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RE@L’s 2023 Tribute To ‘The Best Of…….’

by | Dec 10, 2023 | RE@L StudentCorner | 0 comments

One of your Blogmeister’s favorite December activities is to review the seemingly endless ‘Best of’ lists that come at the end of the year. For some reason as I’m scrolling through my daily feeds of news headlines and tidbits, I’m drawn to lists like:

The Best Books of 2023

The Best Podcasts of 2023

The Best Mobile Gaming Apps of 2023

The Best Songs of 2023

The Best Movies of 2023

The Best TV Shows of 2023

The Best Productivity Apps of 2023

If you are here, then you know that at RE@L, Inc., we focus on delivering student and teacher-friendly, web-based STEM curriculum solutions. Our first product-to-market is 1Up On Vaping™, and for the past several months, these RE@LBlog™ pages have had a laser-like focus on teen nicotine addiction, including e-cigarettes and vaping. Hence it brings us to this final blog of the year, a RE@L compilation of 2023 relevant BEST reads for our RE@L readers, our own moderated review of some of our most inspirational sources for RE@LBlogs™ this year.  

There was a tremendous amount of news in 2023 about the big tobacco company JUUL. It’s the company that egregiously and knowingly advertised harmful nicotine-based products to adolescents all around the world. Oh, you thought this was an American problem? Not! In France, for instance, authorities are working feverishly to ban disposable vapes. In the United Kingdom, there’s been a significant increase in the number of young women who are vaping on a daily basis.

Back to stateside news, you read in this blog during the summer about a JUUL settlement with the state of Minnesota: Hey Minnesota! We see you! What’s Next? This settlement with the statement of Minnesota (check out the new seal of the State of Minnesota to the right) occurred not long after a $460 million dollar settlement with more than 30 states. Not to be outdone, the Prince Georges School District also settled with JUUL in an amount exceeding two million dollars. 

One would expect that these settlements would be having an impact. Perhaps, for instance, we can infer from the fact that JUUL has recently laid off hundreds of workers. But let’s face it, JUUL is but one nefarious player, and once it is minimized or eliminated, it will be replaced by other players with the same ill intent: to make money by addicting adolescents to nicotine.

Of course, the delivery systems will continually change in efforts to make the products more appealing and mainstream. RE@L’s September 10 back-to-school blog this year, Back To School: Have Your Highlighter Ready? called attention to vaping mechanisms that look like highlighters. And if the challenges for our classroom teachers weren’t enough, handling a classroom with students engaging in clandestine methods of vaping is enough to make one want to find another profession. But alas, there ARE things that educators CAN do when they catch students who are vaping.

2023 also saw the sharpening of data sets. The July 9 RE@LBlog™, Your Next MUST Read: The Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report included a focus on a new CDC study which showed good and bad results when it comes to students who are using e-cigs or vaping. Numbers are up and down. More kids are being exposed to toxic e-cigarette nicotine.  

Unfortunately, we are more of a reactionary society than we are proactive one. That said, we should still give kudos to entities that are working feverishly to get the proverbial ‘toothpaste back in the tube’. In 2023, for instance, the FDA made some moves to crack down on vapes. Also, the state of Illinois took a stand by prohibiting the use of e-cigarettes in public places.  Even cities like Laredo, Texas, are working to address the proximity of smoke shops to schools.

It seems like many responsible organizations, seeing the health risks that nicotine addiction present to students are at least responding. Unfortunately, for some it is too late. Our October 2023 RE@LBlog™, The Deadly Side of Vaping, outlined the tragic stories of students who lost their lives as the result of vaping. The lucky students are those who have never started. Even luckier are those students who have been able to end their addiction with the tools for cessation.

And so, we flip the pages of this calendar year, full of tumultuous activities on just about every front, knowing that another year awaits us and the incessant, shameless actions that salaciously coalesce our young people to a life of nicotine addiction will continue. At RE@L, Inc. we will continue to raise the flags when and wherever they are needed in our efforts to Take Down Teen Nicotine.

Bring it on, 2024.

We are ready.

Some of the graphics used on this page our courtesy of



Randy Nelson


Randy Nelson is a retired educator of 38 years. He served students as a high school speech, theater, and English teacher. He served colleagues as a director of curriculum and instruction; and, most recently he served the La Crosse, WI school district as its superintendent of schools. He has a strong leadership track record promoting choice and innovation via unique community partnerships. He currently serves RE@L, inc as its Director of Education.