advocacy

2015 – Change is Coming to Texas Universities!

Hey! Darrien here,
2014 was an amazing year for tobacco prevention and activism in general, but I am excited about 2015! Spring of last year, I started working with the University of Texas School of Public Health on a new state-wide college tobacco prevention initiative. This new project is the first state level tobacco prevention college initiative in the world! I was honored to have a position at the table and help plan/implement such an amazing program. In the fall, I officially had a role in the development of the initiative as the lead of peer recruitment and social media manager. However, during campus recruitment and the beginning phases I did not have to work much on student recruitment and the social media campaign was still in development.10873498_308112779383446_7328780226241035513_o

2015 is when the real change will happen!
The college tobacco prevention initiative will launch this week in Austin, Texas at the first College Initiative Summit. Over 20 college campus’ will be represented by administrators and students from all across the state of Texas with one common goal, reduce the amount of tobacco use by Texas college students. This new initiative will formally be named- “Peers Against Tobacco.” When the whole initiative is launched we will start posting on all social media channels. Since, you’re awesome and you have read this post up to this point you can follow the social media accounts for Peers Against Tobacco before anyone else! https://www.facebook.com/pages/Peers-Against-Tobacco https://twitter.com/PeersAgainstTob http://instagram.com/peersagainsttobacco.
The momentum that we have already seen with this initiative has been amazing! There have been a lot of dedicated individuals working on different components of the project to bring it all together. Peers Against Tobacco will change the norms of tobacco use on college campuses in Texas, it will promote prevention/education and cessation, it will connect students to their universities, it will help students make policy change on their campus’ and it will keep current high school advocates in tobacco prevention engaged when they enter college.
This initiative has been a dream of mine since I graduated high school and moved to San Marcos, Texas, to attend Texas State University. My freshman year I tried to start a tobacco prevention group on campus but I had no idea where to start. Now students will have Peers Against Tobacco as a resource to guide them through implementing tobacco prevention on their campus. I look forward to meeting new people throughout 2015 and working with them to prevent tobacco use among college students in Texas.

If you are a college student at a Texas college and interested in joining this movement then shoot me an email! skinner28d@gmail.com

Got to go! I have a flight to a youth conference in Indiana to catch!

Lets make change happen in 2015!

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Vaporized: E-Cigarettes, Advertising, and Youth

Screen Shot 2014-05-01 at 10.36.45 AMScreen Shot 2014-05-01 at 10.43.02 AMToday the Legacy for Health Foundation released their report Vaporized: E-Cigarettes, Advertising, and Youth, about the current trends of e-cigarette use amongst youth and the deeming regulations that were recently released by the FDA. The deeming document will set the national minimum age of 18 for the purchase of e-cigarettes. However, “it is essential that the regulation also prohibits marketing of these products to youth, something not included in the
proposal.”  According to the Center for Disease Control, the use of e-cigarettes doubled from 2011 to 2012 among middle and high school students and adults (18-34). As well, spending on advertising has risen from $5.6 million in 2010 to $82.1 million in 2013. “Overall, e-cigarette advertisers spent $39 million from June through November 2013, with magazines and national TV accounting for more than three-quarters of dollars spent.” Now that the Big Tobacco industries have taken over several big brands in the e-cigarette industry and are proposing to release their own e-cigarette brands later this year, it is expected that the amount of advertising will increase. E-cigarettes are proving to be a huge,
new, issue that is increasing the tobacco use rate amongst youth.

What are the issues that you see with e-cigarette use in your community and school

Bloopers of My Life

So this post is going to be a little bit out of the usual. I have been making videos recently for different projects and I decided to make a bloopers video out of some of the best moments I have had recently on camera. This is proof that activism can be fun! I hope you enjoy this as much as I do. 🙂 I believe that whenever anyone is making a video, for anything, they should make a bloopers real to show the behind the scenes of what is really happening between those “serious” shots. Videography can be fun and very time consuming so these awesome moments are the ones that keep people filming themselves and they deserve to be shared!

#BeTheVoice

Screen Shot 2014-04-28 at 12.03.38 PMFrom March 21 to March 23 I had the opportunity to go to Nevada to work with the youth of their state initiative at their state conference. I attended this conference with Ritney Castine from the Campaign for Tobacco Free Kids; we were invited to participate at the conference as guest presenters. We taught the youth at the conference how to be leaders in their schools and communities and how to get their peers engaged in tobacco prevention. I really enjoyed how this conference was set up because during the day there were activities and presentations then in the afternoon and evening we all went to the park and the movies. *We watched Divergent, It was a really great movie and I would recommend it.*

I worked with the youth on social media engagement and I showed them how to create social media campaigns. I was really surprised to learn that most of Nevada does not have access to the internet so the youth there are not very engaged online. This was an obstacle for me as I planned my presentation. So, I improvised by showing them how to use what they could and I worked with their sponsors to set up blogs that their youth can write up posts for and then have their sponsors post for them. I, afterlighthonestly, assumed that everyone had access to the internet and that all young people were on social media. When I found out that most of Nevada’s youth do not even have access to the internet I was very surprised and it made me realize a lo of things about my plans for the future and how I plan on working in social change work.
Overall, I had a really great experience at this conference and I am very thankful that I had the opportunity to work with theseamazing young leaders. Nevada is a very beautiful state and I look forward to my next chance to visit. When I left they gave me a shirt that everyone had signed and a cup with a picture of the whole group. I really love doing this work and I am excited to see where it will take me in the future

Electronic Cigarettes – Seeing through the vape screen.

