Survey Finds Increased Youth Use of Non-Cigarette Tobacco Products – Yet Another Warning that FDA Must Take Action

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WASHINGTON, Nov. 14, 2013 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ — The following is a statement of Susan M. Liss, Executive Director, Campaign for Tobacco-Free Kids:


The 2012 National Youth Tobacco Survey released today by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) indicates that declines in youth cigarette smoking are being partially offset by the growing popularity of other tobacco products, including cigars, electronic cigarettes and hookahs. Among all high school boys, the cigar smoking rate now equals, and even slightly exceeds, the cigarette smoking rate: 16.7 percent for cigars compared to 16.3 percent for cigarettes in 2012.  There has been a large increase in cigar smoking among African-American high school students since 2009; in 2012, 16.7 percent of African-American high school students smoked cigars, while 9.6 percent smoked cigarettes.

These findings show why it is urgent that the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) move forward with plans to regulate all tobacco products, including cigars and e-cigarettes. The FDA, which currently regulates cigarettes, smokeless tobacco and roll-your-own tobacco, announced nearly three years ago that it planned to extend its jurisdiction to all other tobacco products.  However, the Obama Administration has yet to issue the necessary regulations. Today’s survey results show that this delay has very real consequences for the health of our children. The FDA must act to stop the marketing and sale of all tobacco products to kids.

Other findings of the Youth Tobacco Survey, published in the CDC’s Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report, include:

  • From 2011 to 2012, cigarette smoking rates fell from 15.8 to 14 percent among high school students and from 4.3 to 3.5 percent among middle school students.  While the CDC found these one-year changes were not statistically significant, they continue a long-term decline in youth smoking.  Since 2000, high school smoking has been reduced by half (from 28 to 14 percent), while middle school smoking has fallen by 68 percent (from 11 to 3.5 percent).  Both high school and middle school smoking rates are at all-time lows.
  • As the CDC first reported in September, current e-cigarette use rose significantly from 2011 to 2012 among students in both middle school (0.6 to 1.1 percent) and high school (1.5 to 2.8 percent).  The CDC also reported that the percentage of high school students who have ever used e-cigarettes jumped from 4.7 percent in 2011 to 10 percent in 2012.  These increases come as e-cigarette makers have marketed their products with the same tactics that have been used to market regular cigarettes to kids, including celebrity endorsements, lavish magazine ads, auto racing sponsorships, sweet flavors and even a cartoon pitchman.
  • From 2011 to 2012, there was a significant increase in use of hookahs (waterpipes) among high school students (4.1 to 5.4 percent).

The survey’s troubling trends regarding cigars come as tobacco companies have exploited regulatory and tax loopholes to market an array of cheap, sweet cigars, many of which look and are smoked just like cigarettes.  Tobacco companies have circumvented a 2009 federal ban on candy- and fruit-flavored cigarettes by marketing similarly flavored cigars.  Many cigars are also taxed at lower rates than cigarettes and can be sold individually, keeping them cheap and affordable for kids.

In addition, a recent study conducted by Legacy and published in the American Journal of Public Health found that little cigars and cigarillos are more available, significantly cheaper and more likely to be advertised on the exteriors of retail outlets in African-American neighborhoods. 

As the large declines in cigarette smoking demonstrate, we know how to win the fight against tobacco by implementing scientifically proven strategies. These include higher tobacco taxes, strong smoke-free laws, well-funded tobacco prevention and cessation programs that include mass media campaigns, and effective FDA regulation of tobacco products and marketing.

But today’s survey also reminds us that the tobacco companies are constantly seeking to circumvent these measures and continue targeting our kids.  To protect kids, the FDA must regulate all tobacco products, including cigars.  Congress and the states should increase tax rates on all tobacco products to the same rate as cigarettes.  And Congress should also reject pending legislation that would exempt some cigars from FDA regulation.

To keep making progress against the nation’s number one cause of preventable death, we need a comprehensive strategy to protect our kids from all tobacco products.

SOURCE Campaign for Tobacco-Free Kids


This week, fifth- and sixth-grade students in the territory’s public and private schools are being introduced to the Virgin Islands

Fifth- and sixth-graders at Alfredo Andrews Elementary School display Coole School day planners distributed by the V.I. National Guard.

National Guard’s Safe and Drug Free Coole School program. The students at one school, Alfredo Andrews Elementary School, received their workbooks and learned about the 11-week anti drug and anti violence course on Wednesday.

VING started the Coole School program in 2000 at Juanita Gardine Elementary School with the help of the U.S. Attorney’s Office. Since then it has expanded to all of the schools in the territory.

