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Healthy behaviors

The ugly truth about menthol tobacco

Tobacco companies could be making it harder for us to achieve health equity in our state by marketing menthol cigarettes to Blacks/African Americans and other minority groups here.

Health equity is something Minnesota has been working toward. Further, evidence shows tobacco companies are also marketing the menthol tobacco products to youth. The Beautiful Lie Ugly Truth campaign, highlighted on partner organization The Association for Nonsmokers - Minnesota's (ANSR's) website, is about empowering these targeted Minnesota groups to stand-up against tobacco marketing. We can give our support by backing menthol tobacco product regulations. A healthy Minnesota means health for everyone who lives here.

Read some of the research findings about this issue.

  • Tobacco companies target African Americans, Latinos, Asians, Hawaiian/Pacific Islanders, young people, women and the LGBTQ community with menthol marketing.
  • A 2013 U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) report showed that menthol cigarettes increase youth smoking, lead to greater addiction and decrease success in quitting smoking.
  • Tobacco companies started marketing menthols heavily to Blacks/African Americans in the 1960s. Tobacco companies did this by using messages and images (e.g. Black Power) that appealed to African Americans.
  • In Minnesota, 88 percent of African American adults who smoke use menthol, compared to 26 percent of adult smokers overall.
  • Tobacco use is the top cause of preventable death and disease among African Americans.
  • 70 percent of LGBTQ youth smokers smoke menthols.

What can we do?

  • If Minnesota communities regulate the sale of menthol tobacco products it will help protect youth from a lifetime addition.
  • Prohibit the sale of menthol tobacco products, as well as fruit and candy flavored tobacco products, in any store that allows kids to enter.


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Nutrition and physical activity resources

If you want to add physical activity to your day, walking is a great way to get moving. Your local parks offer some of the BEST places to take a walk so you not only can get active, you can enjoy the benefits of being outdoors too. Watch the video to learn more.

Chemical health and safety resources

For your information

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Drug testing misses synthetic cannabinoids

Several local governments have started to include synthetic cannabinoids in their criminal justice drug monitoring programs in an effort to deter their use, after it became clear many people were using the drugs because they knew tests wouldn’t detect them, according to the Director of the University of Maryland’s Center for Substance Abuse Research (CESAR).

Synthetic cannabinoids, also known as K2 or Spice, are a mixture of herbs, spices or shredded plant material that is typically sprayed with a synthetic compound. It is typically sold in small, silvery plastic bags or jars of dried leaves or small bottles filled with liquid and marketed as incense that can be smoked, inhaled or vaped.

Experts say the chemical structure of synthetic cannabinoids has greatly changed, and people who are switching from regular marijuana to synthetic cannabinoids are switching to a more dangerous drug. In fact, chemists who create the synthetic cannabinoids so the molecular structure can no longer be identified as illegal have no idea how the new substance will affect the human brain. One expert says, “When someone takes this new substance, they are literally playing Russian roulette with their lives and their brains.” Read the article.

Source: Partnership for Drug-Free Kids - Join Together

Scientists warn about mental health consequences of using marijuana

A group of international scientists issued a warning about the potential mental health risks of Marijuana use. They say vulnerable people are at risk for psychotic disorders. The vast majority of people who smoke marijuana do not develop psychotic disorders, but those who do can suffer from hallucinations, delusions and irrational behavior. Most people recover from these episodes, but some go on to develop schizophrenia. Heavy marijuana use is associated with an increased risk. National Institute of Drug Abuse Director, Nora Volkow, says it is important to educate the public now and to protect youth from future, harmful consequences. Read the article.

Source: Partnership for Drug-Free Kids - Join Together

Suicide rate on the rise; experts say rising drug use may be contributing factor

Researchers point to increasing drug use as a possible explanation for the rising suicide rate; rising deaths from drug overdose include suicides. Other possible causes noted include the economic downturn and lack of easy access to mental health services. The suicide rate in the U.S. rose 24 percent between 1999 and 2014 (CDC). Read the article.

Source: Partnership for Drug-Free Kids - Join Together

E-cigarettes the most widely used tobacco product among teens

One report says overall use of tobacco products by teens has not fallen since 2011. At the same time, E-cigarette use rose among middle school and high school students from 2011 to 2015 (CDC). CDC Director, Dr. Tom Frieden, said in a news release, “No form of youth tobacco use is safe. Nicotine is an addictive drug, and use during adolescence may cause lasting harm to brain development.” The Food and Drug Administration is finalizing a rule to regulate tobacco products, including e-cigarettes, hookahs and some or all cigars. Read the article.

Source: Partnership for Drug-Free Kids - Join Together

One question about drinking can help doctors find teens at risk for alcohol problems

A study finding confirms that a single question can be an effective screen for alcohol use disorder in teens. Teens ages 12 to 17 who report having at least one drink on three or more days in the past year are most at risk for alcohol problems. In the study including 1,200 young people ages 12 to 20 from rural Pennsylvania, researchers found 10 percent of youth over age 14 met the diagnostic criteria for alcohol use disorder in the last year. Read the article.

Source: Partnership for Drug-Free Kids - Join Together