Tag Archives: smoking

Legislation Introduce to Raise the National Legal Age of Smoking

It is very possible that the smoking age across the United States will be raised to 21 very soon. This announcement has pushed the agenda forward.

Last Thursday, Sen. Mitch McConnell announced that he will introduce legislation aimed at raising the national smoking age to 21, from 18.

This bill, which will be introduced next month, will cover all tobacco products including vaping devices.

McConnell, R-Ky.,  made the announcement in his home state, which is one of the nation’s largest tobacco producers. He noted that Kentucky has some of the highest cancer rates in the country. From 2012-16, lung cancer made up 66 percent of all cancer deaths in the state, according to the American Cancer Society.

Under the legislation, it will remain the responsibility of retailers to verify the age of anyone buying tobacco products just like it is right now with alcohol.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, nearly 9 out of 10 cigarette smokers first try smoking cigarettes by 18.

McConnell said vaping devices pose the “most serious threat,” especially to middle school and teenage students, and raising the age to 21 will present fewer opportunities for children to access these devices.

More than 3 million U.S. high school students used e-cigarettes in 2018, up 78 percent from the year before, the CDC found in its annual National Youth Tobacco Society.

Those numbers, however, have been reported to be as high as 5 million when counting middle schools too.

However, the bill will have an exemption for men and women who serve in uniform, according to McConnell who is currently the Senate Majority Leader.

“I hope my legislation will earn strong, bipartisan support in the Senate,” McConnell said. “I’m confident many of my colleagues will agree that protecting our young people from starting tobacco use at an early age can have remarkable, long-term health benefits for Kentucky and the country.”

Tobacco giant Altria, which is the maker of Marlboro and other brands of cigarettes, said it “strongly supports raising the legal age of purchase for all tobacco products.”

“This is the most effective action to reverse rising underage e-vapor usage rates,” the company said in a statement.

Currently, there are eleven states — Arkansas, California, Hawaii, Illinois, New Jersey, Maine, Massachusetts, Oregon, Virginia, Washington, and Utah — that have already enacted laws that set 21 as the minimum age to buy tobacco products.

Three other states — Delaware, Maryland, and New York — are on the verge of enacting similar standards as well, according to the anti-smoking group Tobacco Free Kids.

FDA Proposes Crackdown on Flavored E-cigs

There have always been jewels and diamonds in the air for Juul, the e-cigarette company that is trendy for young adults that want to look cool, just without the health problems. One problem: e-cigarettes are causing a new generation to become addicted to nicotine. On Wednesday, the FDA responded that they might take away the “jewel” from Juul.

Juul e-cigarettes may be in trouble; photo from time.com
Juul e-cigarettes may be in trouble; photo from time.com

The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has declared the use of e-cigarettes by teenage users to be of “an epidemic proportion” and has given the makers of e-cigarettes 60 days to prove that they are able to keep their products away from minors. If not, companies like Juul will no longer be able to sell their products and they could face civil and criminal charges if they allow bulk sales through their websites.

Juul and e-cigarette companies weren’t the only ones to get the hammer on Wednesday as the FDA sent out letters to over 1100 stores across the nation, warning of what could happen if they sold e-cigarette products to minors. The FDA also issued 131 fines for selling e-cigarettes to minors, ranging from under $300 to over $10,000.

In a press briefing to reporters, the FDA’s commissioner, Dr. Scott Gottlieb, said that over 2 million students going to either middle or high school were regular users of e-cigarettes and the flavors that come with them.

While it is true that e-cigarette users inhale fewer chemicals than the normal cigarette smoker, studies show that e-cigarette users get more addicted to nicotine due to the high amounts of it found in e-cigs.

Juul wrote a statement in an email to the New York Times about the FDA’s decision, saying, “Juul Labs will work proactively with FDA in response to its request. We are committed to preventing underage use of our product, and we want to be part of the solution in keeping e-cigarettes out of the hands of young people.”

The FDA has also threatened to ban all flavors associated with e-cigarettes. Smoking e-cigarettes can also be called “vaping,” depending on what you believe constitutes vaping and what doesn’t.

As more information comes out about e-cigarettes, the FDA continues to place more sanctions and limits on companies like Juul. There could be a time where e-cigarettes get banned, but since the actual cigarette hasn’t been banned, then most likely the e-cig is likely here to stay.

If you are dealing with substance misuse or you know of someone here on campus dealing with substance misuse, please get in contact with SAVES, located in the lower level of Tyler Hall. You can call them at (540)-831-6031 to set up an appointment or you can walk in. All information will be kept confidential.

