Category Archives: Community

What Can We do to Stop the Vaping Epidemic

Vaping is an epidemic that has taken every school by storm. There is not one school in New Jersey, if not the United States that has gone unaffected. There are so many risks to vaping, and a lot of the risk comes from the unknown.

What we do know is that vape juice (e-juice, flavors, etc.) contain many harmful chemicals including diacetyl, known to cause popcorn lung, and formaldehyde, used for embalming. There is not a single product used for vaping that is FDA approved, including the commonly used Juul pod.

E-cigarettes and vapes were designed as a “safer” or “healthier” product for those who smoke cigarettes to taper off their nicotine use. The fact is, though, there are no approved cessation routes that include vapes or e-cigarettes. Most of the time, people start by using cigarettes, then switch to vaping, but more often than not, these users become dual users, using both cigarettes and vapes. In turn, they end up consuming more nicotine than they otherwise would have.

Aside from the adults that vapes were designed to be used for, marketing has followed suite with Big Tobacco and cigarette advertisements. Instead of marketing to adults, we often see advertisements that are made to entice youth and young adults. Why? Because they become the long term users. Ads display young people, surrounded by people of the opposite sex, blinged out with expensive jewelry, and living in expensive cities. They all look happy, and pleasant. There are also over 15,000 different flavors in e-juice which are directed towards flavors youth would like; cinnamon toast crunch, cookies and cream, crème brulee, etc.

So the question, then, is how do we prevent underage use of this unregulated nicotine trap? A common theme among professionals is to ban all flavors of the e-juice. Youth and young adults are drawn to these flavors and many youth state that they started to vape because there was a flavor that they were interested in trying, and continued to vape because the flavor (and nicotine) had them hooked.  By eliminating flavors, we are eliminating part of the appeal.

Further, there needs to be continued pressure on the FDA to regulate the e-juice. With no ingredients listed on any product, it is unknown what effects e-juice will have on you, or if the products are even safe for consumption. If there is regulation, the safety of the consumer will finally be taken into consideration.

How Liquor Licenses can Effect Underage Drinking

Convenience stores in New Jersey have noticed a decline in sales over the past years. The cause? According to Kasmir Gill, local convenience store owner, it is the combination of raising the tobacco legal age to 21 and the decrease in soda sales due to parents discouraging their children from drinking soda.

To counter this, Gill and other convenience store owners are looking for New Jersey to develop a liquor license that would allow for convenience stores to sell beer and wine. Their reasoning is that many other states already do this, and they are “not looking to be a liquor store”.

Laws currently state that corporate entities cannot hold more than two liquor licenses, but recent testimony was trying to increase this number to 10. In total, New Jersey only has 9000 liquor licenses, and people or companies are willing to spend a lot of money to obtain one. Legislators feel that those who have spent a lot of money would be frustrated and seeking refunds if more licenses go into place.

Aside from frustrating those who already have liquor licenses, increasing liquor licenses to convenience stores could easily raise the number of underage consumers and buyers. The biggest argument about why convenience store sales have gone down both have to do with youth – not being able to buy tobacco products legally anymore, and being discouraged to buy carbonated beverages.

If convenience stores are desperate enough for money that they feel the only way to make money is to sell wine and beer, then who is to say they will not sell to underage buyers. New Jersey has almost 3300 convenience stores, which would increase the liquor licensure by 36%.

Washington state experienced a large deregulation similar to the one proposed here back in 2011. From 328 liquor stores to over 1700, they noticed a rise in price for consumers, fewer options available, an increase in shoplifting, and a significant increase in underage drinking.

By increasing the accessibility of alcohol to people under the age of 21, we are only increasing the risk of underage consumption. The cost of underage drinking far surpasses the profit gains that convenience stores may gain.

Sober Curious, what is it and how does it benefit us?

Being sober curious is when a person decides to stop drinking, either permanently or temporarily. They may even engage in something called “mindful drinking”, where they drink occasionally and only moderately, instead of getting drunk. This movement has taken on waves, especially in January with “dry January”.

Sober curious allows for people to see how their body reacts without alcohol and how their lives differ from when there is alcohol involved. These people generally call themselves sober curious because they do not attend meetings and do not presume that they will abstain from alcohol for their entire lives. In fact, these people often identify as not being addicted to alcohol, but rather choosing to stop for various reasons such as anxiety, cost, or being health conscious.

Numerous people reported really good outcomes from abstaining from alcohol, some of which included:

  • Better sleep. Many research studies show that alcohol negatively effects sleep patterns. It makes it so that we never fully enter deep sleep. Further, with drinking generally comes late nights and getting to sleep much later, resulting in much fewer hours of the needed sleep.
  • Better skin. Without consuming alcohol, we tend to cut out a lot of the sugars that we drink, whether it be from the wine or the mixer we use with hard alcohol. Sugars negatively affect our skin. Alcohol also dehydrates us, which includes drying out of the skin and not getting the important vitamins that we need that keep our skin looking healthy.
  • Better overall health. Often people go out for a night of drinking and not only end up consuming empty carbs through their alcohol, but they end up getting food after the night, usually something greasy and high in fat. By consuming more calories, especially empty calories, we are jeopardizing our health and wellness. If hangover takes place the next day, usually a breakfast sandwich or ‘hair of the dog’ is the “cure”, which further leads to the consumption of empty calories, likely increasing weight if done on a continuous basis.

A common realization is that it is possible to have fun without drinking. It is possible to let go and enjoy a night out, whether it is dancing, or at a wedding, while not having to be consuming alcohol. And the best part about it all – you remember everything that happened.

Ultimately, being sober curious just means that you want to see how alcohol influences you and how it impacts your body. For some people, this turns into abstaining from alcohol indefinitely, but for others this results in mindfulness drinking or drinking only on special occasions. This new movement is great for our overall health and wellness, both physically and mentally, and really changes the conversation from being either a drinker or a non-drinker, to allowing for multiple pathways that best suite each individual.

Tackling Opioids Through Prevention 2 by Sarah Keir