January 2016 Newsletter


January 2016 Newsletter


Red Oak Joins Other Texas Cities with Comprehensive Smoke-Free Ordinance

On December 15, the Red Oak City Council unanimously voted to approve an ordinance prohibiting smoking in places of employment, restaurants, private clubs, public places, public access institutions, and city vehicles and facilities. The ordinance took effect immediately and calls for a fine not to exceed $500 for each offense.

For Smoke-Free Ellis County, the ordinance was the culmination of a collaborative effort to help educate the community on the hazardous effects of tobacco use in public places.

The passing of the Red Oak smoke-free ordinance was a huge win for the city and Smoke-Free Ellis County.
The passing of the Red Oak
smoke-free ordinance was a huge win
for the city and Smoke-Free Ellis County.

Molly Aguilar, Tobacco Coordinator for the Ellis County Tobacco Prevention & Control Coalition (TPCC), attributed the successful outcome to the amount of time the coalition spent identifying the community's readiness for such an ordinance.

"Our coalition spent over six months conducting surveys throughout the community," said Aguilar. "We discovered through our due diligence that not only were members of the community positive towards a smoking ordinance, so were the decision makers."

The passing of the ordinance was another win for Ellis County. In 2014, Waxahachie, the county seat, passed a comprehensive smoke-free ordinance.

Now, the Ellis County TPCC is ready to tackle another community and is surveying residents of nearby Italy to discern the community's readiness for a possible smoke-free ordinance.

For more information on how to pass a smoke-free ordinance in your community, contact Texans Standing Tall's Statewide Coalitions Coordinator, Steve Ross at sross@TexansStandingTall.org, or call Steve at 512-442-7501.


Shatter the Myths

National Drug and Alcohol Facts Week

Did you know that alcohol is the number one substance used by youth aged 12 and older? And, that prescription and over-the-counter drugs are commonly abused by youth aged 14 and older? These are just two facts that youth can learn during National Drug and Alcohol Facts Week (NDAFW), the week of January
25-31, 2016.

The goal of this week-long educational opportunity is to encourage communities to hold events that educate youth on the scientific facts of alcohol, tobacco, and other substance use and abuse. To aid communities in holding an event, free promotional materials, resources, and drug-specific toolkits are available on the NDAFW website.

In addition, the NDAFW is holding a live online Drugs and Alcohol Chat Day on January 26. The live Chat allows youth from around the country to ask questions and receive answers firsthand from National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA) scientists on topics such as drug effects, prevention, and the science of addiction. School districts holding NDAFW events are encouraged to register for the live Chat.

NDAFW was launched in 2010 by scientists at NIDA to counteract perceptions of drugs and alcohol youth get from the internet, TV, movies, and from friends.
Don't forget to join the conversation on Twitter using the hashtag #NDAFW. The NDAFW is sponsored by NIDA in partnership with the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism (NIAAA). Both organizations are part of the National Institutes of Health (NIH).


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New Study Reveals an Increase in Alcohol Taxes may Reduce Number of STIs

A new study published by the American Journal of Preventive Medicine found that an increase in the alcohol sales tax in Maryland substantially decreased the number of sexually transmitted infections (STIs) in the state.

In 2011, Maryland raised its sales tax on alcohol to 9% from the previous rate of 6%. According to the study, "Maryland Alcohol Sales Tax and Sexually Transmitted Infections - a Natural Experiment," gonorrhea rates decreased 24% (July 2011 to December 2012) resulting in 1,600 fewer statewide cases annually after the alcohol-specific sales tax was increased. The study attributes the decrease in gonorrhea cases to a decrease in alcohol consumption prior to sex, thus decreasing sexual risk taking, and the risk of getting a STI.

Researchers for the Maryland study found multiple studies that suggested alcohol taxes influence STIs. For example, a 2009 study found in the 18 months following an alcohol excise tax increase in Illinois, gonorrhea and chlamydia rates declined statewide. This study reported that the number of cases of gonorrhea decreased by 21% and chlamydia decreased by 11%. In addition, a similar nationwide evaluation that used fixed effects models to adjust for STI rate trends, found state beer and liquor taxes in 1982-1994 were associated with lower statewide gonorrhea and syphilis rates. After accounting for state-level differences, the same study found that gonorrhea and syphilis rates declined nationwide in 1991 when the federal beer tax was increased.

Stephanie Staras, Ph.D., MSPH, an assistant professor in the University of Florida's College of Medicine Department of Health Outcomes and Policy, and the lead researcher for the Maryland study, recommends an increase in alcohol taxes as a proven strategy to protect youth. "If policymakers are looking for methods to protect young people from harmful STIs, they should consider raising alcohol taxes, which have decreased remarkably over the years due to inflation," said Staras.

