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Tobacco 21 law pitched to council; Ignite students take initiative

A group of high school students is encouraging the Harrison City Council to pass a Tobacco 21 law prohibiting the sale of tobacco products, including e-cigarettes, to anyone under the age of 21.

The students, members of Ignite, a youth group supported by North Arkansas Partnership for Health Education (NAPHE) and the Boone County Substance Abuse Prevention Coalition, made a presentation to council members during their monthly committee last week.

They were accompanied by Chrissie Larchez, youth program coordinator for the Drug Free Communities program and Patrick Hunter of the Boone County Substance Abuse Prevention Coalition.
The students are working to get signatures of 1,000 city residents to show support for the measure, Larchez said.

Alathea Bright, Ignite chairman, explained Tobacco 21 is a nationwide effort to raise the age of buying tobacco and e-cigarettes to 21. The initiative is being proposed to local governments.

In June 2016, Helena-West Helena was the first city in Arkansas to adopt a Tobacco 21 law. Mountain Home is currently working towards passage of a Tobacco 21 ordinance, she said. But those efforts were not led by students, she added.

Passing such a law will help reduce the use of tobacco by high school students, Bright said.

She said passing the law would cost the city nothing. Even retailers would see little decrease in revenues as a national study shows the effect would only be around 2 percent.

Brianna Setchfield gave statistics showing the effects of smoking citing Arkansas has one of the highest high school and adult smoking rates in the country. About 1,700 children become daily smokers every year, she said.

The state spends only about 29.7 percent of the CDC recommended amount of money for tobacco prevention. This about a 50 percent drop in funding since 2016, she added.

The state’s annual health care cost due to smoking is about $1.21 billion and the state loses $1.7 billion in productivity every year due to smoking.

Setchfield read a list of states and cities where Tobacco 21 has been embraced.

Ignite secretary Tylar Madison said her generation wants to make change. Changing the age for smoking to 21 has significant benefits. In Arkansas, 5,800 people die every year from tobacco use and more than 500 die every year from second hand smoke.

Tobacco use would decrease by 12 percent by the time today’s teenagers are adults and smoking deaths would decrease by 10 percent.

Douglas County Commission signals intent to raise age to buy tobacco products

All three county commissioners said they favored the age increase. But commissioners said formal action would have to wait until county counselor John Bullock reviewed the measure, which was proposed by the LiveWell Lawrence Tobacco 21 task force and Resist, a Boys & Girls Club anti-smoking team.

Commissioners said the age increase would be mostly symbolic. There are only four stores in the county’s unincorporated areas that would be affected. One of the issues commissioners asked Bullock to review is whether the commission had any authority to regulate sales at Clinton Marina, which is within Clinton State Park.

Tracy Russell, director of governmental relations for the Kansas branch of the American Heart Association, said more than 300 cities in the United States and 21 jurisdictions in Kansas have passed the Tobacco 21 Initiative, including Johnson and Shawnee counties. Topeka is the only jurisdiction in which the ordinance has been challenged, and the Kansas Supreme Court is expected to consider that case. The Kansas Attorney General’s Office issued an opinion last year that the age change falls under the home rule authority of local jurisdictions, she said.

Commissioners said the age change probably would be on its Sept. 26 agenda.

FDA chief calls youth use of Juul, other e-cigarettes an ‘epidemic’

By Laurie McGinley
Reporter covering health and medicine

Food and Drug Administration Commissioner Scott Gottlieb dramatically escalated his efforts to stop an “epidemic” of teenage vaping, announcing Wednesday a massive enforcement action against retailers for allegedly selling e-cigarettes to minors and warning manufacturers of a potential ban of flavored e-cigarette liquids.

Officials said the move against more than 1,300 retailers was the largest coordinated enforcement action in the agency’s history. The threatened ban, if carried out, would significantly upend the fast-growing industry.

The latest data, not yet published, show a 75 percent increase in e-cigarette use among high school students this year compared to 2017. The FDA declined to publicly release the numbers, but people familiar with them said they were preliminary data from the National Youth Tobacco Survey, on which the agency and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention collaborate.

In remarks prepared for FDA employees, Gottlieb said that rapid spike in teen use, emerging sales trends and concerns among parents and teachers convinced him that underage use of e-cigarettes has become a full-blown crisis that must be forcefully addressed. “The disturbing and accelerating trajectory of use we’re seeing in youth, and the resulting path to addiction, must end,” he said.

In its enforcement action, the FDA recently sent almost 1,200 letters to brick-and-mortar stores and online retailers warning them that they could face penalties for allegedly selling e-cigarettes to people under 18. The agency also imposed fines — ranging from $279 to $11,182 — on another 130 establishments for repeated offenses.

Even more significant, notices sent Wednesday morning demand that five leading e-cigarette manufacturers, including San Francisco-based Juul Labs, submit plans within 60 days detailing ways to sharply curb sales to underage consumers. If the blueprints don’t promise to “substantially reverse” the youth-use trend, Gottlieb said the agency will consider steps that could lead to the temporary or permanent removal of flavored products from the market.

Such a step would be a major blow to the e-cigarette companies — Juul, Vuse, Blu, Logic and MarkTen — which often feature cream and fruit flavorings in their products. Many public-health groups believe such flavors entice young people to try the devices. The companies insist that the flavors are critical to helping nicotine-addicted adult smokers switch from conventional cigarettes and the tar and other harmful chemicals they contain.

Gottlieb has repeatedly agreed that e-cigarettes can be an effective tool for adults trying to quit smoking, so his harsh words for the industry on Wednesday were all the more remarkable.