The program’s goal is to teach life and organizational skills to students, to develop positive character traits and reinforce academic achievement. Citizenship, responsibility, respect, integrity, fairness and caring are the traits emphasized during the semester while also focusing on drug and alcohol prevention.

During the semester, a member of the V.I. National Guard visits each school weekly to teach skills and talk about resisting drugs and alcohol. Coole School day planners, presented to each student, are used as workbooks and the fifth- and sixth-graders complete assignments and exercises.

There are also maps and academic tips in the workbooks that are inspected daily by teachers and weekly by VING personnel. At the end of the program, achievement awards are given to students with the highest scores.

“We’re looking to make sure we have a good citizen, a productive citizen,” said Chief Master Sgt. Neville Lee, the program manager.

V.I. National Guard members distributed Coole School day planners to students at Alfredo Andrews Elementary School.


Joan Claxton, principal at Alfredo Andrews, said that over the years the program has increased parental involvement. Parents are directed to review and sign the planners each day and become aware of their child’s assignments.

“With parental involvement, you have better academic results with students,” she said.

The principal said teachers feel class time is more productive for students who have completed the Coole School. After the course, they better demonstrate organizational skills and understand their responsibility to complete the work, she said.

Not only does VING bring new teachers into the schools for a 45 minutes a week, but the students learn to look up to them as positive leadership models, Claxton said.

Monday’s program included encouraging speeches from Claxton, Lee and representatives from sponsors, the Rotary Clubs and Innovative Companies. The presidents of all four St. Croix Rotary clubs were present as well as the area assistant governor, Deborah Howell, who was the emcee.

Rotary Clubs of St. Croix joined VING in sponsoring the Coole School in 2007 and Innovative came on board in 2011. The telecommunications company provides all of the day planners.

Lee said more than 5,000 students have attended the Coole School program in the Virgin Islands since it began. The Guard benefits from the program also, he said, because several Coole School graduates have joined the military organization.


CDC Study Finds More Schools Going Tobacco Free

Aug 28, 2013
Issues: Smoking
Drug type: Tobacco

 More students are studying on campuses that are completely tobacco free. That’s one of the findings from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC)’s 2012 School Health Policies and Practices Study (SHPPS).  SHPPS is the largest and most comprehensive survey to assess school health policies.

The SHPPS found that the percentage of school districts with policies that prohibited all tobacco use during any school-related activity increased from 46.7 percent in 2000 to 67.5 percent in 2012. The study also found positive changes in school nutrition and physical education policies.

“Schools play a critical role in the health and well-being of our youth,” said CDC Director Tom Frieden, M.D., M.P.H. “Good news for students and parents – more students have access to healthy food, better physical fitness activities through initiatives such as ‘Let’s Move,’ and campuses that are completely tobacco free.”

SHPPS is a national survey periodically conducted to assess school health policies and practices at the state, district, school, and classroom levels. SHPPS assesses the characteristics of eight components of school health: health education, physical education and activity, health services, mental health and social services, nutrition services, healthy and safe school environment, faculty and staff health promotion, and family and community involvement.

The full report can viewed here.

Jul 18, 2013
Drug type: Alcohol

A new study shows that the way children behave before they turn 5 years old may predict their alcohol use as teenagers.

There are few studies that chart developmental pathways from early childhood to adolescent alcohol-related outcomes, but an international research team, led by Danielle Dick, Ph.D., associate professor in the Department of Psychiatry in the Virginia Commonwealth University School of Medicine, evaluated the impact of childhood temperament on later alcohol use and problems. Results from the study will be published in the December 2013 issue of Alcoholism: Clinical & Experimental Research and are currently available at Early View.

Most risk and protective factors for alcohol have roots in early childhood. An individual enters adolescence with personality characteristics and life experiences that have accumulated during the first decade of life. An evaluation by the research team of measures of temperament from children 6 months through 5 years of age has found that childhood temperament prior to age 5 predicts adolescent alcohol use at age 15.5 years, even after controlling for socio-demographic factors and parental alcohol problems.

“Most scientists who study alcohol use start studying people in adolescence, since that is when alcohol use is usually first initiated/experimented with,” said Dick, a faculty member in the Virginia Institute for Psychiatric and Behavioral Genetics at VCU and lead author of the study. “But people don’t enter adolescence as blank slates; they have a history of life experiences that they bring with them, dating back to early childhood. This is one of the most comprehensive attempts to understand very early childhood predictors of adolescent alcohol use in a large epidemiological cohort.”

