Category Archives for "Headline"

Mar 02

UNL to look at smoke-free campus


The University of Nebraska-Lincoln is entertaining the idea of becoming a smoke free campus.
“I think it creates a better positive experience for visitors and students at that campus to not have to deal with the smells of smoke or seeing cigarette butts on the ground,” student senator Scott Schenkelberg, who submitted the proposal to Association of Students of the University of Nebraska (ASUN), said.
Right now, UNL is the only University of Nebraska campus to not have a smoke-free policy.
Source: KLKN

Mar 02

Input sought for smoke-free campus policy at UNL


University administrators and student leaders are conducting a survey to gauge interest in creating a tobacco/smoke-free campus policy.

The survey will measure support for and against a policy to prohibit the use of all smoke and vapor products (cigarettes, cigars, pipes, hookahs, electronic cigarettes and similar devices) campuswide, including outdoor areas. The university currently prohibits the use of tobacco products inside and within a designated proximity to campus buildings and sports venues, as well as inside university vehicles.

Faculty, staff and students can complete the online survey from 8 a.m. to 8 p.m. March 8. Student responses will be collected through the Association of Students of the University of Nebraska elections, specifically senate bill No. 14. Students will be able to access the ASUN ballot by logging into MyRed. Faculty and staff will receive instructions via email to access the survey.

Adoption of a policy would place the University of Nebraska-Lincoln on a growing list of colleges and universities nationwide that have adopted or are in the process of approving a tobacco/smoke-free campus protocol. Nationally, there are more than 1,755 campuses that are 100 percent smoke free and an additional 1,331 that prohibit electronic cigarette use.

The university is the only institution in the University of Nebraska system that does not have a tobacco-free policy. Other Nebraska institutions of higher education — including Creighton University, Bellevue University, Clarkson College, College of Saint Mary, York College and the Nebraska Methodist College — have adopted smoke-free campus policies.

Among Big Ten peers, the university is one of three institutions that does not totally restrict the use of tobacco products on campus.

Tobacco use causes more than 480,000 deaths per year, and more than 16 million Americans suffer from tobacco-related disease. Eliminating tobacco use on campus may mitigate second-hand impacts of smoking and may help other people quit using tobacco products.

The ASUN Campus Life and Safety Committee and the Tobacco-Free Campus Taskforce are working together to pose the survey question to campus.

Source: UNL News Today

Mar 02

Students able to vote on UNL becoming a smoke-free campus


On March 8, between 8 a.m. and 8 p.m., University of Nebraska-Lincoln students and facility will be able to decide whether the university should be a smoke-free campus on a survey through the ASUN ballot to inform potential ASUN legislation. The survey was brought to the ballot by the ASUN Campus Life and Safety Committee and the Tobacco-Free Campus Taskforce.
If the student body votes “yes,” UNL could join other smoke-free colleges such as Creighton University, the University of Kansas, and over 1,755 others if the new policy is proposed. The other University of Nebraska schools have already adopted similar policies as well. Nebraska is one of three Big Ten schools that hasn’t opted to go smoke-free.

UNL already prohibits smoking in buildings or in close proximity to them. Smoking has been gradually fading since the 1940s when it was discovered to be a leading cause of lung cancer. Since then, policy makers have been attempting to warn potential smokers of its harmful effects. Now, only 15 percent of Americans smoke .

However, a new trend of e-cigarettes is growing on campus, and this survey would address vapor as well. A 100 percent smoke-free campus includes vapor products such as e-cigarettes.

Students and faculty who have strong opinions on either side of the matter are encouraged to include their voice in the decision and complete the survey.

Source: Daily Nebraskan

Mar 02

Lincoln Journal Star Editorial, 3/1: Drop plan to cut tax for wealthy; Consider Raising Cigarette Tax


This is absolutely the wrong time for the Legislature to be talking about income tax cuts.

That’s the most obvious takeaway from the lower revenue projections set Monday by the Economic Forecasting Advisory Board.

The income tax cuts pushed by Gov. Pete Ricketts should be declared dead in the water. State senators should kill the bill immediately. They’ve got more urgent problems.

State government already was in a huge financial hole. Now it’s grown to mammoth proportions.

The preliminary budget drawn up by the Appropriations Committee would have left the state $134 million under the minimum reserve required by law for the budget period ending June 30, 2019.

That shortfall loomed despite the deep cuts in current spending recommended by Ricketts and already approved by the Legislature.

Now, according to the new projections, the budget gap has grown by $152.8 million to $287 million.

