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Massachusetts, Brookline Article Aims to Create a ‘Tobacco Free Generation’

The notion of creating a Tobacco Free Generation is gaining traction worldwide.

2 doctors from Brookline, Massachusetts, are proposing a ban on sales to all persons in Brookline born after 1995, forever.

Balanga City in the Philippines is already way ahead in this, declaring their city to be the first Tobacco Free Generation city in the world on 18 March 2016. Step by step, we are moving towards being a Tobacco Free Generation!

Article from Brookline.Wickedlocal.com:

6th April 2016
By Jenna Fisher for brookline.wickedlocal.com

BROOKLINE – As groups across the state move to increase restrictions on the sale and use of tobacco, two Brookline health professionals want to convince the town to be the first in the country to adopt a “tobacco free generation” policy.

Petitioners John Ross and his wife Megan Sandel are area doctors and see a number of patients with tobacco-related problems. Their warrant article for May’s Town Meeting calls for a ban on the sale of tobacco products to anyone born after 1995. Such a ban would encourage a generation of nonsmokers, they said.

“This is out of character for us,” said Ross. “I never really got involved in Brookline government. I just got fed up with seeing so many patients dying and felt this was a way to get involved and change something.”

Ross is a doctor at Brigham and Women’s Hospital in Boston. In addition to being a pediatrician who sees a number of children suffering from smoke-related problems, Sandel is an associate professor of pediatrics at the Boston University Schools of Medicine and Public Health, the medical director of National Center for Medical-Legal Partnership, and a principal investigator with Children’s Health Watch.

In 2014, Brookline raised the smoking age to 21, which some experts say helped lower smoking rates among teenagers at Brookline High School, the TAB reported.

According to a recent survey put out by Brookline’s Health Department, the rate of tobacco use among high school students in Brookline sits at about 5 percent, compared to about an 11 percent in the state and 16 percent in the US.

Still, Ross said the number is still too high.

“I would take the position that tobacco is a drug. It’s a defective consumer product. If it were a new consumer product, there is no way that it would be considered [safe for] sale,” he said.

On average a smoker lives 10 years less than a nonsmoker. And tobacco caused more than 480,000 deaths each year (including deaths from secondhand smoke), according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

In Massachusetts, tobacco use contributes to the death of 9,300 people and costs $4.08 billion in health care bills each year, according to activist campaign group Tobacco Free Kids, which led a march last month at the capital.

Cigarettes are the number one cause of preventable death in the United States, said Ross.

“People may talk about consumer choice, but this is really an addictive drug on the level of an opiate,” he said. “Tobacco is the only consumer product that kills you when used as directed. There’s no equal in terms of disease and harm it causes.”

At first, the couple hoped to ban the sale of tobacco to everyone in Brookline. But after some thought they decided to scale back.

“We don’t have any desire to put anybody out of business,” Ross said.

Ross and Sandel are proposing a ban of sales to all persons in Brookline born after 1995, forever. That would mean if you are currently of legal age to smoke, you would still be able to smoke, but if not, you wouldn’t be allowed to start.

This would mitigate some of the impact to retailers by decreasing sales by about 2 percent a year, he said, at the same time protecting youth by making it more difficult to start smoking.

“Every day that I come to work, I see people who have been damaged in one way or another by tobacco, COPD, new diagnoses of cancer, heart disease or many of the ways that tobacco can impact your health. At some point I realized the most effective way to treat the ravages of tobacco is to prevent them from happening at all,” he said. “If [the warrant article] did pass, it would be another example of Brookline breaking ground in the fight against tobacco.”

Ross said reaction in the medical and public health circles has been positive. The Public Health Advocacy Institute at Northeastern University – which has defended municipalities in the state that have enacted various restrictions on tobacco – has agreed to defend the town pro bono should it run into serious opposition.

“Of course the town has the right to handle its own defense of its legislation, but we would be able to go into court and do the written work and handle that on behalf of that or in conjunction with Brookline if there is a challenge from either retailers or another part of the tobacco industry,” said Mark Gottlieb, executive director of the public health advocacy institute at Northeastern University School of Law.

