This month, we’re highlighting Youth Leadership Council (YLC) Member Nikolai Allen Sanchez Petty for his stellar work on the YLC data collection project. His hard work and dedication helped the group develop key research parameters that will guide their project moving forward.
We’re quite proud of this young man and look forward to seeing the many more great things he will accomplish!
Andrea Marquez and Carlos Vela were selected as the April and May YLC Members of the Month for their outstanding advocacy efforts; both made trips to the Texas Capitol to provide public testimony on issues that affect underage alcohol and tobacco use.
Catching an early morning flight from El Paso to Austin, Andrea spent two days in town so she could testify on her concerns about powdered alcohol before the House Licensing & Administrative Procedures Committee and Senate Business & Commerce Committee. During her testimony, Andrea discussed why she thinks it’s important to ban the product and demonstrated how easy it would be for a youth to conceal powdered alcohol packets. Armed with a makeup bag containing 48 Kool-Aid packets (the approximate size of a powdered alcohol packet), she dumped them onto the table and shared that the packets in her small bag equaled more shots than what you would find in a large 1.75L bottle of alcohol. She then asked legislators to think about which one they thought would be easier for a young person to sneak out of the house without their parents noticing: the bottle or the bag? Her powerful testimony helped educate everyone in the room on the potential harms we would see if powdered alcohol ever made it to the shelves.
Making the drive from Ingleside, Carlos came to Austin so he could testify before the House Public Health Committee. Though the hearing got postponed, super advocate Carlos hung around for an extra day so he could speak to the benefits of raising the legal purchase age of tobacco from 18 to 21. He asked for Texas to be a leader in the fight against tobacco by becoming the third state to raise the tobacco age to 21. Carlos also used his personal story about growing up around tobacco use and being offered tobacco in high school to help explain why raising the purchase age will help keep tobacco out of schools and away from youth during an impressionable time in their lives. Since 95% of smokers start before age 21, raising the age of sale to 21 is seen as an effective way to protect our kids from tobacco addiction and save lives. If you’re interested in learning more, Texas 21, a coalition of organizations working to prevent tobacco use, has put together a wealth of information on the issue. Check it out at texas21.org.
We are incredibly proud to call Andrea and Carlos members of our Youth Leadership Council. Along with their fellow YLC members, they constantly inspire us to do more and work harder to ensure we’re creating safe and healthy communities for everyone. If you’d like to learn more about the YLC and how to get involved, contact Georgia Marks at firstname.lastname@example.org or 512.442.7501.
Our 2017 Statewide Summit was a success – thanks largely to you all for joining us on May 1st and 2nd in Austin, Texas, for the event! With help from a range of national and state experts, participants grew their knowledge on a number of prevention issues, such as fetal alcohol spectrum disorders (FASD), best practices for tobacco prevention and control, addressing binge drinking on college campuses, the relationship between mental health issues and prevention, and more. In case you weren’t able to join us for Summit this year, TST staff members have put together some of the main takeaways from each of the presentations – check it out below!
Don’t forget to mark your calendars for our 2018 Statewide Summit, which will take place February 21-22, 2018, at the Austin Marriott South. We hope to see you there!
A Community’s Response to Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorder
Nora Boesem | Founder, Roots to Wings
After flight delays, flight cancellations, and an impromptu road trip with a fellow stranded passenger, Nora Boesem finally made it to Summit – and we sure are glad she did! Sharing her story as a foster mother to more than 100 children with FASD, Nora inspired attendees to step into the role of advocates and ACT. In addition to learning about the amazing work Nora does as a mother and in her community, her presentation also taught us:
FASD is a physical disability with behavioral symptoms; it does not go away and it is not outgrown.
Raising and working with individuals who have FASD sometimes means trying differently rather than harder to address some of the behavioral issues encountered.
The effects of FASD are far-reaching and can result in genetic changes that are passed from one generation to the next.
We can see positive changes in our communities when we work together, but it’s important to remember change takes time – patience and perseverance are often required.
