December 2015 Newsletter


December 2015 Newsletter


UNIDAD TPCC: Helping to Create a Tobacco-Free Hidalgo County

Thanks to the collaborative efforts of community members from the UNIDAD Tobacco Prevention and Control Coalition (TPCC), two major cities in Hidalgo County are closer to being 100% smoke-free in public places.
On November 17, the McAllen City Council voted to expand the city smoking ordinance to include the banning of the use of e-cigarettes from any public place where smoking is currently prohibited. The ban begins immediately. However, residents have a 90-day grace period in which officers will issue warnings for violations.

Commissioners voted to update the ordinance to include all vaping products which are defined as battery-powdered devices that vaporize a liquid solution to produce an aerosol.

The UNIDAD TPCC coalition  members gather for a photo after the Edinburg City Council meeting.
The UNIDAD TPCC coalition members gather for a photo after the Edinburg City Council meeting.

The UNIDAD TPCC coalition also reaped the benefits of a three-month effort working with the city
of Edinburg. On December 1, Edinburg became the first city in Hidalgo County to ban smoking in restaurants and bars.

The vote amended a 1992 smoking ordinance, which until December, had allowed bars and restaurants to have designated smoking areas.

This is a huge win for the public that is exposed to secondhand smoke. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), secondhand smoke contains dangerous chemicals that can damage the lungs and heart. Every year, 41,000 adult nonsmokers die from heart disease or lung cancer due to exposure from secondhand smoke.
The UNIDAD TPCC, along with the Texas Chapter of the American Heart Association, had collaborated with other community members to promote the ordinance change.
Gilda Bowen, Tobacco Prevention and Control Coalition Coordinator, promises to spread the word throughout the community on the change in the ordinance. "People don't realize the magnitude of this ordinance by the city of Edinburg," Bowen stated. "To me, there is nothing more rewarding than to see changes like this. This is not going to help just one person, it will help many for generations to come."


2016 SAMHSA Town Hall Meeting Initiative Addresses Underage Drinking

The Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) is seeking institutions of higher education and communities nationwide to be a part of its 2016 Town Hall Meeting Initiative to address underage and high-risk alcohol use.

According to SAMHSA, 4,700 young people die each year
from alcohol-related causes. Town Hall meetings are used by institutions of higher education and communities to bring people together to discuss viable solutions and strategies to reduce underage alcohol-related deaths.

Organizations that want to receive an invitation to register for a Town Hall meeting, need to send their full name, address, phone number, and website address to:

SAMHSA sponsors the Town Hall meetings every two years to educate communities about underage alcohol use and to create public awareness on prevention efforts.


Be part of the solution to create a healthier, safer Texas!


Contact Us

Learn how to get involved by visiting our web site:

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Youth Leadership Council Receives Hands-On Training to Prevent Underage Alcohol Use in Texas Communities

This year Texans Standing Tall's (TST) Youth Leadership Council (YLC)
fall training was at Camp Buckner, in Burnet, TX, November 20-22. Council members participated in a combination of team building activities and exercises, learned presentation skills, planned community projects, and bonded with fellow council members and TST staff.

YLC members taking a few minutes out of their busy training schedule.
YLC members taking a few minutes out of their busy training schedule.

The YLC is composed of 18 outstanding youth leaders throughout the state, ranging in age from 15 to 20, that work together on alcohol related issues affecting youth. They were selected from a statewide pool of candidates and chosen to represent TST for their leadership abilities.

During the three-day weekend, the youth received hands-on training from Brent Blackburn, Executive Director of Extreme Youth Leadership, in Dallas; and TST staffers Kelly McCaffrey, Program and Coalition Manager; Brian Lemons, Field Operations Specialist; and Georgia Marks, Youth Leadership Council Program Coordinator.

Youth were trained on five different topics including: How to Create a Social Media Campaign, How to Write a Letter to the Editor, Writing a Blog Post, and How to Administer an Underage Alcohol Use Prevention Survey in Your Community.

Throughout the year, each YLC member is required to complete a prevention project in their community and help prepare a group presentation for the 2016 Statewide Summit. Members also learned about TST's excise tax and social host workgroups, then chose which strategy to work on during the year.

Dylan Allen, 17, of Lufkin, felt learning about excise taxes was a highlight of the training, "I was really interested in the excise tax information and research," stated Allen. "It was pretty cool when I realized that an extra dime could make an enormous change."

