August 2016 Newsletter
In This Issue
FDA extends 2009 Family Smoking Prevention Tobacco Act
Texans Standing Tall welcomes Peer Policy Fellow
TST hosts 2016 Statewide Summit
Officers attend Control Party Dispersal Training in Weslaco
FDA extends 2009 Family Smoking Prevention Tobacco Act
The U.S. Food and Drug Administration extended the 2009 Family Smoking Prevention and Tobacco Act to include all tobacco products introduced after February 2007 and cigars. Some of the changes include making it illegal nationwide for a retailer to sell e-cigarettes, hookah tobacco, or cigars to anyone under 18. It also prohibits providing free samples and the placement of these products in vending machines anywhere someone under 18 could have access.
Although the Family Smoking Prevention and Tobacco Act's extension now applies to e-cigarettes, also called electronic nicotine delivery systems (ENDS) and other 21st century tobacco devices, the industry went largely unchecked for several years.
A 2015 Centers for Disease Control and Prevention fact sheet reports that 31.8 percent of high school students used e-cigarettes, cigars or hookahs compared to 9.3 percent using traditional cigarettes. In a similar fashion, 8.9 percent of middle school students used one of the three newly regulated tobacco products compared to 2.3 percent using traditional cigarettes.
There has been a decrease in traditional cigarette use by teens, but the rise in youth using ENDS counters the progress we have made. We need to stand tall against these products that could possibly lead to another generation of nicotine addiction.
The new regulations may address the product, but they do not address the accessories being sold that appeal to youth.
For example, Vaprwear is a website that sells trendy hoodies that double as ENDS. The "strings" that go through the hood are also vape pens. Vaprwear is also partnering with a Denver-based marijuana company to work on a hoodie that is specifically designed for smoking marijuana.
In addition to merchandise that appeals to young people, these products offer a variety of flavors. Retailers sell flavored e-cigarette liquid including black cherry, tropical punch, green apple, and caramel latte. Cigars are also sold in similar flavors.
The industry has tried to sell vaping as a safer alternative to cigarette smoking, but research proves that is not the case. Nicotine by itself is poisonous and addictive. It activates biological pathways that increase the risk for cardiovascular disease. The "vapor" that e-cigarette devices produce is propylene glycol. It is made up of an FDA approved food additive, humectant, that is used in cosmetics and medicines. "FDA approved" makes the product sound perfectly safe, but the additive's composition changes when it is heated; in other words, it is not meant to be inhaled. Exposure can cause eye, throat, and airway irritation and long term exposure can lead to children developing asthma.
Nothing about this product is safe. Texans Standing Tall needs your help in keeping our children and our communities safe from these dangerous products. Fifty-one Texas cities have smoke-free ordinances. If yours isn't on this list contact our Statewide Coalition Specialist Steve Ross to find out more about what you can do.
Texans Standing Tall welcomes new Hogg Mental Health Peer Policy Fellow
Texans Standing Tall is thrilled to announce that we were able to create a new position to further our efforts in creating healthier and safer environments for Texas youth thanks to the Hogg Mental Health Peer Policy Fellow Grants program! We are one of five recipients to receive the grant that has funded a mental health peer policy fellow for the next two years.
The new position will expand TST's knowledge base and bring the perspective of substance use prevention to mental health policy planning. The fellow will work across disciplines to address root and overlapping causes of mental and substance use issues are co-occurring.
The fellow is supported by TST's Director of Research and Advocacy, Atalie Nitibhon as the policy mentor and long time TST supporter, and private practice counselor, Cynthia Schiebel as the mental health mentor. Both mentors were selected by TST's Chief Executive Officer Nicole Holt. Along with the fellow, they will be able to attend the Hogg Monthly Academy Meetings and a Federal Policy Immersion Trip in Washington D.C. in 2017.
"Because mental health and substance use disorders are often co-occurring, we are very excited about participating in this innovative program," Nitibhon said. "By integrating prevention efforts and seeking action at the population level, we can use limited resources efficiently and increase positive outcomes for a greater number of Texans."
The position was filled in early August by one of our newest staff members, Dr. Sachin Kamble. Kamble comes to TST from the Center for Health Care services in San Antonio, where he was an administrator for peer workforce development. He majored in microbiology at University of Texas at Austin and attended Southern Illinois University for his medical residency specializing in pediatrics. He has lived experience in substance use and mental health.
"Through my journey in life, I realized the importance of serving as a strong advocate on issues that pertain to mental health and substance use policy in the state," Kamble said. "Working at TST I'll be able to couple my experience with learning the skills to become a powerful voice."
Hogg's goal is to advance mental wellness for the people of Texas as a strategic grantmaker and catalyst for change. TST is proud that we have been selected as part of this mission.
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TST hosts prevention experts at 2016 Statewide Summit
Imagine being able to receive a two-day intensive with a diverse mix of topics where you're surrounded by knowledgeable experts in the prevention field right here in Texas. Well imagine no more, such an event exists in the TST Statewide Summit.
