Schools are in a uniquely powerful position to play a major role in reducing the serious problem of smoking and other tobacco use by kids.


Children spend almost a third of their waking time in school, or about 135 hours per month; and much of the peer pressure kids feel regarding whether or not to use tobacco occurs in school. (1.) Nearly 90 percent of adult smokers begin smoking at or before age 18.(2.)


The Minority Research Center on Tobacco and Addictions (MRC) at the University of Arkansas at Pine Bluff is partnering with local schools to help reduce smoking among children and teens in Arkansas. The MRC will educate school administrators, counselors, teachers, and staff on Electronic Nicotine Delivery Systems (ENDS), especially the JUUL. The JUUL is the most popular ENDS among youth and young adults.


E-cigarettes are sometimes called “e-cigs,” “vapes,” “e-hookahs,” “vape pens,” and “electronic nicotine delivery systems (ENDS).” Some e-cigarettes look like regular cigarettes, cigars, or pipes. Some look like USB flash drives, pens, and other everyday items.


Scientists are still learning about the long-term health effects of e-cigarettes. Some of the ingredients in e-cigarette aerosol could also be harmful to the lungs in the long-term.


For example, some e-cigarette flavorings may be safe to eat but not to inhale because the gut can process more substances than the lungs. Defective e-cigarette batteries have caused some fires and explosions, a few of which have resulted in serious injuries.


Children and adults have been poisoned by swallowing, breathing, or absorbing e-cigarette liquid through their skin or eyes.


Nationally, approximately 50% of calls to poison control centers for e-cigarettes are for kids 5 years of age or younger.(3)


The training is free of charge and will be held at local middle schools. Schools interested in scheduling a training may contact Earnette Sullivan, program manager, at 870-730-1137, or mrc@uapb.edu. The MRC is excited to partner educators to prevent and reduce youth tobacco use among your students.


SOURCES


1. See e.g., Jackson C, “Initial and experimental stages of tobacco and alcohol use during late childhood: relation to peer, parent, and personal risk factors,” Addictive Behaviors 22(5):685-98, Sept-Oct 19


2. United States Department of Health and Human Services. Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration. Center for Behavioral Health Statistics and Quality. National Survey on Drug Use and Health, 2014. ICPSR36361-v1. Ann Arbor, MI: Inter-university Consortium for Political and Social Research [distributor], 2016-03-22. http://doi.org/10.3886/ICPSR36361.v1.


3. Office on Smoking and Health, National Center for Chronic Disease Prevention and Health Promotion, 2019.


ABOUT THE MINORITY RESEARCH CENTER


The Minority Research Center’s mission is to provide assistance to the state and nation in tobacco and other substance abuse research, prevention, education, technical assistance and evaluation, especially in regard to minority populations (Blacks, Hispanics, Marshall Islanders, and Asians). Directed by Dr. Valandra Oliver, the MRC serves as a resource to the state of Arkansas and across the country to provide best practices and key learnings for eliminating the use of tobacco and other addictive substances within minority communities.


— Earnette Sullivan is program manager of the Minority Research Center on Tobacco & Addictions at UAPB.