Raising The Tobacco Use Age to 21

tobaccoWith election season upon us, most of the talk these days regarding drug use involves what is to be done about the nation’s opioid epidemic or which states will legalize recreational marijuana use next. These are two discussion points that are of the utmost importance when it comes to addiction in America. It turns out there are some other addictive substances that are being discussed as well.

The tobacco debate, despite national smoking rates long on the decline, continues as states consider upping the legal age of tobacco use. Until recently, tobacco products could be purchased in all 50 states at the age of 18. However, there are a number of politicians and health experts who would like to see that age raised to 21, put the cancerous products on the same level as alcohol and recreational marijuana use in the states where it is allowed.

Anti-Tobacco Efforts in the 21st Century

On January 1st, the legal age to purchase tobacco in Hawaii became 21. If you thought the age restriction change was an anomaly, you may be surprised to learn that the idea made it to the mainland. This week, California lawmakers approved a measure that will raise the tobacco use age to 21, the Associated Press reports. The state assembly passed the legislation, and now awaits a signature from Governor Jerry Brown. The bill would also restrict the use of the currently unregulated e-cigarettes.

California isn’t a minor player when it comes to influencing national politics. It would seem likely that other states will follow the lead of Hawaii and California in the years to come. The American Cancer Society has applauded California’s anti-tobacco efforts, according to the article.

“With California having such a huge population, it’s going to be very impactful nationwide,” said Cathy Callaway, associate director of state and local campaigns for the American Cancer Society.

The True Scope of Tobacco

It is widely accepted that tobacco use is extremely harmful to one’s health, and the younger a person starts smoking – the longer people are likely to smoke. Tobacco use has been tied to experimentation with other mind altering substances among teenagers and young adults. On top that, the brains of 18-year olds are still developing and there continues to be much researchers don’t know about the long term effects of teenage tobacco use.

If you are in addiction recovery and still use tobacco, it is advised that you seek assistance with smoking cessation. Research tells us, that people in recovery who use nicotine products are at a greater risk of relapse.

Graphic Images and Smoking

smokingSmoking rates have dropped dramatically over the last several decades. Every adult knows that cigarettes carry inherent risks to one’s health. It seems like with each year that passes, researchers add to the list of conditions and cancers linked to tobacco use. While health officials and lawmakers have made it more difficult for tobacco companies to market and sell their products, millions of Americans continue to smoke despite these risks.

In recent years there has been a lot of talk about placing graphic images on cigarette packaging, pictures that show smokers what can happen. Public health experts believe that it would be a deterrent that may stop people from picking up the habit and may influence current smokers to quit. Naturally, tobacco lobbyist have put up stiff resistance to the implementation of such warnings, which is why we still have only the Surgeon General’s warning. Interestingly, new research suggests that graphic warnings may not have the desired result and may produce a boomerang effect, Science Daily reports. The findings were published online by the journal Communication Research.

A Threat to Freedom

The study, conducted by researchers at the University of Illinois found that graphic images may be viewed by smokers as a threat to their freedom, choice or autonomy. When some people are told what to do, or have the feeling that they are being told what to, they will often do the opposite.

“What we found is that most people don’t like these warning labels, whether they are smokers or nonsmokers,” said Nicole LaVoie, a doctoral student in communication and the lead author of the study. “It makes them angry, it makes them express negative thoughts about the packaging, that they’re being manipulated,” LaVoie said. “Ultimately, it also makes them think that the source — the government in this case, mandating these labels — is being overly domineering, is being too much in their business.”

Smoking in Recovery

If you are working a program of recovery and also smoke cigarettes, you may want to seriously consider breaking the habit. Cigarettes are extremely difficult to quit and are also bad for you, but new research suggest that people in recovery who smoke are at much greater risk of relapse. In recent years, a significant number of people working a program have turned to e-cigarettes as healthier alternative; however, some e-juices that smokers vaporize actually contain a small amount of alcohol which could potentially trigger a relapse.

