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E-cigarettes use among youth at epidemic levels

“The latest Florida Youth Tobacco Survey, which tracks indicators of tobacco use and exposure to secondhand smoke among middle and high school students, shows that one in four high school students currently use electronic vaping.  Florida is significantly above the national average.

People do not become addicted to tobacco or to cigarettes. They become addicted to nicotine, which is in tobacco and in electronic cigarettes. Nicotine is an insecticide, and is highly addictive.

Today there are significantly more children inhaling nicotine than 20 years ago. Nicotine adversely affects the brains of children, which are not fully developed. Nicotine addiction leads to a costly, slow and painful death. It kills 480,000 Americans each year.

Any assumption that vaping is safer than smoking has been dispelled by many studies including one at the University of Miami School of Medicine. Vaping is not safe, and there is no safe level of exposure to secondhand smoke.

. . .

The Surgeon General recently declared “e-cigarette use among youth an epidemic.”

. . .

Legislators in Florida (state and local) have done nothing to stop the vaping epidemic, but they can do many things. For example, the state legislature can define electronic nicotine delivery systems (ENDS), which includes electronic cigarettes, as tobacco.

Currently, vape shops in Florida are unregulated and do not require a license to sell ENDS. Requiring vape shops to have licenses to operate and taxing ENDS as cigarettes are taxed will be more popular than raising property taxes.

Since 2016 six states have raised the legal age to purchase tobacco to 21, and so have 370 cities and counties across America. None are in Florida.

The Florida Legislature and local governments must raise the legal age to purchase tobacco to 21. Nearly all tobacco product use, and addiction, begins during youth and young adulthood. Tobacco use among teenagers has been cut in half in communities where the legal age is now 21.

Raising the access age to 21 would be beneficial to elected officials as it is an extremely popular measure. In a statewide poll of likely voters, 69 percent favored raising the legal age to 21 if it were a ballot initiative. This overwhelming popular support is consistent with numerous other polls conducted across America.

Opponents may argue the state will lose tobacco tax revenue. This argument lacks vision because Florida pays out more than twice the money it collects in tobacco tax to pay for Medicaid claims due to tobacco-related illnesses and does not account for the immeasurable human suffering caused by drug addiction.

Healthy laws need to be enacted to protect young people from this deadly epidemic. If the state legislature will not act, then cities and counties must act to end the ENDS epidemic.”

Is Juul the Startup World’s Greatest Long Con?

“It was 25 years ago that executives at Philip Morris and six other American cigarette companies testified before Congress that nicotine was not addictive. Even under oath, the tobacco giants continued their decadeslong practice of gaslighting the public about the negative effects of cigarettes, which were once actually marketed by doctors. The image of seven CEOs being sworn in to answer for their companies’ misdeeds has endured as a powerful visual shorthand for modern corporate villainy. As the lethal effects of cigarettes were drilled into the minds of young would-be smokers by middle school counselors and aggressive ad campaigns, smoking entered an ongoing decline in usage. Big Tobacco had been felled.

Or so it seemed. In late December a Virginia-based conglomerate called Altria bought a 35 percent stake in the San Francisco startup Juul Labs for almost $13 billion. Juul is a maker of e-cigarettes and says its goal is to help adults quit smoking. Altria is the rebranded version of Philip Morris, whose entire corporate directive is to get adults to keep smoking. Juul says its wild popularity among teens is an unfortunate accident. Philip Morris once wrote an internal memo that said, “Today’s teenager is tomorrow’s potential regular customer.”

This seems like a horrible corporate mismatch, unless you see it for what it is: the pairing of two scheming businesses deftly executing a long con. In the decades since Big Tobacco took so many PR lumps that its biggest player had to change its name, tech has emerged as the sector most likely to sell people a bill of goods. Phones that were supposed to make us more efficient have made us less so. Social networks that were supposed to bring us all together have repeatedly driven us apart. By joining forces with its professed enemy, Juul is skipping a bit ahead in the Silicon Valley startup timeline, which generally follows a three-step track: (1) Don’t be evil; (2) be evil sometimes, but only when it’s in service of a greater societal good; (3) actually, being evil is fine.

 

. . .”

How to stop teen vaping? Make e-cigarettes harder to get License fees make the laws pay for themselves, the study affirms.

“Teen vaping has hit “epidemic” levels, according to federal health officials, with rates up by 78 percent over the last year alone. But strict laws on selling vape products to underage kids can reduce the number of teens who try e-cigarettes, according to research published Monday.