Students’ Say On: Smoke-Free Campus

We’ve all walked through a cloud of smoke on our way to class at one time or another. As most students already know, Radford University is not a smoke-free campus. Students are allowed to smoke outside on campus as long as they are 25 feet away from buildings. However, some students still smoke relatively close to buildings.

“The majority of students we talked to expressed annoyance at being forced to walk through others’ smoke clouds.” Photo from: http://media.lehighvalleylive.com/bethlehem_impact/photo/pack-of-cigarettes-b0e864c515496a00.jpg

This week, we asked students whether they knew what a smoke-free campus was (a campus where the use of all tobacco products is prohibited) and whether they thought Radford should be a smoke-free campus. The majority of students we talked to expressed annoyance at being forced to walk through others’ smoke clouds while on campus. However, they also viewed the issue as something that doesn’t have much of an effect on them otherwise and said they were fine with Radford not banning smoking on campus completely. But other students believed that Radford should be a smoke-free campus or there should be designated areas where smoking is allowed. When asked how the university would enforce this smoke-free policy, some students were unsure. But others had ideas: some said the rules or restrictions could be implemented at Quest so students would know from the start what the policies were. Some said the university should treat cigarettes the same way as alcohol—that is, taking tobacco products from students if they are seen using them or charging them a fine.

If Radford does ever become a smoke-free campus, it will be interesting to see how they try and keep it that way. Perhaps they would use some of the tactics that the students we talked to thought of; it would be interesting to see if the ideas work. But one student had a point: “People are going to do what they want to do no matter what, so it doesn’t really matter [what the policies are].”

What smoking means today

Smoking hasn’t always had a huge stigma in society. It use to be something everyone did. In the office, the bars, in restaurants, everywhere really. It was something that everyone just did, regardless if they wanted to or not.

Back in the 1950s, smoking was at an all time high because it was cool and cheap. Actors like James Dean and Audrey Hepburn were never seen on screen without a cigarette in their hands or mouths.

Everyone was influenced by famous people in the 1950s and 1960s and because smoking cigarettes was cheap, cool, and socially acceptable, everyone did it.

Nowadays, however, smoking is much more controversial and stigmatized. Most people think smoking is disgusting, a habit that will kill you the second a cigarette hits your lips.

I think this change occurred because more medical information was released about cigarettes, telling consumers that cigarettes can cause cancer, heart disease, lung disease, and many more effects. However, what most people don’t seem to take into account are the effects of that alcohol can have as well.

People like to lecture smokers how on they can kill you, but don’t take a second to step back and look at themselves and the bad habits they have. Cigarettes may have more short-term effects, but alcohol can kill you in the long term.

Smoking, since the 1950s, has also become much more expensive. In the 1950s, a pack of cigarettes cost 25 cents. Today, on average, a pack of cigarettes cost $5.25.

No wonder people don’t smoke as much anymore;it’s way too expensive.

People rather spend that $5.25 on the dollar menu at McDonald’s, killing their arteries and increasing their risk for heart disease, than buy a pack of cigarettes. See what I did there?

Just because cigarettes are more direct with their health risks doesn’t mean that fast food or alcohol is any better for you. Fast food is a silent killers in a way, since they don’t tell their consumers out right what the effects of their products can have.

Simply because cigarette companies are legally bound to tell their consumers about the effects, people think cigarettes are the killer of all things when in fact they are just honest with their side effects.

1950s cigarette packaging Photo from Vintageadbrowser
1950s cigarette packaging
Photo from Vintageadbrowser

The stigma around cigarette smokers is mostly judgement and false opinions on those who smoke. People think that smokers are scary, rude, disgusting, and many other negative adjectives when that simply isn’t true for everyone.

Everybody smokes for different reasons whether it be to handle stress, anxiety, depression, or whatever reason, and this is personal to the smoker. People judge too quickly and don’t think about the reasons behind the actions of people. Think before you judge someone and get rid of the stigma. It is unnecessary and simply unjust.

Electronic cigarettes are why you should quit smoking

If you’re like me, you’ve thought about how to quit smoking for weeks now. You know smoking cigarettes is really bad for you and you can see how it physically and mentally affects you.

I’ve noticed that I cough much more frequently than I did before, as well as wheezing and low stamina. Smoking also affects my voice, speaking and singing. I wake up in the morning with a sore throat and with a hoarse tone, making it even harder for my singing voice to perform in the way I want it to.

Given all these valid factors of why I need to stop smoking, it has been way harder than I thought it would be. I never realized how addicted I would get to cigarettes or how dependent I would become on them.

I’ve gone through most of the ways to quit smoking including stopping cold turkey, electronic cigarettes, vapes, and slowly smoking less and less until finally I would stop smoking completely. These are all valid ways of quitting; however, for me, the only way that would work would be using an e-cig. This way, I can still have the motion of smoking without the consequences.