Dick and her colleagues used data from the Avon Longitudinal Study of Parents and Children (ALSPAC), a large epidemiological sample of pregnant women with delivery dates between April 1991 and December 1992. The children (6,504 boys, 6,143 girls) were followed longitudinally. Temperamental characteristics were assessed at six time points from 6 to 69 months of age. Alcohol use and problems were assessed at age 15.5 years.

“Some of the most interesting findings to emerge from this study are that: one, we can identify childhood temperamental styles that emerge prior to age 5 that predict alcohol use and problems in mid-adolescence,” said Dick. “Two, the early childhood temperamental styles that predict alcohol use are very different and largely uncorrelated – that both kids who show consistent emotional and behavioral problems early on are at elevated risk and kids who are consistently sociable at a very early age are also at risk.  This indicates very different pathways to alcohol involvement/patterns, that emerge early on, which has important implications for prevention efforts.”

The team found that the association between sociability and alcohol use was more significant than the association between emotional and conduct difficulties and alcohol use.

Dick noted the importance of searching for what may lead to adolescent drinking when trying to understand the development of patterns of alcohol use, such as predictors that emerge very early in life.  

“All things considered, it’s not just ‘problem kids’ who get involved in alcohol use.  It’s also the highly sociable kids as well,” said Dick. “Parents should be aware of this.”

Mayor Bloomberg

Jun 06, 2013
Coalition resources: Social Norms
Drug type: Marijuana

Mayor Bloomberg called medical marijuana a “scam” on his WOR radio show last Friday, according to Fox news.

In a discussion of efforts to legalize it across the country, Bloomberg said, “There’s no medical. This is one of the great hoaxes of all time.”

He went on to make another eyebrow-raising statement about how legalizing marijuana will cause other problems.

“Drug dealers have families to feed,” Bloomberg said. “If they can’t sell marijuana, they’ll sell something else.” Bloomberg says that “something else” will be worse than pot.

“The push to legalize this is just wrongheaded,” Bloomberg added.

Bloomberg also stated that he understands that marijuana is much stronger than it was 20 or 30 years ago.

“They say oh well, it’s not going to hurt anybody, it doesn’t lead to dependence. Of course it does.”

Watch the video at

Editor’s note: If you’d like to write and share information or thank Mayor Bloomberg for his comments, you may contact the Mayor directly by mail or submitting a web form message. Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg, City Hall, New York, NY, 10007.

Congress and Marijuana


A number of different bills have been introduced in Congress so far this year that would change how marijuana is treated under federal law. Some of these bills would remove federal sanctions for the use, sale and distribution of marijuana in states that have approved its use for “medical” purposes, while others seek to tax and regulate marijuana like alcohol, and/or remove it from the Controlled Substances Act. All of this legislation is bad economic and social policy, will negatively impact youth and undermine prevention work at the community level. Congress is being flooded with letters from those in favor of these bills. It is critical that your members of Congress hear from YOU and your entire network about the negative consequences that would be associated with passing any of these bills.

Apr 18, 2013

Issues: Smoking

Drug type: Tobacco

Health Behavior News Service reported on a new study which found that establishing smoke-free policies for public housing would help protect residents, visitors and employees from the harmful effects of smoking and result in significant cost savings. The study was published in the American Journal of Preventive Medicine.

Despite this, the study’s lead author, Brian A. King, Ph.D., M.P.H., of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s Office on Smoking and Health said, “Smoke-free prevalence in U.S. subsidized housing remains low. That’s because some multi-unit housing operators have concerns about vacancy, the legality of such polices and increased staff time for enforcement.  But the experiences of multi-unit operators with smoke-free policies suggest these misconceptions are unfounded.”

The CDC study estimates cost savings of $341 million in second-hand smoke related health care expenditures, $108 million in renovation expenses, and $72 million in smoking-related fire losses.

Between 2009 and 2010, 7.1 million people lived in subsidized housing and 2.1 million lived in public housing owned or operated by a government housing authority. In January 2012, there were approximately 3,500 Public Housing Authorities in the U.S., but only 250 had instituted smoke-free policies.

Michael C. Fiore, M.D., professor of medicine and director of the Center for Tobacco Research and Intervention at the University of Wisconsin noted, “This is an important study because decisions made on policy levels may not translate to the appropriate standard of care for low income people and those who live in subsidized housing. The article provides a powerful message. Everyone deserves to be healthy and those who live in subsidized housing shouldn’t be penalized.”

King added smoke-free policies do not prohibit smokers from residing at a property. They simply prevent smokers from smoking in settings where secondhand smoke can affect others.

“Among the large number of people living in subsidized housing in the U.S, many are children, the elderly and disabled,” he said. “These people are especially sensitive to secondhand smoke exposure.”

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