Tobacco Free Partnership of Highlands County
227 US 27 North, #208
Sebring, FL  33870

Highlands County Tobacco Prevention Newsletter

Volume 5, Issue 2 / Apr - June, 2016
QuitDoc Foundation Exposes the Risks of Secondhand Smoke
Eighth Annual Tobacco Free Florida Week Aims to Break the Myth that Secondhand Smoke is Harmless

April 28, 2016

     Highlands County, Fla. –The Florida Department of Health’s Tobacco Free Florida program and QuitDoc are launching a new initiative, Secondhand Smoke Exposed, as part of the eighth annual Tobacco Free Florida Week, taking place May 8-14, to educate Floridians about the dangers of secondhand smoke.
     This year’s theme, Secondhand Smoke Exposed, focuses on dispelling the common myth that secondhand smoke is harmless. The fact is that breathing even small amounts of secondhand smoke can be dangerous. Even if there is not a smoker in your home, secondhand smoke can enter your home in a multiunit building through doorways, cracks in walls, electrical lines, plumbing and electrical lines, and even to units on other floors.

      “Everyone deserves to live in an environment that is free of exposure to toxic smoke,” said Tobacco Free Florida Bureau Chief Valerie Lacy. “Eliminating smoking from indoor spaces protects the community from secondhand smoke exposure and helps make Florida a healthier state for all.”

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Tobacco Control Advocates in Highlands County Begin a Survey of Point-of-Sale Tobacco Advertising
June 1, 2016

     The Highlands County Tobacco Free Partnership Members and SWAT (Students Working Against Tobacco) have a new project in the works to assess local tobacco marketing practices at the retail level! This new project is set to begin in Quarter one of our new fiscal year and Tobacco Prevention Specialist Amanda John, will be attending a training to learn more about the new assessments and what that will entail for Highlands County.
     “Several of our other counties have already begun participating in this new project and I am so excited to bring this to Highlands County. I’m very anxious to see what this data will show and I am hopeful that this will help initiate additional tobacco control policies within Highlands County, said Amanda.
     Tobacco companies spend $10-$13 billion dollars a year to market their products. These companies spend close to $1 billion dollars in Florida alone. This represents $7,700-$10,000 dollars spent to recruit each of the 1.3 million new teenage smokers who pick up their first cigarette every year.

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E-cigarettes causing nicotine poisoning ‘epidemic’ for kids, experts warn
May 16, 2016

     The growing popularity of e-cigarettes has put more kids at risk of nicotine poisoning, leading to hospitalizations, coma and in one case, death, according to a national study.
     The study, published in Pediatrics, analyzed calls to poison centres and found that the number of e-cigarette calls increased 15-fold by the end of the 40-month study. The monthly number of calls involving e-cigarettes increased from 14 to 223, between 2012 and 2015.
     “That by any definition is an epidemic,” said Dr. Gary Smith, the lead author of the study and Director of the Center for Injury Research and Policy at Nationwide Children’s Hospital in Columbus, Ohio.
     In Central Florida, the number of calls for e-cigarette exposure increased from three in 2011 to 11 in 2015, said Adam Wood, clinical toxicologist at Nemours Children’s Hospital. Statewide, that number rose from eight to 105 during that period.
     It’s been known for decades that nicotine is a toxic substance, particularly for kids, but the rapid growth of the e-cigarette industry has made it more accessible to small children at home.
     There are now more than 400 brands and 7,700 flavours of liquid nicotine, since e-cigarettes entered the U.S. market in 2007. Many of the e-cigarettes and refill containers are not child proof.
FDA takes significant steps to protect Americans from dangers of tobacco through new regulation
May 5, 2016

     Today, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration finalized a rule extending its authority to all tobacco products, including e-cigarettes, cigars, hookah tobacco and pipe tobacco, among others. This historic rule helps implement the bipartisan Family Smoking Prevention and Tobacco Control Act of 2009 and allows the FDA to improve public health and protect future generations from the dangers of tobacco use through a variety of steps, including restricting the sale of these tobacco products to minors nationwide.
     “We have more to do to help protect Americans from the dangers of tobacco and nicotine, especially our youth. As cigarette smoking among those under 18 has fallen, the use of other nicotine products, including e-cigarettes, has taken a drastic leap. All of this is creating a new generation of Americans who are at risk of addiction,” said HHS Secretary Sylvia Burwell. “Today’s announcement is an important step in the fight for a tobacco-free generation – it will help us catch up with changes in the marketplace, put into place rules that protect our kids and give adults information they need to make informed decisions.”
     Tobacco use is a significant public health threat. In fact, smoking is the leading cause of preventable disease and death in the United States and responsible for 480,000 deaths per year. While there has been a significant decline in the use of traditional cigarettes among youth over the past decade, their use of other tobacco products continues to climb. A recent survey supported by the FDA and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention shows current e-cigarette use among high school students has skyrocketed from 1.5 percent in 2011 to 16 percent in 2015 (an over 900 percent increase) and hookah use has risen significantly.
Florida Supreme Court To Take Up Tobacco Damages Dispute
May 27, 2016

     The Florida Supreme Court on Thursday agreed to take up a case in which an appeals court rejected a $30 million punitive-damages award against R.J. Reynolds Tobacco Co, according to an online docket. 
     The Broward County lawsuit, filed by the widow of late smoker James Schoeff, is part of thousands of what are known as "Engle progeny" cases filed in Florida against tobacco companies.
     Those cases are linked to a 2006 Supreme Court ruling that established critical findings about the health dangers of smoking and misrepresentation by cigarette makers.
     In the Schoeff case, a jury ruled against R.J. Reynolds and set compensatory damages at $10.5 million and punitive damages at $30 million.
     The compensatory damages amount was reduced to $7.875 million because Schoeff was found to be 25 percent at fault for his lung cancer and death. The 4th District Court of Appeal last year ordered reconsideration of the award of $30 million in punitive damages, which would top the previous high of $25 million in Engle cases.

