Mar 17

AHA Poll: Majority of Nebraska Voters Support an Increase in the Tobacco Tax

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A strong majority of Nebraska voters support a $1.50 increase in the cigarette tax and an equivalent increase for other tobacco products to help address the budget shortfall and fund health programs. The results show a resounding 71 percent of Nebraska voters support increasing the tobacco tax, while 28 percent oppose it.

 

The poll of 500 Nebraska registered voters was conducted by Public Opinion Strategies from March 4-7.  The poll’s margin of error is +/- 4.38 percent.

 

 Source: The American Heart Association & American Stroke Association:

The American Heart Association is devoted to saving people from heart disease and stroke –  the two leading causes of death in the world. We team with millions of volunteers to fund innovative research, fight for stronger public health policies, and provide lifesaving tools and information to prevent and treat these diseases. The Dallas-based association is the nation’s oldest and largest voluntary organization dedicated to fighting heart disease and stroke. To learn more or to get involved, call 1-800-AHA-USA1, visit heart.org or call any of our offices around the country.  Follow us on Facebook and Twitter.

Mar 16

Students rally in Lincoln to combat tobacco use

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LINCOLN, Neb. — No Limits, Nebraska’s youth-led tobacco prevention movement, held its No Limits Kick Butts Day Rally March in Lincoln on Wednesday.

The event was open to Nebraska youth ages 12-18, in grades 7-12.

The No Limits Kick Butts Day event included a march from downtown Lincoln to the rally site on the steps of the Nebraska State Capitol.

The theme for this year’s Kick Butts Day Rally was “Same ol’ dog. Same ol’ tricks.”

Participants also meet with state senators prior to the march to discuss how tobacco is impacting Nebraska teens.

No Limits Youth Board Co-Chair Kamrin Edmonds says the opportunity to meet with lawmakers is a valuable experience.

“I never imagined myself talking to our local state senators. When we get to speak with them or their staff, we know they are really hearing our message,” Edmonds said. “The senators are the decision makers, and we are letting them know the opinions of youth in their districts.”

Molly Kincaid, No Limits project coordinator, says the event helps participants learn leadership skills while pursuing a cause they are passionate about.

“No Limits empowers youth to take a stand against Big Tobacco and the marketing tactics the industry uses to peddle their products to young people,” Kincaid said.

Kick Butts Day is a nationwide event promoted by the Campaign for Tobacco-Free Kids to encourage youth to stand out, speak up and seize control in the fight against Big Tobacco.

Additional information about tobacco use, including state-by-state statistics, can be found here.

Source: 10/11 News

Mar 16

Tobacco Tax LB438 Hearing: Watch Live Here

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LB438 will be heard today by the Revenue Committee.

The bill, introduced by Sen. Sara Howard of Omaha, would increase the tax in cigarettes from 64 cents per pack to $2.14 per pack. It also would increase the tax on tobacco products other than snuff from 20 percent of wholesale to 65 percent of wholesale.

At the same time, it also would set the Nebraska Health Care Cash Fund as the receiving and distribution fund for all cigarette tax revenues. The receiving and distribution fund for revenues from the taxation of other tax products would remain the Tobacco Products Administration Cash Fund.

Other actions proscribed by the bill include designating a variety of health and safety initiatives and organizations as recipients of cigarette tax revenues. Recipients include public health departments ($6 million), the College of Public Health at the University of Nebraska Medical Center ($4 million), and $2.4 million for the Tobacco Prevention and Control Program.

The bill also would create the Behavioral Health Provider Rate Stabilization Fund for reimbursement of behavioral health services providers. It would provide that the Nebraska Health Care Cash Fund issue a portion of cigarette taxes ($8 million) as funding for the Behavioral Health Provider Rate Stabilization Fund.

The hearing starts at 1:30 p.m. Friday, March 17, and is second on the agenda. At that time, you can watch the hearing here.

 

Mar 16

Higher tax on tobacco proposed to keep kids from starting smoking

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LINCOLN, Neb. (WOWT) – The American Heart Association says that a large majority of Nebraskans support a substantial increase in taxes on cigarettes in an effort to keep youth from starting to smoke.

According to the survey conducted by Public Opinion Strategies earlier this month, 71 percent of those surveyed supported the increase in tax They say the tax could help address Nebraska’s budgetary short fall.

