Teens Who Vape are More Likely to Later Try Real Cigarettes

This information comes from the North Dakota Department of Health monthly Safety Flier

In 2012, Thomas Wills walked into a high school in Hawaii to distribute surveys and was surprised to find students vaping in class. Back then, he said, only a handful of students were smoking electronic cigarettes – a year later, nearly 30 percent of Hawaii high school students had tried them at least once.

That reflects a broader national trend: a 2014 survey by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reported that 2 million high school students used e-cigarettes at least once in the prior month. But that trend might have a worrisome corollary. Teens who start with e-cigarettes are more likely to later smoke cigarettes, Wills’s group had found.

In the study, Wills followed more than 2,000 high school students for a year. Teens who had never used e-cigarettes at the beginning of the study had a 5% likelihood of becoming smokers a year later. Wills found that correlation held true even after he controlled for factors like age, gender, parental education, and rebelliousness. The findings were published Monday in the BMJ.

The research confirms the results of earlier studies which have found that e-cigarette use correlates with subsequent cigarette smoking among adolescents. One caveat, however: some individuals who started smoking e-cigarettes might have become smokers later anyway, regardless of their e-cigarette usage. But Wills said that controlling for information about students’ demographics, personality, and upbringing, which he did, should mitigate that effect.

Many of the health impacts of e-cigarettes are not well understood. That has led pediatricians to call for laws against e-cigarette sales to minors.

But e-cigarettes can have benefits too, said Dr. Brian Primack, a professor and clinician at the University of Pittsburgh not involved with this study.

“I certainly see adults who are able to cut down on the number of cigarettes they smoke because of e-cigarettes,” Primack said. “In a lot of ways we have to be able to celebrate that and encourage that. On the other hand, I’ve also seen in my clinical practice a lot of people who start to use e-cigarettes to try to stop smoking, and they end up just smoking more.”

The next step for Willis’s group is answering the question of why students who vape are more likely to become smokers. He said that he has some preliminary results that show that e-cigarette use produces positive attitudes toward smoking, which he will be presenting at a conference next year.

Study Finds Some E-Cigarettes Contain Enough Alcohol to Affect Motor Skills

Some types of e-cigarettes contain enough alcohol to affect motor skills, a new study concludes. E-cigarettes deliver nicotine by vaporizing liquids, which may contain alcohol and other chemicals.

Yale University researchers tested people who used two commercially available e-cigarettes with either high or low amounts of alcohol. Neither group said they felt differently after they inhaled the vapor. But those who used e-cigarettes with high alcohol levels performed more poorly on psychomotor tests. In some cases, they had detectable levels of alcohol in their urine.

“They didn’t actually know they were under the influence of alcohol,” lead researcher Dr. Mehmet Sofuoglu told CNBC. “It still influenced their performance.”

About three-quarters of the commercial e-cigarette liquids tested contained less than 1 percent alcohol. Some e-cigarette users create their own liquids with high alcohol content, the researchers note in the journal Drug and Alcohol Dependence. Almost nothing is known about the prevalence of using e-liquids that contain alcohol, they said.

Sofuoglu said the findings are worrisome, especially in light of a reecent governement report that found e-cigarette use among teens tripled from 2013 to 2014. An estimated 13 percent of high school students used e-cigarettes in 2014 – compared with 9 percent who smoked traditional cigarettes.

“Given the widespread and unregulated use of e-cigarettes, especially by youth and other vulnerable populations, further studies are needed to evaluate both the acute safety and long-term health risks of using alcohol-containing e-cigarettes,” he said in a news release.

42% of Video Games Feature Smoking

A study of more than 100 video games finds 42% feature characters smoking cigarettes, e-cigarettes, cigars and other products, or make references to those products. Experts tell CNN they are concerned young people who play the games may be influenced to start smoking.

The study by researchers at the University of California San Francisco included 118 games released between 1994 and 2015 that were rated by the Entertainment Software Ratings Board, which makes age recommendations for video games.

The findings were published in the journal Tobacco Control.

Previous studies have found that teens ages 12 to 17 who see the greatest amount of smoking in movies are about twice as likely to begin smoking, compared with their peers with the least exposure to smoking in movies. Much less is known about the effect of tobacco references in video games, the article notes.

Robin Koval, Chief Executive Officer and President of the tobacco-control advocacy organization Truth Initiative, told CNN that video games could be even more influential than movies. “We know video games are much more immersive (than movies) and frequently played by young people… those who play games spend even more time playing them than time spend on social media,” Koval said.

