TSET tack­les e-cig­a­rette use by state’s youth

The Oklahoman (Sunday) - - NEWS - BY ED­DIE ROACH BrandIn­sight Con­trib­u­tor This ar­ti­cle is spon­sored by TSET.

Use of e-cig­a­rettes among youth is in­creas­ing, and the Ok­la­homa To­bacco Set­tle­ment En­dow­ment Trust (TSET) is lead­ing the way in com­bat­ing the trend with re­sources for par­ents, teach­ers and the pub­lic on the dan­gers of e-cig­a­rette use.

E-cig­a­rette use among youth in mid­dle school and high school in­creased at an alarm­ing rate na­tion­ally, ac­cord­ing to the U.S. Food and Drug Ad­min­is­tra­tion. The FDA es­ti­mated 1.3 mil­lion more stu­dents used e-cig­a­rettes in 2018 com­pared to 2017. Cur­rent e-cig­a­rette use among high school stu­dents in­creased from 11.7 per­cent in 2017 to 20.8 per­cent in 2018, ac­cord­ing to Na­tional Youth To­bacco Sur­vey data.

TSET found a sim­i­lar trend in Ok­la­homa.

Sheri Ri­p­ley, as­sis­tant co­or­di­na­tor for the TSET Healthy Liv­ing Pro­gram serv­ing Lin­coln County, has been work­ing with lo­cal school dis­tricts to ed­u­cate teach­ers and ad­min­is­tra­tors about youth us­ing e-cig­a­rettes. The TSET Healthy Liv­ing Pro­gram works with schools, busi­nesses, city gov­ern­ment and com­mu­nity or­ga­ni­za­tions to pro­vide in­for­ma­tion and as­sis­tance in cre­at­ing healthy, to­bacco-free en­vi­ron­ments.

“Very few teach­ers or ad­min­is­tra­tors that I have talked with have heard about vape de­vices or e-cig­a­rettes,” Ri­p­ley said. “They were shocked when they learned about the level of ac­ces­si­bil­ity their stu­dents have to these prod­ucts.”

The JUUL e-cig­a­rette de­vice fea­tures a sleek de­sign, sim­i­lar to a USB flash drive, and con­tains the nico­tine equiv­a­lent of an en­tire pack of cig­a­rettes. Stu­dents are us­ing them at school dur­ing breaks and lunchtime, of­ten with one stu­dent keep­ing an eye out for teach­ers while oth­ers vape, Ri­p­ley said.

“Of­ten­times, stu­dents are not aware that these prod­ucts con­tain nico­tine and have not been in­formed of the dan­gers as­so­ci­ated with a nico­tine ad­dic­tion,” Ri­p­ley said.

TSET pro­grams and re­search are mak­ing a ma­jor im­pact statewide and na­tion­ally. In ad­di­tion to its highly suc­cess­ful To­bacco Stops With Me cam­paign, TSET funds re­search grants to sup­port na­tion­ally funded to­bacco con­trol re­searchers to re­duce Ok­la­homa’s great­est pre­ventable cause of pre­ma­ture death and dis­abil­ity — to­bacco use.

One TSET-funded re­searcher is help­ing in­form the na­tional con­ver­sa­tion on fla­vors and e-cig­a­rettes.

Dr. Ted Wa­gener, di­rec­tor of to­bacco reg­u­la­tory science re­search at the TSET-funded Ok­la­homa To­bacco Re­search Cen­ter at the Stephen­son Can­cer Cen­ter, is one of only a hand­ful of re­searchers fo­cus­ing on eval­u­at­ing the phar­ma­co­log­i­cal and be­hav­ioral use pat­terns of non-cig­a­rette to­bacco prod­ucts, such as elec­tronic cig­a­rettes.

Wa­gener has sev­eral re­search stud­ies funded by the FDA, in­clud­ing re­search on fla­vors and use of va­p­ing de­vices such as JUUL, and he was one of few re­searchers to have early data about how young peo­ple are us­ing JUUL de­vices.

“The FDA wants to know the an­swers to the ques­tions we are ask­ing and re­search­ing,” Wa­gener said. “We re­al­ized JUUL was go­ing to be a big thing about two years ago when we do­ing sur­vey re­search at Ok­la­homa State Uni­ver­sity. Kids were telling us they weren’t va­p­ing, but they would be car­ry­ing JUUL de­vices. To them, it was two dif­fer­ent things.”

