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Jefferson County Educational Event Calls Attention to Nicotine and Marijuana Vaporizing
Jefferson County, Colorado—Colorado medical, public health and legal experts presented on the expanding world of nicotine and marijuana vaporizing to a packed room at Exempla Lutheran Medical Center in Wheat Ridge on February 26, 2014. While E-cigarettes, hookah pipes and pens, as well as marijuana vaporizers may be familiar terms to some in Colorado, the terms were new to most in the room. The educational presentations raised awareness about these products and the impact they could have on health in our schools, workplaces and our communities. Recent data from the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) shows that the number of youth trying e-cigarettes doubled between 2011-2012. In addition, there was also an increase in use of hookah tobacco use among youth during the same period. Nicotine vaporizing devices like e-cigarettes and hookah pens remain unregulated by the FDA causing concern about the health impacts and growing appeal among kids. “These are products from tobacco companies with a long history of deceiving their customers and targeting kids,” said Dr. Tom Peterson, Vice President of Patient Safety at SCL health system. Dr. Peterson noted several areas of concern about the nicotine vaporizers, including the presence of concerning chemicals found in some tests of e-cigarettes, increasing youth use, and the fact they are not approved quit smoking devices but many tobacco users may be using them for that purpose. Dr. Peterson’s presentation also clearly depicted how the tobacco companies’ recent and prolific marketing of e-cigarettes stands to do away with years of progress made by tobacco prevention advocates to de-normalize tobacco use. Youth and adults in the U.S. have not been exposed to cigarette ads on television showing people smoking since the ban of such ads in 1971. Because they are not covered under the federal law prohibiting tv advertising of cigarettes, e-cigarette television ads are running in many local broadcast markets creating the potential for youth to see smoking as normal. Often available in self-service displays in an array of sweet flavors and bright packaging, the nicotine delivered in these devices poses a serious risk of lifelong addiction for youth who are more vulnerable to rapid dependence when exposed to nicotine. The educational presentations also covered the growing problem of marijuana vaporization. “This is really a perfect storm for public health in Jefferson County and Colorado with quickly expanding nicotine and marijuana vaporizing industries,” said Bob Doyle, Executive Director of the Colorado Tobacco Education and Prevention Alliance. The concerns with marijuana vaporizing include the device’s ability to deliver extremely potent marijuana and, according to their makers’ own promotional messages, to conceal use. “This is a dangerous combination which parents, schools, communities and employers need to understand,” Doyle added. His presentation included stories from local youth and a recent news report that highlighted use of marijuana vaporizers at area schools. A presentation by Edgewater councilwoman, Myra Keeble highlighted Edgewater as the first Colorado community to address vaporization by prohibiting vaporizing of any substance in places that are designated smoke-free which includes indoor workplaces and restaurant and bar patios in Edgewater. Annie Murphy, an attorney with Dufford, Waldeck, Milburn & Krohn in Grand Junction, provided information on current state and federal law regarding regulating marijuana and tobacco and provided suggestions for employers, property owners, and communities to address vaporizing. Under current Colorado law, e-cigarettes cannot be sold to or used by anyone under the age of 18. State law also prohibits use of e-cigarettes by anyone on school grounds. Property owners and employers can address the use of e-cigarettes as well as marijuana and tobacco use on site though policy change, including making properties tobacco and marijuana free. The educational event was sponsored by Jefferson County Public Health ‘s Tobacco Prevention Program. Community members are invited to come and learn more about the growing problem of youth being targeted with sweet and cheap tobacco products, including vaporizers, at an upcoming meeting and dinner of the Tobacco Free Jeffco Alliance on March 19, 2014. The dinner and educational event will commemorate national Kick Butts Day which focuses on raising awareness of the tobacco problem, encouraging youth to stay tobacco-free and urging strong action to protect kids from tobacco. Resources: Electronic cigarettes and second hand aerosol fact sheet from Americans for Non Smokers’ Rights JCPH e-cigarette fact sheet for parents. For more information, visit www.tobaccofreejeffco.com, email firstname.lastname@example.org or call 303-275-7555.
March 18, 2014
100 Jefferson County Parkway Golden, Colorado 80419 (303) 279-6511
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