E-Cigarettes Are More Popular Among Teens

e-cigarettesE-Cigarettes have been available to consumers for some time now, despite any serious regulation. While debate over e-cigarette safety continues, the rate of e-cigarette use continues to climb. Major concerns about the devices stem from their appeal to teenagers and young adults.

Nicotine e-juices, which are vaporized in e-devices, come in thousands of flavors – many of which are fruity flavored and have colorful names that are likely to attract teenagers. In fact, e-cigarettes do not only appeal to teens, the age group is using them at much higher rates than adults.

Like Father, Like…

New research from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) indicates that 13.4 percent of high school students currently use e-cigarettes, compared to 3.7 percent of adults, The Los Angeles Times reports. The researchers found that 15.2% of American adults smoke traditional cigarettes, a rate much higher than adult e-cigarette use.

The findings come from 2014 National Health Interview Survey data. This is the first comprehensive look at the popularity of electronic cigarettes among U.S. adults, according to the article. The data indicates that e-cigarettes are much more popular among younger adults and teens than adults.

A New Generation of Nicotine Users

While some people are turning to e-cigarettes as a tool for smoking cessation, there is no clear evidence to support using the devices to quit. On the other hand, there are concerns that e-cigarettes will open the door for young people to become tobacco users, the article reports. The research showed that 9.7 percent of younger adults, who had tried electronic cigarettes, had never used traditional cigarettes.

“This finding raises concerns that e-cigarettes may be introducing a generation of young nonsmokers to nicotine addiction,” said Matthew L. Myers, president of the Campaign for Tobacco-Free Kids.


Please contact Next Step Intervention if you are struggling with nicotine addiction. We can assist you in finding the right treatment which will help you start your journey of recovery.

Smoking May Be Bad for Your Recovery

recoveryLiving a life of recovery is not easy, but it is certainly worth it. After living in addiction for many years, learning to navigate the waters of life, coping with the daily trials and tribulations free from drugs and alcohol takes vigilance. It is often said that one’s addiction is right outside the door doing pushups, waiting for you to be off guard.

Whatever one can do to minimize the chance of relapse is crucial. Active members in recovery will avoid dangerous situations like the plague, keeping away from old friends and out of places that can jeopardize one’s sobriety.

Smokey Speed Bumps On The Road To Recovery

New research suggests that people in recovery who smoke cigarettes are at a greater risk of relapse, HealthDay reports. The study found that people in recovery who smoke are twice as likely to start drinking again with three years, compared to nonsmokers.

Researchers at Columbia University’s Mailman School of Public Health used data from 35,000 adults with a past alcohol use disorder. The findings held even after accounting for:

  • Mood
  • Anxiety Disorders
  • Illicit Drug Use
  • Nicotine Dependence

Something to Consider

“Quitting smoking will improve anyone’s health. But our study shows that giving up cigarettes is even more important for adults in recovery from alcohol since it will help them stay sober,” said lead author Renee Goodwin. Goodwin is an associate professor of epidemiology at Columbia University’s Mailman School of Public Health in New York City.

The findings were published in Alcoholism: Experimental and Clinical Research.

If you or a loved one is entering treatment for a substance use disorder, it is important to discuss smoking cessation options. Smoking is harmful to one’s health, and for those in recovery – quitting may increase the chances of success after treatment.

Please contact Next Step Intervention if you are struggling with addiction. We can assist you in finding the right treatment which will help you start your journey of recovery.

Mindfulness Meditation to Quit Smoking

mindfulness-meditationIt often takes several years for people to successfully quit cigarettes for good. Nicotine is highly addictive and tobacco products are in people’s line of sight practically everywhere. With the rise of e-cigarettes there is a new generation of nicotine addicts, people who will one day need to consider quitting. While there are smoking cessation products and therapies that have proven to be effective, the rate of nicotine relapse is still extremely high.

