“Every Try Counts” Campaign Takes Off

According to the U.S. Surgeon General Jerome Adams, “cigarette smoking remains the leading cause of preventable disease and death in the U.S.” and is a heavy public health burden.  For that reason, the FDA has started a new smoking cessation education campaign urging adult smokers to quit.  This new campaign comes on the heels of the tobacco industry corrective statements, informing the public that the industry lied about the dangers of tobacco.  While tobacco industry corrective statements are airing on networks and in newspapers, the FDA campaign will go further and be displayed at gas stations, and convenience stores where a high volume of cigarettes are sold.  The campaign called “Every Try Counts” targets smokers ages 25-54 and will run for two years in 35 U.S. markets.  Notices will also appear on billboards, radio, and in digital and print.

Although cigarette smoking among adults has been decreasing, there are still about 36.5 million smokers in the U.S., and about 22 million or 66% of those would like to quit.  Out of the 55% who did try a quit attempt in 2015, only about 7% were successful.  The “Every Try Count” campaign hopes to “celebrate those quit attempts as a positive step toward success.” Smokers who have attempted to quit before are more likely to try again, and the more times they try, the higher the chance of them “quitting for good.”

A new website EveryTryCounts.gov will provide “resources and tools to help with quitting.” A text messaging program will provide tips and encouragement, and trained coaches will be available online or by phone.  The campaign is funded by fees collected by the tobacco industry, not taxpayer dollars.

Click HERE for the FDA press announcement


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Are Smokefree Florida Parks and Beaches Coming?

Few Florida residents know that the state is one of only eight in the nation with an outdated law from 1985 called preemption that only allows the state to decide on matters of smoking leaving cities and counties powerless.  While the state passed bans for no smoking in workplaces (1985), restaurants (2001) and on school property (2011), you can light up in other public places such as parks, playgrounds and even on the beach.  If Bill SB562 passes, cities and counties can take control of where you can and cannot smoke.

Trying to pass efforts to give local governments control over smoking has been difficult.  Between 2011 and 2014 measures have failed four times, due to the strong tobacco industry presence in our state.  They are very vocal and throw money towards the fight when it comes to any type of changes in smoking regulations.

One county commissioner understands the need for smoking ban continuity throughout the state.  Sarasota County had a five-year ban on smoking at some parks and beaches before the state ruled it was illegal. However, county parks are run, paid for and maintained by the county and not the state, and counties should have more say and control in adopting smoking bans.  Currently, counties and cities can pass ordinances asking for smokers to not light up in public areas, but it is not law and has no real power.  Even smokers agree it is time to ban smoking in public parks.  The bill doesn’t outlaw smoking, just where you can smoke.

If all goes well, and the bill passes, it will take effect on July 1, 2018.

Click HERE and HERE for articles.

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What’s happening in the tobacco world

It’s important to keep up with developments in the tobacco world, and Trinkets and Trash does a great job informing subscribers of new products as well as deals offered by the tobacco industry to consumers.

If you haven’t heard, earlier this year Natural American Spirit finally agreed to remove the words “natural” and “additive-free” when describing their cigarettes, but they can keep the “organic” label and the “natural” in their name.  It seems too many people believed the cigarettes were safer than other cigarettes, hence the need for change.  Now they have a new slogan: “Tobacco Ingredients: Tobacco and Water.”  As part of this “reimagined” experience they are offering paperless gift certificates – their name for coupons – for your smartphone.  And paperless is all about sustainability, which is sort of an oxymoron when millions of trees are cut to make the cigarette packaging and cigarette wrappers.

General Snus, a smokeless tobacco company, is using the same marketing ideas as Natural American Spirit cigarette company as they take users “from seed to can,” versus seed to cigarette.  Since users “have made the careful decision” by choosing their tobacco, they want to provide the best tobacco.  There aren’t many details about what is in it, but Snus made in the states is different than in Sweden where they limit the number of chemicals. However, it still contains nicotine, which is highly addictive.