Following the Money: How Industry Influences Policy
Jennifer Cofer, MPH, CHES | Director, EndTobacco Program, MD Anderson Cancer Center
Bob Pezzolesi, MPH | Founding Director, New York Alcohol Policy Alliance
Jennifer Cofer and Bob Pezzolesi gave Summit participants insight into the history of how alcohol and tobacco industries influence government policies to promote their own agendas. The presenters brought years of experience in public health, prevention, and the promotion of science-based, public health policies. Participants left with a greater awareness of the major industry contributors to elected officials and policies as well as how the industry impacts national, state and local prevention policies. These takeaways allowed participants to return to their communities empowered with knowledge of industry financial influence and encouraged to advocate for vital public health policies. Additionally, Jennifer and Bob shared some specific resources advocates can use when trying to follow the money:
To learn more about how the tobacco industry influences policy, visit no-smoke.org.
To explore how much money the alcohol industry gives to different politicians and political organizations, check out followthemoney.org
Don’t forget: You have to speak up/advocate so the tobacco and alcohol industries are not the only ones with influence!
Broadcasting Your ACTions
Dave Shaw | President, Arrow
Thanks to Dave Shaw, President of Arrow Media, Summit attendees got an expert crash course on developing messages to gain supporters and move prevention strategies forward. Ultimately, he encouraged us to ask ourselves who our key audiences are, what they care about, and what we want them to know. Dave’s presentation also reminded participants that crafting a strong message relies on:
Considering these factors about your audience:
Where are they from?
What do they know about you?
What keeps them up at night?
How much do they know about the topic?
Why should they care?
What is their number one concern?
Knowing your story really well and understanding what you want people to take away from the conversation.
Remembering that the message and the messenger matter.
A solid process for message development and delivery. This should consider:
The problem, solution, and benefit.
What is the size and scope? Who does it impact?
What difference can we make?
What’s in it for your audience?
The main takeaway, how to connect, and what proof you have.
What do you want people to feel/do?
How do you get people to listen?
How do you make people believe? (Evidence/Data)
Blowing the Whistle on Youth Alcohol Marketing
Youth Leadership Council | Texans Standing Tall
This year, the Youth Leadership Council (YLC) gave two fantastic presentations during Summit, covering topics from alcohol advertisements targeted at youth to effectively engaging youth in prevention activities. During their plenary presentation on alcohol advertising, we learned that:
Alcohol companies spend over 2 billion dollar a year on advertisements.
1 out of every 5 alcohol advertisements appears on programing that youth ages 12 to 20 are more likely to watch.
References to alcohol are very prominent in music, from country to rap.
Alcohol companies use cultural references to entice customers.
Youth are especially vulnerable to these types of advertisements because they are new and inexperienced customers.
Community prevention advocates can monitor advertisements in their community, especially around schools and in places youth are more likely to see them.
The YLC also presented during an interactive breakout session on day two of the Summit. They discussed important practices organizations can employ for effective youth engagement:
Involve youth in recruitment efforts to increase the size of a youth group.
Have an application process, letter of agreement, and clear guidelines for communicating roles and expectations to help retain youth members over a longer period of time.
Let youth work with adult members to make decisions about which projects they will be involved in and what their roles will be.
Allow youth to learn and grow leadership skills.
Practice positive group characteristics, such as setting clear responsibilities and expectations, learning how to work together as a team, and establishing clear lines of communication.
Use the “Ladder of Participation” to assess progress and examine how youth and adults can work together more effectively.
On a related note, in the Fall, Texans Standing Tall and will be providing a new Community engagement guide (with accompanying trainings) that provides more in-depth information on youth and adults working together to achieve effective partnerships. Please contact Georgia Marks at email@example.com or 512.442.7501 for further information.
Best Practices Make Perfect
Karla S. Sneegas, MPH | Program Service Branch Chief, Office on Smoking and Health – Centers for Disease Control and Prevention
We were excited to welcome Karla Sneegas to talk about the CDC’s recommendations for best practices in tobacco prevention and control. From Ms. Sneegas, we learned:
Tobacco use remains a considerable public health problem nationally and in Texas, where it costs almost $9 Billion a year in medical care and loss of productivity. Every year, over 28,000 Texans lose their life prematurely due to smoking.
The CDC recommends that Texas spend $10.13 per person per year on tobacco control. However, the state currently spends only $0.47 per person.