A decrease in STIs is not the only public health benefit of an increase in alcohol taxes. According to a report prepared for Texans Standing Tall (TST) titled, "The Effects of Alcohol Excise Tax Increases on Public Health and Safety in Texas," extensive research has shown that an increase in alcohol excise taxes reduces other behaviors. Those behaviors include underage alcohol use, binge drinking, driving under the influence, sexual assault, homicides, suicides, fetal alcohol syndrome, and violence against children.

In Texas, a 10-cent per drink increase in alcohol excise taxes would raise $708 million in new revenue annually and would result in an overall 8.6 % reduction in alcohol consumption. Based on the research from the states of Illinois and Maryland, an alcohol excise tax increase may also help to decrease the number of cases of STIs in Texas.

To learn more about how raising alcohol excise taxes can benefit Texas, contact TST's Field Operations Specialist, Brian Lemons, at blemons@TexansStandingTall.org or visit the Texans for Education, Health & Safety (TEHS) Coalition website at DimeADrinkTX.org. You can also like TEHS on Facebook at www.facebook.com/dimeadrinktx or join the conversation on twitter @dimeadrinktx.



Substance Use and Abuse Prevention Wins in Landmark Education Legislation

On December 10, President Obama signed into law S. 1177, the Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA). In summary, the new law ends the federal test-based accountability system of 2001's No Child Left Behind, and restores to states the responsibility for determining how to use federally required tests for accountability purposes.It also expands state responsibility over schools, and provides grants to charter schools.

The new law is a win for substance use and abuse prevention. The Community Anti-Drug Coalitions of America (CADCA) was instrumental in advocating for the substance abuse prevention provisions included in ESSA. In Title IV, 21st Century Schools, the ESSA law provides funding for evidence-based drug prevention in schools. The law does not include a specific dollar amount, but it does require local education agencies to use at least 20% of student support and academic enrichment grant funding for drug (defined in S.1177 as alcohol, tobacco, smokeless tobacco products, and e-cigarettes) and violence prevention.

In Texas, local school districts will be responsible for evidenced-based programs to improve the safety, health, well-being and academic achievements of students during and after school. However, according to the new law, school districts will be required to consult with staff and other community and local government stakeholders in the planning and implementation of drug and violence prevention programs.

For questions regarding how to work with your school district on ESSA requirements for drug prevention, contact TST's Youth Engagement Specialist, Georgia Marks, at 512-442-7501 or via email at gmarks@TexansStandingTall.org.




Register Today

Alcohol Policy 17 Conference

Do you want to strengthen your understanding of evidence-based public policy in order to prevent and reduce alcohol-related problems in your community?

During the Alcohol Policy 17 Conference, April 6-8 in Arlington, VA, you will learn from national experts how to translate alcohol policy research into public health practice that can be utilized in your community. For individuals new to the alcohol policy field, Alcohol Policy 17 will provide resources, success stories and lessons learned when applying public health and public policy approaches to alcohol problems.

The conference will focus on seven specific objectives that seek to bridge the gap between evidence and action using rigorous alcohol policy research. This research helps to inform effective responses at the community, state, and national levels.

The deadline to register for the early bird rate is February 12. For additional information contact ap17@alcoholpolicy.org.




TxDOT's "Plan While You Can" Football Campaign Encourages Super Bowl Partygoers to Have a Game Plan

This year's Super Bowl is scheduled for Feb. 7, 2016. To combat alcohol-related crashes, the Texas Department of Transportation (TxDOT) designed the "Plan While You Can" Statewide Impaired Driving Football Campaign.

The campaign runs through Feb. 7 and is designed to encourage fans to have a safety plan and arrange a sober ride home before enjoying Super Bowl parties where drinking may occur. The campaign's goal is to reduce the number of DWI-related traffic crashes occurring on game day.

According to TxDOT, the number of alcohol-related crashes during football season in Texas continues to increase each year. In 2014, a total of 10,676 alcohol-related crashes occurred during the football season that ran from Sept. 4, 2014 to Feb. 1, 2015. Those crashes resulted in 492 fatalities and a 7% percent increase over the previous year.

Individuals found driving under the influence of alcohol could face up to $17,000 in fines and fees and could lose their license. To plan a safe ride home visit SoberRides.org.

Help spread the word! To receive a campaign media toolkit, email MediaRelations@txdot.gov or call 512-463-8700. Keep up with the campaign on social media using the hashtag #PlanWhileYouCan.


Texans Standing Tall's

2016 Statewide Summit

August 3-4, 2016

Seton Healthcare Family
Administrative Offices
St. Vincent de Paul Auditorium - 1st Floor
1345 Philomena Street, Austin, TX 78723

More information coming soon!