Alcohol Delivery

Popularity of E-Cigarettes is a Public Health Matter

 

Snapchat. iPhones. Emojis. Selfies.

Of all the things teens think are cool, e-cigarettes – and the JUUL brand, in particular – should be among the most concerning.

We know e-cigarettes are making their way into the hands of youth, who are curious, attracted to the easy-to-hide design and fun flavors like crème brulee, or influenced by their peers. JUUL is especially popular because they are sleek and resemble a thumb drive, with teens saying they are “discreet enough to vape in class.”

We also know teens and adults find e-cigarettes appealing because they still believe they are less harmful than other tobacco products. But that doesn’t mean they are safe.

Case in point: one significant new study of nearly 70,000 people revealed that daily e-cigarette use can double the risk of a heart attack. When you consider that e-cigarettes are increasingly becoming a gateway to smoking among youth, these studies should be a concern.

But your average teen isn’t concerned about their chances of a heart attack — or other major health concerns like cancer; they’re drawn to e-cigarettes like JUUL, which “has developed a cult-like following among youth and young adults, fueled by a strong presence on social media sites like YouTube.”

Still, the popularity of JUUL and other e-cigarettes should be alarming to the public health community, since we know that exposure to nicotine during adolescence can cause addiction and harm the developing brain, and that children using e-cigarettes are at an a increased risk of using tobacco cigarettes in the future.

Moreover, e-cigarette use among middle and high school students more than tripled from 2013 to 2015. For the first time ever, teens are smoking e-cigarettes more than traditional cigarettes.

As concerned community members, we can advocate for regulation of e-cigarettes by the FDA, which has had the authority to regulate them since 2016 but has delayed implementation of key provisions. We can also share public health materials to build public awareness about potential harms associated with use of JUUL and other e-cigarettes. Several resources are emerging, including educational toolkit materials for teens developed by the Stanford University Department of Medicine, a Truth Initiative fact sheet, and a Campaign for Tobacco-Free Kids fact sheet. Finally, we can get involved with local coalitions like the Galveston/Bay Area and the Wichita County TPCCs (Tobacco Prevention and Control Coalitions) that are working to pass comprehensive smoke-free ordinances and Tobacco21 laws that would prevent anyone under the age of 21 from purchasing tobacco products.

If you have any questions or want more information about what you can do in your community on this issue or other tobacco-related issues, please contact Steve at SRoss@TexansStandingTall.org or 512.442.7501.

Alcohol Delivery

Effectively Engaging Youth

Nigel Wrangham during his opening keynote presentation.

Nigel Wrangham is a youth and leadership trainer who understands that youth are an integral part of an organization’s activities—not just a box to check off.

He recently addressed our Statewide Summit attendees and urged them to forge real partnerships with young people.

He believes engaging youth and utilizing their skills is the most effective way to create community change. He has personal experience working with groups of young people and their allies to help them influence policy, advocate for social change, and summon the courage to act consciously from their core principles. He understands that nourishing youth-adult partnerships creates powerful tools for change.

We heard him talk a lot during his presentation about “being a bit radical” and “stepping outside your comfort zone.” But for Wrangham, these aren’t just soundbites. He offered examples for coalitions and other groups, such as recruiting youth from unexpected places, involving youth in strategic planning and organizational decision-making, and knowing how to recruit new young people as others “age out” of our coalitions.

It is clear from the conversation and audience questions that many of our partners and allies are working with youth to some degree, but haven’t yet unlocked the full potential of the youth in their communities. For those interested in learning more about working with youth, Texans Standing Tall created a Community Engagement Guide as a tool to help coalitions more effectively engage youth in their local prevention efforts. To learn more about this guide, or to receive training on adult-youth partnerships in prevention, contact Sedrick Ntwali, Youth Engagement Specialist at (512) 442-7501 or sntwali@texansstandingtall.org.

Alcohol Delivery

‘Tis the Season!

‘Tis the season … to make sure we’re talking about alcohol with our kids

College students are home for the holidays. High schoolers are finding themselves in empty houses while parents are at work or doing last-minute holiday shopping. Adults are feeling celebratory.

It’s the most wonderful time of the year.

Unfortunately, it’s also one of the most dangerous times of the year.

