Archive for October, 2013

U.S. States Implement E-Cigarette Rules Pending FDA Decision

As the use of e-cigarettes by kids continues to rise, the U.S. is struggling to enact laws to regulate these products.

e-cigaretteElectronic cigarettes are considered by both pro and anti-tobacco activists as the primary alternative to regular tobacco cigarettes. While the latter contains nicotine within the solid particulates of the cigarette, the electronic counterparts offer nicotine in water vapor. It’s the form and function of this product that has kept the opposition and the government scratching their heads, because these sticks are not covered by existing federal restrictions.

This confounding dilemma is made more complex because of one basic question: “What exactly is an e-cigarette?” After all, manufacturers can always claim that it is not a tobacco product. As a result, electronic cigarettes are not taxed heavily, and are not yet restricted for indoor use.

U.S. states have pushed to implement their own laws to regulate e-cigs, according to the Washington Post. Arkansas, New Jersey, North Dakota and Utah have prohibited these products for use indoors. Meanwhile, nine states including Colorado and New York have considered them as tobacco products, and are thus regulated by law. Other states are planning to ban e-cigarettes indoors, such as Massachusetts and California, with the latter already restricting online advertising for these sticks.

On the other hand, Alabama considers these products as alternative sources of nicotine, while North Carolina has categorized them as vapor products. Seven states are expected to support the treatment of e-cigs as non-tobacco products.

Everyone is awaiting the decision of the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) on the matter. As of this writing, the proposal is being reviewed by Office of Information and Regulatory Affairs of the White House, as well as the Office of Management and Budget.

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National Take Back Initiative Promotes Proper Disposal of Unused Prescription Drugs

prescription medsThe Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) has been running an uniquely effective campaign to provide U.S. citizens with a proper venue to dispose of unused pharmaceutical products.

Since 2010, the National Take Back Initiative has educated Americans about the dangers of leaving excess prescribed drugs inside their homes, and how a correct disposal method can become the first step to preventing prescription drug abuse. The most recent campaign was conducted last October 26, 2013 from 10:00 AM to 2:00 PM.

Several counties and states have put their full support to this government activity:

  • In Baltimore, the entire police force has coordinated with the DEA to push the event to the limelight, by offering their stations as drop off locations for those who want to throw away their unused medication. Lt. Michael Brothers of the Anne Arundel County Police shared in a news release that they will not interrogate locals who are planning to dispose of their medicine at the police stations. “We will not ask any questions. You can place them in the box and you can leave. No questions asked,” said Lt. Brothers.
  • Government personnel and sheriff’s deputies at Harford County were assisted by DEA in transforming the county office parking lot into a drop off site. Doug Ellington of the DEA expressed his sentiments about the issue. “Prescription drug abuse is an epidemic in this county… Non-medical use of prescription drugs ranks second only to marijuana as a drug of abuse,” Ellington said in a news item.
  • The city of Huntington in West Virginia was able to amass about 30 pounds of prescription drugs across three Take Back stations. Cpl. Steve Vincent of the Cabell County Sheriff’s Department was surprised with the turnout. “We’ve been going for about an hour-and-a-half and we’ve already got two boxes filled up,” Vincent said.

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Smokers Turn To Social Media To Avoid Tobacco Use

Amidst the negative publicity that has gone viral in social networking sites, here’s a glimmer of good news: Smokers are now using social media to help themselves kick the habit.

social networkingA recent study published in the Journal of Communication revealed that social media campaigns aimed at curbing the habit of smoking are actually reducing the likelihood of smokers to continue their vices, and instead forge relationships through online communication.

Researcher Joe Phua of the Grady College of Journalism and Mass Communication in the University of Georgia shared his discovery in a news release. “I found that people who join health-based social networking sites are able to quit smoking and abstain for longer periods of time because of the sense of community they build with other members,” Phua said.

Social networking sites have provided venues for smokers wanting to get rid of the bad habit to join groups that have a similar goal in life. Despite not meeting personally and just catching up online, the relationships formed through social media are real and strong enough to lead a person towards quitting smoking.

The study looked into the behavior of online users registered in a pre-selected list of health-based community websites. The chosen users were asked to fill out a survey about the user’s average time online, changes in behavior after joining the online community, and the probability of getting rid of cigarette smoking permanently. Survey results indicated that each user has about 43 friends online that help them avoid smoking.

Phua further added how social media and online sites have become a great help to smokers who want to quit. “Online sites are easy to access, cheap and a direct connection to a larger and credible community that offers strong social support for those wanting to quit,” Phua said.

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Teen Substance Abuse Linked To Early Maturity

Children cannot wait to become grownups, and parents usually find this adorable. Now, a brand new survey suggests that moms and dads should be concerned about the rapid development of their kids into teenagers because this can lead to substance abuse.

teen addictionAccording to a study by a team of researcher from Austin’s University of Texas links early puberty to a higher risk of deveoplng substance abuse. Team lead Jessica Cance, who works at the Department of Kinesiology and Health Education, cites how puberty can result not only to physical body changes but also the teen’s social and psychological health. “Our research has shown that pubertal development is a combination of biological, psychological and social processes that all likely interact to influence risk-taking behavior like substance use,” Cance shared in a news item.

The survey involved 6,500 teenagers between the ages of 11 and 17, monitored their puberty development based on physical changes, and assessed their susceptibility to abuse of cocaine, alcohol and drugs. Results of the study showed that those who enter puberty at an earlier stage in their life are more prone to engage in drug abuse.

Cance relates this to the individual’s biological development and links it to his or her perceived social maturity. She said the first student in class to experience biological maturity “prompts or exacerbates existing psychological and social aspects… that can, in turn, lead to substance use and other risky behaviors early in life.”

Earlier studies showed that society and marketing agencies lure teens into drug and alcohol use because these are “cool”. This breakthrough revelation from Cance’s team shows that the perceived feeling of maturity in children makes them more likely to drug abuse.

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