Throughout the year, our blog will feature AHA volunteer stories of survival and hope. We know there are thousands of stories like these - thats why we want to say “Thanks” to all of you for giving your time and sharing your lives with us. You can’t spell CURE without U! Thank you for all you do to build healthier lives free of cardiovascular disease and stroke. YOU’RE THE CURE!

Wednesday, April 21, 2010

2010 Heart on the Hill a Huge Success PLUS Exciting News from the Capitol!

Whether you came to the Capitol in person or took action from your computer at home, we want to thank you for participating in our 2010 Heart on the Hill Event last Wednesday! Nearly 200 volunteers from across the state met with more than 80 lawmakers in person and over 50 emails were generated online through our virtual lobby day! And we had terrific coverage in the media!

The vast majority of legislators we visited now support the Tobacco Modernization and Compliance Act of 2010. Many were surprised and disturbed by the new products and are motivated to take action to keep these products away from kids. We couldn't have accomplished all of this without you!

Exciting News from the Capitol on 2 Top Legislative Priorities:
First, in follow up to our day on the Hill last week, the Tobacco Modernization and Compliance Act (SF3055) passed the Senate Taxes Committee! This morning, the Senate Tax Committee passed important restrictions to limit youth access to tobacco products (a key portion of our Tobacco Modernization and Compliance Act). This portion of the bill will go to the Senate floor in the coming weeks. The Tax Committee decided to hold off on passing the tax portions---reclassifying little cigars as cigarettes. That portion may still be in the final omnibus tax bill, but for now we can be very pleased that we made progress on keeping the dangerous new tobacco products out of the hands of our youth. *Next stop for HF3467 is the House Tax Committee on April 28th.
*Learn more: Big Tobacco's New Tricks

Our progress at the Capitol continued today when our Complete Streets Policy passed House floor (HF2801/SF2461)! The bill passed off the House floor on a 92-37 vote. We are still waiting for the bill to come up on the Senate floor for a vote. This legislation helps to ensure a process is in place at the local level to make our roadways safe for pedestrians and bicyclists. During the floor discussion legislators highlighted this as part of the Childhood Obesity Working Group's recommendations to pass state policy that helps our kids lead healthier lives.

Thank you for your support and look for several opportunities to take action on these important health issues in the coming days.

Heart Disease and Stroke. You're the Cure.

Monday, April 19, 2010

Tobacco in candy-like form can poison kids

Tobacco in candy-like form can poison kids
By Denise Mann,

Smokeless tobacco products are second most common cause of nicotine poisoning in children
The new products include Camel Orbs, which resemble breath mints
R.J. Reynolds says that Camel Orbs' packaging is child-resistant
The FDA has broad authority to regulate tobacco products

Centers for Disease Control and Prevention
Food and Drug Administration
Harvard School of Public Health
Smoking and Tobacco Use

( A new generation of smokeless, flavored tobacco products that look like breath mints or breath-freshening strips may be life-threatening for children who mistake them for candy, according to researchers from the Harvard School of Public Health and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).

"Nicotine is a poison, and now we're seeing smokeless tobacco products that look like Tic Tacs or M&M's, which parents can leave on the counter and children can be attracted to," says Greg N. Connolly, D.M.D., the director of the Tobacco Control Research Group at the Harvard School of Public Health, in Boston, Massachusetts.

Connolly led a research team that found that smokeless tobacco products are the second most common cause of nicotine poisoning in children, after cigarettes. The researchers reviewed data from 61 poison control centers and identified 13,705 cases of tobacco ingestion between 2006 and 2008, the vast majority of which were in infants. Smokeless tobacco was involved in 1,768 of the cases.

The new products -- currently being test-marketed in three cities -- include Camel Orbs, which resemble breath mints; Camel Sticks, which are about the size of a toothpick and dissolve in the mouth; and Camel Strips, which are similar to breath-freshening strips. Small, teabag-like "snus" -- pouches filled with tobacco that are placed between the upper lip and gum -- are also a potential hazard, according to the study, which appears in the journal Pediatrics.

These products are not smoking cessation aids; rather, they are marketed as a nicotine alternative in places where smoking isn't allowed. How smoking ruins your looks

Although children in the study were most often poisoned from eating cigarettes and smokeless tobacco products in general, the researchers single out the new, dissolvable products -- especially Camel Orbs -- as a "major concern." Orbs are available in cinnamon and mint flavors and could easily be mistaken for candy, the researchers say.

"The candy form can only mean trouble, particularly for children and infants," says Connolly. "And snus are attractive, flavorful, and easily ingested by an infant or child."