Data overwhelmingly show that December means greater exposure to alcohol for our youth—and the myriad consequences that come with it, including assault, unplanned sexual activity, alcohol poisoning, and impaired driving. (According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, the average number of fatalities involving an alcohol-impaired driver rose 34% during the Christmas and New Year period alone.)

So while we’re gathered ‘round the fire with loved ones, what can we do to keep our kids and communities safer?

Set an example. A new report shows young people are very aware of how much their parents drink, and it affects their own relationship with alcohol. During the holidays, it’s important for our kids to see that we can celebrate without alcohol. If you do drink alcohol, don’t drive. Model riding with a sober driver.

Talk to your kids—and ask the tough questions. What are your kids doing while they’re home from college? Who are they spending time with? Talking to them about alcohol consumption and being clear about your expectations – underage drinking is dangerous, illegal, and unacceptable — is key. (Here are some great tips for how to talk to teens about alcohol. For example, don’t “lecture” and opt for open-ended questions.)

Share the data. Alcohol impairs judgment, and kids who drink are more likely to become involved in car crashes, be more sexually active, do worse in school, experience and/or cause physical violence, and abuse alcohol as adults.  You can share some other important facts about alcohol with your kids when the time is right.

Don’t drink and drive. Stay sober, or find a safe way home. It’s really that easy.

Don’t host or allow your child to attend an underage drinking party. It’s not safe and it’s illegal. It’s that simple.

We know delaying alcohol use as long as possible will decrease the chances our kids will develop problems associated with alcohol later in life. Setting an example, talking to them early, and sharing information can go a long way in making sure alcohol has no place in the lives of our children.

 

Alcohol Delivery

Alcohol vs. Athletes

Research indicates that student athletes are a population that is at risk for alcohol use—81 percent of college student-athletes used alcohol in the past year, and 62 percent used alcohol in the past month (NCAA, 2014). When the vast majority of student-athletes are using alcohol on a regular basis, we have a problem.

Some factors that contribute to student-athlete alcohol use include stress from the dual roles that they play on campus and the increased scrutiny they receive, overexposure to social settings that promote alcohol use, and challenges related to having less contact with their central support networks. All students, including athletes, also tend to overestimate the alcohol use of their peers and underestimate their own alcohol use, which contributes to a drinking culture on campus.

In addition to the negative consequences of drinking that can affect all students, such as unplanned sexual activity, combination drug use, and binge drinking, college student-athletes have other reasons to avoid using alcohol.

When talking about athletes specifically, there are a number of reasons alcohol use is concerning. In addition to concerns about physical and mental well-being of the students, alcohol hinders an athlete’s performance.

Alcohol Damages the Heart. Intense exercise increases your heart rate. Drinking alcohol even two days before exercising causes additional stress on the heart and can result in unusual heart rhythms (Drink Aware, 2014). 

Alcohol Harms Muscle Growth. Alcohol use cancels out gains from a workout. Chronic alcohol use can damage long-term performance by causing muscle damage, muscle loss, and muscle weakness; even short-term alcohol use can impede muscle growth. This muscle loss and weakness is known as myopathy. Myopathy can affect all muscles – such as those in your arms, legs, and heart – in a way that can harm athletic abilities (University Health Center, 2014).

Exercising With a Hangover Decreases Performance. When exercising, the body must continuously remove lactic acid. After drinking, a person’s liver is working hardest to rid the body of the toxic by-products of alcohol and cannot remove the lactic acid. This causes a feeling of fatigue, which lowers athletic performance (Drink Aware, 2014).

Alcohol Causes Dehydration. Alcohol is a diuretic, meaning it makes the kidneys produce more urine and can cause the athlete’s body to become dehydrated. Staying hydrated helps blood flow so it can carry oxygen and nutrients to the muscles (Drink Aware, 2014). When dehydrated, an athlete may experience low energy, low endurance, cramps, muscle pulls, muscle strains, and muscle loss. Full recovery from dehydration can take up to a week (UC San Diego Intercollegiate Athletics).                                                                                                                                             

Alcohol Hurts Athletic Performance. Alcohol is linked with a loss of balance, reaction time, memory, and accuracy of fine motor skills (Vella & Cameron-Smith, 2010). Drinking alcohol leads to slower running and cycling times, weakens the heart’s ability to pump, impairs temperature regulation, decreases grip strength and jump height, lowers stamina, and reduces strength and power (Kozir & American College of Sports Medicine).