Scandinavian Tobacco Group decided to educate millennials about the finer details of smoking a pipe and produced an instructional video.  The millennials did bring a light-hearted moment to the video when they reminded people, “if you don’t smoke, don’t start.”  They may have used slightly stronger words, but it’s the same message.  The company also provided a birthday greeting and coupons for pouches of tobacco for your new smoking experience.

E-cigarette brands NJOY, MarkTen, and Logic jumped onboard with Cyber Monday savings for users.  NJOY went out of their way to provide a 67% enticement when you used a special promo code.  They need the business as they filed for Chapter 11 in 2016 and a review of the product gave it a 1 star.  They were one of the original disposable e-cigarette manufacturers and their first product looked like a cigarette.   They have now branched out with more flavors, and provide pre-filled, disposal tanks to attach to their newer devices.

The tobacco industry does everything they can to keep happy customers, and giving away freebies and coupons seems to do the job.  But something to think about next time you get these goodies, they are writing off these expenses as part of doing business, while you are paying them to make you sick and destroy your health.  Not really a fair trade, is it?

The above information came from Trinkets and Trash October and November editions.

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2017 November Health Observances

November is a month of health observances with many of them related to smoking and tobacco use.  Everyone has probably heard of the Great American Smokeout that took place on the third Thursday of this month, but other observances including American Diabetes Month, COPD Awareness Month, and Lung Cancer Awareness Month also need our attention.

The human body is a marvelous machine that automatically keeps systems in check and balance, but sometimes it doesn’t work as it should.  When your body is working correctly, the pancreas makes a hormone called insulin that allows the cells in your body to use sugar from the carbohydrates you eat for energy.  Since sugar can’t be absorbed by the cells, insulin is released into the blood, and converts it to glucose to be absorbed by the body.  If you don’t need the sugar, it is stored in your liver until the next time you need it. When your body doesn’t produce enough insulin, your blood sugar increases which can create problems over time.  According to the American Diabetes Association, this is the most common form of diabetes called type 2.  What does this have to do with tobacco?  Most people aren’t aware that cigarettes and smokeless tobacco contain high amounts of sugar that contribute to the risk of developing type 2 diabetes, and may make it difficult to maintain good blood sugar levels.  Nicotine also affects hormone levels and since insulin is a hormone, it could also affect insulin levels.  You can learn more about diabetes by clicking the link for the American Diabetes Association.

The main cause of COPD (chronic obstructive pulmonary disease) is smoking, but even nonsmokers can develop this disease through environment exposures such as air pollution, secondhand smoke, and exposure to chemicals.  COPD is a group of progressive lung diseases with the most common being emphysema, which “slowly destroys the air sacs in your lungs’, and chronic bronchitis, which “causes inflammation and narrowing of the bronchial tubes and allows mucus to build up.”  There is no cure yet for COPD, but treatment can help ease the symptoms and improve your quality of life.  You can learn more about COPD from the COPD Foundation.

Lung Cancer Awareness Month is also taking place in November and it is important to know that smoking causes 80-85% of lung cancers in the U.S., according to the Lung Cancer Alliance.   It is the leading cause of cancer deaths for both men and women, and the risk increases the longer you smoke and the more you smoke.  Lung cancer can also develop from being exposed to radon, (the second-leading cause of lung cancer), asbestos, and even secondhand smoke.  Many smokers are turning to e-cigarettes thinking they are a healthier alternative; however, not enough is known regarding the potential for possible lung damage from the chemicals in the flavorings.

Everyone has their reasons why they started to smoke, but quitting will reduce the risks of developing any of the above diseases as well as others.  It is not too late to improve your health and reverse the effects of smoking.

Click on the highlighted links in each paragraph to learn more about each of these topics.

Diabetes image from: The Madison Clinic for Pediatric Diabetes at UCSF
COPD image from: https://www.nhlbi.nih.gov/health/health-topics/topics/copd/
Lung cancer image from: ProLung



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Is It Really That Bad? – Guest Blog

We always enjoy sharing and showcasing the work of our participants who take the Florida Tobacco Prevention Training for Educators online course.  Rocco L. from Palm Beach County writes that our younger generation has more knowledge available at their fingertips today than any time in history, yet are still in denial when it comes to the dangers of tobacco and its use.  How can it be so bad when so many people are still using it?  Thank you, Rocco, for allowing us to share your essay.

