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JUUL: FROM CRAZE TO EPIDEMIC

In April 2017, Harbinger investigated a new type of electronic cigarette, the Juul, being found in the hands of a few students around the school. At this point in time, only 13 percent of East students could be found owning the device. But now, as the FDA has announced the usage of Juuls among minors as being an “epidemic,” 31 percent of students at East own a Juul of their own, going through an average of 2-3 pods a week.

In April of 2017, Haney confiscated the first Juul at East ever. Now, Haney confiscates one a day — with each catch coming with a two to three-day suspension.

In a press release issued Sept. 12, the FDA labelled Juuling as an epidemic, which is no mistake according to attorney Esfand Y. Nafisi, who is leading a class action lawsuit against Juul.

In the recent Harbinger poll of 345 students, 83.7 percent of them consider Juuling to be an epidemic.

According to the Center for Disease Control and Prevention, cigarette smoking declined among teens and middle schoolers from 2011 to 2017. Then Juul happened. According to a Jan. 9, 2018 report from the Campaign for Tobacco free kids, there were over 2.1 million youth e-cigarette users. Now, the teenage generation has been labelled Juul’s Guinea Pig Generation by the Public Health Law Center — and the long-term health effects are unknown.

According to Nick Clemons,* Juul is everywhere. Bathrooms, basement parties, parking lots. A normal hallway occurrence is to be asked, “Can I rip your Juul? Let’s meet in the bathroom in five.”

The FDA stated in a press release on Sept. 18 that about 80 percent of youth do not see great risk of harm from regular use of e-cigarettes. The FDA finds this to be “particularly alarming considering that harm perceptions can influence tobacco use behaviors.”

The long term effects of vaping are unknown — but the long term effects of nicotine aren’t. And one Juul pod, a replaceable cartridge filled with nicotine and flavorings, contains the same amount as an entire pack of cigarettes.

According to Dr. Nikki Nollen from the Department of Preventive Medicine at KU Medical Center, nicotine rewires the brain. Exposure to nicotine can damage brain development by disrupting and altering the growth and structure of the circuitry part of the brain that controls attention, learning and susceptibility to addiction, according to the Public Health Law Center.

“Adolescents who would never use regular cigarettes are smoking Juul which is exposing these adolescents to pretty large amounts of nicotine,” Nollen said. “Nicotine by itself is a harmful drug, so we’re getting adolescents who would have not had any exposure to nicotine now getting exposed to nicotine.”

Nicotine also affects the heart rate and blood pressure. According to Pulmonary & Critical Care medicine doctor Scott Rawson, who works at Overland Park Regional Medical Center, there is no clear end point when Juuling — people will just Juul through a two hour movie and go through pods without considering nicotine intake. Opposed to the clear end point in cigarettes — there is an understanding of how many cigarettes have been smoked. Besides the effects of nicotine, he has also discovered “popcorn lung,” a type of pneumonia that causes intense inflammation that destroys lung tissue. He has been more frequently treating popcorn lung in teens, which is believed to be caused by the flavoring in Juuls and electronic cigarettes.

Rawson thinks we won’t be able to see the long term consequences of Juuling for another 15 to 20 years. The vast majority of his patients have stopped tobacco smoking, but he now fears for how much his patients are vaping in place of the cigarettes.

“We spent a generation trying to get people to stop smoking,” Rawson said. “And now I worry that we’re starting a new generation of new smokers. And so the smoking rate will actually go up.”

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Cleveland Heights passes Tobacco 21 ordinance: City Council recap

CLEVELAND HEIGHTS, Ohio — In voting to raise the minimum age for purchasing tobacco products, “e-cigs” and “vapes” from 18 to 21, City Council received personal thanks on Monday from Cuyahoga County Health Commissioner Terry Allan.

Allan and his department will be handling enforcement of the new “Tobacco 21” law in Cleveland Heights, which takes effect on Jan. 1 and involves civil penalties for underage sales by vendors, as well as possible permit revocations for multiple offenses.

Allan pointed to statistics showing that only 5 percent of smokers start the habit after age 21. At the same time, e-cigarettes and vapes seem to be targeting a younger crowd, with flavors like “bubble gum.”

And while vapes are promoted as an alternative to smoking, a single Juul pod has the nicotine content of a pack of cigarettes.

“This is about protecting our kids from dual use,” Allan said, “because it’s not one or the other — it’s both.”

The measure passed 6-0, only because Councilman Mike Ungar, who brought it to Committee-of-the-Whole in April, was advised to recuse himself since his daughter serves as the executive director of Tobacco 21 in Columbus.

Push to Raise Smoking Age to 21 in Hartford

You have to be 21 years old to legally drink, but how about 21 to smoke? Community leaders are hoping Hartford will become one of the first cities to raise the smoking age.

Some doctors and lawmakers are all for it, but Hartford business owners are not happy.

