National Pet Day 2018

Americans sure love their pets with about two-thirds of us owning one.  Dogs and cats are the most popular choices, but fish, birds, small rodents such as hamsters, gerbils and mice, make up the top five spots.  But one thing all these pets have in common is they could be harmed from breathing in your secondhand smoke or vaper and being around surfaces with thirdhand smoke.

We know smoking and breathing in the toxic smoke hurts humans, and your air breathing pets could get cancer and have their health harmed.  Cats are more prone to mouth cancer, while nasal cancer could affect dogs.  Even birds could get lung cancer or suffer from pneumonia.  If you vape, most liquids contain nicotine, a poison, which can be dangerous or even fatal if your pet consumes it.  The exhaled vapor also contains nicotine and can harm your pet.

The smoke and toxins in the air also land on surfaces such as their bedding, furniture and the floor.  This is known as thirdhand smoke and has the same toxins as you find in secondhand smoke.  The difference is as you smoke in the same room or area, the toxins build up, becoming more toxic.  Cats lay on various surfaces, having these toxin deposited on their fur.  Their grooming habits of licking their fur puts the cancer-causing toxins into their mouth.  Felines living with smokers have a higher rate of mouth cancers (squamous cell carcinoma) versus those living in a smoke-free environment.  Cancer of the lymph modes, called malignant lymphoma, is also a possibility and “is fatal to three out of four cats within 12 months of developing it.”

Long-nosed dog breeds living in a smoking household can develop cancers of the nose and sinus area, because the smoke has more surface area exposed to the toxins.  If they are affected with nasal cancer, survival is usually not more than a year.  Dogs with shorter noses are more likely to develop lung cancer.

It is best if you quit smoking to protect your family and your pets.  If you continue to smoke, do so outdoors, away from the living area.  When you are finished, dispose of the tobacco product in a container your pet cannot access and wash your hands before petting or handling your pets.  Even exposure to smoke on your clothes could cause your pets to develop asthma, respiratory problems, and allergies.

Many of us treat our pets like family.  Let’s do everything we can to protect our smallest members who cannot protect themselves.


Click HERE and HERE for more information, and HERE to read about pets and thirdhand smoke.

Posted in Nicotine, Second Hand Smoke, Smoking, Tobacco Prevention | Tagged , , , , | Leave a comment

Tobacco Free Florida Week 2018

The smoking rate in Florida has decreased significantly in the past decade, but not all populations in our communities have seen the same success.  During the 10th annual Tobacco Free Florida Week, April 2-8, the TFF program of the Florida Department of Health will launch a new initiative in hopes of reaching these individuals with the theme Achieving Health Equity.

The burden of tobacco is disproportionally affecting many of the more than 2.5 million Florida adults who are current smokers.  These include those with lower incomes, the LGBT community, ethnic and racial minorities, and those with mental health issues.  By promoting “innovative solutions to achieve health equity across Florida,” the program hopes to counter the culture of smoking and secondhand smoke as a normal way of life.

The Florida Department of Health’s Tobacco Free Florida campaign began in 2007 with funding from Florida’s tobacco settlement fund.  During the past 10 years it has offered free tools and services to more than 188,000 residents who have quit tobacco.  The number of adult smokers in Florida has dropped by 451,000 during the past 10 years and the state has saved $17.7 billion in health care costs.

If you would like more information on Tobacco Free Florida’s Quit Your Way services, click the highlighted link.

For more information on this article, click HERE.  In Spanish, click HERE.



Posted in Tobacco Prevention | Tagged , | Leave a comment

Baddah Up and Knock Tobacco Out of the Ballparks for Good

Saturday, March 31 is opening day for baseball, and its also a great time to remind people that many ballparks in the U.S. are now tobacco-free environments.  While it was once a common sight to see a can of dip in the back pocket of a player, it is now about promoting a healthy lifestyle.  But smokeless tobacco is still ingrained into the sport of baseball and being used by too many players.

Smokeless tobacco has been banned from the minor leagues since 1993 and the NCAA has banned it as well.  Players in the minors can be fined for having it in their lockers or using it on the field.  The NCAA rules prohibits “players, coaches, umpires, athletic trainers and managers from using tobacco at game sites.”  If caught by the umpire, “player and coach face ejection” from the game.  Even umpires are banned.  Yet that doesn’t seem to stop smokeless tobacco use.

Coaches admit that telling their players the habit is unhealthy isn’t going to change their use.  Some players admit it is a “way of life” and a “stress reliever.”  And what starts in high school or even earlier, follows them throughout their life.  Even coaches aren’t immune from the addiction of the can.