In recent years there has been a lot of discussion about cognitive behavioral therapies (CBT) with regard to nicotine cessation, and in some cases CBT techniques have shown great promise. A review of past research suggests that mindfulness meditation (becoming self-aware of one’s experience), a form behavioral training, may help people (even those who have no urge to quit) exercise self-control when it comes to quitting, Medical News Today reports.

“Early evidence suggests that exercises aimed at increasing self-control, such as mindfulness meditation, can decrease the unconscious influences that motivate a person to smoke,” say the experts, including senior study author Dr. Nora Volkow, director of the US National Institute on Drug Abuse.

A Will to Quit is Not Required

One study reviewed by researchers was conducted by researchers at Texas Tech University and University of Oregon to determine if improvements in self-control could disrupt cravings, according to the article. A novel aspect of the study is that participants were under the opinion that they were learning about meditation and relaxation methods for stress reduction and cognitive enhancement, rather than techniques for quitting smoking.

The research involved 60 undergraduate students, 27 of which smoked cigarettes. Mindfulness meditation training was taught to one half, while the other half received a relaxation technique, the article reports. Before and after the two weeks of sessions, the participants were asked questions and their smoking was objectively measured with carbon monoxide testing.

Interestingly, the participants that were smokers reported having smoked the same amount as usual before and after. However, the group that received mindfulness meditation training were found to have a 60% reduction in smoking. The findings were based off carbon monoxide tests in the 2 weeks after the study.

“The students changed their smoking behavior but were not aware of it. When we showed the data to a participant who said they had smoked 20 cigarettes, this person checked their pocket immediately and was shocked to find 10 left,” said lead author Yi-Yuan Tang, a professor of psychological sciences at Texas Tech.

Mindfulness Meditation May Not Be For Everyone

“Mindfulness meditation, as well as other strategies that are aimed at strengthening self-control, are likely to be useful for the management of addiction, but not necessarily for everybody,” said Dr. Volkow. “However, understanding how our brain works when we do interventions that strengthen self-control can also have multiple implications that relate to behaviors that are necessary for health and wellbeing.”

The findings were published in the journal Trends in Cognitive Sciences.

If you are or loved one is suffering from addiction, please contact Next Step Intervention. We can assist you in finding the right treatment which will help you start your journey of recovery.

E-Cigarettes: A Form of Harm Reduction?

harm-reductionThe battle of e-cigarettes continues as medical experts discuss the concept of “harm reduction.” While making claims that e-cigarettes are a form of harm reduction – when compared to traditional cigarettes, the reality is that nicotine is still highly addictive and digital cigarettes are more popular among younger age groups than any other source of nicotine. A new investigation probes the theory of harm reduction with regard to e-cigarettes, ScienceDaily reports.

Big Tobacco’s Point of View

With declining tobacco sales, it was only a matter of time before the tobacco industry dove head first into the business of ‘vaping.’ The industry claims that e-cigarettes are a form of harm reduction and there are a number of people who support this view. Deborah Arnott, chief executive of the UK charity Action on Smoking and Health (ASH), says there is nothing to support the idea that e-cigarettes are a gateway into smoking for young people, according to the article.

“The risk is that smokers who could potentially use these as an alternative to smoking are being discouraged, and that’s not a good thing,” argues Arnott.

Health Experts Are Wary

A number of health experts believe that the tobacco industry’s use of the words harm reduction is dangerous. The idea that big tobacco is now a friend of the health care is a slippery slope; it wasn’t that long ago when doctors went on record claiming that Camel cigarettes were a wise decision. Simon Capewell, professor of public health and policy at Liverpool University’s Institute of Psychology, Health and Society says that e-cigarettes are being used by tobacco companies “as a trojan horse to get inside ministries of health. They are saying ‘This is all about harm minimisation, we’re part of the solution, we’re no longer the problem.'”