The group also took time to have a little fun in between training sessions by going rock climbing, building human pyramids, and bonding.

"I loved the bonds I was able to make with the other Council members," stated Angel Uwamu, 17, of Lufkin. Taryn Quinn, 19, of Hearne, agreed, "During the training we were able to build and strengthen bonds that are necessary in order to do what we do on this Council and that is to tell our peers and adults about the dangers of alcohol."

Texans Standing Tall is always seeking talented youth leaders for our Council. YLC applications for 2016-2017 will be available in June. For more information about the YLC, contact Georgia Marks at 512-442-7501 or by email at or visit our website at



Holiday Break Perfect Opportunity to Talk to Kids about Drinking

Prevention experts agree that school break is a good opportunity to talk to a child about underage alcohol use. However, talking is just one part of the process. Setting a good example when kids are present at holiday social and family gatherings is also crucial to educating kids about alcohol use and its consequences. Those consequences include poor academic performance, car crashes, alcohol-related injuries and harm to others, drunken driving arrests, unplanned or unwanted sexual activity, and death as a result of alcohol poisoning.
According to the 2014 Texas School Survey (TSS), 50.5% of Texas middle and high school students have used alcohol at least once in their lifetime and 21.2% drank alcohol in the past month. Experts recommend that parents approach the subject of alcohol with a child by age 9.
It is never too early for parents to be proactive and start the conversation about alcohol with their child. However, some parents are unsure of what to say or how to approach the subject. Now, help is available from the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration's (SAMHSA), "Talk. They Hear You." mobile app. The app is a prevention tool for parents that allows them to practice their conversation to ease any anxiety prior to talking to their child.

According to the "Talk It Out" Initiative, age appropriate content is the key. The Initiative, led by the North Carolina Alcoholic Beverage Control Commission, separates kids into three different age categories and recommends the following age appropriate content:

  • 10-12 years old - During the pre-teen years, limit the conversation to what alcohol is and the dangers associated with it.
  • 13-17 years old  - Once kids become teenagers, they already know about alcohol. The message for this age group is why they shouldn't consume alcohol even though their peers may be drinking. Parents should give concrete examples, and can prepare by using reference materials such as the document published by the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health, titled the "Effects of Tobacco, Alcohol and Drugs on the Developing Adolescent Brain". The document explains the long-term effects of substance use on the developing brain.
  • 18-20 years old - Underage drinking at this age is a part of the college culture. The conversation for this age group needs to focus on the consequences that repeated alcohol use can have on their future such as not graduating.

Parents need to remember that once the conversation starts, it should be ongoing. It is important for parents to keep up-to-date on new trends and to know how to convey the information to their child in a constructive manner. The best form of reinforcement is leading by example and being a good host during the holidays by following a few guidelines:

  • If you are serving alcohol at a party or family gathering, put alcoholic beverages away after pouring a drink and let your guests know you will replenish the drink for them.
  • Provide a variety of mock cocktails and flavorful juices and other non-alcoholic drinks that may entice individuals who drink alcoholic beverages to try a healthier version and for those that aren't consuming alcohol.
  • Make sure there is plenty of food available to help counter the effects of alcohol.
  • Never pressure guests to drink alcoholic beverages.
  • Never let guests that appear intoxicated or sleepy drive home. You may need to offer them a place to spend the night or arrange for a ride home.
  • Encourage your party guests to determine their sober driver prior to the start of the evening by providing them a link to the Texas Department of Transportation's (TxDOT) "Plan While You Can" campaign which encourages partygoers to line up a sober ride before an event.

For more information about how to start the conversation about alcohol, parents can download resources on the "Talk. They Hear You." website at To identify ways to promote the campaign prevention organizations can visit the SAMHSA website at



TxDOT Rolls Out New Campaign to Combat Impaired Driving Over the Holidays

591b9789-8569-4dbc-b7f0-3c70cf60b110The Texas Department of Transportation's (TxDOT) "Plan While You Can" impaired driving campaign encourages drivers to line up a sober ride before enjoying festivities where drinking may occur. The Sober Ride website allows individuals to prearrange a ride before they leave a location, or while out, by using a mobile phone. The campaign runs through January 1, 2016, and coincides with an increase in law enforcement on Texas roadways. Help spread the word! A complete campaign media toolkit is available by clicking here.




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