This Sunday many churched will make the decision to observe No Menthol Sunday as a congregation. This began as a way to highlight the marketing tactics of tobacco companies to specific populations, and grew into an outrage about the sale of flavored tobacco products to our youth.
There are so many facts and figures that show the significant increase in tobacco use as a result of flavors, like menthol, being created to market to our children and, in turn, also being used by the adult population. However, the most significant statistic shows that 97% of youth that use e-cigarette's also use flavors, and most of them would not have started using tobacco products if flavors were not available. Because menthol exists, a new generation of tobacco users has begun and decades worth of targeted marketing to Black communities specifically.
As congregations gather this Sunday, their goal is to focus on the theme of "Awaken!", which encourages them to not be deceived by the ill intentions of others and focuses on Ephesians 5:5-15. When it comes to protecting our young people and our most vulnerable communities, we must not grow weary or turn a blind eye.
No Menthol Sunday is the perfect time to raise our consciousness about these important issues. When people of faith remain vigilant, educate youth, and inspire community action, we will begin to move toward total health justice!
If you would like to read more about menthol facts, statistics, regulations, and marketing, click here.
May is the month to recognize our previous, current, and future mothers! And I wanted to take time to talk about the benefits of quitting smoking as a pregnant woman or current mother. No matter how old you are, or how many kids that you have, strong women deserve to be celebrated! And sometimes mothers forget to take care of themselves. Unfortunately, 1 out of 5 women in Indiana are of child-bearing age, and many of them are both pregnant and current smokers; this contributes to our 11.5% smoking rate among pregnant women in Indiana. I believe that this number would significantly decrease if we helped our mothers make themselves, and their health, a priority!
Here is a list of the risks of smoking during pregnancy:
Here is a list of risks associated with children breathing secondhand smoke:
I don't need to convince you that smoking is bad for you to participate in or for your kids to be affected by, but I am sure that we can all agree that self care is not a high enough priority for our mothers. Let's stay educated and find new ways to support the health and lifestyle changes of the mothers within our community!
When we think about Earth Day, we think of conserving water, recycling, and maybe even carpooling, but what about tobacco use? Tobacco production and use affects the world in more ways that you would think; it contributes to so much of our waste, air pollution, occurrences of uncontrolled fires, and production that is just overall so harmful to our environment.
The packaging and labeling of tobacco products is resource-intensive in terms of the paper, plastic and chemicals that manufacturers use. Millions of tons of packaging waste, much of it plastic, ends up as litter or helps to overwhelm landfills around the world. Similarly, the disposal of cigarette waste after consumption causes harm to the environment. In beach clean-up efforts around the world, cigarette butts are the largest contributor to littering world-wide.
Also, the production of tobacco and tobacco products causes widespread environmental degradation around the world. It begins with the preparation of land for tobacco cultivation and carries through the life of these products as they are manufactured, marketed and consumed. And it is not uncommon for tobacco farmers clear the forest by burning it; often, this land is agriculturally marginal and after only a few seasons, the land is abandoned, contributing in many cases to desertification. Not only does burning generate vast amounts of air and land, water and air pollutants, much of this land is cleared from carbon dioxide-absorbing forest cover. As a result, tobacco cultivation is exacerbating greenhouse gas levels.
Lastly, the fires caused by cigarettes do tremendous damage to the environment, beyond their costs in terms of lives lost and direct economic loss. Cigarette smoking is a major cause of both house and forest fires throughout the world. In both the USA and the United Kingdom, cigarettes are the single greatest cause of fire-related deaths, and are responsible for hundreds of millions of dollars in fire-related
Tobacco use affects our environment in an extremely significant way, and Earth Day is the perfect time to highlight these Earth-changing truths!
This month is National Stress Month! That seems appropriate with all of the stressful things going on in the world, right? And I wanted to talk about how this relates to increased amounts of tobacco consumption because, well, that's my job!