In Novem­ber, FDA Com­mis­sioner Scott Got­tlieb, M.D., pro­posed new steps to pro­tect youth by pre­vent­ing ac­cess to fla­vored to­bacco prod­ucts and ban­ning men­thol in cig­a­rettes. TSET sees this as an im­por­tant mes­sage and a sig­nif­i­cant step in pro­tect­ing youth from ex­po­sure to nico­tine. The out­come of the FDA’s ef­forts is still evolv­ing; how­ever, one thing is known: e-cig­a­rettes con­tain nico­tine, and nico­tine is not good for the de­vel­op­ing brain. A pub­lic hear­ing will be held on Dec. 5 for the pro­posed rules, and the FDA will con­tinue seek­ing pub­lic com­ment through Jan. 2.

“We need to keep kids away from us­ing nico­tine al­to­gether,” said Wa­gener. “Kids need to un­der­stand the risk of be­com­ing ad­dicted, and they need to un­der­stand that these fla­vors have nico­tine in them. Us­ing nico­tine in this form may make it eas­ier to use nico­tine in all forms.”

Ex­pos­ing the de­vel­op­ing brain to nico­tine phys­i­cally changes the brain. That’s why the younger a per­son starts to use prod­ucts that con­tain nico­tine, the more ad­dicted they get and the harder it is to stop.

Kids are still de­vel­op­ing the brain struc­tures that con­trol:

• Im­pulses.

• De­ci­sion-mak­ing.

• Plea­sure seek­ing.

• Sus­cep­ti­bil­ity to peer pres­sure.

“These de­vices are es­pe­cially at­trac­tive to youth and use this to ramp up prof­its and per­pet­u­ate the cy­cle of ad­dic­tion,” said Michelle Stephens, a mem­ber of the TSET board of di­rec­tors, “Kids are get­ting cre­ative in how they ob­tain and use these de­vices and there are re­sources avail­able at To­bacco Stops With Me to help halt this epi­demic.”

“By fa­mil­iar­iz­ing them­selves with not only the pack­ag­ing, fla­vors and de­signs of to­bacco and va­p­ing prod­ucts but with the dan­gers as­so­ci­ated with nico­tine ad­dic­tion, par­ents are help­ing pre­vent Ok­la­homa kids from be­ing ad­dicted to to­bacco — and suf­fer­ing from the im­pact of the ad­dic­tion on their health and wal­lets,” Stephens said.

To­bacco Stops With Me is TSET’s pub­lic in­ter­ven­tion cam­paign that ed­u­cates the pub­lic about the neg­a­tive ef­fects and im­pact of to­bacco to ul­ti­mately im­prove the health and qual­ity of life and ed­u­cates Ok­la­homans on the harms of fla­vored to­bacco prod­ucts.

TSET was cre­ated by vot­ers in 2000 to en­sure that ma­jor­ity of pay­ments from the Mas­ter Set­tle­ment Agree­ment awarded from ma­jor to­bacco com­pa­nies would be spent on ef­forts to re­duce the toll of to­bacco in Ok­la­homa, and im­prove health. An­nual set­tle­ment pay­ments are de­posited in the TSET en­dow­ment, and only the earn­ings are used for grants and pro­grams. An ap­pointed board of di­rec­tors rep­re­sent­ing each con­gres­sional dis­trict, over­sees the ex­pen­di­ture of earn­ings.

Check out Stop­sWith Me.com for help­ful tips and in­for­ma­tion.

[PHOTO PRO­VIDED]

Ac­cord­ing to the FDA, vapes, va­por­iz­ers, vape pens, hookah pens, elec­tronic cig­a­rettes (e-cig­a­rettes or e-cigs) and e-pipes are some of the many terms used to de­scribe non­com­bustible elec­tronic nico­tine de­liv­ery sys­tems. These prod­ucts use an e-liq­uid that may con­tain nico­tine as well as vary­ing com­po­si­tions of fla­vor­ings, propy­lene gly­col, veg­etable glyc­erin, and other in­gre­di­ents. The liq­uid is heated to cre­ate an aerosol that the user in­hales. Va­p­ing prod­ucts and fla­vored to­bacco help mask harsh to­bacco fla­vor, mak­ing it eas­ier to use these deadly prod­ucts. With high lev­els of nico­tine and even higher pos­si­bil­i­ties of ad­dic­tion, cigars, cigar­il­los, hookah, e-cig­a­rettes, vape pens, JUULs and other va­por prod­ucts pose in­cred­i­ble dan­gers to kids.

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