R.J. Reynolds spokesman David Howard says that the packaging of Camel Orbs and the other dissolvable products is "100 percent child-resistant in accordance with Consumer Product Safety Commission standards" and bears a label that says "Keep Out of Reach of Children." Adults, he adds, should ensure that "children do not have access to any tobacco products -- including dissolvable tobacco products."

Still, the researchers say, the pellets could find their way into children's mouths. Nicotine poisoning can cause nausea or vomiting, and severe cases can result in convulsions, respiratory failure, and even death. Just under 0.5 milligrams of nicotine per pound of body weight is the minimum lethal dose for children, according to Connolly. Common smoking triggers -- and how to fight them

A chemical analysis conducted by Connolly and his colleagues found that Camel Orbs contain an average of 0.83 milligrams of nicotine in each pellet. Some of the nicotine is "un-ionized," which allows for more rapid absorption and may be more toxic than other forms of the drug, they write.

"A small pellet with a rapid release of nicotine and a young child with a low body weight can be a very serious problem," Connolly says. "We have to look at high-risk groups who may ingest these thinking that they are candy and be very cautious about dispensing them and not leaving them around."

Regulators, he adds, "must ask tough questions about who is at risk from these products, and who we are trying to help with them."

To focus on the poison risk of Camel Orbs and dissolvable nicotine products is "remarkably selective," Howard says. He points out that Connolly and his colleagues make no mention of nicotine gums and lozenges used in smoking cessation, which are also available in a range of flavors and resemble candy and gum.

In a commentary accompanying the study, officials from the Center for Tobacco Products at the Food and Drug Administration write that dissolvable tobacco products "pose unique concerns for public health authorities." Dr. Marisa Cruz, M.D., and Dr. Lawrence Deyton, M.D., write that the FDA has requested research on the products from tobacco companies and will hold a series of public meetings to help develop a regulatory policy.

The FDA has broad authority to regulate tobacco products under the Family Smoking Prevention and Tobacco Control Act, which was signed into law last June. Later that fall, the agency banned the sale of candy- and fruit-flavored cigarettes.

"I would feel safer if the FDA...looked at the packaging [of these products] as well as their safety," says Dr. Jonathan P. Winickoff, M.D., an assistant professor of pediatrics at Harvard Medical School.

While accidental infant poisonings are certainly cause for concern, purposeful ingestion of smokeless tobacco products by kids and teens may be a larger problem, Winickoff points out. As the study notes, the use of smokeless tobacco products among adolescents increased 6 percent per year from 2002 to 2006.

"An adolescent thinks this is harmless because it looks harmless, but they're exposing their brain to nicotine, and there's a chance that they would be primed to develop a nicotine addiction," says Winickoff, who was not involved in the study. "If teens ended up using smokeless product because they are attracted to candy flavors and they end up getting addicted to nicotine, the public health benefit of smokeless tobacco is neutralized." 97 reasons to quit smoking

One of the study authors, Terry F. Pechacek, Ph.D., the associate director for science at the CDC's Office on Smoking and Health in Atlanta said that more than half of people who use smokeless tobacco are underage.

Products such as Camel Orbs, he says, "look like candy, are more easily concealed, and can be used at school or in front of parents. That raises even greater concerns."

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Tuesday, April 13, 2010

Participate in Heart on the Hill - from your computer!

Just because you can't attend Heart on the Hill doesn't mean you can't participate! Nearly 200 advocates will be in St. Paul for Heart on the Hill TOMORROW and will meet personally with their legislators. From your computer, you can participate too!

Let your legislator know that you care about passing legislation that will help close the loopholes that the tobacco industry is exploiting. Big Tobacco's new products look and taste just like candy...these new tricks entice our kids, keep smokers addicted and draw in new customers to tobacco products.

Take Action from home by following the link below to ask your legislators to support the "Tic Tac Tobacco Act" - SFS 3055/HFS 3467 to stop Big Tobacco's new tricks:

Support the Tic Tac Tobacco Act

The Tobacco Industry hasn't given up. Neither will we. You've already helped us lower smoking rates and implement the Freedom to Breathe Act, now we need your help advocating against Big Tobacco's new tricks.

The American Heart Association and other tobacco control advocates support the Tobacco Modernization and Compliance Act of 2010 (Senate File 3055/House File 3467), a bill that will:
1. Classify "little cigars" as what they really are -- cigarettes.
2. Prohibit youth from buying new tobacco products.
3. Ensure "youth friendly" tobacco products can not be sold on the counter next to candy and gum.
4. Reduce tobacco tax evasion.

*Learn more: Big Tobacco's New Tricks

Participate in our virtual Heart on the Hill and help us communicate with the ENTIRE legislature. Just click on the link below to send your message now:

Support the Tic Tac Tobacco Act

Thank you for your support on this important health issue.

Heart Disease and Stroke. You're the Cure.