And there’s a chance of litigation.

“This would be a first of it’s kind. In general the more restrictive a piece of legislation or health policy regarding a tobacco, the more likely it is to be challenged, usually by retailers,” he said.

But he’s optimistic.

“Legally we’re quite confident that this is a strong approach that would be successful,” he said.

In Brookline, small convenience stores are the primary source of cigarettes. It’s unclear what the impact might be on them.

“That’s something that the community carefully needs to review. How does it affect existing businesses?” said National Association of Convenience Stores’ Jeff Lenard, based in Virginia. Lenard added that about a third of convenience store revenue comes from tobacco products.

Ross and Gottlieb seem to have given it some thought.

In late 2014, the town of Westminster toyed with the idea of banning all tobacco sales. That was met with an unpleasant backlash against the board of health, said Gottlieb. The meeting to discuss it was overwhelmed with protestors, he said.

“The Tobacco free generation concept is a much more moderate and very gentle phase out. It’s really just affecting a tiny amount of sales each year. It’s something that gives the retail company a lot of time to adapt to. And ultimately achieve the same goal which is to stop the cycle of youth addiction.”

Some 95 percent of users start using tobacco products before the age of 21, said Gottlieb. “I think this proposal is a very elegant way of achieving a very important health goal. If Brookline adopts this and becomes the first in the nation it will open a lot of eyes across Massachusetts.”

 


This original article can be viewed here.

 

TFG @ Woodlands Ring Primary School

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TFG @ Evergreen Primary School

TFG starts 2016 with an encore presentation to 2 groups of students at Evergreen Primary School. The presentation was reinforced by a teacher who rounded up the message very nicely. Thank you Evergreen for hosting us.

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3rd Annual Ride for TFG

Tobacco free generation closes out 2015 with the 3rd Annual Ride for TFG 2000. 120 riders including doctors, teachers, medical students, youths and avid cyclists from all walks of life spent their Saturday morning riding to show support for a new generation of non-smokers. What made this year’s ride special was the participation of representatives from World Health Organization (WHO) as well as the Mayor from Balanga City Philippines, Mr Joet Garcia and his contingent.

 

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TFG @ Evergreen Primary School

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TFG had a engaging session with Primary 6 pupils of Evergreen Primary School. Students were quick to grasp the concept of replacement smokers and how they can be the generation that makes a difference by saying NO to cigarettes. Well done Evergreen Primary.

 

TFG visits Fernvale Primary School

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The TFG team presented to Fernvale Primary School at their assembly session. This presentation was also supplemented by mobile displays from National Cancer Center Singapore (NCCS). NCCS is a committed partner for our Tobacco Free Generation Program. Thank you Fernvale Primary and NCCS.

 

TFG excites School Counsellors

Prof Koong and Dr Ho shared the TFG vision to the school counsellors of the N5 school cluster at Qihua Primary on 21 July 2015.
Their response was fantastic! We are looking forward to rolling out the TFG schools talks in their schools in 2016!

4th Annual Youth Summit

TFG fourth annual Youth Summit was held at CHIJ Toa Payoh Secondary this year. This year saw 11 schools, 117 students and 9 teachers participating. The teachers and students were engaged in presentations and workshops by TFG members as well as by student faculty members. TFG thanks all participants and partners that have made this possible including Yong Loo Lin School of Medicine NUS as well as Community Cancer Fund.

 

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2015 Ash Scotland Conference: Towards a Generation Free from Tobacco

With 2015 marking the 10th anniversary of the Framework Convention on Tobacco Control, Ash Scotland (Action on Smoking and Health, Scotland) hosted the “Towards a generation free from tobacco: turning the vision into reality” conference on 18 and 19 June 2015 at the University of Edinburgh, Scotland, UK.