      Attorneys for Schoeff's widow, Joan, asked the Supreme Court to take up issues related to the compensatory and punitive damages. In a brief filed in December, for example, they raised questions about limits on punitive damages in Engle cases.
California Raises Smoking Age to 21
May 5, 2016

     California has passed legislation raising its smoking age from 18 to 21 for most of its citizens.
Gov. Jerry Brown signed a series of bills Wednesday, which also place new restrictions on where people can smoke and the sale of electronic cigarettes.
     "[These laws] will save countless lives, reduce astronomical costs to the health care system, and cost very little because it uses existing enforcement mechanisms," said Senator Ed Hernandez, who authored the bill to raise the age of tobacco products. "Today was an enormous victory for not only this generation, but also for many generations to come who will not suffer the deadly impacts of tobacco."
     The American Heart Association, the American Cancer Society's Cancer Action Network (the group's advocacy affiliate), the American Lung Association and the president of the California Medical Association all expressed support for the new law.
     The initial bill made it illegal for everyone under the age of 21 to buy tobacco products, but some argued if 18-year-olds can be drafted or volunteer to fight and die for their country, they should be allowed to buy tobacco products.
A stipulation was later added to exempt active duty military personnel 18 and over.
Hawaii became the first state in the nation to raise their smoking age on January 1, following the lead of more than 100 cities, including San Francisco, Boston and New York.
     The new laws also ban the sale of electronic cigarettes to anyone under 21 and restricts where they can be used in public places.
     That stipulation was swiftly condemned by the Smoke-Free Alternatives Trade Association, which called the limitations to vapor products, some of which contain no tobacco, "counterproductive to public health."
FGCU Initiates Smoking and Tobacco Free Campus Policy
May 11, 2016

      Florida Gulf Coast University has finally initiated their smoke and tobacco-free campus policy. Going smoke and tobacco free has been in discussion since February 2015 and as of May 9, the university campus has joined 1,500 other college campuses nationwide in this policy to encourage healthy and safe environments.
     The new policy, entitled “Regulation: FGCU-PR9.007,” details the banning of smoking and the use of tobacco products within buildings and on university premises. It details that students, faculty and staff will no longer be able to smoke or use tobacco products in the following forms: lit cigarettes, cigars and pipes, electronic cigarettes or personal vaporizers, smokeless tobacco (e.g. chewing tobacco and snuff), and any form of tobacco taken orally or inhaled through the nose.
     The new policy also includes details on the consumption of food within university buildings and facilities, noting that food and drink may only be consumed in areas designated for doing so.
     UPD has already confirmed that they will not be enforcing the policy, rather, the Smoke-Free Tobacco-Free Implementation Committee (SFTFCC) will be handing all consequences of violating the policy. Additionally, the new policy makes no mention of smoking cannabis, however, the university has prior policies banning the use, distribution and possession of controlled substances.
Tony Gwynn’s Family Sues Tobacco Industry, Seeking Recourse Over Fatal Habit
May 23, 2016

     The family of Tony Gwynn, a baseball Hall of Famer who died of salivary gland cancer in 2014, filed a wrongful-death lawsuit Monday against the tobacco industry, charging that Gwynn had been manipulated into the addiction to smokeless tobacco that ultimately killed him.
     The suit was filed in Superior Court in San Diego against
Altria Group Inc., the tobacco giant formerly known as Philip Morris, and several other defendants who are accused of inducing Gwynn to begin using smokeless tobacco, or dip, at San Diego State University, which he attended from 1977 to 1981 and where he later coached after a 20-year career with the San Diego Padres.
     For 31 years — 1977 to 2008 — Gwynn used one and a half to two cans of smokeless tobacco (usually Skoal) per day. It was the equivalent, the suit says, of four to five packs of cigarettes every day for 31 years. Gwynn would dip Skoal immediately upon waking up, the suit said, and sometimes fall asleep with the product in his right lip and cheek area.
     There are no damages specified in the complaint, which asks for a jury trial on grounds of negligence, fraud and product liability. Essentially, the complaint says that Gwynn, while in college, was the victim of a scheme to get him, a rising star athlete, addicted to smokeless tobacco, while knowing the dangers it posed to him. The suit says that the industry was undergoing a determined effort at the time to market its products to African-Americans, and that Gwynn was a “marketing dream come true” for the defendants.
     “Now that the family understands how he was targeted, they understand that the industry knew they had this highly carcinogenic product and they were marketing it to people like Tony,” said David S. Casey, the lead lawyer for the plaintiffs.
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