A smart phone can be seen in the hand of nearly every young person today at all times. Sometimes a cigarette or other form is in the other. In today’s day and age of information anyone can access nearly anything at any time. Technology has made it so our youth can drown in information in an instant. There is more knowledge readily available right now than there has been in human history. How can the most enlightened generation be in the dark about such a harmful killer? Some argue technology has actually made our youth less intelligent in their decision making skills for their life as a whole. “For some people, the technology effect might include the idea that unhealthy behaviors like a poor diet are less impactful because they think that eventually, someone will develop technology that provides a cure for their illness.” (Robert, 2015).

It is no secret that any tobacco product whether from a can, smoked or lit by an electronic device is harmful, however, few of our youth who are glued to their smartphones will do the research to confirm it. Yet many smokers I have spoken with reply “We all have to die sometime.” or “No one gets out alive.” These are things that children learn by watching anyone they consider a role model whether positive or negative. Parents usually want the best for their children but “Do as I say not as I do” does not go very far. NBC News reported on a study done at the University of Georgetown that “The more time children spend seeing their parents smoke, the more they’ll smoke themselves…” So if young people are around those who view tobacco as not a big deal or something the popular population does then they will partake without hesitation. Advertising to children has been outlawed, but the bright colored e-cigarettes and candy flavored cigars or hookahs make it painfully obvious they will be desired by a younger audience.

If the information is readily available that tobacco products are detrimental to one’s health, why are our youth still falling for it? I have personally heard students talk about being cryogenically frozen if they become ill to be thawed out later when a cure is found. This is not a new concept but the faith in technology today has this appearing as a realistic option in the near future. Synthetic arteries and such may replace the damage done by smoking or similar so our youth do not see risk as being everlasting. The sad truth is no amount of information, data, studies or graphs will outweigh the “mystery” older kid lighting up a cigarette or one’s grandfather who has smoked since the war and is fit as a fiddle. Every person that a child looks up to is being watched and imitated whether they are aware of it or not. The imagery and personal experience of secondhand smoke make the transition to full-time tobacco user almost effortless.

            In prior years, the “cool” or “bad” kids smoked cigarettes, the athletes dipped snuff or chew and no one blinked an eye. The nerdy children would be pressured directly or indirectly in an attempt to look the part of the popular by starting an unhealthy habit. This happens at a very young age.  The Illinois Department of Health discovered that “approximately 90 percent of all smokers start before age 18; the average age for a new smoker is 13.” Humans are a creature of habit and things that become second nature are harder to break than the nicotine dependence itself. Once children make the decision to change their lifestyle and become a “smoker” or a “dipper” or a “vaper” then they have consciously made the effort to change their lives as a whole. Many things such as lung capacity are impacted when one smokes especially during the developmental stage of life. This could steer children away from being as active or playing sports and could continue on into adulthood and cause obesity and other complications. What started out as an attempt to fit in opened a gateway of poor life decisions.

Once caught in the snare of nicotine dependence students may never be released from its grasp. If nicotine is treated as “Is it really that bad?” then perhaps other substances may be put in the same group. Instead of exercising and struggling to breathe another cigarette is puffed and the cycle continues. Many smokers enjoy having an alcoholic beverage at the same time. We all have an older relative who loves “scotch and a smoke” or a similar combination. The damage caused by these is not always apparent from the outside and that is what students see; the outward appearance of their hero, idol, friend, older sibling etc. and that is what they will mimic.

Smoking has decreased as a whole for our country but it is not completely dead. Perhaps if those around our youth portrayed it as the beast that it is and did not partake then those that look up to them would not either. Tobacco causes many changes to a person physically and mentally. While technology is amazing and useful, it will not solve these problems if the students do not search for the answers and apply them. It is possible that an artificial lung could replace one riddled with cancer due to smoking but this should not be a backup plan for anyone, let alone the youngest of us. No smoking ads on Instagram will not have a greater impact than the people around them. Children do as they see and if they see smoking done by anyone that they consider a role model they will follow the example they have been given. Our most information-saturated generation is still in danger of having nicotine saturate bodies.  Regardless of what they read they will see their idols and think “Is it really that bad?”