The current crop of senators should be grateful for the prudence their predecessors showed in leaving intact a large budget surplus accumulated under better economic conditions.

The OpenSky Policy Institute has correctly noted that in previous budget crises the Legislature has also taken actions to boost revenue.

The Journal Star editorial board has suggested a couple of possibilities, including eliminating the sales tax exemptions for soda pop and candy, which could raise $10 million to $15 million a year. Another possibility is raising the state cigarette tax, which ranks 41st in the country, according to the Campaign for Tobacco-free Kids.

Nebraska’s state cigarette tax of 64 cents a pack is far below the national average of $1.69 cents a pack, and less than half that in the neighboring states of South Dakota, Iowa and Kansas.

Such actions could soften the impact that spending cuts will have on hard-working Nebraskans.

One of those impacts will be sizable tuition hikes nearing double-digits for University of Nebraska students, NU President Hank Bounds told senators Monday. As Rachel Flaugh, a student regent and student body president at the University of Nebraska at Kearney said, tuition hikes of that size “will limit our opportunities and send the wrong message to Nebraska’s future leaders.”

In Lancaster County officials are desperately scratching for enough money to repair bridges so it can reopen county roads. Farmers, faced with property taxes that are among the highest in the nation, are howling for relief.

And the governor and a coterie of state senators – some of whom were elected with the governor’s financial support — are still pushing income tax cuts that primarily would benefit the wealthy?

This is a spectacularly bad idea under the current economic conditions. If the governor won’t drop the proposal on his own, state senators will have to do it for him.


Source: Lincoln Journal Star

Mar 02

Bill filed to make all state campuses, buildings tobacco-free


AUSTIN – A member of the Texas House of Representatives took a step forward Wednesday to make all state-funded college campuses and state buildings tobacco and smoke-free.

Representative Rick Miller filed HB 2652, which would ban the use of e-cigarettes, cigarettes and other tobacco products on properties owned or leased by the state.

According to Americans for Nonsmokers Rights, as of Jan. 2, over 1,700 U.S. college campuses are now 100 percent smoke-free, 1,400 of which are also tobacco-free.

“We all know it: Tobacco kills. In fact, tobacco use continues to be the leading cause of preventable death in Texas and in the United States, and close to 24,500 Texans — our friends and neighbors — die every year of tobacco-related causes,” said Eduardo Sanchez, MD, chair of the Texas Public Health Coalition.

If HB 2652 becomes law, it would go into effect a little after the start of the 2017 fall semester for most Texas schools: Sept. 1.

Source: KVUE

Mar 02

Arkansas Legislature Wants to Raise Tobacco Smoking Age to 21


LITTLE ROCK, Ark. — The Arkansas Legislature is considering a bill that would raise the legal age to use or buy tobacco to 21.

The bill was introduced Monday by Arkansas State Representative Fred Allen.

The four-term Democrat’s proposal would prohibit sale of vapor products, nicotine patches, e-liquid products and rolling papers to anyone under 21.

It would also authorize police or school officers to confiscate tobacco products and a minor could get community service if they’re convicted of a crime and has a tobacco product on them.

Stan Brown doesn’t agree with the new bill saying the age limit is fine where it is at.

“I believe that a person is 18 years old, and they’re in a position that they can serve for our country and willing to put their life on the line for their country for our freedoms and things of that sort, then they should at least have the right to smoke,” Brown said.

The bill would move Arkansas in line with California and Hawaii that have 21-year-old limits.

Chicago and New York City also have similar laws in place.

Source: OzarksFirst

Feb 28

Sessions: More violence around pot than ‘one would think’


WASHINGTON (AP) — The Justice Department will try to adopt “responsible policies” for enforcement of federal anti-marijuana laws, Attorney General Jeff Sessions says, adding that he believes violence surrounds sales and use of the drug in the U.S.

In a meeting with reporters Monday, Sessions said the department was reviewing an Obama administration Justice Department memo that gave states flexibility in passing marijuana laws.

“Experts are telling me there’s more violence around marijuana than one would think,” Sessions said.

The comments were in keeping with remarks last week from White House spokesman Sean Spicer, who said the Justice Department would step up enforcement of federal law against recreational marijuana. Sessions stopped short of saying what he would do, but said he doesn’t think America will be a better place with “more people smoking pot.”

“I am definitely not a fan of expanded use of marijuana,” he said. “But states, they can pass the laws they choose. I would just say, it does remain a violation of federal law to distribute marijuana throughout any place in the United States, whether a state legalizes it or not.”