Nebraska youth rallied outside of the state capitol on Wednesday in support of stricter smoking laws. The day has been marked as “Kick Butts Day” nationwide.

Molly Kincaid of No Limits, an organization that fights against tobacco targeting children in advertisement, says that teens are the most at risk.

“They are targeting the teens. They’re replacement smokers so they don’t really care about them. They make their marketing tactics with the candy flavor or the packaging to attract the youth.”

The American Heart Association says that 1,000 kids in Nebraska become new daily smokers every year. The tax proposed by LB 438 is intended to lower that number.

Source: WOWT

Mar 15

Wednesday is National Kick Butts Day

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Wednesday is National Kick Butts Day, a day of activism that empowers young people to speak up to tobacco companies.

About 13 percent of Nebraska high school students smoke on a regular basis, according to the state Department of Health and Human Services.

That is higher than the national average of 10 percent.

Organizers of Wednesday’s anti-smoking rally said that number is too high.

Nebraska’s youth-led tobacco prevention movement “No Limits” is planning a rally at the state capitol.

Planning for the rally started months ago and is encouraging people between 12 and 18 to participate.

About 80 young adults will march through downtown Lincoln at 9:45 a.m., with a rally on the capitol steps at 10:30 a.m.

Tobacco is the leading cause of preventable death in the United States and organizers hope the event will sway some people to quit or keep people from smoking at all.

Source: KETV

Mar 09

Research: Young people do not associate e-cigarettes with increased likelihood of smoking

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New peer-reviewed research published in Drugs Education Prevention and Policy shows that e-cigarettes are not increasing the likelihood of tobacco consumption and may in fact be contributing to negative perceptions about smoking among young people.
The study, based on semi-structured interviews with 50 vapers between the ages of 16 and 26 – including 28 current smokers, 19 former smokers and 3 never smokers – found the majority of young people think e-cigarettes are a substantially less harmful alternative to combustible tobacco and don’t believe that vaping is increasing their likelihood of smoking.

“What is interesting about our research is that the availability of vaping products might be contributing to even worse perceptions of tobacco in this age group,” said Dr. Neil McKeganey, Director of the Centre for Substance Use Research (CSUR) and lead author of the study. “Young people are rationalizing that, because a much less harmful alternative exists, then logically it makes even less sense to consume tobacco.”

While the visual similarity between tobacco cigarettes and vaping products has given rise to concerns that e-cigarettes may “renormalise” smoking, it remains unclear exactly what is meant by a process of “smoking renormalisation” or indeed how the use of e-cigarettes can be specifically attributed to it.

“What we know is that all vapers are overwhelmingly current and former smokers,” said McKeganey. “We also know that as e-cigarette devices have evolved, vaping and smoking have become visually quite distinctive from one another. While some young people we interviewed drew obvious comparisons between the two – namely, inhalation and nicotine consumption – it is clear that, for the most part, they perceive e-cigarettes as vastly different from smoking. More importantly, there was overwhelming consensus amongst our participants that vaping is not making smoking more socially acceptable and that, if anything, it is making cigarettes seem even less acceptable.”

This research supports the conclusions of other studies that have failed to find any demonstrable link between e-cigarette use and increased likelihood of tobacco consumption. In the UK, where nearly 3 million people are currently vaping, smoking rates continue to fall and according to Action on Smoking and Health only 2 percent of vapers are never-smokers.

“What our research shows is that young people clearly perceive e-cigarettes for what they are – a less harmful alternative to tobacco. Equally, though, this view does not, as one might assume, directly translate into ‘risk-free’ in their minds. To the contrary, some interviewees said they were concerned that e-cigarettes might be associated with unknown risks over the longer term, which also tells us that young people are experimenting with a certain degree of caution.”