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Great American Smokeout 2017

The third Thursday of November is almost here which means it’s time for the Great American Smokeout!  It doesn’t matter whether you smoke or use some other form of tobacco, giving it up for one day could be the beginning of your quit for good.

They say numbers don’t lie, but when it comes to smoking, they don’t tell the entire truth either.  In 1976, when the first Great American Smokeout took place in California, roughly 36% of Americans smoked (41.9% males, 32.0% females).  Over the years that number dropped and by 2015 it was at 15.1%.   While the percentage is much lower than the 1976 number, actual numbers means more than 36 million adults in the U.S. are still lighting up.  And this doesn’t even include smokeless tobacco.

Did you know 7 out of 10 smokers want to quit smoking.  According to information from the Ontario Tobacco Survey, the average attempts to quit per person was about 2.7, while the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) suggests 8 to 11 attempts.  Whether it takes you one attempt or several, just remember, what works for one person may not work for another.  Keep experimenting to find what works best for you. 

If you are not sure where to begin, start by calling your state quitline at 1-800-QUIT-NOW (1-800-784-8669) to learn more. Let your family and friends know about your decision so they can help. Get rid of the cigarettes, lighters, ashtrays and any other reminders around your house or car.  Prepare ahead of time by having mints, bottled water, fresh fruit and veggies available if a craving hits.  If you need another incentive, take the money you would have spent on tobacco and put it away every week.  At the end of the year reward yourself for a job well done.  You will be surprised at how much money you have.

Quitting is a big deal, but you are a big deal in the lives of so many people.  You can do this!  If you need additional help, click on the links below to start your quit journey.

Click HERE for more information on the Great American Smokeout.
Tobacco Free Florida Quit Your Way
Kill the Can: A resource to quit dip, snuff & chewing tobacco


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Veterans Day 2017

Tobacco use among youth is dropping throughout the U.S., but the youth market is but one group targeted by the tobacco industry.  Other groups targeted by the tobacco industry have much higher rates of use including those of our military.  From providing free tobacco during World War I and World War II to providing discounted prices on military bases today, the tobacco industry continues to see our military men and women as a important marketing target.

The reasons for joining the military are many, from pride, patriotism and family traditions, to career opportunities.  But the tobacco industry sees service people differently, according to their internal documents.  While members of the service are seen as a “desirable” sales market to the tobacco industry, they are also seen as “less educated,” “part of the wrong crowd,” and “classic downscale smoker.”  Since 99% of all smokers start by 26 years of age, the tobacco industry works hard to capture as many as they can from this market.  Is it any wonder so many of our military members use tobacco?

Smoking rates in the civilian population continue to fall, yet rates in the military lag far behind.  According to a Department of Defense 2011 report, 49.2% of all military service members had “used a nicotine product in the past 12 months,” while 24.0% of “active duty military personnel reported currently smoking.” Compare that to 19.0% of the civilian population for the same time period.  Sadly, 38% of our service personnel picked up their habit after joining the military.  Smoking rates even vary within the different branches with a high of 30.8% in the U.S. Marine Corp to 16.7% smoking in the U.S. Air Force.  Smoking in the Army and Navy fall between the high and the low but are above civilian smoking rates.

Smoking isn’t the only tobacco product used at rates higher than the civilian population. According to the same 2011 DOD report military, use of smokeless tobacco in the past month was 12.8% while civilian smokeless tobacco use was reported at 3.2%.  Again, the U.S. Marine Corp had the highest use at 21.3% while the Air Force was the lowest at 8.7%.  The Army rate was above the average; the Navy rate fell below.  Younger personnel are also more likely than older personnel to use smokeless tobacco.

Military members aren’t the only ones being targeted.  Family members are also considered an important market segment for the tobacco industry.  Back in the early 1980s Brown & Williamson sponsored bingo nights on military bases and those attending received free cigarettes as well as coupons to keep them coming back for more product.