Dr. Brian A. Primack of the University of Pittsburgh, who has researched the effect of smoking in movies on teens, noted, “The influence (of video games) might even be stronger (than movies), both because of large exposures from repeated play and because of the highly personal, active nature of video game play.”

‘Dewshine’: What You Need to Know About the Deadly Soda Concoction

In troubling news out of Tennessee this week, two teenagers died after drinking a combination of soda and racing fuel, a concoction toxicologists refer to as “dewshine.” Two other teens were hospitalized for drinking the mixture, but they recovered.

Here’s what you need to know in case “dewshine” becomes a bigger trend:

  • “Dewshine” is created by combining soda (as the name suggests, that soda is often Mountain Dew) and racing fuel.
  • Racing fuel is 100 percent methanol, a toxic, colorless, volatile flammable liquid alcohol that’s not meant for human consumption.
  • The fuel is easy to obtain and sells for about $8 a gallon. Kids can legally buy it.
  • The symptoms of drinking methanol are similar to alcohol at first, but eventually they may become more serious and cause “blurred vision, vomiting, diarrhea, seizures, blindness, coma and even death.”
  • The Methanol Institute reports that drinking 25-90 milliliters of methanol can be fatal without proper medical treatment.

For more references, visit this page here.

Understanding Your Influence: Your Drink is Drugged

From the North Dakota Department of Health Safety Flier:

If someone slips drugs into your drink, taking drugs isn’t a choice you make. Whether you’re at a party or just hanging out, it’s possible that someone – someone you know or someone you don’t – may slip something into your drink that can hurt you.

There are things you should know – and things you should do – to keep yourself safe.

What drugs are most often used for drug-facilitated sexual assault?

Although there are many substances that can cause you to pass out or lose control, certain drugs are referred to as “sexual assault” (or “date-rape”) drugs because sexual predators often use them to get control over their victims. These drugs include gamma hydroxybutric acid (GHB), Rohypnol, ketamine, and Ecstasy. Drinking a beverage spiked with one or more of these drugs can take away your ability to fight back and your memory of what was done to you.

A person who sexually assaults another person uses these drugs because they’re easy to slip into a drink. They’re tasteless, odorless, and colorless. Also, these drugs act fast and leave your system quickly, so if the assault isn’t reported right away, it may be too late to test for the drugs. And the drugs aren’t part of a routine screening, so unless the doctor knows to test for these specific drugs, they won’t show up in the results. All this makes it difficult to conduct a criminal investigation.

Because these drugs can affect victims’ memory, they may not remember the details or even be able to identify the person who assaulted them. In some cases, victims don’t know what happened until much later.

Protect yourself:

  • Don’t drink from a can or bottle that you didn’t open yourself
  • Don’t take a drink from a punch bowl
  • Don’t drink from a container that’s being passed around
  • If someone offers you a drink from the bar at a club or party, don’t take it. Instead, go to the bar to order your own drink, watch it being poured, and carry the drink yourself.
  • Don’t leave your drink unattended while talking, dancing, using the restroom, or making a phone call
  • If you realize that your drink has been left unattended, throw it out and get a new one
  • Don’t drink anything that has an unusual taste or appearance, like a salty taste or unexplained residue
  • Don’t mix drugs and alcohol. Even over-the-counter drugs like cold medicine can react with alcohol and other substances in negative ways.
  • Watch out for your friends and ask them to watch out for you. Have a plan to periodically check up on each other.
  • If your friend appears very intoxicated, gets sick after drinking a beverage, passes out and is difficult to wake up, seems to have trouble breathing, or behaves in unusual ways, do what you need to do to make sure your friend is safe. Call 911 if necessary.

Signs That You May Have Been Drugged:

  • You feel drunk even though you haven’t had alcohol
  • You wake up very hung over and have a memory lapse or can’t account for a period of time
  • Your clothes are a mess or not on right
  • You are nauseous, sleepy, and have a loss of reflexes
  • You feel like someone had sex with you but you can’t remember it

What to Do if Your Drink was Drugged and You Think You’ve Been Sexually Assaulted

  1. Go to a safe place. Ask a trusted friend to stay with you.
  2. Call the police. Tell the police everything. Be honest about your activities. Remember that nothing justifies sexual assault.
  3. Go to a hospital as soon as possible. Ask for an exam and evidence collection. Request that the hospital take a urine sample for drug toxicology testing. Have them test for GHB, Rohypnol, Ecstasy, and ketamine.
  4. Preserve as much physical evidence as possible. Don’t bathe, shower, or throw away clothing you were wearing during the incident until you’ve talked to the police and been examined by a doctor. Save any other potential evidence, like the glass that held your drink.
  5. Call a sexual assault crisis center for support and information.