Teens living in cities or towns that more strictly policed retail sales of tobacco products were a third less likely to try cigarettes or e-cigarettes as those living in areas with more lax regulation, the team at the University of Southern California found. And they were half as likely to become regular users of tobacco, including e-cigarettes.

It supports what tobacco control advocates have been saying for years: strong laws, with equally strong enforcement, work to reduce tobacco use.

“It’s actually not at all surprising,” said Dr. Harold Farber, a pediatric lung expert at Texas Children’s Hospital, who was not involved in the study.

“If you have good laws and you enforce those laws to keep tobacco out of the hands of kids, fewer kids will get hold of tobacco,” Farber told NBC News.

“If you have ineffective and loose laws, and no enforcement, then kids will get hold of tobacco.”

The study comes with a caveat. Specialty vape shops are often not regulated at the same level as other tobacco retailers, and that could provide a loophole. So could online sales. “The increase of poorly regulated e-cigarette Internet vendors, a relatively new way for minors to obtain tobacco products illegally at the time of data collection, may limit the future impact of tobacco retail licensing as a regulatory tool,” the team wrote in their report, published in the journal Pediatrics.

A team led by Dr. Rob McConnell, a specialist is preventative medicine and children’s health at USC, used an ongoing survey of students in southern California, asking more than 2,000 about whether they had tried vaping or smoking and then following up a year and a half later.

They also graded the communities where the teens lived on what kinds of laws and enforcement they had to limit tobacco sales. Four out of the 14 jurisdictions got an “A” rating based on American Lung Association criteria, meaning they required retailers to pay annual license fees to pay for regular compliance checks. These jurisdictions also used fines or revoked licenses to punish retailers who sold to underaged kids.

Strong tobacco retail licensing requirements reduce risk of teen e-cigarette use, study finds

(CNN)“Retail licensing requirements written with cigarettes in mind could be helping lower the risk of teenagers using other tobacco products such as e-cigarettes.

According to a study published Monday in the medical journal Pediatrics, teens who live in areas with strong regulations could be at lower risk of tobacco use.
“We compared rates of tobacco product use among youth who lived in areas that had strong tobacco vendor licensing requirements … with rates in areas with weak retail licensing regulation,” Robert Urman, one of the authors of the study and a postdoctoral fellow in the Department of Preventive Medicine at the University of Southern California, wrote in an email.
The jurisdictions that the 2,907 study participants lived in were graded on their tobacco retail licensing requirements, according to the American Lung Association Reducing Sales of Tobacco Products to Youth scale. Four jurisdictions received a grade of A, one received a D, and eight received an F.
The participants were part of the Southern California Children’s Health Study and had responded to questionnaires when they were in 11th and 12th grades. More than 1,500 completed follow-up questionnaires when they reached age 18.
“We found that youth living in areas with strong licensing requirements were less likely to begin using e-cigarettes and cigarettes during the one and a half year follow-up, on average, compared to youth who resided in areas with weaker regulations,” Urman said.
Nearly a third of the participants lived in areas where regulations received an A, and more than two-thirds lived in areas where regulations received a D or F.
In places that had strong retail licensing requirements, risks of tobacco product use were lower by one-third to one-half than in places with weaker requirements, the study said.
Teens who lived in the A-grade areas were less likely to start or to have smoked cigarettes and e-cigarettes than those who lived in areas with lower grades.
Participants in A-grade communities were 26% less likely to begin using e-cigarettes and 55% less likely to report initiation and use in the previous 30 days compared with those living in D or F communities, the study found.
Teens in A-grade jurisdictions also had lower risks of starting smoking between the first and second parts of the questionnaires.
To receive an A grade, areas needed to have annual license fees from all retailers that cover enforcement programs and compliance checks for each store, annual renewal of licenses, and provisions that any violation of a law is a violation of the license.
“Youth obtain their product, in part, through retail sales, and if you can do a good job of making sure that youth can’t buy through retailers, the implication is that communities that have that characteristic, that abide by the best standards for retail practices, will have lower rates of use” of all tobacco products, said Dr. James Sargent, a professor of pediatrics in the Geisel School of Medicine at Dartmouth University who was not involved in the new research.
Sargent believes that although retail licenses help, they are not the only things that need attention when it comes to reducing youth use of tobacco.
“To me, that’s one strategy, but the other issues are kids are obtaining product across the internet, they’re obtaining product from adults who buy the product and then resell it, so there’s a whole lot of practices through which youths obtain these tobacco products that wouldn’t be covered by that,” he said.
Sargent also believes that teens and youth seek out products because many e-cigarette products are designed — including their look, feel and taste — to appeal to a younger market.
“I think it’s important to think about retail and to think about ways to keep youths from getting tobacco products from retail, but we also have to shut down the online sale of these products,” he said. “It’s not so much cigarettes, it’s the e-cigarette products that are being sold online, and we have to find a way to keep adults from reselling these products to kids.”
Data from the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has shown that vaping is on the rise in teens. There was a 78% increase in youth vaping between 2017 and 2018.
In September, the US Food and Drug Administration “announced a series of critical and historic enforcement actions related to the sale and marketing of e-cigarettes to kids,” including warning letters and fines.”