New recruits can’t smoke during basic training, but policies and enforcement vary depending on the service and installation.  The continued pro-smoking culture and the inexpensive tobacco prices on military bases may lead personnel to begin to smoke.  Prior to a change in policy, tobacco prices on base could be 5 percent below local prices, but deep discounts of up to 73 percent were found.  In an attempt to improve the health of service personnel, tobacco products on base now have to match the competitive prices in the local community.

Smoking and nicotine use decreases the readiness and physical performance of our military personnel, and increases their odds of injury as well as the amount of time needed to wound healing.  The DOD spends billions of dollars every year on tobacco-related medical care for both active duty members and veterans.  Our military personnel are either currently fighting for their country or fought in the past.  They shouldn’t have to continue to fight for their health by being a tobacco target.

Click HERE and HERE for information used in this blog.
In the military and want to quit?  Click HERE




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Red Ribbon Week and Smoking

It is Red Ribbon Week 2017, and if you haven’t done so, you need to have “that talk” with your child(ren).  You know, the one about the dangers of tobacco and vaping.  As a parent, you have more influence on the decisions your child(ren) make then you think.  Studies show that kids who believe their parents strongly disapprove of smoking, are less likely to do it.  That also goes for other substances to which your child(ren) may be exposed.

One such study followed a group of three rural Vermont schools over the course of three years from grades four to eleven.  The students were asked whether their family members or friends smoked, and how their parents would react if they found out.  If the students believed the parents would be upset or would tell them to stop, it signaled strong disapproval.  The students whose parents would disapprove of smoking were “less than half as likely to become established smokers” as the students who did not feel their parents would disapprove.  The researchers also discovered during the course of the study that if the parents seemed to be more lenient with regard to smoking, the students were “twice as likely to become established smokers.”

The researchers also discovered that parental approval trumped peer pressure when it came to smoking.  Disapproval of smoking from the parents, even if they themselves smoked, also means youth are less likely to smoke.  Hopefully that disapproval also carries over to vaping as well, as more students are vaping now than smoking cigarettes.

National figures for 2015 report about 1 in 4 high school are current ENDS (electronic nicotine delivery system) users.   According to Florida Youth Tobacco Survey between 2011 and 2015, the percentage of high school students trying e-cigarettes increased 526.7% to 37.6%; middle school students increased 390.0% to 14.7% during the same time period. Many of these students had never wanted to smoke, but e-cigarettes with their flavorings seem safer and fun compared to traditional cigarettes.  Once they are addicted to the nicotine, they may turn to traditional cigarettes.

It doesn’t matter how mature or smart your child(ren) seem, they may not have good judgment about smoking due to the fact the decision-making part of the brain is still developing which will continue until about 25 years of age.  That’s why is it so important for parents to discuss smoking and vaping and their consequences with their child(ren) early and often. If you need help starting the conversation, the links below can help.

Click HERE to learn more about Red Ribbon Week.
Click HERE for the Parent Guide to E-cigarettes from the Surgeon General, and HERE for information on smoking and tobacco use from the CDC.
Click HERE for a guide on talking to your kids about smoking. 





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Our Kids Have Seen Enough Tobacco

Photo from Seenenoughtobacco.org

There is some scary stuff out there and we aren’t talking Halloween; it’s tobacco marketing and advertising hiding in plain sight.  Adults may not notice it, but your kids see it every day as Big Tobacco tries to lure them in as replacement smokers, costuming the products in bright packaging and disguising the dangers with candy and fruit flavors.  Reality Check, a youth led movement against the marketing practices of Big Tobacco in New York, and Tobacco Free New York State declared Friday the 13th as Seen Enough Tobacco Day to highlight this problem.  With all the information out there, we need to be scared for our kids.

Photo submitted by Kristy M of Atlanta, GA to Counter Tobacco showing her 17 month old in front of a 3 ft tall cigarette display.

