Archives for : October2014

Our democracy at work!!

On October 7, 2014 the Judiciary Committee of the Baltimore City Council met to hear testimony on proposed legislation that would treat the use, sale and retail placement of e-cigarettes the same as traditional cigarettes. The Council room was packed, with those supporting and opposing to the bill.

The legislation, City Council Bill 14-0371 , was first introduced by Council members Kraft, Scott, Curran, Henry, Middleton, Clarke, Reisinger in April of this year.  It received a positive report from the Baltimore City Health Department, the Environmental Control Board, the City Department of Finance and the City Solicitor. The bill doesn’t say anything about the pros or cons e-cigarettes may have on health, environmental waste, helping people stop smoking, or addiction. Those are issues the Food & Drug Administration has to make policy about.

So what a surprise to me when many of those testifying against the bill brought up “harm reduction”, “helping people stop smoking”, “product safety”, and “nicotine levels”. Folks who “vape” shared the benefits they felt since switching from “smoking”. These are real people, with real stories that are certainly reducing the number of chemicals they are putting in their bodies. But let’s face it- that isn’t what this legislation is about.

As I see it, it is about two things. First it is to stop the easy exposure and access youth (under 18) have to these products.  The use of e-cigarettes has quadrupled in the past 2 years! Kids that would never dream of smoking a cigarette are vaping, many without realizing that there is nicotine in the fruit and candy flavored “juice”. We can’t talk about harm reduction in this group because their harm level started at zero, not the level of say 10 that cigarette smokers have. Preventing young people from using an addictive substance, any addictive substance is a good thing.

The second thing this legislation is about is protecting non-vapers from any second- or third-hand vapor! Is this stuff better than tobacco smoke? As far as we know, yes but… We really don’t know the long term effects of these products, so why take a chance? Treating e-cigarettes like cigarettes means restaurants and bars, playground and workplaces will allow everyone to breathe air they don’t have to worry about.

Just a final thought- some folks are suggesting that we allow bars and taverns to decide if they have vaping if they want to. This same argument was used for years to prevent clean in-door air laws from passing-“it should be the owner’s choice”. All the predictions about the economic downside of stopping smoking in restaurants and bars came to nothing, when the Clean In-Door Air Act passed in 2007.

Let’s not go backwards. Let’s prevent a new generation of nicotine ‘fiends’ among our youth. Let’s not allow the tobacco industry to glamorize addiction right next to the candy bars.

Christine Schutzman, CEASE Research Coordinator, former smoker and Tobacco Treatment Specialist

Vaping – the route away or back to smoking?

Written by: Christina Saunders

While many smokers believe vaping is an easy way to curb their appetite for nicotine and also assist them with quitting, they need to get the facts. Vaping

For those who don’t know, vaping is the use of electronic cigarettes (e-cigarette),  battery-powered devices that delivers a form of nicotine.Some e-cigarettes  mimic the feel of traditional cigarettes. E-cigarettes are refillable or have a replaceable cartridge of liquid “juice” that contains nicotine, solvents and flavors. Users put the device to their mouths and suck in which causes the battery to heat the liquid solution, which is then atomized into an inhalable vapor.

In 2009, the American Lung Association issued a warning that e-cigarettes are harmful, and contain carcinogens and are absent FDA review and approval. Their advice was stay away! Vaporization is often used to refer to the physical destruction of an object by exposing it to intense heat. That sounds cool, but do you really want something that has been vaporized in your lungs? And vaping does not destroy nicotine, the same drug that is in regular cigarettes that keeps people addicted and prevents them from wanting to quit and live a healthier life.

In fact, many who are new to vaping are often lead to smoking cigarettes and many smokers using vaping to quit eventually return back to smoking cigarettes. Equally disturbing is the increase of vaping in young people. According to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, e-cigarette use among school-age children has tripled in the last three years, with half of the kids who reported vaping stating that they intended to smoke conventional cigarettes within the next year. Not only has vaping increased among children, but there have also been increased calls to poison centers for children under the age of 5 after they accidently ingested e-cigarette liquids.

If you are a smoker, safer and healthy routes away from smoking are available to you and CEASE can help.  For more information on how to quit all cigarettes, visit www.ceasebaltimore.org.

CEASE Photo Voice Project

By Timeeka Addison

The CEASE Photo Voice project was one of the most rewarding experiences that I have ever had the pleasure of working with!  Over the summer, for 7 weeks, Maggie Davenport, Benn Eaton,  myself and occasionally, O’Shea Addison (a former Photo Voice participant), had the pleasure of working with 20 kids from Tunbridge Charter School and Waverly Middle School on a project, for Ms.  Sherita Henry’s doctoral thesis, for Morgan State University.

The students were randomly separated into two groups, Tobacco (Group 1) and Physical Activity & Nutrition (Group 2).  The Tobacco group would meet each week for 7 weeks while the Physical Activity and Nutrition group would meet only twice, the first and last weeks of the project.

Group 1 received hands-on guidance and skills training in communication, leadership, and critical thinking.  Each week they were to photograph 10 pictures of how they saw tobacco in their neighborhoods. The students eventually developed a narrative for two pictures as their final products.

Students in Group 2 chose a health condition or disease to report on and were asked to show how physical activity and proper nutrition could possibly improve that condition. They checked in with Ms. Henry on a weekly basis and kept a journal to show what they were developing.  These students also took 10 pictures a week and chose 3 to create a collage.  They worked very independently and were allowed to stretch their imaginations as far as they wished to get their points across.

Over the course of the 7 weeks, I witnessed a number of things with Group 1.  The shy and often soft spoken children that walked into the classrooms on the first week were transformed into confident, students, eager to share, who wanted to be heard.  The first couple of weeks the photographs were not necessarily from the community, but instead from magazines, the internet and even their own family members.  They didn’t quite have the courage to venture out and ask members of the community for permission to take their picture.  So, we took one class session and went out on a little field trip into the community.  On that outing, we saw the students gain the confidence to walk up to people, explain their project and get the best photos that they had taken thus far.  As a matter of fact, most of the photos that were chosen for the final selections were from the field trip.

Week 7 came so quickly and then the sessions were over.  The students walked in and were ready to show us what they had accomplished.  Group 1 was able to choose mats and frames then mount their own pictures.   Group 2 came in with their collages and journals and was equally proud of their finished projects.  It was amazing to see how much the students learned and how well they utilized the skills to produce such awesome pieces.  Just listening to them share how they chose their final pictures and came up with all of their ideas was so rewarding.  Some of their responses actually shocked me.  Some of the students actually got the interest of their family members and are asking about smoking cessation classes.  That for me was the highlight of it all.  To see that by educating the student, the parents got educated too.

We displayed the projects at Back to School Night at both schools in mid-September. The students, staff and family members were encouraged to look at the students finished work. On October 2nd  we are holding a gala event for the staff from both schools and the families of the participants, as well as interested community leaders and the press.  The most exciting part is that all of the students, from both groups and from both schools, will finally come together and share their experiences.  I can’t wait!