While the Major League supports the bans at the stadiums, are they really doing much to control the players?  The 2016 bargaining agreement between players and owners prohibits new MLB players from using smokeless tobacco, but grandfathers in all other players.  MLB says it is monitoring the players and issuing fines if players violate local laws but they won’t say how many.  However, players say the laws violate their personal rights and some question who will be enforcing the law.  The MLB does offer cessation programs for players.

Perhaps we have an optimist view that when the current players leave and the next generation is on the field, we will be closer to a truly tobacco-free game.  We can only hope that players will realize tobacco isn’t making them a better player, it is taking away their right to a healthy life and long future.  Until then, baddah up, and knock tobacco out of the ball park.

Articles used in this blog:
Smokeless tobacco ingrained in baseball, despite bans and Gwynn’s death
Smokeless Tobacco Is Gone From the  Ballpark, if Not the Clubhouse
Can Major League Baseball really rid itself of smokeless tobacco?

Posted in Smokeless tobacco, Tobacco Prevention | Tagged , | Leave a comment

The FDA faces another challenge over their e-cigarette regulation delay

In 2016 the Food and Drug Administration brought electronic cigarettes, cigars and hookah under their definition of tobacco products.  Those products that were on the market when the rule went into effect in 2016 had to undergo review in 2018.  It meant that e-cigarettes had to provide notice if a list of chemicals were in their products.  That deadline has been extended to 2022 for e-cigs, and in the meantime millions of kids and adults are using vaping products without knowing the potentially harmful chemicals in them.  Now a group of public health advocates and pediatricians are suing the FDA over their deadline extension.

According to the FDA the reason for the delay would give them time to “explore better measures to make tobacco products less toxic, appealing and addictive.”  But it seems that the manufacturers are the ones who are benefiting from this delay while the health of users, mainly our youth, will be suffering.

Those suing the FDA include the big three American health advocates – the American Cancer Society Cancer Action Network, American Heart Association, and American Lung Association.  Others include Campaign for Tobacco Free Kids, Truth Initiative, American Academy of Pediatrics Democracy Forward and individual pediatricians.  Those who filed the suit claim “the agency abdicated and rewrote its responsibilities granted under the Tobacco Control Act,” and didn’t ask for public input like they have in the past.

The Campaign for Tobacco Free Kids, one of those who filed suit, mentioned the popular Juul brand e-cigarette and the serious problem of kids using these products with no regulation.  While some states have age regulations on e-cigarettes, identification checks are lacking.  There are also no warning labels, or ingredient lists on these products.   And since the manufacturers need approval to sell products that weren’t on the product before August 6, 2018, the market is being flooded to get products out before the cutoff.

The FDA plans on seeking to lower nicotine levels in cigarettes, and while that is good, they are missing all the other things flowing around them.  The slow stream of tobacco products from the 1900s is being replaced with such a flood of new products, flavors and technology in the past 10 years alone, the FDA is barely able to tread water to keep their nose above the wave.  We need to protect our youth from the dangers that are here now and in the future.  The storm is here and it is almost too late.

Click HERE for the entire article




Posted in Big Tobacco, Cigarettes, E-Cigarettes, Legal, Tobacco market, vaping | Tagged , , , | Leave a comment

Busted for Vaping? Pinellas County schools have a clinic for that

Back in the day, kids who smoked at school used the bathrooms, sports fields or their cars between classes to get a quick hit of nicotine.  Times have changed and tobacco for the most part is out, but kids are still getting that hit of nicotine from easy-to-hide devices that provide a puff of nicotine-laced aerosol with no ugly tobacco smell.  And forget about waiting for the bell to ring; many kids are using these vaping devices right in class.  While smoking has changed, so have the rules for using tobacco or nicotine delivery devices on campus. Most schools have designated their campuses as tobacco-free environments for everyone, and students’ code of conduct rules may lead to suspension for using nicotine on campus.  Pinellas County students in Florida have another option besides suspension – attend a tobacco clinic, but so many students have been caught using vaping devices, there is a waiting list until May.

The boom in popularity of the new Juul device is making it easier for kids to use nicotine in school and more difficult for schools to control use on campus. Suspension days differ in Florida depending on the county, but Pinellas County students caught for the first time are being offered a choice of serving a three-day suspension or taking a two-night tobacco clinic at a nearby high school.  The clinic is run by educators from the school district and John Hopkins All Children’s Hospital in St. Petersburg.

So far this school year 243 kids have enrolled in the Pinellas County school system’s tobacco clinic.  Last year that number was only 80, an increase of 203%.  Kids caught with e-cigarettes is five times what it was last year.  While the school district added another classroom to double the number of students to 40, there is a backlog until May.  If everything works out, the school district hopes to open a second clinic in a south location next year.