A common trigger for tobacco users is the feeling of stress, because tobacco seems to be an effective coping mechanism for the individuals who use it. What a lot of people don't know is that tobacco is actually a stimulant drug, which means that it speeds up your body's functioning, making you feel more anxious and overwhelmed that before. Stimulants also raise your heart rate, blood sugar, and blood pressure, which can contribute to the feeling of stress that you are having.
So what's the solution? We can talk about the obvious solution of quitting all day long, and if that is what you are thinking about, then you should definitely call 1-800-QUITNOW. But if that's not the route that you were hoping to take, then I have a few alternative ways to deal with stress that might be effective for you.
And the number one recommendation is to avoid alcohol, caffeine, and nicotine. Let's try our best to productively manage our stress!
As you may know, tomorrow is National Pet Day! And I know that you do not need me to tell you about the harmful affects that smoking can have on your own health, or even the harmful affects that second-hand smoking can have on the individuals that you live with, but it is rare that we have the opportunity to talk about the affect that tobacco use can have on the animals that live in your home.
Because our pets share our environments, they also share our environmental exposures. Second-hand smoke does affect the health of the animals that are living in the home of a smoker. Dogs living in homes with smokers have significantly higher levels of cotinine (a breakdown product of nicotine) in their blood, indicating exposure to secondhand smoke. Dogs were also more than twice as likely to develop lung cancer if a smoker lived in the home. Also, cats that live in smoking households are more than twice as likely to develop malignant lymphoma (a type of cancer) compared to cats in nonsmoking households.
Smoking outside the home reduces the concentration of environmental tobacco smoke in the house, but doesn’t eliminate it. A study found that environmental tobacco levels in homes of smokers who smoked outdoors were still five to seven times higher than in households of nonsmokers. And it’s not just the secondhand smoke that poses a risk for your pets: discarded cigarette butts or other tobacco products left within reach of pets can cause gastrointestinal problems or even nicotine toxicity if your pet finds and eats them.
If you choose to use cigarettes or e-cigarettes, please consider quitting not just for the sake of your own health, but for the health of your family and your pets. And if you choose to use these products, make sure to take extra precautions to keep your pets safe.
Overdose deaths have increased across the country over the last couple of years, but Hancock County in Indiana is choosing to combat the problem in a new, and controversial, way.
In an article in the Indy Star, they lay out the size of the problem in Hancock County: “According to Indiana State Department of Health data, there were 84 opioid-related emergency department visits and 11 hospitalizations in Hancock County in 2018, the most recent data available.”
Hancock County’s prosecutor, Brent Eaton, played a big part in making changes to the way they approach addiction and overdose. These changes include bringing charges against people who overdose in the county.
While Eaton says he struggled with this decision, he told Fox 59 News the goal is to “[s]top that revolving door of people that would overdose that we would respond, they go to the hospital and then they go back out to the same environment.”
This means that people who overdose in Hancock County will face charges of Possession of a Controlled Substance, which is a Level 6 Felony and could result in a jail sentence between six months and two-and-a-half years.
Fox 59 News reports that, after the person is sent to the hospital to treat the overdose, “officers will fill out a form to determine if there is probable cause to file charges.”
The person who has overdosed is given the opportunity to plead guilty, and if they go that route, “the prosecutor’s office would agree to offer treatment services through probation,” instead of arresting the person and making them serve jail time.
When faced with questions as to whether or not this is a good idea, Eaton told Fox 59 News, “We are enforcing the laws in the State of Indiana. It is against the law to possess controlled substances. That is the law the legislature passed. People in this community, we do not want anyone else to die. We don’t want that to happen.”
Criminal defense attorney Bill Frederick told the Indy Star that this new protocol in Hancock County is something that isn’t seen being used very often. “… the practice of charging a person with possession based on the drug being found in their system is unusual. But because state law isn’t explicit about what possession means, it could conceivably hold up in court.”
In the past, prosecutor had to rely on actually finding the drug or paraphernalia at the scene of an overdose.