Are you trying to quit smoking? Graphic from AvailVapor
Are you trying to quit smoking? http://availvapor.com/subox-mini

An electronic cigarette is a cigarette-shaped device containing a nicotine-based liquid that is vaporized and inhaled, used to simulate the experience of smoking tobacco. The experience when smoking an e-cig is the same as a cigarette.

The only difference is an e-cig doesn’t contain the harmful carcinogens that are in tobacco making it less dangerous than cigarettes. Most people I have talked to about quitting say the reason they like smoking is because of the motion of smoking, bringing the cigarette to your mouth, inhaling, and exhaling out the smoke.

Seeing the smoke is one of the main reasons I enjoy smoking. With e-cigs, you can still obtain that feeling and motion of smoking but with a vapor and ingredients that are healthier for you.

Another benefit of smoking an e-cig is the nicotine variance and flavor. Electronic cigarettes use liquid nicotine that is injected into the machine, varying in flavor and nicotine levels. Depending on how often and what brand of cigarettes you smoke, the nicotine level will vary.

Along with nicotine variance, the nice thing about e-cigs is they come with many different flavors. My least favorite part about smoking is the after-taste. With e-cigs you don’t have to worry about that. Although, if you do enjoy the flavor of tobacco, most electronic cigarette stores carry that flavor as well.

When smoking cigarettes, one of the main complaints I receive from my friends is the smell. The smell of cigarettes is not enjoyable for you or the people around you. With e-cigs, the vapor that you exhale isn’t as strong as cigarettes and the smell doesn’t stick to your clothes or in your hair. You won’t have to worry about smelling like an ashtray ever again.

If you’re looking to quit smoking, e-cigs are your best bet. They allow you to still feel as though you’re smoking but they’re better for you and are a good stepping stone on the way to quitting for good.

Secondhand smoke affects everything around you — even plants

It’s not new information that, over time, secondhand smoke is just as dangerous as actually smoking. However, a new study shows that it’s not just the people around you who are negatively affected by secondhand smoke–plants also suffer due to the toxic exposure.

The study was done in Germany at the Technical University of Braunschweig. The findings indicated something highly alarming, although not altogether surprising for people against cigarettes–plants can absorb nicotine from secondhand smoke.

Nicotine itself is natural. While it’s mostly associated with tobacco, other vegetables do naturally contain low volumes of the chemical (such as eggplants and tomatoes). Despite its being found in nature, nicotine can be dangerous to humans in high doses. According to MetroHealth.org, nicotine “causes a short-term increase in blood pressure, heart rate, and the flow of blood from the heart. It also causes the arteries to narrow.” It’s not rocket science to see that all of these side effects can led up to massive heart problems.Cigarette_smoking

The lead author of the study, Dirk Selmar, watched the plants’ progress as they were exposed to the secondhand smoke over time. At first, he wrote that there seemed to be no real effect on the growth or overall health of the plants. As time wore on and nicotine levels were tested, it became apparent that the plants had, “tremendously elevated nicotine levels”.

This problem had been seen before, when farmers used to use pesticides containing nicotine. Since the chemical occurs naturally in some vegetables, people believed that nicotine-based pesticides were the future of organic farming. Studies came out disproving that theory and showed the real dangers that high levels of nicotine can have on the human body, leading to the pesticides being banned in the United States and Europe.

Despite the ban on these pesticides, Selmar acknowledges that using cigarette tobacco as mulch is still a common pest-control technique and can also spread nicotine through the plants. This is dangerous, because as the plants absorb the nicotine either through secondhand smoke or from tobacco, they hold onto the toxins. When they die and decay, those toxins are absorbed into new plants as nutrients. This is a problem for crop rotation because it could potentially mean that many patches of soil are contaminated.

Selmar notes that although he used peppermint plants as the test subjects in his study (a plant that naturally contains a low amount of nicotine), he believes that all plants can absorb nicotine. He also states that although the peppermint plants’ nicotine levels did spike a fair amount, that amount of nicotine they contained was still not in the zone that he believes is dangerous to human beings.

While this study does not prove that humans are in any danger now, it does show that practices concerning nicotine need to be changed in the near future.



Marijuana and the media

Over the past few weeks, I’ve seen several articles appearing on my Facebook news feed from my home town and its surrounding areas about marijuana growers being caught. But living near West Virginia, there are a lot of bigger issues than pot. Meth and prescription drugs are very often the reason crimes are committed.

As many of us young adults can agree, marijuana is pretty much harmless. Meth on the other hand, not so much. I can recall several stories where a meth user completely demolished their life while high. One story in particular, a mother in Texas got so high on meth she put her baby in a clothes washer. The worst thing a pot smoker has ever done is clean out his entire pantry in one sitting.