“We’re seeing more and more vaping,” said Dr. Seth Lapuk, of Connecticut Children’s Medical Center.

He says Hartford should raise the legal age for the sale and distribution of tobacco from 18 to 21.
“There is strong evidence that you do not start smoking by 18 years old, there is a 90 plus percent chance that you will never start smoking,” he said.

Hartford would be the first city in Connecticut to go above the current state law requiring people to be at least 18.

“It’s designed to make everyone stop smoking, but they should do the whole state, not just the city of Hartford,” he said.

Rayyshi thinks the proposed change is unfair to him.

“We’ll lose more business. People just go out of the city to buy it,” he said.

Hartford City Council member Dr. Larry Deutsch says it’s a matter of public health.

“I understand it’s a shame in a sense. On the other hand, if they want to sell to those who are over 21, this would not stop them from doing that,” he said.

He says something needs to be done to combat the e-cigarette and vaping epidemic.

“It’s targeted to young people, especially minorities and Hartford is primarily Latino and African-American, and targeting them and making them sicker,” he added.

Cities and towns in other states have passed similar laws. Deutsch says the hope is if Hartford does it, the state will follow.

Hartford City Council has strong support to raise age for sale of tobacco, vaping products to 21

Eight out of nine city council members in Hartford say they will vote in favor of raising the minimum age for the sale of tobacco and vaping products from 18 to 21 on Oct. 22nd. The capital city would be the first in the state to do so.

The ordinance being proposed drew a large crowd for public comment at Monday night’s city council meeting. Doctors, public health officials and teens came out to support raising the age.

. . .

Students from Achievement First Charter School in Hartford were among the young voices pushing the raise the age for the sale of tobacco to 21 in their city.

“One of my family members was a victim of underage smoking. They were 16,” Alleisha Oates shared with News 8. “They have cancer now and are fighting.”

“It’s bad, I don’t want to see any more young kids dying, it’s serious,” Kelly Buchanan added. “What if they die from lung cancer?”

If passed, Hartford would join six other states and 350 municipalities in raising the age for the sale of tobacco and vaping products to 21.

Under 21 tobacco ban considered in Hermantown

Well over 100 people filled Hermantown City Council chambers past overflowing on Monday for an impassioned debate over banning tobacco sales to those younger than 21.

It was the first of two public hearings planned before the council will vote on the ban. The second hearing will take place Nov. 5, Mayor Wayne Boucher said.

No one argued on behalf of continuing to sell cigarettes to 18-year-olds. What divided the crowd was the question of whether a ban should include e-cigarettes — devices used for vaping. Like warring families at a wedding, they largely gathered on opposite sides of the room. Vaping supporters, wearing gray T-shirts with “Tobacco Harm Reduction Saves Lives” on the back, stood and sat across the aisle from community members whose T-shirts read “Raise the age, raise a tobacco-free generation.”

Representatives of both sides spoke fervently but listened to each other quietly and politely, as did Boucher and his four council colleagues.

Among the first of at least a score of speakers were a series of young men in gray T-shirts with similar stories. Several said they had lost family members to smoking-related cancer and believed they’d chosen a healthier alternative.

“I started smoking at age 15,” said Daniel Enders, 19. “I smoked about a pack a day, sometimes more. … Since switching over to vaping right around 18, I have saved hundreds of dollars a year — thousands. I no longer am coughing up disgusting phlegm. I no longer have shortness of breath.”

Jay Ferguson, a physician assistant in family practice at Essentia Health who spoke later, said he was dismayed by those accounts.

“My heart breaks … when they tell you that they started a nicotine habit when they were really young and then switched to another product and convinced themselves that it’s now making them healthy,” Ferguson said. “We’re listening to them saying, ‘I don’t smoke anymore, I vape.’ It’s nicotine, the most addictive substance we know of.”

But Brian Annis, owner of the Lake Effect Vapor shop on Maple Grove Road, argued that his customers were testifying about what they knew to be true.

Turning to a contingent of medical professionals, Annis said, “I have countless testimonies out there. I’m sorry that you have a problem with them saying they don’t smoke anymore because they vape, but they don’t. And it’s adding years to their lives.”

Annis also said he and others in his industry want to keep vaping out of the hands of minors and out of schools.

But that doesn’t seem to be happening. A display provided by the American Lung Association at the entryway to the chambers made the claim that one in five Hermantown High School students vapes.

Amanda Casady, manager of health promotions in Duluth for the organization, said that number came from the Minnesota Student Survey of 2016 and applied specifically to Hermantown. She said she recently had given presentations to three ninth-grade classes in Hermantown High School and could see students surreptitiously vaping as she spoke.

“To me, that’s the definition of addiction,” Casady said. “As I’m there saying, ‘Don’t do this, it’s harmful for you,’ and they’re just doing it.”