Capewell is not alone, others argue that after years of plummeting tobacco sales, e-cigarettes work against anti-smoking efforts – glamorizing and renormalizing smoking.

The World Health Organization (WHO)

There is not a whole lot of research to support or condemn e-cigarettes and the division among experts isn’t making it easier. Nicotine science and public health policy specialists wrote to WHO director general, Margaret Chan, insisting that supporting the concept of harm reduction was “part of the solution, not part of the problem.” The counter argument came quickly, 129 opposing experts warned WHO and other public bodies not to “buy into the tobacco industry’s well-documented strategy of presenting itself as a partner.”

“I’m no apologist for or friend of the tobacco industry,” said epidemiologist John Britton, head of the UK Centre for Tobacco and Alcohol Studies, Britton told BMJ, if alternative methods of delivering nicotine are developed, then “it’s inconceivable that tobacco companies will not get involved and seek to exploit it, and that’s a risk that has to be managed.”

The investigation was published in BMJ.


If you are struggling with nicotine addiction, please do not hesitate to contact Next Step Intervention. We can assist you in finding the right treatment which will help you be free from addiction.

Research: Smoking Cessation May Improve Mental Health And Alcohol Use Disorder

Do you smoke (cigarettes)?

It is a simple question, but one that many people struggle to answer. Being honest about a cigarette habit becomes more and more difficult with the stigma that is attached to it by our family, friends, co-workers, and perfect strangers. There was a time when close to 50% of the U.S. adult population smoked cigarettes. Then in January 1964 the Surgeon General issued an official report concluding that smoking causes lung cancer. Most adults at that time probably knew intuitively that smoking was a health hazard…but many, despite an interesting chronology discouraging smoking, continued to smoke and some still continue to smoke to this day. Today, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) roughly 18.1% of all adults (18 years of older), in the United States smoke cigarettes.

An interesting phenomenon regarding smoking is that it is used in films and television series; it almost takes on a character of its own.

  • If you were a fan of “Sex and the City,” then you probably recall how Carrie struggled to quit smoking to please her various suitors and yet when she would pick up a cigarette feeling like a failure she seemed to find comfort in her Marlboro lights.
  • Currently HBO’s “True Detective” has made smoking and drinking part of Rust Cohle’s being…and his partner Martin Hart not only smokes and drinks, but also chews tobacco. By the time each episode ends you feel like you are in a smoked filled bus station of days gone by.
  • Just this past weekend we saw the film The Monuments Men set in World War II…smoking and drinking were a small and sometimes humorous part of a number of scenes. For sure every retired veteran in that audience understood the part cigarette smoking has traditionally played in times of war.


So why all this talk about smoking?

This week the results of two studies were published on-line. Each study had to do with smoking tobacco and each had significant findings. The first study we will just briefly touch on has to do with people who smoke, but do not consider themselves smokers. This study was conducted by Dr. Wael K. Al-Delaimy, Eric C.Leas, Rong W. Zablocki and Steven D. Edland from the Department of Family and Preventive Medicine, University of California San Diego. You can read more about the study in the journal Tobacco Control: Smokers who report smoking but do not consider themselves smokers: a phenomenon in need of further attention.  The researchers conclude that in 2011 12.3% of all smokers living in California were non-identifying smokers (NIS).

Regarding this study…the bottom line may be if you are not admitting that you are a smoker, then there is a pretty good chance you will find taking the first step to quit very difficult. This is very much like using and abusing alcohol and drugs.

Smoking cessation is associated with lower rates of mood/anxiety and alcohol use disorders

The second study we would like to discuss was published online February 12, 2014, in the Psychological Medicine journal: Smoking cessation is associated with lower rates of mood, anxiety and alcohol use disorders. (See a PDF of the original article here.) The lead research was Patricia A Cavazos-Rehg of the Department of Psychiatry, Washington University School of Medicine, St. Louis, MO. She was joined by researchers from Michigan State University, the University of Minnesota and other from Washington University in St. Louis.

