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Coalition seeks ban on flavored tobacco products

WAVE NEWSPAPERS — ity and county officials have examined the idea of banning flavored tobacco products in recent months, and a coalition of health experts, educators and students gathered Aug. 14 to voice their support of such a prohibition. The L.A. Families Fighting Flavored Tobacco coalition hosted a news conference in front of the Kenneth Hahn Hall of Administration after they spoke at a county Health and Mental Health Services cluster meeting. Supporters held inflatable candy and signs to protest the ways in which flavored nicotine products are marketed to children.

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The L.A. Families Fighting Flavored Tobacco coalition (Photo by: wavenewspapers.com)

By Wire News Service

LOS ANGELES — City and county officials have examined the idea of banning flavored tobacco products in recent months, and a coalition of health experts, educators and students gathered Aug. 14 to voice their support of such a prohibition.

The L.A. Families Fighting Flavored Tobacco coalition hosted a news conference in front of the Kenneth Hahn Hall of Administration after they spoke at a county Health and Mental Health Services cluster meeting. Supporters held inflatable candy and signs to protest the ways in which flavored nicotine products are marketed to children.

“Products like e-cigarette flavors such as cotton candy, lemonade, bubble gum, they’re clearly marketed toward young people,” Annie Tegan of the Campaign for Tobacco-Free Kids said. “Menthol cigarettes would also be banned because they’re a flavored product.”

Tegan said there have been reports of children as young as 10 using the flavored tobacco products.

“Flavored tobacco products have been around a long time, and e-cigarette companies have taken a leaf out of big tobacco’s book, and now they’re marketing it to young people,” Tegan said.

She said one of the biggest concerns is that the Food and Drug Administration has not yet stepped in to regulate electronic cigarettes nor its flavored products, and it’s also troubling that some of the long-term effects of “vaping” are not yet known.

The coalition members said they have given suggestions to county officials but are still waiting to see what the proposed laws to ban them would look like. The county banned vaping nicotine products in public areas, along with cannabis, in March.

The Los Angeles City Council voted in April to investigate ways to curb the sale of flavored tobacco products to youth and young adults and study how other cities are tackling the issue.

“We need to tell these companies to get the candy out of these products,” said Jackie Goldberg, an LAUSD school board member. “We have not had, until recent years, a problem with smoking cigarettes and tobacco in our middle schools. It’s been a problem at the high school level for years, but not middle school.”

Goldberg said the school district is working with law enforcement and the Los Angeles City Attorney’s Office, which announced similar plans last year, to increase enforcement against sales of flavored tobacco products to minors.

LAUSD received a two-year, $4 million grant to create a student-led campaign to try to educate pupils and families about the potential dangers of using flavored nicotine products. In California, the legal age to purchase flavored tobacco products is 21.

“Nicotine taken by youth has a serious health impact,” said Jessica Simms, a board member of the Los Angeles division of the American Heart Association. “[Children] can’t study well, they can’t concentrate when their brain is exposed to nicotine. Once they’re hooked, it’s likely to be a lifelong addiction.”

Simms said people who use nicotine products before the age of 25 are more likely to use the products longer into their lives, which makes that age group a target for the companies.

Two students from Animo Leadership Charter High School spoke about their experiences with flavored nicotine products and how peer pressure led one of them to try the devices, which got her into trouble. Today, they are part of organizations supporting the ban on the products.

“This is not a small issue,” Goldberg said. “This is a health crisis.”

According to a survey released Aug. 19, cigarette smoking has reached a historic low among Los Angeles County high school students, but vaping is on the rise, with more than 30 percent of students reporting that they have used e-cigarette products,

The 2017-18 California Student Tobacco Survey and the California Healthy Kids Survey reported that 10% of Los Angeles County high school students regularly use e-cigarettes, up from 6.4% the previous year. E-cigarettes used for vaping were the most commonly used tobacco product among high school students, the survey found. Only about 1.7% of students expressed a preference for cigarette smoking.

“A new generation has become addicted to nicotine through flavored vape products like e-cigarettes,” Barbara Ferrer, director of the Los Angeles County Department of Public Health, said in a statement. “The epidemic of our youth becoming addicted to nicotine by flavors and flavored tobacco is unacceptable, and we will work to reverse this trend as we partner with others to ensure a tobacco-free generation.”

According to the survey, 83% of high school students who use tobacco reported using a flavored product, with fruit or sweet flavors the most popular.

This article originally appeared in the Wave Newspapers.

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Tunisia: Raja Amari’s ‘She Had a Dream’ Doc Premieres on AfroPoP

NNPA NEWSWIRE — Amari is one of these artists and Ghofrane is an activist. Exploring how racism has shaped her life in all aspects including her early school days, her romantic life and everyday activities, Amari’s film showcases how Ghofrane uses her experiences as impetus to work to bring change to her country for all people. A compassionate and hopeful exploration of the life and aspirations of Ghofrane, She Had A Dream sheds light on women’s roles in Tunisia’s changing society and one woman’s battle to create change for her community.
The post Tunisia: Raja Amari’s ‘She Had a Dream’ Doc Premieres on AfroPoP first appeared on BlackPressUSA.