The biggest problem is that many of the kids believe it is water and flavoring and don’t understand that a Juul pod equals the amount of nicotine in a pack of cigarettes, or about 200 puffs.  Some of these kids are using up to three pods a day.   The pods also contain other chemicals such as nitrosamine, benzyne and acetone.

Florida law states teens must be 18 in order to purchase these devices, but teens are getting money from their family, buying prepaid credit gift cards and buying the devices online.  Some of the students caught with vaping devices are as young as 12.  They go online and watch YouTube videos on how to perform tricks blowing clouds of vapor.  Those who use e-cigarette devices are more likely to go on to smoke, according to statistics.

Providing tobacco prevention education is important for all Florida students.  The Florida Tobacco Prevention Training for Educators online course allows teachers in any Florida school district to take the course at no cost to them or their district, and provide 30- or 60 points towards Professional Development points.  At the conclusion of the course, six (6) tobacco lessons are taught to students.  The course provides information on tobacco as well as alternatives, such as electronic cigarettes.  There is still time to sign up this year to complete the course and teach the lessons before students leave for the summer.  Click Florida Tobacco Prevention Training for Educators to register for our course and teach your students the dangers of tobacco and other nicotine products including vaping.

Click HERE for the article

Posted in E-Cigarettes, Tobacco Prevention, vaping | Tagged , , , | Leave a comment

Cancer-causing Toxins Are Present in Ecigarettes

The vaping industry loves to compare itself to cigarettes, saying it is a “safer” alternative and “less harmless,” but a new study says chemicals in the e-cigarette flavorings, especially fruit-flavored, contain cancer-causing toxins.

The study looked at 103 participants with an average age of 16.  The participants were divided into three groups: e-cigarette users, “dual users” who both vape and smoke tobacco cigarettes, and teens who didn’t vape or smoke.  Rather than measure the toxins in the e-liquid, the researchers measured what gets into the user when they smoke or vape through urine samples.  The samples from teens who vape found elevated levels of five different toxins –  acrolein, acrylamide, acrylonitrile, crotonaldehyde and proplyene oxide – all of which are “suspected carcinogens.”  When they compared teens who vape versus those who didn’t, those who vape had levels “up to three times greater amount of toxins in their urine.” The five toxins mentioned above are known as volatile organic compounds (VOCs).

Fruit flavored vaping products are popular with teens and although the liquids are approved as food additives, they form other compounds, such as the VOCs, when heated to the point they become vapor.  Acrylonitrile, a known carcinogen, is found in fruit flavoring.  Even liquids that don’t contain nicotine create VOCs such as acrylonitrile and acrylamide which were found in the urine of teens who said they didn’t use nicotine e-liquid products.

The researchers believe the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) needs to “step up regulation of e-cigarettes” when it comes to teen use.  According to researchers, rather than turn to e-cigarettes to replace smoking, smokers need to think of cessation.  And when it comes to teens, the safe approach is smoking prevention.

Click on the highlighted link to read the entire article:  “Kids Who Vape Face Toxin Dangers, Study Finds.”


Posted in Cigarettes, E-Cigarettes, Tobacco Prevention | Tagged , , , , | Leave a comment

SWAT Club of Martin County – Kick Butts Day

“Inform, Expose, and Kick Butts!” is the theme of the 23rd annual Kick Butts Day organized by the Campaign for Tobacco Free Kids.  This national day of activism allows youth to “stand out, speak up and seize control against Big Tobacco.”  On March 21, youth across the U.S. will take part in over 1,000 activities and events to draw attention to tobacco’s toll and draw awareness of the tobacco problem.  As almost 90% of adult smokers actually start before they are old enough to buy tobacco products, it is the youth who are the “critical and powerful voices” as they fight tobacco’s deceptive marketing and work to make the next generation tobacco-free.  We thought it would be interesting to share some of the activities our Florida Students Working Against Tobacco (SWAT) Clubs have been doing.

The SWAT Clubs in Martin County are in all five public middle schools, three high schools, the Boys & Girls Clubs of Martin County and the YMCA of the Treasure Coast.  The SWAT programs are able to teach the students about the dangers of using tobacco products and the advertising that Big Tobacco.  They have presented this information at the YMCA health fair and worked with younger students at the Boys & Girls Clubs to make posters for Kick Butts Day.