County eyes crackdown on underage tobacco sales

LINCOLN COUNTY –– With at least half of youths saying they have no problem acquiring cigarettes, local officials are considering possible licensing requirements for retailers in Lincoln County.

A proposal to curb tobacco purchases and consumption by Lincoln County youth is making the rounds among public health officials, with members of the county’s public health advisory committee strongly supporting the licensure and monitoring of local tobacco retailers here.

“One of the benefits of this is that the penalties are stronger,” said Lincoln County Public Health Advisory Committee member Faire Holliday. “What we’re seeing in other communities is that fines and the cost of a license might not be enough to make them stop selling or change their ways if they are selling to youth.”

Fear of losing a tobacco license, she added, might be motivation enough for many local tobacco retailers to comply with any licensure requirements imposed by the county.

“Especially with stores in which there is a big portion of their revenue, that could help them change their habits so at least they’re not selling to youth,” Holliday said. “Even if they are still selling products, this does have a couple of other benefits.”

According to Holliday, the rate of tobacco use among adults in Lincoln County is among the highest in the state. One in three adults in Lincoln County smoke, and Holliday found that youth smoking, while not as high, is still fairly prevalent. As of the end of November, 7.5 percent of 11th graders smoked cigarettes, 1.9 percent used a tobacco product of some kind and 9 percent smoked e-cigarettes.

“You may have also seen in the news that the use of e-cigarettes is going up sort of exponentially,” Holliday said in a December county public health advisory committee meeting. “I think it was 77 percent in the last year, so these numbers are certainly higher over the course of the year.”

Holliday also said it’s easy for teens to get cigarettes, with 52 percent of 11th graders across the country saying cigarettes are easy to acquire and 57 percent said the same of e-cigarettes. Almost three-quarters of youth who responded to the survey said they got tobacco products from a retail outlet.

“We also know youth obtain it from other youth, so really targeting in on the retail locations, if someone is buying it, can really help reduce the rate,” Holliday said.

Mixed response to previous proposals

While numbers weren’t immediately available regarding the number of local youth who buy or use tobacco products, Holliday’s efforts to target local business that sell cigarettes and similar products will crack down on the retailers selling such merchandise to local teens.

Her proposal would require local businesses to obtain a tobacco-selling license, just as liquor stores, restaurants and grocery stores are required to get a liquor license or dispensaries have to get a license to sell cannabis. The license, once awarded, would not be transferable if the business is sold.

An added benefit of requiring tobacco retailers to sell tobacco products, Holliday added, is that the county would have a way of keeping inventory of which businesses in the area are selling tobacco. The county currently does not keep such a list.

To get a tobacco license, retailers would have to fill out and submit an application and pay a fee which has yet to be determined. Holliday suggests between $150 and $400, although in other communities across the state the fee is as low as $125 annually or as high as $580 a year.

“The fee has to be enough to cover enforcement, but it can’t exceed the cost of the program or else it’s considered a tax,” Holliday said. “That’s something we’d be figuring out on the county level to determine what would be appropriate.”

According to chair of the Lincoln County Board of Commissioners, Doug Hunt, the county does not currently impose a fee for the sale of tobacco products. The proposal of regulating and licensing tobacco retailers came before the board of commissioners in years past, with some in the community supporting the effort and some against it.

“It has been discussed before the board of commissioners,” Hunt said during the December public health advisory committee meeting. “And as I remember, there was mixed response.”

With Lincoln County being one of the highest tobacco-consuming counties in the state, the proposition to license tobacco retailers was met with considerable support from other members of the county’s public health advisory committee.

“It would not only be advisable in my mind to have a fee that pays for some sort of monitoring program, but it also is high enough that it would somehow reduce the sales opportunities,” said committee chair Gary Lahman. “There may be small retail places that if the fee was too high, they would say, ‘Well, I don’t want to sell cigarettes.’ To me, anytime you reduce the availability of sales, you might reduce usage.””