“Regulators need to fully recognise the context in which young people are trying and using e-cigarettes and our research does not support alarmist views that vaping will suddenly undo or reverse decades of successful tobacco control. With this in mind, any concerns about youth experimentation must be balanced against the growing body of evidence that demonstrates the increasingly obvious link between e-cigarettes and smoking cessation across the population as a whole.”
Article: Vapers and vaping: E-cigarettes users views of vaping and smoking, Neil McKeganey, Marina Barnard & Christopher Russell, Drugs Education Prevention and Policy, doi: 10.1080/09687637.2017.1296933, published online 6 March 2017.
Source: Medical News Today

Mar 09

New Mexico: Sen. Morales sponsors legislation on Tobacco Tax

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SANTA FE — Legislation to raise the state’s cigarette tax by $1.50 per pack and impose an equivalent tax on other tobacco products including cigars, smokeless tobacco and electronic cigarettes is gaining support and not just from public health groups. More than 20 organizations now support the tobacco tax increase (see full list here).
Sponsored by Senator Howie Morales (D-Silver City), Senate Bill 231 is headed to the Senate’s Finance Committee today. If passed by the Committee, the tobacco tax increase will be considered by the full Senate before the legislative session ends March 18.

“This legislation would result in a quadruple win by keeping thousands of New Mexico kids from smoking, helping thousands of adults quit, saving the state millions spent on health care, and raising millions more in needed revenue for public schools,” said Senator Morales.

Health organizations including the American Cancer Society Cancer Action Network (ACS CAN), American Heart Association, American Lung Association and the Campaign for Tobacco-Free strongly support the $1.50 per pack tobacco tax increase designed to keep cigarettes and a vast array of other tobacco products out of the hands of kids, while also lowering health costs from tobacco use.

Research shows that increasing tobacco taxes will have a significant public health impact. The $1.50 increase is projected to lower youth smoking rates by 17 percent in New Mexico and keep an estimated 11,700 kids from starting to smoke. Additionally, it’s projected that more than 14,400 current adult smokers would quit smoking. The tobacco tax increase would also prevent 7,300 premature deaths due to smoking and save the state nearly $534 million in long-term health care costs due to smoking.

At current rates, an estimated 40,000 New Mexico kids alive today will die prematurely from smoking,” said ACS CAN New Mexico Director of Government Relations Sandra Adondakis. “Along with saving lives, the bill will raise a projected additional $31.66 million from the cigarette tax increase and $10.7 million more from the tax on other tobacco products such as smokeless tobacco.”

New Mexico’s tax on tobacco products other than cigarettes has not been increased since its inception in 1986. Significant increases in tobacco taxes are a proven way to prevent and reduce tobacco use and have been endorsed as a public health strategy by the U.S. Surgeon General , the National Cancer Institute and the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).

American Cancer Society statistics show cancer has risen to become the #1 killer in New Mexico and we know that 30 percent of all cancers are caused from tobacco use.
“New Mexico needs a meaningful tax increase on cigarettes and all tobacco products in order to curb the devastating personal and economic losses from these deadly products,” said Adondakis.

In the final hours of last year’s special session, New Mexico lawmakers broke a promise to protect future generations from deadly tobacco addiction by draining the $220 million Tobacco Settlement Permanent Fund to fix the state budget crisis. Meanwhile, the tobacco industry continues spending an estimated $34.8 million a year on marketing in New Mexico to lure the next generation of tobacco users.

About the American Cancer Society Cancer Action Network

ACS CAN, the nonprofit, nonpartisan advocacy affiliate of the American Cancer Society, supports evidence-based policy and legislative solutions designed to eliminate cancer as a major health problem. ACS CAN works to encourage elected officials and candidates to make cancer a top national priority. ACS CAN gives ordinary people extraordinary power to fight cancer with the training and tools they need to make their voices heard. For more information, visit www.acscan.org.

About the American Lung Association in New Mexico

The American Lung Association is the leading organization working to save lives by improving lung health and preventing lung disease, through research, education and advocacy. The work of the American Lung Association is focused on four strategic imperatives: to defeat lung cancer; to improve the air we breathe; to reduce the burden of lung disease on individuals and their families; and to eliminate tobacco use and tobacco-related diseases. For more information about the American Lung Association, a holder of the Better Business Bureau Wise Giving Guide Seal, or to support the work it does, call 1-800-LUNGUSA (1-800-586-4872) or visit our website: Lung.org.
About the Campaign for Tobacco-Free Kids

The Campaign for Tobacco-Free Kids is a leading force in the fight to reduce tobacco use and its deadly toll in the United States and around the world. Our vision: A future free of the death and disease caused by tobacco. Tobacco-Free Kids works to save lives by advocating for public policies that prevent kids from smoking, help smokers quit and protect everyone from secondhand smoke. Learn more at www.tobaccofreekids.org.