Eight states and the District of Columbia have legalized marijuana for recreational use. The Justice Department has several options available should it decide to enforce the federal law, including filing lawsuits on the grounds that state laws regulating pot are unconstitutional because they are pre-empted by federal law.

Studies have found no correlation between legalization of marijuana and violent crime rates. But law enforcement officials in states such as Colorado say drug traffickers have taken advantage of lax marijuana laws to hide in plain sight, illegally growing and shipping the drug across state lines, where it can sell for much higher.

Pot advocates say the officials have exaggerated the problem.

“You can’t sue somebody for a drug debt. The only way to get your money is through strong-arm tactics, and violence tends to follow that,” Sessions said.

Sessions said he met with Nebraska’s attorney general, who sued Colorado for allegedly not keeping marijuana within its borders. That lawsuit was dismissed by the U.S. Supreme Court, but neighboring states continue to gripe that Colorado and other pot-legal states have not done enough to keep the drug from crossing their borders.

Source: CNS News

Feb 28

All Merchants Compliant With Tobacco Sales


The Centralia Police Department announced that all 23 tobacco retail businesses in Centralia were found to be in compliance with the law aftter the latest round of grant compliance checks.

The grant awarded by the Illinois Liquor Control Commission’s “Kids Can’t Buy ‘Em Here” Tobacco Enforcement Program conducted Phase 2 of their Tobacco Sales enforcement effort on Saturday. These compliance checks are performed to determine if local tobacco retailers are complying with State minimum age tobacco laws that prohibit the sale of tobacco to minors.

Lieutenant Greg Dodson congratulates all retail managers and clerks of the businesses who denied the sale to the minors. The importance ofk eeping tobacco out of the hands of our youth is extremely important.

Source: WJBD Radio

Feb 28

‘Tobacco 21’ takes effect March 1 in N Hempstead


A new law takes effect March 1 that prohibits the sale of tobacco products, liquid nicotine and electronic cigarettes to anyone under the age of 21 in North Hempstead.

The law, “Tobacco 21,” is similar to legislation already in place in Suffolk County and New York City. It applies in place of the Nassau County ban on the sale of tobacco products to those under the age of 19.

North Hempstead Supervisor Judi Bosworth said the new legislation was inspired by the late Nassau County Leg. Judy Jacobs, who died in 2016.

“Judy was a passionate advocate for anti-smoking issues and she supported Tobacco 21 legislation, so this seems like a fitting tribute to her memory,” Bosworth said in sttement. “Her persistence in trying to get this law passed in Nassau County was certainly an inspiration for us here in the Town.”

According to the Public Health and Tobacco Policy Center, raising the minimum legal consumer age for tobacco sales to 21 years delays and potentially prevents smoking initiation. The new legislation is aimed at helping to prevent exposing young people to nicotine and other harmful chemicals, according to the town.

North Hempstead officials have mailed each store that sells tobacco products a letter alerting them to the start date of the new law, a copy of the legislation and a copy of the town code language to post in their store. A representative from the town’s code enforcement department will also personally visit each store to provide the same information.

And while the law will not apply to villages within North Hempstead, Bosworth said she hopes “that the villages will follow suit.”

Penalties for store owners violating the law range from $300 to $1,000 for a first violation. Subsequently, owners could be fined between $500 and $1,5000 for each additional violation.

Source: Long Island Business News

Feb 27

Teens report less marijuana, tobacco, alcohol use


In 11 years, the percentage of high school seniors who report using alcohol, tobacco and marijuana has dropped significantly in Warren County.

From 2005 to 2016, the percentage of seniors who self-reported using alcohol in a 12-month period prior to taking a drug survey dropped from 38.9 percent to 9.9 percent. Marijuana use for the same age group and time period dropped from 30.7 percent to 19.8 percent. Tobacco use dropped from 43.8 percent to 14.7 percent.

“I think much of this is due to creation of a combined community focus with an emphasis on beginning the prevention process at the elementary grade level,” said Eric Gregory, executive director of The Save Our Kids Coalition, the group that conducts drug use surveys of city and county school children. “Our schools have been phenomenal in making substance abuse prevention a focus, especially at the elementary level.”

The team approach ultimately leads to healthier kids when the community prevents unhealthy behaviors rather than having to treat them later in adulthood.

“When we all work together, not in silos, we can help kids and help them be more successful and live a healthier life and be safe,” Bowling Green Independent Schools Superintendent Gary Fields said.