Tobacco display from Counter Tobacco

Tobacco advertising restrictions were signed into law in 1971 and 2009 in order to protect overall public health; however, the laws have just moved the advertising from the screen and into the point of sale.  Drive into any convenience gas store and you can see advertising on the pumps, windows and along the property.  Go inside and it is like carnival of signage and a kaleidoscope of color as tobacco competes with soft drinks, food and candy for shelf space and your attention, like in the picture on the left.  The tobacco industry claims they market to adults, but displays are often surrounded by candy and advertising is at a child’s eye level.

According to the Seenenoughtobacco.org site, the average age for a new smoker in New York State is 13 years old.  These kids are five years away from being legal age at 18 and eight years away from the Tobacco 21 laws in the 16 counties, cities and municipalities in New York that have raised the age.  How are they getting tobacco?  And New York isn’t unique to the teens having access to tobacco.   Florida boasts one of the lowest teen smoking rate in the nation at 6.9% but it still means easy access.  And cheap prices aren’t helping.

photo from Campaign for Tobacco-Free Kids

Cheap flavored little cigars are easy to find and extremely affordable for teens and are just one form of tobacco that is easy to come by.  While they are marketed, taxed and sold as cigars, they are highly flavored and many could pass as filtered flavored cigarettes that are banned in the U.S.  According to the US Department of Health and Human Services website, 60% of middle and high school students who used tobacco products in 2014 smoked flavored little cigars.

What can we do about all this?  Education is the key.  The American public needs to educated about the tactics of the tobacco industry, as well as the health-related illnesses and number of deaths caused by tobacco.  Comprehensive tobacco education needs to take place in schools so that every child is reached.  According to the 2015 Florida Youth Tobacco Survey, only 26.6% of high school students said they received tobacco education in schools, yet every teacher in Florida’s public, private and charter school system has the opportunity to take the Florida Tobacco Prevention Training for Educators online course and teach tobacco prevention to their K-12 students for credits to renew their teaching certificate.

Protecting our kids from tobacco now means fewer adults using tobacco later and fewer tobacco-related health illnesses and deaths in the future.  How much is the health of our future generation worth?

Click HERE for the SeenEnoughTobacco.org site











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Fire Prevention Week 2017

It’s National Fire Prevention Week and a great time to check around your house for possible fire hazards.  Also, check the batteries in your smoke alarms to make sure all are in working order.  No one plans for a house fire, but if it happens “Every Second Counts: Plan 2 Ways Out!” which is the theme for the 2017 Fire Prevention Week.  Your family can put together their own fire escape plan using the tips and ideas at the link above.

According to the NFPA.org website, the top causes of fire in the house include: arson and intentional fires, candles, cooking, electrical, heating, smoking and young firesetters.   Cooking equipment may cause the most home structure fires and home fire injuries, but smoking is the leading cause of fire deaths in the U.S. because so many of these fires happen at night after the family has gone to bed.  Smoking material such as cigarettes, pipes and cigars caused 17,200 or 5% of the reported home fires in 2014, however, they were responsible for 21% of home fire deaths.   If you must smoke, follow some simple rules that will protect you and your family from a possible house fire:

first, don’t smoke inside.  Most house fires deaths are from fires in living rooms, family rooms, dens and bedrooms.  It is too easy to ignite curtains or for ash to fall onto furniture and carpeting and smoulder for hours before a blaze erupts.  If you must smoke inside, use a deep, sturdy ashtray and douse the butts in water before throwing them in the trash.
second, when you smoke outside, be careful where you discard the butt.  Landscape mulch acts like dry kindling and could easily spark a fire long after you leave the area. Have a bucket of sand or water handy in which to throw butts.
third, keep smoking materials and lighting equipment out of sight and away from the hands of children.  It only takes a second for a young child to experiment with fire and unintentionally start a deadly blaze.
fourth, if oxygen is being used in the home, smoking should never be allowed.
fifth, never leave electronic cigarettes unattended while charging.  Batteries have been known to fail resulting in explosion and fires.

While no one plans for a house fire, you can plan to keep your family safer by quitting smoking and using this handy Quit Kit from Tobacco Free Florida, or from Smokefree.gov.  There is no time like the present to get started.

Click HERE for more tips on fire prevention in the home.  Save




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