By following the CDC’s Best Practices for Comprehensive Tobacco Control Programs, states can effectively and comprehensively attack the problem.
There are five main components to a comprehensive tobacco control program:
State and community interventions
Mass-reach health communications interventions
Surveillance and evaluation
Infrastructure, administration and management
Bottom line: we know how to implement better interventions, more efficiently, with a stronger evidence base and a greater reach. Now we just need to reach the recommended funding level for a sustained tobacco control program to most effectively reduce tobacco use.
Promoting Community Standards to Address College Binge Drinking
Toben Nelson, ScD | Assoc. Prof., Epidemiology & Community Health, Univ. of Minnesota School of Public Health
This year, we were so excited to have Dr. Toben Nelson join us at Summit! It was incredibly helpful to have him share strategies for building partnerships between colleges and communities to implement effective prevention strategies. He opened a dialogue between our current campus partners and prevention coalitions in their communities, which was also a huge advantage of having him with us. Dr. Nelson also encouraged those of us in the prevention field to:
Reframe how communities and colleges think and talk about environmental strategies.
View policies as community standards and enforcement as what makes everyone accountable to those standards.
Use existing tools in our collaboration efforts.
Up in Smoke! Tobacco Prevention Funding
Joel Dunnington, MD, FACR | Retired Professor of Diagnostic Radiology at UT, MD Anderson Cancer Center
Dr. Joel Dunnington brought his wealth of knowledge to Summit and provided an overview of the Tobacco Settlement Funding, its intended purpose, and how it’s actually been used. Participants also learned how much could be accomplished if funding levels were closer to the CDC’s recommendations so they can take action and help move Texas closer to the recommended levels. Participants also learned:
In Texas, the Tobacco Settlement Funds established the Permanent Fund for Health Tobacco Education and Enforcement
In 2011, the 82nd Legislature expanded the use of the three Permanent Funds, including the Permanent Fund for Health Tobacco Education and Enforcement, to pay the principal or interest on a bond for the Cancer Prevention and Research Institute of Texas. As a result, the Permanent Fund for Health Tobacco Education and Enforcement will be zeroed out at the end of FY2018.
And the Survey Says? Results from TST’s Alcohol Excise Tax Survey
Matt Gamble | Vice President of Operations, Baselice & Associates
Matt Gamble, Vice President of Operations at Baselice and Associates, gave a presentation sharing the results of the Texans Standing Tall’s recent statewide survey. The survey measured voters’ overall attitudes towards an increase in the alcohol excise tax, what programs they think should receive the estimated $708 million in additional revenue, and what messages respondents found most persuasive. Many were surprised to learn:
A majority of Texans across all demographics and regions support the initiative.
Despite conventional wisdom saying otherwise, most Texas voters do not shrink at the term “tax” when it comes to raising alcohol excise taxes.
Women and regular churchgoers are most supportive of an increase in alcohol excise taxes.
Texas voters responded most favorably to economic and public health messages that discussed how:
The alcohol excise tax has not been raised in Texas since 1984.
Excessive drinking costs the state $19 billion/year and each Texan $695/year.
A dime a drink increase in alcohol excise taxes could improve public safety by decreasing impaired driving and motor vehicle crashes/fatalities by 112/year.
Increasing the alcohol excise tax benefits public education by providing additional $177 million/year for schools.
Ending the Stigma of Co-Occurring Conditions
Noah Abdenour, Certified Peer Specialist | Director of Peer Support Services, Austin State Hospital
Noah Abdenour presented on the intersection between prevention and mental health, taking a special look at the relationship between prevention and recovery. By sharing his personal story, Noah was able to reinforce the theme of deciding to A.C.T (Accomplishing Change Together). His journey included examples of how peers played an integral role in helping him transform his life. During his presentation, we also learned that:
Co-occurring disorders are when somebody has a mental health condition and substance use issue at the same time. He emphasized how co-occurring disorders can be difficult to diagnose due to the complexity of symptoms. He also mentioned that one can often times mask the other, and vice versa.
Prevention can play a role in behavioral health by helping people maintain self-care and wellness.