“It’s exciting for our community,” Fields said of the drop in alcohol, tobacco and marijuana use. “If you look around the state and the nation, there’s some tough things going on with opioid abuse.

“It starts early,” he said of prevention.

When The Save Our Kids Coalition began in 2004, the coalition set out with a goal of using a data-driven, scientific approach to drug prevention.

“While we’ve had to address specific needs with substances when they arise – synthetic marijuana, prescription drugs, et cetera – we have maintained a focus on concentrating on addressing the underage drinking issue. Very rarely do you see someone with a needle in their arm that did not begin by taking that first drink years before,” Gregory said. “Prior to our existence, no one was really digging through the data.”

In digging through that information, the coalition was able to determine that more kids begin using alcohol sooner than originally thought.

“We always thought the biggest transition occurred between middle school and high school,” Gregory said. “What we found was the biggest increase occurred between elementary school and middle school.

The coalition learned in 2005 that the use of alcohol at least once during a 12-month period tripled for children between the sixth and seventh grades. Keeping the focus on the first-use type of drugs, such as alcohol, and attacking the issue early has the most lasting effect, he said.

“If you want to prevent it, prevention really needs to start in the fourth- and fifth-grade age range,” Gregory said.

Todd Hazel, director of student services for Warren County Public Schools, agreed that early intervention is key.

“I think the younger it starts with education, the better,” Hazel said. “We start in our elementary schools. The earlier you catch them, the better chance you have of deterring drugs and alcohol.”

In addition to curriculum provided by The Save Our Kids Coalition, the district’s guidance counselors work with children daily on drug and alcohol prevention along with other issues such as bullying, social skills and harassment.

“When you address all those things as a group I think those things play a factor in addressing drugs and alcohol,” Hazel said. The district also has five mental health clinicians working daily in the schools.

A combination of curriculum, public policy, environmental policy and school policy over the last decade have contributed to the drop in usage, Gregory said.

“Our mindset was, ‘Let’s attack this. Let’s grab them early and try to raise them in a drug-free environment,’ ” he said. “Another risk factor in school use is peer influence or the perception of peer influence. A perception of peers using is almost as powerful as actual knowledge of peer use.”

Together with both school districts here, the coalition launched a campaign to show kids the disparity between thinking that a large percentage of their friends drink and the reality of how many actually do drink.

“We corrected that quickly, and we dropped the number of kids reporting use. It became kind of a new culture,” Gregory said.

Misti Carrigan, coordinator of Bowling Green High School Youth Services, agrees that peer-use perception is a powerful influence on children.

“At the high school level, we look at combating social norms,” Carrigan said. “Perceptions are typically based on what students’ peer groups are involved in. If a student finds himself in a peer group who uses substances of any kind, that student might perceive that all high school students are using. But in reality, those students are in the minority as the majority of students are not using.

“So at BGHS Youth Services we look at breaking down those social norms. We work with (Save Our Kids) and (Kentucky Agency for Substance Abuse Policy) in collaborative efforts.

“Prevention is key so we look to address this topic at the elementary and junior high levels as well,” Carrigan said. “It is always important to keep parents involved and aware of the youth trends. Parents are constantly trying to keep up with the changing times. Once a student gets to the high school level, needs are addressed and there are many resources in place to address student use which also includes treatment.”

Public policy initiatives that affected use include passing clean air ordinances that ban smoking in public places open to children.

For today’s children growing up in Bowling Green, they will not encounter smoking inside local shopping centers or restaurants.

“Smoking is no longer the cultural norm,” Gregory said. “Non-smoking is the cultural norm. I think that policy is one of the greatest things.”

Gregory would like to see public policy that imposes civil liability on adults who allow minors to throw parties during which alcohol is served, also called social hosting.

“Where a smoke-free ordinance is going to save lives, I think a social host ordinance will do more to save the quality of lives of our young people. What I’m talking about there are girls getting raped at parties … the unwanted sexual activity, the fights, being plastered all over social media. It seems like alcohol-assisted rapes are on the rise. It’s preventing kids from making decisions they are going to regret for the rest of their lives or preventing them from becoming victims. …

“I think social host will help reduce the consequence of these parties,” he said. “We live in a pretty alcohol-heavy community.”

Yet, there are almost 25 percent fewer high school seniors who reported drinking in the last 12 months than seniors surveyed 10 to 11 years ago.

“We’ve done our little part. The schools have done their part, law enforcement has done their part. We’re proud of the numbers, that’s for sure. At the end of the day, that’s what matters,” Gregory said.

Source: Daily News