On Smoking, Chewing & Vaping! Can STEM Help Stop it? Now There Is Hope...From RE@L!

RE@L-logo_Corp_TM_New-Tag_8-15-17_CMYK-300x127   Our mini-Blog this week addresses STEM only indirectly. Our following RE@LBlog will focus  directly on our upcoming STEM software product on student nicotine use.

What does science and mathematics tell us about tobacco use? RE@L and its partner Moai will soon be releasing a new software product that features new EdTech learning activities that work. Our joint goal is stop the use of tobacco (nicotine) before it ever begins.

Regulating the use of tobacco products is the Federal Food and Drug Administration, more commonly know as FDA. They face a daunting task: Over 41 million adults use tobacco in one form or another, more than 20% of the population. 

UnknownBut even worse, our middle-school students today, tomorrow’s adults, show few signs of quitting tobacco use once they start.

The Center for Disease Control tells us that 5 million students in grades 6-12 use tobacco. Nearly 30 percent of  high-school students are current users, and are followed by 10 percent of all middle school students. Our strategy is to stop tobacco use before students ever start.

Those statistics are a great concern to the FDA and to the Surgeon General as well. These growing numbers pose a great threat to our healthcare system in the future as more tobacco users are in need of advanced healthcare.

Here’s the details of early smoking:

imagesFor the fifth year in a row, e-cigarettes (20.8%) were the most commonly used tobacco product among high schoolers, followed by cigarettes (8.1%), cigars (7.6%), smokeless tobacco (5.9%), hookah (4.1%), and pipe tobacco (1.1%).

Among middle schoolers, e-cigarettes (4.9%) were also the most commonly used tobacco product, followed by cigarettes (1.8%), smokeless tobacco (1.8%), cigars (1.6%), hookah (1.2%), and pipe tobacco (0.3%). 

Vaping is currently causing more and more students to start, or continue, tobacco use. 

Click on the graphic above for more information.

images-1The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) was delegated the authority to regulate the manufacture, distribution, and marketing of tobacco products. To their credit, FDA Regulation is one reason we now see Big Tobacco’s ads in our daily papers lauding the use of vaping as a better tobacco user’s choice. While directed at adults, these vaping ads also entice our students.

Another enticement to start tobacco use among our youth is the menthol cigarette. Click on the graphic to the right to learn more. We need to find more effective ways to stop our middle-school students from starting tobacco use in the first place.

Don-R2RE@L’s Executive Vice President, Product Development, Don Rawitsch is also serving as Principal Investigator to lead the creation of a new and effective STEM software product to stop tobacco use before it starts.

Don has a long and distinguished career in educational technology.  He was one of the first employees of MECC and the developer of “Oregon Trail”, the world famous K12 Ed Tech product. Many former students remember Oregon Trail™ to this day. 

Here’s Don’s overview on this exciting, new product:
Development work is well underway on a new online product for middle school students that will help deter them from taking up the unhealthy habits of vaping and smoking.  The work is funded through a federal grant from the National Institutes of Health (NIH), coinciding with the dramatic rise in vaping among young people that is now considered to be a serious national health problem.


This new, collaborative product attempts to approach the problem from two, key perspectives.
  It contains extensive factual information about nicotine’s effect on the human body, the addictive power of nicotine, and the methods used to market nicotine-based products to adolescents. 

It also raises issues about adolescent decision making and the reasons behind young people starting these habits, based on curiosity, peer pressure, and misunderstandings about the dangers of nicotine use. 

Information on both vaping and smoking is provided in this new software product.  Even though adolescent smoking has lately been in decline, the marketing approach taken by nicotine product companies in promoting vaping bears resemblances to how it was handled in past decades when smoking was practiced by a significant percentage of the population.  Students can learn from these lessons from the past.

Unknown-1The product is targeted at middle school students because that is often the key age range when young people first come into contact with nicotine products and when they make the initial decision to use them.  Students need more knowledge and support for this confusing time in their lives. 

The product is not designed to preach the “no nicotine” message to students. Typically, young people don’t trust adult judgments and often aren’t persuaded by arguments for what “might” happen to them in the future no matter the dire statistics.  

Instead, this new software product:
  • engages them in what students experience,
  • provides factual information, and
  • triggers teacher guided class discussion. 

It’s imperative that we full advantage of the power of online technology to engage young people.  It is destined for initial marketing in late 2019.”

Research reported in this publication was supported by the National Institute of General Medical Sciences of the National Institutes of Health under Award Number R44GM130155. The content is solely the responsibility of the authors and does not necessarily represent the official views of the National Institutes of Health.

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Thanks, Don, for this exciting, new product update! We can’t wait to see it in action!

In closing, RE@L hopes to “clear the air” and clear the use of tobacco among young students before it begins.

RE@L will play a major role in the solution to end tobacco use in our schools with our coming software product. 

 RE@L cares! Stay tuned for our next RE@LBlog! 

 

Tom King & Dale LaFrenz

Dr. Tom King has served for over 40 years as an Adjunct Professor at the University of Saint Thomas in the School of Education. The Saturn School of Tomorrow, formerly a St. Paul Public School, and his visionary response to educational reform, was a lighthouse on the frontier of school change. Tom was an experienced high school teacher of mathematics, a school administrator, and Director of Technology for the St. Paul MN Public Schools. He is also a member of the RE@L Team. Dr. Dale LaFrenz is Chairman of RE@L and one of the founders of MECC Software who brought “Oregon Trail” to millions of K12 kids everywhere. He has written extensively on the history and evolution of Ed Tech. His work in forging new paths for MECC’S “edutainment" software was instrumental in connecting school-markets, kids, teachers and consumer-markets/kids/parents, and now serves as the new launching pad for RE@L apps and software.