is time to revisit the issue of banning this flavoring.


Click HERE for the entire article.

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2016 Fire Prevention Week


By Presidential Proclamation, the week of October 9-15, 2016 has been deemed Fire Prevention Week.   This year’s campaign “Don’t Wait – Check the Date! Replace Smoke Alarms Every 10 Years” represents the final year of the National Fire Protection Association’s “three-year effort to educate the public about basic but essential elements of smoke alarm safety.”

In 2015, the 365,500 home fires reported were just a fraction of the 1,356,500 total fires in the U.S., but home fires resulted in the majority of civilian deaths (2,650).  Information on the National Fire Protection Association site lists cooking equipment as “the leading cause of home structure fires and home fire injuries, while smoking materials remain the leading causes of home fire deaths.”

The good news is as smoking decreases in the U.S., fire deaths from smoking materials  have decreased 73% between 1980 to 2011.  New regulations making mattresses and upholstered furniture more fire-resistant, two of the most common items ignited in a home fire, have helped in the decline, as have fire-safe cigarette requirements.

smoking_safetyHow can you protect your home and loved-ones from a house fire?  First, make your home and property smoke-free.  This is especially true if someone needs medical oxygen as it is highly flammable.  If you or someone who lives with you smokes, make an area outside preferably, your designated smoking area.  Provide cans with sand to put out the smoking material, and never throw it in the trash until you are certain it is totally out.

If the smoker refuses to quit or smoke outside, allow smoking in only one room of the house.  Provide wide, deep ashtrays that won’t tip or ignite and place them on a study table, never the arm of a chair.  Check the area after smoking for any dropped cigarette butts or other smoking ash.  Dispose of smoking material in a metal can until it is cool, and never in the trash or garbage can.

While so much of the information pertains to cigarettes and other combustible smoking materials, electronic cigarettes and vapor devices can also ignite and cause a fire.  Between 2009 and 2014 “the U.S. Fire Administration (USFA) published an alert that identified 25 separate e-cigarette fires and explosions that were reported in the media.”  In 2015 there were 15 incidences alone, with “13 described as explosions and two as ignitions.”  If using this type of device, always follow the manufacturers directions and never leave it plugged in unattended in your house or vehicle.

And finally, make sure all your smoke alarms are in good working order.  You should have an alarm in each bedroom and outside each sleeping area, as well as in each living area and on every level.  The NFPA suggests that you test the alarms are least once a month by pushing the test button, and that batteries are replaced at least once a year.  If you need help with the smoke alarm, Sparky the Fire Dog, will be happy to help in the video below.

Stay safe.




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Trinkets and Trash delivers more tobacco news – September 2016

Another month has passed and it is time again for Trinkets and Trash, the newsletter that keeps you in the know about tobacco products and what the tobacco industry is up to next.

skoal_Instead of going smokeless by vaping, you should turn to the original smokeless products, according to the smokeless tobacco industry.   Skoal has a couple of flavor blends they are promoting, as well as 29 other ways (additional flavors) for tobacco users to go smoke-free. Back in the day a real smokeless user didn’t need flavorings in the tobacco because it already had a flavor…tobacco!  Just who is getting targeted with these candy flavorings?   general_snusAnd according to General Snus, the snus user gets the girl.  Or least until she discovers that awful taste when you kiss.

One electronic cigarette brand, NJOY, has declared bankruptcy, blaming, in part, the “substantial expenses” associated with the FDA’s new regulations.  Could it be that they just had a higher opinion of their product then potential users?  But fear not, they dwaynesay their product is still available in ” a majority of the largest supermarket and convenience store chains. ”

Remember the Mayhem guy from Allstate?  Met Dark Mint Dwayne introduced in a series of memes from Grizzly.  Users can go to the Grizzly site and vote or “bump” “(a.k.a. like – but much manlier) your favorite user generated memes,” or make newporttheir own meme, but watch what you say, there are guidelines.  “Mantastic” prizes will be won by the favorite memes.

In order to combat the dwindling smoking population, Newport is going directly to the consumer and setting up a mobile air-conditioned trailer called the “Newport Pleasure Lounge” at summer music festivals.  You visit, you get a coupon.  Newport ads rarely feature smokers anymore, and it appears no one is smoking in this lounge either.

If you would like to receive all the latest and greatest news on the tobacco industry, sign up for Trinkets and Trash.



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Survey: Teens say it’s only flavoring

The use of electronic cigarettes or vaping devices among teens has skyrocketed from about 1% of high school students using them in the past 30 days in 2011 to 16% of 12th graders using them during the same time period today.  Teens now use e-cigarettes more than any e-cigsother tobacco product, including combustible cigarettes.  But not all those students are using the devices for the nicotine factor; about two-thirds of the students are using them just for the flavor, at least according to a survey.