Health advocates from the UK, Europe and further, met and mapped out the journey to a society free from the harm caused by tobacco.
With inspiration from Europe, North America and South East Asia, this conference celebrated the success of public health in mobilising public support to adopt healthy smoke-free lifestyles and drew on the knowledge and experience of tobacco control advocates to plot a confident course to a generation free from tobacco.

A TFG workshop and a parallel session presentation by Prof Jon Berrick Assoc Prof Dr Koong Heng Nung and Dr Ho Gay Hui were well received by several of the Scottish tobacco control leaders and others from the neighbouring European countries. It was cited again at the first plenary session and at the closing discourse.

TFG continues to grow good young TFG faculties at this meeting. We have successfully nurtured more Scottish youths to be part of the TFG team and to be advocates in their country.

Post-conference communications materials can be found HERE.

TFG @ Asia Pacific Student Leaders Forum 2015

TFG had the opportunity to meet with student leaders from the region at the recent Asia Pacific Student Leaders Forum 2015 Networking Lunch held at NUS on 9th June 2015.

Yii Zheng Wei, 4th year medical student, NUS, gave a short presentation on stage. Together with Andrea Lok and Chloe Lim, both 3rd year medical students, NUS, they actively shared the objectives of Tobacco Free Generation with the student delegates.

This networking lunch/exhibition was a platform comprising of Social Enterprises, NGOs, Companies and Youth Organizations. The student delegates learnt about the participating organizations and their pioneering work in the field of social change, as well as how communities and society have benefited from their organization’s work and engagement

TFG @ Seng KangPrimary School

Seng Kang Primary School is one of the schools under the Millennia Kids Program by SengKang Health, Singapore. We handed out Task Cards to the students, encouraging them to explain the concept of replacement smokers, describe the harms of smoking and the objectives of Tobacco Free Generation to their parents. Completed explanations will garner prizes from the program. TFG  program was shared with seven hundred kids born in 2003, 2004 and 2005, all of them are our Millennium babies. As they will one day, lead our society, we want them to be hearty and healthy from now. Thank you, Seng Kang Primary for hosting TFG.

2015 16th WCTOH Conference Resolutions

The 16th World Conference on Tobacco or Health drew to a close with the closing ceremony and conference declarations earlier this evening.
“The conference recognizes and commends jurisdictions including the Australian state of Tasmania that are advancing initiatives to create Tobacco Free Generations for all persons born since the year 2000; as part of its declarations.

And, recommends that by 2018, to have at least 40 countries develop and introduce action plans and prioritise policies and interventions to protect children and youth to achieve the goal of No More Tobacco in the 21st century.”

The cogwheels of the global tobacco-free notion machinery are turning fast; Are YOU ready to rise up to the challenge to protect our next generation, the children and youth of the 21st century?

The Tobacco-Free Generation Movement stands ready.

http://www.wctoh.org/updates/conference-resolutions

 

TFG @ 16th WCTOH

TFG conducted a workshop as well as hosted a symposium discussion at the 16th World Conference on Tobacco or Health (WCTOH) Abu Dhabi. TFG was also invited to an impromptu presentation, addressing youths from 40 odd countries that attended the WCTOH. Many youths and adult attendees alike expressed interest in starting tobacco free generation movement in their respective countries.

 

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TFG @ Marsiling Primary School

TFG is honored to share the Tobacco Free Generation notion with Primary 6 pupils of Marsiling Primary School.Besides the usual comments and questions about nicotine addiction and smoking risks, a student grasped and reiterated to her cohort mates about the concept of replacement smokers and how their generation would be the target of cigarette companies who are seeking new consumers. Well done Marsiling Primary.

TFG @ Qihua Primary School

TFG engaged 300 P6 students from Qihua Primary School with videos, story telling and a lively Q&A session. We were pleasantly surprised at the questions asked by the kids, for example “Dear Doctor, If tobacco is so harmful, why is it not completely banned ?” …shows good understanding even at their level about the nature of nicotine addiction and society. Thank you Qihua for hosting TFG.

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