Read the Ingredient Label First

A leading headline from national news was the level of arsenic in apple juice.  A consumer group found high level of arsenic in the samples they tested after Dr. Mehmet Oz reported on his own findings back in September.   At first the Food and Drug Administration stated he was using unconfirmed data.  Now the FDA will consider setting a standard for how much arsenic will be permitted after additional testing confirmed there was indeed higher levels of arsenic in many of the samples.  The Consumer Reports  has reported that out of the 88 juice samples tested of popular brands found in grocery stores, 10% of the samples contained arsenic levels higher than the federal standard for drinking water.  Not only was arsenic found, but one-quarter of the juices tested high for lead levels

So why would a tobacco prevention blog report on apple juice?  What do the two have in common?  Both products contain arsenic and lead,  but the similarities end there.  Apple juice is considered a food and is required by the FDA to have an ingredient label applied to the container that provides specific nutrition information per serving.  When you read the list of ingredients on the label of apple juice,  you expect the list to be short, with no hidden surprises.

Tobacco does not provide a list of ingredients on their packages, and until 1994 the list of ingredients was a secret.   You would expect a cigarette to be simply dried tobacco leaves rolled in paper.  But the tobacco industry adds ingredients for flavor as well as to boost the nicotine’s potency which increases the addictiveness.

In fact, the ingredient list for a cigarette has 599 additives which was submitted by the five major American cigarette companies to the Department of Health and Human Services in April 1994 .  While all the ingredients have been approved as additives for food, the properties of the chemicals change when burned and produce over 4,000 chemical compounds.  Forty-three are known carcinogens, and 69 of those chemicals are known to cause cancer.

Limiting the amount of apple juice children receive will reduce the amount of arsenic and lead exposure.   It will also reduce the amount of sugar in your child’s diet.  Apple juice is not addictive, although parents may not agree with this statement.

Limiting the amount of cigarettes you smoke doesn’t reduce the amount of harm to your body.  No level of cigarette smoke is safe for children or adults.  And the addictive properties of cigarettes means that only a few cigarettes will cause changes to your brain and damage to the rest of your body.

The Florida Statewide Tobacco Prevention and Intervention Teacher Training Course is a valuable resource for educators to learn about tobacco so they can pass that knowledge onto their students.  This free, online course is available 24/7 for Florida educators with a current DOE certification, and will provide you with up to 60 teacher in-service credits towards recertification.  Check out the course at:  www.tobaccopreventiontraining.org

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