About the American Heart Association and American Stroke Association

The American Heart Association and the American Stroke Association are devoted to saving people from heart disease and stroke – the two leading causes of death in the world. We team with millions of volunteers to fund innovative research, fight for stronger public health policies, and provide lifesaving tools and information to prevent and treat these diseases. The Dallas-based American Heart Association is the nation’s oldest and largest voluntary organization dedicated to fighting heart disease and stroke. The American Stroke Association is a division of the American Heart Association. To learn more or to get involved, call 1-800-AHA-USA1, visit heart.org or call any of our offices around the country. Follow us on Facebook and Twitter.

About Keres Consulting, Inc. is a Native American-owned, New Mexico-based small business that cares about the impact of commercial tobacco in New Mexico’s tribal communities. It works to eliminate death and disease caused from commercial tobacco through commercial tobacco prevention, cessation and education in Native American communities throughout New Mexico.

About the March of Dimes

Prematurity is the #1 killer of babies in the United States. We are working to change that and help more moms have full-term pregnancies and healthy babies. From polio to prematurity the March of Dimes has focused on researching the problems that threaten our children and finding ways to prevent them.
Source: Silver City Sun News

Mar 09

Vapor Industry Seeks Support in US House

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Four US vapor-industry organizations have written to the speaker of the House of Representatives, Paul Ryan, and the House minority leader, Nancy Pelosi, urging them to support a bill that would take the sting out of the Food and Drug Administration’s deeming regulations in respect of electronic cigarettes.

The letter writers believe that the FDA Deeming Authority Clarification Act of 2017, which was introduced by Representatives Tom Cole and Sanford Bishop, would lift the ‘industry-ending’ effect of the retroactive predicate date in the FDA’s regulations.
At the same time, it would institute regulations that better fitted the unique nature of vapor products. Without it, only major tobacco companies would have a chance to survive beyond 2018.

Ensuring this ground-breaking technology continued to be available as a healthier alternative for adult US smokers was key in the mission ultimately to eliminate cigarette smoking and smoking-related disease.

The writers said the FDA’s plan to regulate vapor products out of existence was misguided.

‘There is a large and rapidly growing body of scientific evidence that supports the premise that vapor products are the most important tobacco harm reduction opportunity of the last decade,’ they wrote. ‘The most recent study, published in the Annals of Internal Medicine, conducted and authored by researchers from the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), University College London and King’s College, Roswell Park Cancer Institute, found that consuming e-cigarettes exposes vapers to dramatically lower levels of toxins than smoking conventional cigarettes. Moreover, the difference between smokers’ and vapers’ exposure is actually similar to the difference between smokers and non-smokers, as found by the same CDC scientist in a 2012 study. Additionally, the Royal College of Physicians released a comprehensive scientific review that concluded that vapor products are at least 95 percent less harmful than combusted cigarettes. In the UK, Public Health England published a report recommending these products as a harm-reducing alternative for smokers.’
The writers said the proposed bill would allow an entire vapor products industry to remain afloat, saving tens of thousands of US jobs while providing unprecedented regulation of vapor products appropriate for this innovative technology.

‘Unlike the FDA’s regulations issued in 2016, the Cole-Bishop bill addresses the issues of product safety and enhances youth protections,’ the letter said. ‘Additionally, the legislation provides the strictest industry standards while also preserving access to vapor products for the millions of adult Americans who now use them every day instead of smoking.

‘Specifically, the FDA Deeming Authority Clarification Act of 2017 would:

Amend the current law’s highly-problematic retroactive predicate date from February 15, 2007 to the effective date of the final deeming regulations, allowing products that meet all regulatory requirements to remain on the market and keeping thousands of small businesses, and their tens of thousands of employees, afloat.
Protect consumers by preserving access to the diverse vapor marketplace, as opposed to the current law and FDA’s deeming regulations that threaten to force millions of adult consumers back to smoking or into the black market.

Set higher standards for product safety by requiring the FDA to implement rulemaking on product standards for batteries used in the devices within 12 months.

Protect teens by severely restricting marketing and youth access to vapor products.’