Approximately 15,000 students in grades 8, 10, and 12 were part of a National Institute on Drug Abuse’s (NIDA) 2015 Monitoring the Future survey that asked about their vaping habits during the past 30 days.   The students were also asked to report on what substances they inhaled and were given several choices to chose from, including “Nicotine,” “Just flavoring,” and “Don’t know,” as well as others.  Students were also asked about their cigarette consumption during the same time period.

Of the 3,837 students “who reported some vaping experience,” “between 65% and 66% of students in each grade reported vaping ‘just flavoring’ the last time they vaped.”  And for those who vaped in the past 30 days, between 59% and 63% reported they vaped “just flavoring.”  Grade level reporting was at 20% for 12th and 10th grade students and 13% of 8th grade students reporting they vaped nicotine.

e-liquidThe survey results are interesting, to say the least, as well as misleading.  Some e-liquids that claim to be nicotine-free have been found to still contain nicotine.   The survey result were self-reported by the students, but the only way to tell if these students are vaping nicotine is through a drug test to detect cotinine in blood, urine or saliva.  Currently, we will have to wait for the manufacturers to label their ingredients per the new FDA requirements to know if the product is really nicotine free.

One researcher questioned the tactics being used “to keep teens from using e-cigarettes and other vaping products,” but he also added that the research on e-cigarettes is in its infancy and it will be “a decade or more before the health effects of vaping are known.” However, what he did find was that “use of e-cigarettes is associated with greater uptake of regular cigarettes by teens,” even those “who reported having no interest in smoking cigarettes.”

Teens today are no more aware of what they are inhaling than their parents were when they smoked cigarettes.  We can research all the reasons why youth are using these products, but the bigger question is why aren’t we doing more to keep these products out of their hands in the first place?

Click HERE for more information on this article.


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Zero tolerance for secondhand smoke around children

Photo via Health Day

Photo via Health Day

If someone asked to borrow your child to conduct a science experiment on the effects of poisonous gases on young children, you would probably call the authorities and report them.  Yet millions of kids in the U.S. and throughout the world are living with a smoker, usually a parent, and breathing in toxins on a daily basis in homes and cars. The medical outcomes of this exposure can result in pneumonia, bronchitis, ear infections, asthma, and chronic coughs, while long-term outcomes can include decreased lung development, early heart disease and a shortened life expectancy.   Just recently the American Heart Association came out with a statement recommending “zero tolerance” when it comes to tobacco smoke exposure around children.

What makes secondhand smoke so bad is the number of toxins present in the smoke: more than 7,000 compounds, with 250 chemicals known to be harmful and over 70 known to cause cancer.   Secondhand smoke is so dangerous that the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has classified it as a known human carcinogen.  That doesn’t seem to stop some family members from exposing their children to secondhand smoke.

It is estimated “24 million nonsmoking children and youths are exposed to secondhand smoke in the U.S.”  Even with declines in adult smoking, nearly 41% of these children, age 3-11, and 34% of children 12 to 19, are still exposed to smoke on a daily basis.  Low-income children and minority youth are at an even bigger disadvantage.

You may be able to smell the lingering effects of secondhand smoke or even see it in the air, but you do not see the “immediate, tangible negative consequences” it has on a child’s health.  Many parents may be “oblivious to the gravity of second and third hand smoke exposure and possible effects” which may or may not “be related to their level of education, access to health care and role modeling in the community.”   Continued tobacco prevention education in schools will also help prevent children from becoming the next smoker by educating them to the dangers.

Click HERE for article.


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Removing tobacco from pharmacies has public support

In 2014 CVS Caremark made the decision to quit selling tobacco in their stores.  Now two years later a new Centers for Disease Control (CDC) survey is out showing a majority of tobacco_sales_in_pharmaciesAmerican adults, including those who are smokers, are in favor of removing tobacco from pharmacies.  Currently, about 134 municipalities in California and Massachusetts, as well as one county in Minnesota, prohibit tobacco sales in pharmacies.

The question was asked of 4,269 U.S. adults 18 years of age and older: “Do you favor or oppose banning the sale of all tobacco products in retail pharmacy stores?” More than “66 percent were strongly or somewhat in favor of outlawing tobacco sales, while 14% strongly oppose such a policy.”  Even half of smokers and tobacco using non-smokers would support such a policy.

The highest percentage of respondents (72%) who believed tobacco should not be sold in pharmacies came from the 65 years of age and above group, while 70% of all women supported a policy.  Blacks (65%), whites (66%) and Hispanics (67%) were almost equal in support of a policy.

The American public seems to think pharmacies should follow the CVS lead by removing tobacco from their shelves and concentrate on the business of health.  Good idea or bad business?


Click HERE for the article.