The comment sections on these articles prove that locals also believe these growers are completely harmless. Many comments are filled with sarcasm, with people “thanking” officers for taking these “dangerous” criminals off the streets.

“As many of us young adults can agree, marijuana is pretty much harmless. Meth on the other hand, not so much…The worst thing a pot smoker has ever done is clean out his entire pantry in one sitting.”

The worst part of these articles are the photos that come with them. One photo shows an officer knelt down next to several very small marijuana plants, smiling proudly. Although by his precincts standards this may have been a very big bust, I can’t help but wonder if they’ve forgotten our area’s history. Several years ago, Richlands, Virginia (about 45 minutes from my home town) was the Oxycontin capital of the world. Although the situation isn’t nearly as bad as it used to be, there are still a lot of other drugs that are being overlooked.

Not only do the officers look silly in this situation, but the reporters are making me question my choice of major. One reported stated that officers had found $15 million worth of marijuana. The officers were praised for collecting some plants up to 15 feet in height. As anyone who has done very basic research on marijuana would know, any marijuana plant that is growing that tall is going to be a male sativa plant. Male plants are useful for fertilizing the females, but that’s it. They have little street value because they’re hemp. They’re used to make rope and comfy fabric.

Also, how did these officers calculate the worth of these plants?  I noticed there is another number–$4 million in street value. So where did the first number come from? Media personnel need to take the time to do the extra research and inform the public of the technicalities before reporting these things.

I may be beating a dead horse here, but I will go ahead and say this: it’s time we legalize marijuana. With so many hardcore drugs out there that are actually taking lives, why are we wasting so much time and money on drug that is virtually non-addictive and as far as research can tell, causes little to no bodily harm? I’m much more worried about drugs like ecstasy, heroin, cocaine and even alcohol which is more addictive and harmful. Alcohol inhibits decision making and even impulse control, while THC simply blocks an inhibitory neurotransmitter so that dopamine is released into the brain.

Although marijuana can affect decision making and awareness, how often do we hear about people getting in severe enough accidents  to kill someone while stoned? Now compare that to the amount of drunk driving accidents that take lives every day. It’s time we use our common sense. If alcohol is legal, why isn’t marijuana?


Smoking on campus: It’s complicated

As college students, we all love those days when the weather is beautiful and we’re not dreading class (for once). Then all of a

Not a very healthy habit. Photo by Sydney Crawson.

sudden, your face is engulfed with a cloud of smoke. I don’t know about you, but nothing puts me in a bad mood faster than sucking in a giant breath of cigarette smoke. Of course students have the right to do what they want with their body; I’m not telling anyone to stop smoking. However, I find it rude to puff away on a busy walkway, especially during class changes. Waiting a few minutes to smoke away from a crowd would be the best idea.

Continue reading Smoking on campus: It’s complicated

Kill your kids or die trying

Smoking tobacco has always been something I’ve felt very strongly about. It’s one of those topics that gets me really fired up and makes me want to have a debate. Why tobacco is even legal in the first place is beyond me, so when I heard that Virginia was trying to pass a law that would make it illegal for anyone to smoke in the car when someone under the age of 15 is with them I was ecstatic. “About damn time” was the first thing I thought, followed quickly by, “Why the hell didn’t they think of that sooner?” Continue reading Kill your kids or die trying

Lung cancer is no longer a prejudiced disease

In a woman’s journey to aspire for gender equality, she can live like a man, dress in jeans, work in previously male-dominated fields, and now she can die like a man, too. Since the 50s, women have been celebrating their new-found liberation by lighting up their cancer sticks. Consequently, women have suffered a dramatic increase in lung cancer rates in recent decades leading to lung cancer becoming the lead cause of cancer death for women in the United States. Continue reading Lung cancer is no longer a prejudiced disease

The Great American Smokeout

On Nov. 15, The American Cancer Society is marking its 37th Great American Smokeout. Its importance is to remind those who do smoke or know those who smoke tobacco to plan to quit or at least lower their consumption of tobacco. Tobacco use is known to cause not only lung cancer, but at least 10 other cancers; this includes cancers of the bladder, kidney, liver,  and pancreas. Continue reading The Great American Smokeout

Is financial success worth killing ourselves?

I’ve always dreamed of growing up and getting a “big girl job.” That term seems so immature, but that’s how I describe it. A career that defines you, like being a nurse, a lawyer or a journalist. But as I approach graduation I see that this fantasy might not be all it’s cracked up to be. Our nation and our society have created an almost hostile work atmosphere.

Continue reading Is financial success worth killing ourselves?