Critics of the new course of action are afraid that criminalizing overdoses means more people will die, because those around the overdosed person will be afraid to call 911. They’re also worried that this new action will saddle people with felony charges for years to come, even after they’ve gotten sober.
One of this plan’s critics is Reg McCutcheon who works as the executive director of Landmark Recovery in Carmel. McCutcheon was recently interviewed by WTHR, where he voiced his concern with criminalizing overdoses.
McCutcheon told WTHR that addiction “is a disease and we’re criminalizing the disease side and that’s what we have to be mindful of. Statistics do not support forcing someone [into treatment]. We have a national average in excess of eight times before [those struggling with addiction] they find ways to get help.”
The executive director of the Hall Center for Law and Health at Indiana University’s Robert H. McKinney School of Law, Nicolas Terry, is also concerned about how Hancock County is choosing to combat addiction and overdose. He recently told the Indy Star that this “new protocol sends a dangerous message, particularly around the use of Naloxone. Since the use of the overdose reversal drug can be used as evidence of opioid use and ultimately drug possession.”
Terry added that these fears surrounding Naloxone might mean that fewer people will choose to possess the life-saving drug, fearing that they could be arrested and charged.
Prosecutor Eaton told the Indy Star that simply having Naloxone is not a reason to charge someone with possession of a controlled substance, but he also said it’s an indicator that someone has opiates in their system, which can tip off authorities.
Nicolas Terry thinks this type of approach will erode “trust between drug users and first responders, and could prevent people from calling 911.”
It should be interesting to see how this new protocol will affect the people of Hancock County, and as we start seeing results, we will bring you those updates.
NIH’s 2019 Monitoring the Future survey finds continuing declines in prescription opioid misuse, tobacco cigarettes, and alcohol
Findings from the 2019 Monitoring the Future (MTF) survey demonstrate the appeal of vaping to teens, as seen in the increased prevalence of marijuana use as well as nicotine vaping. Results from the 45th annual MTF survey, a nationally representative sample of eighth, 10th and 12th graders in hundreds of U.S. schools, were announced today by the director of the National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA), part of the National Institutes of Health, along with the University of Michigan scientist who leads the research team. The self-report survey is given annually to students who respond to questions about their drug use and attitudes.
Past year vaping of marijuana, which has more than doubled in the past two years, was reported at 20.8% among 12th graders, with 10th graders not far behind at 19.4% and eighth graders at 7.0%. Past month marijuana vaping among 12th graders nearly doubled in a single year to 14% from 7.5%–the second largest one-year jump ever tracked for any substance in the history of the survey. (The largest was from 2017-2018 with past month nicotine vaping among 12th graders). For the first time, the survey measured daily marijuana vaping, which was reported at 3.5% among 12th graders, 3.0% among 10th graders, and 0.8% among eighth graders. The MTF investigators documented more detailed findings on teen vaping of marijuana in a research letter released today in the Journal of the American Medical Association. High rates of nicotine vaping reported in the MTF survey were released in September.
Marijuana continues to be the most commonly used illicit drug by adolescents. After remaining mostly stable for many years, daily use of marijuana went up significantly since 2018 among eighth and 10th graders–now at 1.3% and 4.8% respectively. However, overall past year marijuana use rates remain steady among teens (35.7% among 12th graders; 28.8% among 10th graders; and 11.8% among eighth graders).
Past year rates of any illicit drug use, other than marijuana, remain relatively low among 12th graders; past year use was 3.6% for LSD; 3.3% for synthetic cannabinoids; 2.2% for both cocaine and MDMA (ecstasy); and 0.4% for heroin. Other drug use, including the misuse of prescription medicines and the use of alcohol as well as tobacco cigarettes, continues to decline.
"We are heartened to see the continuing decline in the use of many drugs, particularly non-medical use of prescription opioids; however, teens are clearly attracted to vaping products, which are often concentrated amounts of drugs disguised as electronic gadgets," said NIDA Director Dr. Nora Volkow. "Their growing popularity threatens to undo years of progress protecting the health of adolescents in the U.S."