In his remarks to FDA staffers, the commissioner acknowledged that some adults might get hurt by a crackdown on flavored e-cigarettes. But “the youth risk is paramount,” he said. “In closing the on-ramp to kids, we’re going to have to narrow the off-ramp for adults who want to migrate off combustible tobacco and onto e-cigs.”

The FDA’s regulation of tobacco products has long been marked by twists and turns and years of debate. In 2009, the Tobacco Control Act gave the agency authority over cigarettes and smokeless tobacco. In 2016, the agency “deemed” that products such as e-cigarettes also were under its jurisdiction and told companies to file applications to market their products by August 2018. Sales were allowed to continue in the interim.

Then last year, a few months after being sworn in as commissioner, Gottlieb announced a new comprehensive tobacco framework. It included plans to reduce nicotine in conventional cigarettes to nonaddictive levels. And it highlighted e-cigarettes’ role as a way for adult smokers to transition off cigarettes.

Gottlieb used “enforcement discretion” to extend the deadline for e-cigarette makers’ marketing applications until 2022, saying both the agency and the industry needed more time to prepare. The delay was denounced by public-health groups, which have sued to restore the tighter timeline.

The agency remains committed to the tobacco framework, Gottlieb told staffers Wednesday, but he acknowledged that it “didn’t predict what I now believe is an epidemic of e-cigarette use among teenagers.” He said the impact of the rampant use of e-cigarettes “is becoming very apparent.”

One possible remedy, Gottlieb said in an interview, would be to revoke the application delay for cartridge-based e-cigarettes, the most common type used by young people. That would block manufacturers from selling the flavored devices without explicit FDA authorization — a move that could force some products off the market, at least temporarily.

Much of the FDA’s sharp change in course is a result of the phenomenal success of Juul, which looks like a USB flash drive. In just three years, it has captured about 70 percent of the e-cigarette market, according to Bloomberg. The FDA has pressed Juul in recent months for information about its marketing.

“Juul was a game changer,” Matthew Myers, president of the Campaign for Tobacco-Free Kids, said in an interview. He listed three reasons the company became so successful: It figured out how to deliver high levels of nicotine in a way that wasn’t harsh; it packaged the product in a streamlined, clever way; and it developed a social media and advertising campaign that made a Juul e-cigarette “cool and hip.”

The company has stressed that the device was created for adults who want to transition from regular cigarettes. Earlier this year, as criticism of the company mounted, it committed $30 million over the next three years for independent research, youth and parent education and community engagement. It also announced a new social media policy that features adult smokers — not models — and their stories of switching to Juul.

Still, Myers said, there’s “no way to put that genie back in the bottle” with youth use. “Now that Juul has shown how to market to adolescents and young adults, others are using the same marketing tactics.”

Flavors other than menthol have been banned since 2009 in regular cigarettes to reduce their appeal to young people. No flavors currently are restricted from other tobacco products.

Youth Vaping a ‘Public Health Crisis’ In Jefferson County

LAKEWOOD, CO – Colorado young people are vaping nicotine at twice the national average, a new study shows, and almost four-times as many Colorado students self-report to vaping than to smoking cigarettes.

The Jefferson County Public Health Department has announced a campaign to address youth vaping and voted to declare youth vaping a “public health crisis in Jefferson County.”

“Though tremendous gains have been made to reduce tobacco use in our communities, it remains the single greatest cause of preventable death and disease across our state and the nation,” a statement from the JeffCo health department said.

Healthy Kids Colorado Survey data shows 1 in 3 adolescents report using some form of tobacco/nicotine within the past month. While less than 10 percent smoke cigarettes, vaping or using e-cigarettes surged to 27 percent.

“Vaping has replaced cigarettes as a way for underaged youth to use nicotine,” said Larry Wolk, former executive director and chief medical officer of the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment in July. “Too many of our young people don’t realize the health risks involved.”

The statewide school survey showed 87 percent of Colorado high school students think cigarette smoking is risky, but only 50 percent think those risks apply to vaping nicotine.

But nicotine has its own risks, according to the Colorado Dept. of Public Health:

More than 90 percent of vaping products, when tested, were found to contain nicotine. Nicotine has a negative effect on adolescent brain development, causing lasting cognitive and behavioral impairments, including effects on working memory and attention. Studies have shown that vape products can contain dangerous toxins, including heavy metals and chemicals known to cause cancer and other diseases.

Studies also show youngsters who develop a vaping habit, often move on to smoke cigarettes. A study of 12th-grade students who had never smoked a cigarette found those who reported recent vaping were nearly five times (4.78 times) more likely to take up smoking one year later, the CDPHE reported.

JeffCo joins the state board in a public education campaign to help parents and other trusted adults, such as teachers, coaches and counselors, talk to youth about vaping.

You can find free materials, including tips on starting the conversation and a Vaping 101 fact sheet. on the site:

“Research has shown us that young people benefit from conversations with their parents and other trusted adults,” said Wolk in July. “Fact-based conversations can be very productive, and actually change teens’ minds about the risks of vaping.”

FDA takes new steps to address epidemic of youth e-cigarette use, including a historic action against more than 1,300 retailers and 5 major manufacturers for their roles perpetuating youth access

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration today announced a series of critical and historic enforcement actions related to the sale and marketing of e-cigarettes to kids. In the largest coordinated enforcement effort in the FDA’s history, the agency issued more than 1,300 warning letters and civil money penalty complaints (fines) to retailers who illegally sold JUUL and other e-cigarette products to minors during a nationwide, undercover blitz of brick-and-mortar and online stores this summer. As a result of these violations of the law – and other indications that e-cigarette use among youth has hit epidemic proportions – FDA Commissioner Scott Gottlieb, M.D., signaled that the agency intends to take new and significant steps to address this challenge in a speech at the agency’s headquarters.