For college student-athletes, avoiding dangerous alcohol use can benefit their performance in and out of the classroom. Through sensible alcohol policies and educational campaigns that challenge students’ misperceptions, colleges can help prevent alcohol use among student-athletes.

For more information, check out our Athletes vs. Alcohol handout here.

 

Alcohol Delivery

Bud Light Raises Spuds MacKenzie From the Dead in Super Bowl LI Commercial

By Kazia Conway

I was watching Super Bowl LI with my family on Feb. 4, along with 100 million people who probably have families like mine that include young children.

Let’s establish my family. My five-year-old daughter couldn’t have cared less about the game. Mommy likes the Patriots. Daddy is a Cowboys fan. Kennedy just likes to be included in the enthusiasm when we jump off the couch screaming in disbelief or in extreme praise of a well-executed play.

Courtesy Google Commons

But on Sunday night, my daughter’s lack of interest in the television took a turn when she looked up and saw the late Spuds MacKenzie revived through a ghostly computer-generated image on our screen for a Bud Light commercial. Kennedy opened her mouth and said, “Aaaaawwwww! He’s so cute.” Believe me, if I didn’t work in the prevention field I wouldn’t have noticed the ploy that was executed by none other than Anheuser-Busch.

Spuds MacKenzie “super party animal” ads rolled out the year (literally the Sunday before) I was born during the Super Bowl in 1987. I didn’t know anything about him. But my husband, who was five at the time – the same age my daughter is now – immediately said, “Hey, that’s Spuds MacKenzie! He was a big deal when daddy was a kid. He died in the late 90s.”

I immediately started researching Spuds MacKenzie for a little background information. I didn’t have to look far; one of the first things that comes up when you search “Spuds MacKenzie” is a bundle of old commercials with the adorable Spuds. He is a lovable Bull Terrier with a brown spot over his left eye. The New York Times reported in 1989 that Spuds “increased sales of Bud Light beer by 20 percent between 1987 and 1988.”

Nationally, Bud Light is the most consumed alcoholic beverage by underage drinkers. The Center on Alcohol Marketing and Youth reports that “every day in the US, more than 4,750 kids under the age of 16 have their first full drink of alcohol.” In Texas, 18 percent of students report having their first full drink of alcohol before the age of 13.

The alcohol industry has set a voluntary standard saying it will not advertise in spaces where more than 30% of the viewing audience is under the legal drinking age of 21. However, the reaction to Spuds MacKenzie from both my five-year-old daughter and my husband’s five-year-old self say that the alcohol industry’s voluntary self-regulation isn’t exactly working.

Spuds’ time in the spotlight was short lived because of efforts spearheaded by politicians and Mothers Against Drunk Driving. Eventually, schools across the nation began banning clothing that featured the adorable pup.

I was two when Bud Light officially retired its famous canine in 1989, and I somehow managed to live my entire life without knowing anything about this controversial cultural icon. Spuds’ impact on “cool” may have skipped a generation of millennials, but our kids are now being exposed.

Alcohol remains the most-used substance by Texas youth. I am armed to handle alcohol in a way that most parents aren’t because I work in prevention. I have read and written about the importance of discussing the negative consequences, health risks, and zero-tolerance laws around alcohol. I have read and written about the importance of leading by example. I have also read and written about the importance of making sure my daughter has a very clear understanding that her parents will not tolerate alcohol, tobacco, or drug use of any kind in or out of our presence. I recognize the parenting privilege I have and that there are millions of other families with young children who are not aware of the impact alcohol advertising has on them.

They say that money is power. Well, the alcohol industry spends $4 billion a year on advertising –how’s that for power? Because of this, it is important that parents remember there is power in the tongue. Talking to the youth in your life about the risks of alcohol is free. Your children aren’t too young to see these advertisements, so they’re not too young to begin the conversation.

We’re interested in hearing your thoughts on Bud Light reviving Spuds MacKenzie and what watching the “Big Game” with your children was like this year. Share your experience in the comments.