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News You Can Use
Teaching Social and Emotional Learning Through the Headlines

Tobacco's Truths: Good and Bad News  

The good news: According to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, tobacco use by adolescents has declined substantially in the last 40 years.

The bad news: Students’ rising use of e-cigarettes and hookahs has offset the healthy decrease in their use of traditional tobacco products. E-cigarettes, available in a variety of candy and fruit flavors that appeal to young smokers, contain nicotine derived from tobacco and are, in fact, tobacco products. As of August 2016, the US Federal Drug Administration extended its regulatory power to include e-cigarettes. An evening spent huddling around the hookah (or water pipe) is roughly equivalent to smoking two packs of cigarettes. 

According to the FDA, e-cigarettes are devices that allow users to inhale an aerosol (vapor) containing nicotine or other substances. To create e-liquid, the main component of e-cigarettes, nicotine is extracted from tobacco and mixed with a base (usually propylene glycol), and may also include flavorings, colorings and other chemicals. The American Lung Association has concluded that e-cigarettes are a tobacco product and are not safer than cigarettes. 

The challenge continues: Young people who do not start using tobacco by age 18 will most likely never start. In a recent U.S. News and World Report article,  Dr. Cora Breuner, who heads the Committee on Adolescence for the American Academy of Pediatrics, says it's difficult to get someone 30 or older to start smoking. “There are a lot more nicotine receptors in the brains of kids below 18 years of age. If you don't flood those receptors with nicotine, they just fade into the woodwork and go away."

SEL Connections:
The fundamentals of social and emotional learning work to foster the decision-making and emotional health that can keep kids on track. When it comes to cigarettes, vapes, smokeless tobacco, hookahs, and kids, consider these SEL connections:

Responsible Decision-Making: Experts agree that smoking tobacco is very bad for our health. The scientific evidence is irrefutable: using tobacco causes irreparable damage.  If people know this, why do some people still do it? Why do kids try it?

Self-Management: Which are better: reasons to smoke or NOT to smoke?  Why? 

Social Awareness: How do others influence our choices to use or not to use tobacco products? 

CASEL Social and Emotional Learning Core Competencies

•  Self-Awareness
•  Self-Management
•  Social Awareness
•  Relationship Skills
•  Responsible
•  Decision-Making
 

Just what are  E-Cigarettes and are they safe? 
According to a recent NBC News Report Vaping 101: How E-Cigarettes Work,  e-cigarettes basically have these components: a rechargeable lithium battery; a cartridge containing nicotine, flavoring and chemicals like glycerin or polyethylene glycol; an atomizer, which consists of a heating coil, an LED light to simulate a burning cigarette; and a sensor that registers when one takes a drag and activates the atomizer and LED light. Basically, an atomizer heats the liquid (often called "e-juice") to its boiling point and that becomes vapor that can be inhaled (hence, the term vaping.). 

Now in its 28th year, the National Family Partnership Red Ribbon Week (October 23-31) mobilizes communities to educate youth and encourage community, school, and family participation in drug, tobacco and alcohol prevention activities. 
 
QUESTIONS FOR STUDENTS AND THEIR FAMILIES TO CONSIDER:


What healthy, fun family activities can tobacco use restrict? 

Tobacco products are expensive. If a family member is using tobacco, how might that family use that money toward another purpose? 

Who are your role models for choosing not to experiement with tobacco and drugs?
 

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