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LITTLE ROCK, Ark. (MISRGC) -- A recentCDC report shows an increased use of e-cigarettes with teens. Toni McCastle is helping lower those numbers here in Arkansas.

She is the media liason with the Minority Initiative Sub-Recipient Grant Office.

The Minority Initiative Sub-Recipient Grant Office at UAPB was established in 2002 as an initiative of the Master Tobacco Settlement Agreement. The Office is responsible for addressing tobacco consumption within Arkansas' minority communities by preventing the initiation of use among youth, promoting cessation, eliminating exposure to secondhand smoke, and identifying and eliminating disparities of tobacco use among different population groups.

Arecent study from the CDC reports that approximately 1.8 million students in the United States have tried e-cigarettes - an increase from 3% to 7% in two years.

There is a lot of speculation regarding the exact, proven health effects of e-cigarettes. However, the fact of the matter is the devices still contain a highly addictive substance - nicotine. Whatever the product manufacturers say, these devices are NOT good for your health! Therefore, there are a few very dangerous implications.

Those implications are:

  • First, the devices have a battery that heats up liquid nicotine and turns it into vapor making the devices NOT subject to U.S. tobacco laws. That means you can buy them without proof of age or order them online.
  • Second, health professionals have expressed a concern that e-cigarettes are a sort of "gateway drug" into other, proven-harmful tobacco products. For any age, not just kids.
  • Third, many e-cigarettes have flavors like fruit or mint or chocolate. Honestly, who does that target? It targets young people trying nicotine products for the first time.
  • Fourth, in terms of the impact on minority communities specifically, we have encountered many Arkansans that say, "What's the deal about ecigarettes?" It's important that we address these questions NOW, because minority communities are already disproportionately affected by tobacco advertising and tobacco use. The tobacco-related mortality rates in these communities are significantly higher than in others.

So, the Arkansas Clean Indoor Air Act went into effect in 2006. Most
workplaces are required to be smoke-free. Since, e-cigarettes don't create the traditional smoke of cigarettes and since they are a fairly new product, they have been legal in most public buildings statewide until now. In this year's legislative session, Arkansas passed a ban on e-cigarettes on all public school properties. This is a great advancement in the state to regulate these devices.

The MISRGC was recently awarded over $1M to twenty nonprofit organizations across thestate to further tobacco prevention and cessation in minority communities. Many of them will include in their programs education about the implications of e-cigarettes and dispel any myths about the devices.

They have already made great strides in tobacco cessation and prevention in minority communities. Minority calls to the Arkansas Tobacco Quit Line, 1-800- QUIT-NOW, have increased by 6% in the last year and continue to do so each month. We are very proud of this and want to continue with the success and that means adapting to new challenges such as e-cigarettes.

You can check them out and theirsub-grantee organizations on our website at www.misrgo.org.

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