Research parameters…


  • 4800 daily smokers were analyzed by the researchers
  • These smokers were from the National Epidemiologic Study on Alcohol and Related Conditions survey
  • The survey was given twice.


Research results…


  • During the first survey around 40% of the daily smokers reported having mood or anxiety issues.
  • About 50% of the daily smokers also had alcohol problems
  • About 25% had drug issues
  • The survey was repeated three years later: At that time, 42% who were still smoking had mood disorders, while those who had quit smoking only 29% still reported mood disorders.
  • Additionally, after three years alcohol and drug use rates were also lower for the former smokers:  Of those who quit smoking only 18% were still had problems with alcohol vs. 28% of those who didn’t stop smoking; drug problems continued for 5% of the quitters vs. 16% of those who continued to smoke.

The researchers are quick to point out that while their research suggests a strong link between smoking cessation and improving one’s mental health, to this point they were not able to prove a cause and effect relationship.

The first steps in recovery

While the first study we discussed really is fascinating as to how human nature works, the second study is encouraging and very good news for those who are seeking recovery from any and all substance abuse.

It is not unusual for someone who self medicates with alcohol or drugs to also suffer from co-occurring disorders like bipolar or anxiety disorder or mood disorders. Additionally, he or she may also smoke cigarettes. The entire dynamic can seem overwhelming to not only the addict, but to family members. It begs the question, which addiction or behavioral health issue to tackle first?

According to the February 11, 2014, press release issued by Washington University in St. Louis:

“Clinicians tend to treat the depression, alcohol dependence or drug problem first and allow patients to ‘self-medicate’ with cigarettes if necessary,” said lead investigator Patricia A. Cavazos-Rehg, PhD. “The assumption is that psychiatric problems are more challenging to treat and that quitting smoking may interfere with treatment.”


If you are trying to help your loved one with an addiction problem, who may also be suffering from a co-occurring disorder, you might find that getting their attention will be served by working with an interventionist. An intervention is defined as having a neutral person who is an expert in addiction and recovery intervene upon the addict and their family to bring the addiction and its harmful impacts to the surface so that recovery and healing can begin.

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Honesty: The First Step In Addiction Intervention

Are you always honest with your doctor?

There have been a number of news articles lately that deal with how honest the average patient is with their primary care physician (PCP).  For whatever reason, many news agencies are now quoting results of a survey conducted in 2010 by General Electric, the Cleveland Clinic and Ochsner Health System which highlights that 28% of Americans admit that they lie to their physician. Of course, many of the lies may very well be those of omission. For example, if the doctor does not probe about the number of alcoholic drinks the patient has over the course of one week, then the patient might omit this information altogether. According to a recent CBS Morning News Saturday feature “patients’ most dangerous lies involve taking medications and herbal remedies, smoking, drinking, dieting and exercising.”

Lying to your doctor could be dangerous to your already fragile physical or emotional condition

This past week CBS News medical contributor, Dr. Holly Phillips appeared on CBS Morning News Saturday to discuss in more detail as to why we are not always honest with our health care providers.

If you are having trouble viewing the video, you can see it here.

How does honesty impact an alcoholism or addiction intervention?

Many studies have shown that the key reason people lie to their physicians is that they don’t want to be judged and they don’t want to hear a sermon. More often than not a person who suffers from the disease of addiction also avoids being honest with their family members, their co-workers, their employer, their attorney, the court system, because they are afraid of being judged. For that matter, many of the addict’s closest significant family members are afraid to seek help for their loved one, because they, too, are afraid of being judged.

Taking that first step in getting honest can be the most important step. Seeking help for someone with an addiction is one of the healthiest
decisions you can make for yourself and for your loved one. Like many
challenges in life, you were not meant to face this alone – an intervention is a
road map to how you can spark help and hope for you and the one suffering
from alcoholism and addiction through initiating an intervention and
drug treatment.

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