Current issues with the behavioral health landscape in Texas include lack of access to care, workforce shortage, inadequate training for some behavioral health professionals.
Communities in ACTion (Panel)
Tom Marino | Social Host Workgroup Chair, Circles of San Antonio Coalition
Tracy Talavera | Coalition Coordinator, Circles of San Antonio Coalition
Gilda Bowen | Coordinator, Uniting Neighbors in Drug Abuse Defense Tobacco Prevention & Control Coalition
Rosalie Tristan | Communities Against Substance Abuse Coordinator, Behavioral Health Solutions of South Texas
Ed Swedberg | Deputy Executive Director, Texas Alcoholic Beverage Commission
Michael Sparks, Moderator | President, Sparks Initiatives
The Communities in ACTion focused on how local communities are acting to create change through ordinances, story-telling, and enforcement efforts. Michael Sparks, national alcohol policy expert, moderated the discussion, which included Circles of San Antonio staff and coalition members, UNIDAD Tobacco Prevention and Control Coalition staff and volunteers, and the TABC Deputy Executive Director. This highly accomplished and motivated panel discussed different factors essential for community change:
Relationship building within the community is critical. Without these relationships in place, the strategy, no matter how effective, will inevitably fail.
A strategy requires an additional emotional catalyst to draw the community in. Relevant personal stories drive the strategy forward by placing a human face on an emotionally inaccessible, typically data driven issue.
Upon implementation, a policy is only effective when thoroughly enforced.
Compliance checks are way to address underage drinking in communities.
Coalitions can work with TABC and the local police by reporting stores and bars that repeatedly violate the law by selling to minors.
In addition to the plenary sessions highlighted above, Summit attendees also had the opportunity to participate in breakout sessions on both days of the event. During the breakouts, participants were able to work more closely with our expert speakers to further explore the presentation topics and how they can apply the information to their prevention work at home.
If you have any questions or would like additional information about the Texans Standing Tall’s Statewide Summit, please contact us at 512.442.7501 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
When Texans Standing Tall brags about how wonderful our Youth Leadership Council members are, it’s always genuine!
To kick off 2017, we are recognizing Andrea Marquez as January’s YLC member of the month. Andrea was selected out of hundreds of applicants across the country to join Community Anti-Drug Coalitions of America’s (CADCA) National Youth Leadership Initiative (NYLI). She is currently in the Train the Trainer program, a program that prepares the next generation of leaders to empower other young people to take action around drug use prevention.
“When I went to the Mid-Year Training Conference, I became aware of the problems communities throughout the United States face, and I realized I wanted to do something about it. I saw the impact youth had in their own communities and I was compelled to have the same kind of impact. I noticed how dedicated the NYLI members were and I decided to apply,” Andrea said.
The Train the Trainer program consists of five phases. Andrea completed the second phase of the training on January 16, which required her to travel to Arlington, Virginia. In phases three, four and five, she will go to the CADCA National Leadership Forum and Mid-Year Training as a “trainer in training” where a trainer will guide her through the conferences, The fourth phase will be participating in conference and video calls, and in the fifth phase she will graduate. Once she graduates, she will officially be a CADCA NYLI Trainer.
“I hope to gain more knowledge and awareness about drug-use in different communities throughout the United States. I also hope to obtain more information about the effects drugs have on communities,” Andrea said.
Andrea attended CADCA’s Mid-Year Training in July 2016 as part of Texans Standing Tall’s Youth Leadership Council. After seeing the NYLI members in action, Andrea was inspired to expand her statewide leadership role to a national one by getting involved in the program.
“I met many members of the NYLI and I saw how passionate they were about the things they were doing. I realized that I was passionate about these issues too,” she said.
Andrea hopes to use the leadership skills she develops to make an impact in the lives of the less privileged in this world. She recognizes how discrimination and a lack of care can affect the distribution of alcohol and the level of damage it does to communities.
“I hope to become a voice for those without one, and I aspire to end the inequality so many people face. I want to become an advocate and stand up for the little guy, the minority. Joining the National Youth Leadership Initiative will help me better understand why drug-abuse is a problem throughout the nation, and I hope that this knowledge will help me reach my goals,” she said.