So in the activism world there has been a lot of focus on Electronic Vaping Devices for the last year because of how fast their popularity has grown amongst young people. They are literally everywhere now and last year they were limited to being purchased online for a hefty price. When the industry released the idea of “vaping” there was talk about how these new products were going to be a faster way for people to get addicted to nicotine and transition into a tobacco addiction. However, today that is not the case; young people are purchasing these products because of their aesthetic appeal, low price, flavoring, promise of a healthy alternative to tobacco, a right to freedom by using them everywhere without restricting smoke free laws and the liberty to decide the amount of nicotine in their device.

These products are a huge concern because they are not regulated and they are available to young people. Not to mention that nicotine delivery devices are being marketed the exact same way that tobacco was in the 50’s and 60’s. The tobacco industry is up to its old tricks and props to them for finding this big loophole in the policies that have controlled their actions in the past.

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For example: the industry has always been known for their advertising and aesthetic appeal that they have used to market their products. These new products are no different and with the incorporation of technology there is no limit to what they will come up with. Pictured on the left is the latest e-cig on the market that features bluetooth technology to connect to the users cell phone and play music, obviously targeting a young audience.

The industry is known for selling their products at a cheap price to appeal to a younger audience and fighting tax increases, as these products become more popular they are also becoming cheaper and more accessible to youth. Most young people that are getting access to these vaping devices are using the internet because there is no way to confirm that they are 18.

So, by now you are probably wondering why nicotine is such a big issue if it is not tobacco. Well, nicotine is the addictive component of tobacco that is also proven to be harmful on the heart and cause cancer. Honestly, we all know that tobacco is bad and, with increased regulations on the industry that are being implemented by legislature, every year less and less people are using tobacco products. With these new nicotine delivery devices there is no regulation and the number of people using and getting addicted to nicotine is on a steady rise, which means that the number of people affected by the health effects from nicotine is also on a rise. The biggest question that I have about these new devices is: “What will happen long term?” The answer is that no one knows because of how new vaping devices are.

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Recently the government, through FDA regulation, made all flavoring in tobacco products (except menthol) illegal because it appealed to youth. Since these new products are not tobacco products and are not regulated they do containflavoring and youth are highly attracted to the varieties that they canchoose from. Yet another way the industry is doing the exact same thing that they have done in the past.

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Before the world understood how bad tobacco is the industry promoted the idea that their products were healthy and that they were endorsed by doctors. Everyone believed that tobacco was a medicine and that it would lead to a long prosperous life. This mentality did not change until US Surgeon General Dr. Luther Terry released the first Surgeon Generals Report linking tobacco use to cancer 50 years ago. So 50 years later what have we learned? Obviously not a lot because they are marketing these new products as a health device, as healthier than tobacco and even as cessation devices, they are getting endorsed by doctors who use them in their practice to help people “quit” tobacco and use only nicotine because its “healthy”. Seriously, why should we believe them? There is no definitive proof that these products are safer or healthier like they are marketing them to be.

As well, the industry markets these products as a way for us to take back our rights and liberties that have been taken away by smoke-free indoor air laws, which were enacted to secure the health and lives of millions of people. The industry does not care about your liberties or rights because they knowingly take away your right to life by selling and marketing a product that when used as directed kills. Even worse is that they want their users addiction to affect everyone around them. No one was born a smoker, it is something that is learned and taught by the industry, so there for it is not someones right to smoke. As far as second hand vapor being safer than second hand smoke, there is no evidence to prove that it is safer, it is easy to assume that it is by the nature of the vapor compared to smoke, but there is  now proven health risks with being exposed to second hand nicotine vapor from an E-Cig. Dr. Valerie Yerger from the Center for Tobacco Control Research & Education at UCSF said that through recent research they have found “fiberglass and particulates in the vapor”. There has also been a recent study done by UCSF for the World Health Organization on Electronic Cigarettes that highlights the findings from these recent studies. Link to study: http://arizonansconcernedaboutsmoking.com/201312e-cig_report.pdf

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And lastly, the advertising of these new products is appalling to say the least. They have zero regulation when it comes to what they can do to reach youth and get them using these products. The ads for E-Cigs are everywhere! six flags, malls, grocery/convenience/gas station stores, TV, Radio, Online, Social Media, Video Games, Magazines, News Papers, Sporting Events, etc. Literally they are everywhere that it is illegal for the industry to put tobacco ads, because they know that these key ad spots are where youth are most likely to see them. They glorify this idea of vaping and use celebrities to endorse their products. The celebrities don’t even have to be in an E-Cig commercial, they can just be vaping in the audience during the Grammys or VMAs and everyone will know about it. This industry is not stupid, they know what they are doing and they are the experts at manipulating youth into buying their deadly products.

In conclusion, the industry has found a way to change the game with tobacco use and we, as activists, need to fight back against these new products by continuing to progress legislation that restricts the advertising and sale of these products to minors as well as regulates them like tobacco is now being regulated by the FDA. We have to be the first people to get to the youth when it comes to educating them about these products so that they don’t hear the rumored “benefits” from using these products compared to tobacco. This is still a drug like tobacco, it is still addictive and it still kills people.

Not Another 50

Not Another 50

So for my first post I have decided to do it over the most recent achievement in the world of tobacco prevention and the last event that I have worked on.

Last summer I went to Washington D.C. to work with The Campaign for Tobacco Free Kids and Legacy for Health Foundation on an activism event in front of the white house that highlighted the last 50 years since the first Surgeon Generals Report on tobacco use. We talked to people about how the first report linked smoking to cancer and how tobacco prevention has evolved over the last 50 years.

On the website you can see when an event, related to tobacco prevention, happened on a timeline and understand more about what the industry has done to evolve as well from all of the changes over the years. The website also has a link to how someone can get involved if they want to share this campaign.