So what is some of the information you can expect to learn from SWAT Club?  Did you know:  every day nearly 4,000 students try their first cigarettes and 1,000 students become new daily smokers?  Did you also know that nicotine is an addictive drug, making it difficult for people to quit tobacco once they start?  Did you know that that only does smoking cause cancer and other diseases, but it shortens the life of a smoker?  Did you know there are over 7,000 chemicals in secondhand smoke with more than 250 chemicals known to be toxic?

Joining a SWAT Club can provide you an opportunity to meet people, but it goes beyond that.  You develop speaking skills and the confidence to share your information with others so you can teach your generation about the dangers of tobacco and become a tobacco-free generation.

Click HERE for more information on this article.



Posted in Uncategorized | Tagged , | Leave a comment

Smoking in the Movies – 2018 Oscars

It seems like tobacco has always been part of the movies, whether smoking on the screen, or by actors who promoted their movie and their cigarette of choice in pre-movie advertisement films, or tobacco used by lesser actors throughout the movie.  It amounted to free advertisement for the tobacco industry and free smokes for the stars.  It was difficult to tell if the studio system owned the star or the tobacco industry.  When tobacco advertising was banned on television and newspaper ads in the early 1970s, the industry turned to placing their products in front of the public through movies.  In 1998 the Master Settlement Agreement “prohibited tobacco product placement in entertainment accessible to kids” yet that didn’t stop the smoking on screen.  And this year’s Oscar nominated films are no exception.

The University of California, San Francisco website Smokefree Movies has kept track for the past four years of smoking in Oscar-listed movies and by nominated actors.  Here is some of what they have found for the 2018 Oscar nominated films:
– “Half of PG/PG-13 films and all the R-rated films featured smoking” – that’s 86% of
the films.
– Youth-rated films in 2018 featured twice as many tobacco incidents as in 2017.
That means audiences saw two-and-a-half as much tobacco exposure.
– In the last four years, Oscar-listed youth-rated films averaged four times more
tobacco incidents (44 incidents per film) and delivered four times more tobacco
impressions to theater audiences (271 million impressions per film), than youth-
rated films in general.
– In 2018, more women (7 in 10) than men (4 in 10) nominated for an Oscar
smoked in their role.  One surprising fact, smokers are less likely to win.

One place smoking is allowed is in “biographical” films if in real life the person being portrayed actually smoked, such as Winston Churchill with his ever present cigar.  In this case this movie received a PG rating.  The problem is that the studios don’t stop with just the biographical character, but add additional characters and extras who are seen smoking throughout the film. According to Smokefree Movies fact sheet 29 smokers in Oscar-listed films were based on actual people who used tobacco, like Churchill.  But fictional characters or extras numbered 167. Portraying an actual person who smoked may keep a film from the proposed R-rating for tobacco imagery, but all the fictional characters and extras doesn’t meet the criterion.  Seeing all these people smoking, whether in a historical context or not, influences youth impression of smoking.

As an adult, we can separate the role from the actor, but not so for a child.  It is difficult for them to understand that smoking isn’t glamorous when “40% of Best Actress-nominated roles and 30% of Best Actor-nominated roles included smoking” and the actor plays the part so well it looks natural.  The movie industry will continue to use tobacco as a prop and push tobacco on our kids unless we decide enough is enough.  As a parent, you can let your opinion be heard regarding tobacco use in movies by writing to the parent media companies.  Use the highlighted links for help.  And if you want to know if a movie has smoking or tobacco use, check out Smokefree Movies.

2018 #HelpOscarQuit Campaign Kit

Picture of Claudette Colbert from the website The Pop History Dig


Posted in Cigarettes, Smoking, Tobacco | Tagged , , , , , | Leave a comment

Tobacco Profiling in the LGBT Communities

These days we hear the term “social justice” which, according to Wikipedia, “is a concept of fair and just relations between the individual and society.”  But what if an industry uses its power, through policies, strategies or by manipulating the legal system, to take advantage of groups of people which will give them monetary gain?  This is happening everyday in the U.S. and throughout the world by the tobacco industry. They use their power in the courts to derail tobacco control policies that will help societies improve their health.  And they use marketing strategies to target groups of people into using their products, which the industry knows will cause addiction to the product as well as long term illness and early death, to improve their financial gain.  Those with mental illness, those living in rural areas, African Americans, women, millennials, teens, and those in the LGBT community are all targets of the tobacco industry.

The tobacco industry threw support behind Senator Jessie Helms of North Carolina for his support of protecting the tobacco industry in his state.  But when Helms became an “opponent of AIDS funding and LGBT civil rights” a boycott resulted, and Philip Morris had to scramble to “pledge large donations to AIDS research and programs.”  This “corporate philanthropy” went a long way in getting their foot in the door to the LGBT tobacco market.  They also came up with a marketing strategy called “Project SCUM” (Sub-Culture Urban Marketing).  Their community outreach efforts to “support” the community was a marketing ploy to get new, lifelong customers.

