Kids Educate Community on Tobacco Products
Alameda youth are standing up to big tobacco companies. Eighty six students from Lincoln Middle School, Bay Farm Elementary School, Encinal High School and other volunteers attended the final neighborhood canvassing event in the city on Saturday, Oct 27. They delivered more than 5,000 educational door-hangers with facts about candy flavored tobacco products, the new tactic from tobacco companies to hook a new generation of smokers.
At the kick-off to the canvass, Alexis Kuchi, Lincoln eighth grader and girl scout in troop 31901, shared her reason for participating. “I know someone who started vaping recently,” she said. “Now he is addicted and can’t stop. He told me to never try it because I’ll get addicted, too.” Kuchi and fellow girl scout Malia Zachariah helped deliver door hangers and are recruiting other girl scouts to join the cause.
FDA Commissioner Scott Gottlieb declared youth vaping of nicotine an epidemic and raised concern that flavored electronic cigarettes are addicting a new generation of Americans.
“Many times a week we smell the super sweet scent of vaping in the halls and bathrooms at Encinal,” said teacher Kevin Gorham. He is personally motivated to protect his students because he watched his father die of lung cancer. His mother is currently battling lung cancer as well.
“In school I have seen many people during lunch and after school vaping nicotine products or talking about them as if they are candy,” said Kane McNeil, a senior at Encinal. McNeil notes how important it is to let people know how addictive these products can be. “Many of my friends are now so addicted to nicotine that they have moved on from vaping to smoking cigarettes and flavored cigarillos.”
Encinal senior Seamus McGuinness concurs and said, “I have delivered door-hangers in my neighborhood to raise awareness and stop the tobacco companies from gaining new young customers like myself and my friends.”
According to the 2016 Healthy Kids Survey conducted at Alameda Unified School District in 2016-17, almost one out of four Alameda 11th graders reported that they had vaped nicotine products, 42 percent of Alameda 11th graders believe that it is “very” or “fairly” easy to obtain these candy-flavored tobacco products.
Furthermore, the Alameda County Health Department recently surveyed 48 of 50 stores that sell tobacco products in the City of Alameda. They found that all 48 tobacco stores sell flavored-tobacco products, including candy- and menthol-flavored tobacco products. Many of these stores are located near schools and parks.