The writers said that if the FDA’s deeming regulations were allowed to stand, small- and mid-sized vapor retailers and manufacturers across the US would close their doors, leaving consumers – who were battling every day to quit smoking – without access to these life-changing and possibly lifesaving alternatives to combustible cigarettes.

‘Although it does not purport to solve every issue with the FDA’s deeming regulations, the FDA Deeming Authority Clarification Act of 2017 is a significant first step toward correcting the FDA’s misguided approach to regulation of the vapor industry,’ they wrote.

The writers are, in alphabetical order, Tony Abboud, executive director of Vapor Technology Association; Alex Clark, executive director Consumer Advocates for Smoke-Free Alternatives Association; Gregory Conley, president American Vaping Association; and Pamela Gorman, executive director Smoke Free Alternatives Trade Association.

Source: Tobacco Reporter

Mar 08

UNL students asked to weigh in on campus smoking ban

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One of Scott Schenkelberg’s first memories after arriving at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln was walking across campus behind a group of people smoking cigarettes.

“I just remember breathing that in and thinking about how disgusting it was,” said Schenkelberg, now a senior mechanical engineering major from Omaha.

When he joined the Association of Students of the University of Nebraska as a junior, Schenkelberg said one of his goals was to craft a policy that would make UNL smoke-free — a measure he said would improve the health of students as well as the appearance of the Lincoln campus.

On Wednesday, during the annual ASUN elections, students can weigh in on a smoking ban on campus, whether to allow smokers to use only designated areas on campus or to leave UNL’s current policy in place.

UNL currently bans the use of tobacco — including electronic cigarettes — in campus facilities and vehicles, while allowing tobacco use outside of a 10- to 25-foot buffer zone surrounding most campus buildings.

The survey will be used to create a metric for what direction ASUN should take in the future, according to Spencer Hartman, president of ASUN and a student member of the NU Board of Regents.

“Usually to move a policy forward, senators around the table want some sort of feel for where their constituencies are at, particularly in something this monumental that would affect campus life,” said Hartman, a senior ag economics major from Imperial.

Schenkelberg said others within ASUN and on an ad hoc “Tobacco-Free Campus Task Force” comprised of UNL students, human resources managers, facilities management, landscape services, UNL Police and Husker Athletics have also pushed for a smoking ban.

Nebraska law prohibits smoking in restaurants, bars, keno establishments, workplaces and other indoor public areas.

If UNL adopts a smoking ban, it would join a growing number of U.S. colleges and universities to do so, according to Cynthia Hallett, president and CEO of Americans for Nonsmokers’ Rights, which has tracked college policies related to smoking since 2001.

“For a lot of campuses, they are not included in a local or statewide smoke-free workplace law despite the fact campuses are workplaces as well as institutions of higher learning,” Hallett said.

Data collected in 2010 showed 446 university and college campuses had banned smoking. That figure has grown to 1,757 this year, according to Americans for Nonsmokers’ Rights.

Hallett said the spike is the result of education campaigns about the negative impacts of cigarette smoking as well as other tobacco use, which, according to the Centers for Disease Control, causes more than 480,000 deaths a year.

UNL remains one of three Big Ten universities to not have banned smoking on its campus, as well as the only campus in the University of Nebraska system without a tobacco-free policy.

UNO enacted a smoking ban last Aug. 22 — two years after a discarded cigarette caused a fire in a dorm room — while UNK banned tobacco from all campus grounds last fall, leaving designated locations in parking lots, according to spokesman Todd Gottula.

UNMC banned smoking on campus in 2009, and other universities in Nebraska have also snuffed out smoking in the meantime.

“We’re really behind the times,” Schenkelberg said. “Sharing that information with a lot of students, they saw where I was coming from and some had similar experiences to what I did.”

Schenkelberg said he isn’t opposed to smoking, but argued smokers should not be allowed to infringe upon the airspace of nonsmokers.

Hartman said he has heard mixed opinions from different student groups on a proposed smoking ban across campus.

Schenkelberg said he looks forward to seeing students’ opinions about a proposed policy change that would affect “everybody who works at the university or interacts with it on a daily basis.”

“If they don’t want a policy, then that’s how it is — at least we’ve let their voices be heard and that’s the important thing,” he said. “This is really one moment to get a collective opinion of everyone on campus.”

Source: Lincoln Journal Star