On Aug. 3-4, we delivered on our promise to bring state and national experts to Austin. We, along with 122 participants, jumped head first into the prevention fountain of knowledge. Topics ranged from brain development to alcohol use and sexual health.
On day one of the Summit, Dr. Mark P. Jones, professor of political science at Rice University, discussed the ever-evolving political landscape in Texas. In his session, Jones dove deep into how national politics are affecting elections at the state and local levels. One of the points he examined is the Latino population boom in terms of voting. Even though Latinos are on trend to outnumber Whites, Whites will still outnumber Latinos in the voting booths. Jones said that essentially, the majority demographic may shift, but it won't affect Texas politics in any significant way, unless latino voter turnout increases.
Texas House Representative Donna Howard won her seat by four votes and was able to tell Summit participants from first-hand experience that your vote matters. She also encouraged participants to share their knowledge with leaders, including city councils and school boards.
Brain researcher, Dr. Aaron White, Senior Scientific Advisor to the Director at the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism (NIAAA), also spoke on the first day. He explained how the brain develops and why a person is more likely to experiment with alcohol and other substances in his or her teens. His general conclusion is that in your adolescent years and teens, there is a strong emotional drive accompanied with a still developing striatum and pre-frontal cortex. These factors lead adolescents and teens to an increase in sensation seeking and a decrease in impulse control, which often leads to risky behavior like binge drinking.
The second day of the Statewide Summit hit the ground running with Dr. Phil Gardiner, Policy and Regulatory Sciences Program Officer for the Tobacco Related Disease Program (TRDP), presenting on the Triangulum between tobacco, marijuana, and e-cigarettes. Emily LeBlanc, Senior Director of Community Advocacy and the SAFE Alliance sat on our Public Notice: Alcohol & Sexual Health panel, spoke about her experience of working with victims of sexual assault and the importance of framing conversations to avoid victim blaming. Epidemiologist and University of North Texas Health Science Assistant professor Doug Livingston also sat on the panel and provided data that sexual health improves when the excise tax on alcohol is raised. Nancy Pryor, who holds a Master's Degree in Higher Education Administration and has extensive experience working in student affairs on college campuses, discussed Screening and Brief Intervention as an effective prevention tool.
Our pride and joy this year was the level of participation and amazing presentations from our Youth Leadership Council (YLC). We had 13 youth attend this year's Statewide Summit and heard two well-researched presentations on both days of the Summit. On the first day, YLC members Katy Turner, A.J. Cortez, and Andrea Marquez presented on the number of times alcohol was seen or mentioned in TV shows they watched. They found that 45 percent of the programs they watched showed characters drinking, and the most served alcohol was beer. On the second day, YLC members Carlos Vela and Nathanial Fomby presented data from surveys they collected in their local communities. The surveys assessed people's perceptions about underage drinking in their individual communities.
So much knowledge was shared with the community lifeguards in attendance at our 2016 Statewide Summit that there's no way we can fit it all in our August Newsletter. All the more reason to join us at next year's Summit!
Mark your calendars for the 2017 Statewide Summit on May 1-2, 2017 at the Austin Marriott-South.
TST hosts Controlled Party Dispersal training in Weslaco
Texans Standing Tall's Strategy Specialist Brian Lemons traveled to Weslaco on Aug. 8 along with facilitator Joel Moreno to host a Controlled Party Dispersal training for area law enforcement from Pharr PD, Mission PD, Weslaco PD, Hidalgo PD, Hidalgo County Constable Pct. 4 and Hidalgo County Sheriff's Office.
The training was held in conjunction with TST's coalition partner UNIDAD in south Texas. The event boasted 10 officers from the different departments and served to assist them in their efforts to combat underage drinking.
Moreno, who is retired law enforcement, discussed with the participating officers the laws they can use when breaking up an underage drinking party. After the classroom session of the training, the officers split up into teams and went outside to practice breaking up a party while a posse of teenage volunteers, pretending to host or be a guest at the party, were ready to run from officers.
Officers were able to practice how to safely break up a party and enforce the laws Moreno shared in the classroom portion of the training.
"This training made me more aware of where I need to strengthen my approach," Officer Nora Lozano of Mission PD said. "It's a good tool to provide my fellow law enforcement officers because we do have a lot of underage drinking parties in our community."
The training ended with officers answering questions from the youth volunteers that came to assist with the training. The youth's questions ranged from asking about doughnuts to how officers handled a teen drinking party prior to the training.
Take Back Day:
Saturday, Oct. 22, 2016
The DEA recently announced the next National Take Back Day will be Saturday, Oct. 22, 2016.
Check the DEA website for a list of take-back sites in your community. To assist in planning your next take-back event, use the Texans Standing Tall Prescription Drug Take Back Toolkit. Be sure to send us photos and updates of the results from any events you hold in your community!
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