The industry targeted the LGBT community in much the same way as the African American community, through free cigarette giveaways and through ads in publications devoted to those who identify with the community.  Is it any wonder that they have smoking rates 2.5 times higher than those who are straight?  While the smoking rate for straight adults stands at 14.9%, LGB adults are at 20.6% and transgender adults are higher at 35.5%.

When you look at the smoking rates for young adults, the numbers are lower, 11.8%, for those who identify as straight, but numbers for LGBT young adults nearly mimic those of the adults: 19% of homosexual, 16.9% of bisexual and 33.2% for transgender.  Smoking rates for bisexual women are even higher, up to 3.5 times.  Both the LGBT and African American communities have something in common: a higher rate of smoking menthols – easier on the throat and harder to quit.

The smoking rate for teens in the U.S. has fallen 6%, but not for those LGBT youth.  They are twice as likely to have smoked a cigarette by the age of 13, and smoke more often compared to heterosexual peers.  And when you look at smoking rates for lesbian and bisexual girls the numbers skyrocket to 9.7 times over those who identify as straight.

“Tobacco use disproportionately affects many marginalized populations“, including the LGBT community, but you have the power to take back your life and health.  “This isn’t just a public health issue, it’s a social justice issue.”

Click HERE for more information on this article



Posted in Big Tobacco, Cigarettes, Smoking, Tobacco | Tagged , , , , | 1 Comment

Just be Through With Chew

It seems smokeless tobacco, commonly known as dip or chew, has taken a back seat since the vaping craze took over, but that doesn’t mean it still isn’t being used.  During Through With Chew Week, it’s important to remind students and adults that spit tobacco is not harmless tobacco as it contains cancer-causing chemicals and the addictive drug nicotine.

For those who aren’t familiar with smokeless tobacco, there are several types such as plug, twist, or chewing tobacco, all of which are placed in the mouth between cheek and gum and the juices need to be spit out.  The most recognizable smokeless tobacco product is dipping tobacco, or dip, which originally started out as dry snuff and evolved into the moist tobacco in the can.  Dry snuff is a ground tobacco that is inhaled in the nose.  Moist snuff tobacco comes in a can in a variety of cut sizes (the length of  the strands of dip) and flavors.  Users place it between cheek and gum or lip and gum, and while the nicotine and chemicals are absorbed through the tissues in the mouth, the juices have to be spit out.  It’s the type of tobacco most associated with baseball players, is highly addictive and very habit forming.  There are also tea-bag like pouches, called Snus, that are highly sweetened and also placed in the mouth like dip, but the juices are typically swallowed.

According to NSTEP (National Spit Tobacco Education Project), “almost half (46%) of new (smokeless tobacco) users are under 18 when they first try” smokeless tobacco.  National current use of smokeless tobacco is at 6.0% overall with more males (10.0%) using than females (1.8%). Current use means using smokeless tobacco products on 1 or more of the 30 days before participation in the survey.  Here in Florida the state numbers for current use of smokeless tobacco dipped from 3.0% in 2012 to 2.2% in 2016 among youth 11-17 according to the 2016 Florida Tobacco Youth Survey.  However, some rural counties in Florida are more than 5 times the state average for smokeless tobacco use by teens.

Many teens believe that since smokeless tobacco isn’t smoked, it is safe, but smokeless tobacco contains at least 28 cancer-causing chemicals which put users at a higher risk for oral cancer, as well as esophagus and pancreatic cancer, than non-users.  It stains the teeth, and can cause receding gums and gum disease.  A can of dip contains approximately 144 milligrams of nicotine, or the equivalent of about 80 cigarettes, or roughly four packs.  Nicotine affects you by increasing your blood pressure as well as increasing your risk of heart disease and stroke.

Some websites have suggested using smokeless tobacco to quit smoking, but why use another tobacco product when you want to quit using tobacco?  If you need help quitting, talk with your doctor and check out some of the websites below.  Find the one that works for you.   Good luck.

Tobacco Free Florida
Kill The Can – a site of former smokeless tobacco users helping users quit
Smoke Free Vet  – the mission to is help veterans who get their health care through VA become tobacco-free (smoking, chew or dip, or any other tobacco products).
Quit Smokeless –  another site of former smokeless tobacco users helping each other stay tobacco free

Dry snuff picture from: The Northerner Blogger
Moist snuff in the can picture from: Air Force Times

Posted in Smokeless tobacco, Tobacco Prevention | Tagged , , , , , | Leave a comment