Coalition navigates changing tobacco landscape

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  • PHOTOS BY VERA OLINSKIVernon Coalition Senior Coordinator Rebecca Dorney speaks at the monthly meeting.

  • Matthew Kubik, on left, discusses a $200 fine for vaping on high school property. Michael Kubik listens on right.

“The Changing Landscape around Tobacco” and Electronic Nicotine Delivery Systems was presented Nov. 8 to Vernon Coalition members by Elise McGaughran during the day and Rebecca Dorney at night.

Dorney explained, as of Nov. 1, per N.J. state law, smokers must be at least 21 to buy any tobacco products, including ENDS. She added, it is also against the law to use an ENDS device where smoking tobacco is illegal.

Vernon Township High School student and coalition member Matthew Kubik said the high school will fine any student caught vaping on school property $200. In addition, he said, because students think vaping is safer, they go right to vapes instead of regular cigarettes.

Dorney added, if a student is caught with an END, the state requires the student to automatically be drug tested, fined, and the product confiscated.

Researchers, she said, find people start with ENDS and switch to cigarettes, because they are less expensive and have a more consistent dose of nicotine.

ENDS were created, she continued, about 20 years ago to help people quit smoking. However, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) research, she said, shows only harm reduction and not cessation occurs when an individual switches to ENDS after smoking two packs a day for fifty years.

The NJ Quitline, she mentioned, provides free: patches, medications, gum, and behavioral therapy on-line to quit smoking.

Dorney reviewed the different ENDS generations. She said, the first generation began four years ago, with disposable e-cigs, without e-liquid. The second generation, she continued, appeals more to youth with fun colors and shapes. Dorney added, ENDS are not sold by major tobacco companies, but mom and pop shops who mix different flavors with a big vat of liquid nicotine. However, she added, the amount of nicotine in the e-liquid is unknown.

The CDC's nationwide test reported over 73 percent of “no nicotine e-liquids” contained a great deal of nicotine, which remains unregulated by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA). Of concern, she added, is the new FDA Commissioner Scott Gottlieb postponed the possible regulation of ENDS for another four-to-five years.

The third generation ENDS, Dorney said, can be filled with e-liquid. She said, aerosol, not vapor, comes out in what looks like a cloud, without odor.

Dorney reviewed, neuroscientists say the human brain is not finished developing until between ages 25- to - 30 and can be wired for addiction regardless of the substance introduced. The prefrontal cortex, she continued, is the last piece to be developed and regulates judgment, decision making skills, and impulse control.

She added, companies know if they delay the onset of using any drug until age 21, 90 percent of future population addiction, including tobacco, will be eliminated. According to the CDC, Dorney said, 98 percent of tobacco users begin between ages 14 and 18.

Currently, she said, companies target youth by advertising over $1 million an hour regarding tobacco and ENDS in: magazines, newspapers, Instagram, and Omnichannel.

Dorney continued, the body becomes addicted to nicotine after about 100 cigarettes or two sittings of e-liquid with a vape.

Other dangers she reviewed are: e-liquid nicotine is a poison - until diluted; e-liquid does not have child proof caps, thus, resulting in more poison control calls; and safety concerns regarding Diacetyl, currently used in e-liquid flavorings, although banned by the FDA from microwave popcorn. Dorney noted, microwave popcorn factory employees developed permanent lung damage - “popcorn lung” - after Diacetyl entered their lungs.

There is not a lot of difference, Dorney continued, between the original tobacco play book, ENDS, and now big marijuana.

Vernon Coalition founding member, Janet Kubik asked, “If we've been through it with the cigarettes, how come we are allowing it to happen again?”

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