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Trinkets and Trash for August 2016

If you haven’t signed up to receive Trinkets and Trash every month, what are you waiting for?  The report monitors the tobacco industry marketing and sends you the new monthly ads and contests.  It may be the 21st century, but Big Tobacco is still using old tricks in a new medium when it comes to getting your attention. Tobacco ads can now be sent directly to consumers through the internet, saving the companies millions in marketing costs.  They have to make it interesting.

cope_002Copenhagen has a new “the process is the passion” ad in Sports Illustrated featuring a group of surly-looking motorcycle machinists apparently restoring old bikes during their free time after work. Would you really be packing a lip using dirty, greasy hands?  Unfortunately, this ad was placed in a national sports magazine and seen by thousands, if not millions of teens, and sends the wrong message that you need tobacco to be passionate about what you do in life. Another smokeless tobacco company, Grizzly, is back after going “off the grid” in June.  And of course, there is a new “off the grid” contest showing different “off the grid” locations (igloo) with a survival tip video tutorial, such as opening a can without an opener.  “Every day you are asked to choose between two prizes that would enhance the experience and your chances of survival.”  The product site gets you to continually log in, while you learn survival tips you will never have to use.  Great marketing!  Not to be outdone with “going off the grid”, Skoal has their “mancation” giveaway where is have a “chance” to win trips.  The best and most valuable prize you could win is getting your life back by quitting these products.

Not everyone is happy in tobacco-land as Newport visitors to their new website are voicing their dissatisfaction with the lack of games.  Do they know there are thousands of other games online without having to go to a tobacco site?  Camel has an “Open Canvas” art contest with some interesting restrictions…you create art on their website but nothing related to health or health-related topics or activities.  So art showing smoking is good, but art showing bicycling, running or maybe eating healthy is bad?

And if you think you have heard it all…WAIT!  There is now a vaping competition tour with 28 stops.  Your “skills can be showcased” as you compete in men’s and women’s “Big Cloud” and “Tricks.”  According to a former smoker …”once you get off cigarettes, you want to be a part of something…”  Being part of a health study on electronic cigarette use probably isn’t what they were thinking of.

It may be 2016, but people are still gullible to fall for Big Tobacco’s tricks.

Click HERE for Trinkets and Trash, August 2016.






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Who influences teen tobacco use?

We know that “nearly 9 out of 10 cigarette smokers first tried smoking by age 18,” according to the Centers for Disease Control (CDC).  But just who is influencing teens to



start using tobacco in the first place?  According to a study conducted in India, part of the answer may depend whether you are male or female.

The study was composed of over 9,000 households with those in age from 15 years and older.  According to theories in psychology and sociology, “individuals imitate behaviors they observe from individuals with whom they identify closely, such as parents, siblings, friends/peers, teachers and the media.”  The “importance of the person to the individual” also plays a role.

Males were more likely to start using tobacco due to pressure from friends.  But peer pressure comes in second when it comes to teens smoking as they are more likely to be influenced by a family member.  Females were more likely to be influenced by a family member whom they look up to, such as their mother.  Having a family member use tobacco “legitimizes the habit in the mind of vulnerable kids” which may explain why children of smokers are more likely to pick up the habit.

According to the study, getting people to quit might be more effective if the tobacco user knew that their behavior was influencing tobacco use by other family members and friends.   Educating the parents about the hazards of tobacco could benefit not only the parents, but possibly prevent future tobacco use among younger family members.

Click HERE for the entire article.

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Florida Tobacco Prevention Training and Twitter

One of our favorite parts of the Florida Tobacco Prevention Training for Educators online course is the social media component.  It would be difficult to keep up with all the new information without the news feed alerts and posts we receive every hour.  Every day we read through the hundreds of articles and gauge whether to reTweet or post it to our Facebook account, or whether to share it in our blog.  Information such as state and national reports, medical studies and research that comes out during the school year is saved and included in our course the following year.  While our followers see our posts on social media, we get to see all the analytics behind the posts, and the information from our followers is interesting, to say the least.

The top five “interests” of our audience are: business and news (66%), politics and current events (58%), businesses news and general info (54%), Science news (47%), and health, mind, and body (45%).  Tobacco and tobacco prevention fit well in those “interests”.  The top five occupations of our followers are listed as: professional/technical (42%), health services (21%) self-employed (19%), homemaker (18%) and white collar worker (15%).  The gender of our audience is a close match at 52% female to 48% male.

Although we are based in Florida and our course is for Florida educators only, it appears our state comes in second in the number of audience members with California taking first place.  New York, England, GB and Texas round out the top five “Regions”.  The majority of our followers live in the United States (63%), followed by United Kingdom, Canada, Spain and Australia.  Spain coming in number four was a surprise as we report more stories from Australia.  About 95% of our audience speaks English, with Spanish, Arabic, Japanese and French mentioned.  In terms of age, the majority of followers are in the 25-34 age bracket (48%), followed by 35-44, 45-54, and 18-24 age brackets.

August has been a good month for the Florida Tobacco Prevention Training for Educators with 45 new followers and 29K impressions (the number of times a user saw the Tweet on Twitter).   We love reporting news and information as it pertains to tobacco, youth and tobacco prevention, and look forward to another exciting year.





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