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By Nsenga K. Burton, Ph.D, NNPA Newswire Entertainment and Culture Editor

The documentary She Had A Dream by Tunisian filmmaker Raja Amari premieres on AfroPoP: The Ultimate Cultural Exchange series tonight at 8 p.m. EST on WORLD CHANNEL. Season 14 of the acclaimed documentary series captures Black artists and activists shaping and reclaiming culture, advocating for change and mobilizing for brighter futures. She Had A Dream offers an intimate portrayal of one young Black Tunisian woman’s quest for political office and her fight against racism and oppression in a society that often seeks to overlook both.

The documentary follows Ghofrane, a 20-something Black woman from Tunisia as she walks the path of self-discovery of young adulthood while running for political office in a homeland where many still view her as an outsider.

Watch the trailer below:

A dedicated, charismatic activist and a modern, free-speaking woman, Ghofrane in many ways is the embodiment of contemporary Tunisian political hopes still alive years after the Arab Spring. She Had A Dream follows Ghofrane as she works to conquer her own self-doubts while attempting to persuade close friends and complete strangers to vote for her. As audiences follow her campaign, they also follow the dichotomies of her life as a woman striving for a role in politics in the Arab world and as a Black person in a country where racism is prevalent, yet often denied.

“The 14th season of AfroPoP shines a light on the collective power, strength and resilience of Black people and movements around the world,” said Leslie Fields-Cruz, AfroPoP executive producer. “Viewers will see artists use their platforms to push for progress and human rights and see ‘ordinary’ people do the remarkable in the interest of justice.”

Amari is one of these artists and Ghofrane is an activist. Exploring how racism has shaped her life in all aspects including her early school days, her romantic life and everyday activities, Amari’s film showcases how Ghofrane uses her experiences as impetus to work to bring change to her country for all people. A compassionate and hopeful exploration of the life and aspirations of Ghofrane, She Had A Dream sheds light on women’s roles in Tunisia’s changing society and one woman’s battle to create change for her community.

She Had A Dream airs on AfroPoP: The Ultimate Cultural Exchange Monday, April 11 at 8 p.m. ET on WORLD Channel and begins streaming on worldchannel.org at the same time.

AfroPoP: The Ultimate Cultural Exchange is presented by Black Public Media and WORLD Channel. For more information, visit worldchannel.org or blackpublicmedia.org.

This article was written by Nsenga K. Burton, founder & editor-in-chief of the award-winning news site The Burton Wire. Follow Nsenga on Twitter @Ntellectual.

Follow The Burton Wire on Twitter or Instagram @TheBurtonWire.

The post Tunisia: Raja Amari’s ‘She Had a Dream’ Doc Premieres on AfroPoP first appeared on BlackPressUSA.

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Nairobi: Water Crisis Exploits Women & Girls

NNPA NEWSWIRE — “Sextortion” refers to sex being used as currency instead of money for services or products — in this case water. According to the Water Integrity Network (WIN), the testimonies collected from women over the past five years in Kibera and Mukuru Kwa Njenga, which are some of the largest informal settlements in Nairobi, point towards an invisible, unspoken, and sinister consequence of corruption in the water sector i.e. sextortion. Sex for water is not a new phenomena.
The post Nairobi: Water Crisis Exploits Women & Girls first appeared on BlackPressUSA.

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BBC Africa is reporting Nairobi, the capital city of Kenya, is facing a water shortage because of changing weather patterns and aging water facilities. The article reports, “Residents in informal communities like Kibra pay private vendors for water, meaning they now control the supply and access to water in the community.” The privatization of water access has led to an increase in the exploitation of women and girls in exchange for water.

“Sextortion” refers to sex being used as currency instead of money for services or products — in this case water. According to the Water Integrity Network (WIN), the testimonies collected from women over the past five years in Kibera and Mukuru Kwa Njenga, which are some of the largest informal settlements in Nairobi, point towards an invisible, unspoken, and sinister consequence of corruption in the water sector i.e. sextortion. Sex for water is not a new phenomena. Check out the 2018 ANEW documentary short below:

The water crisis and the sexual exploitation of girls and women as a result of the water crisis shows no signs of slowing down.

To read more about this crisis, visit BBC Africa‘s series of articles and videos on Kenya’s water crisis and the Water Integrity Network’s (WIN) study on sextortion.

This news brief was curated by Nsenga K. Burton, founder & editor-in-chief of the award-winning news site The Burton Wire. Follow Nsenga on Twitter @Ntellectual.

Follow The Burton Wire on Twitter or Instagram @TheBurtonWire.

The post Nairobi: Water Crisis Exploits Women & Girls first appeared on BlackPressUSA.

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#WordinBlack: Schools and Black Students’ Mental Health: The Kids Aren’t Alright

THE AFRO — Prior to the pandemic, in 2019, suicide was the second leading cause of death for Black youths ages 15 to 24, according to the Office of Minority Health. The same report found Black high school-aged girls were 60 percent more likely to attempt suicide than their white peers. And, by June 2020, the CDC saw the rate of Black respondents who reported having “seriously considered suicide” was significantly higher.
The post #WordinBlack: Schools and Black Students’ Mental Health: The Kids Aren’t Alright first appeared on BlackPressUSA.

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By Maya Pottiger, Word in Black

It’s no surprise that we’re living through difficult times. After two years, we’re still in a global pandemic, which has predominantly impacted people of color. In addition, Book bans, attacks on critical race theory, and partisan political fights target everything from Black youths’ sexuality, to history, to health.

And we’re seeing the effects.

Prior to the pandemic, in 2019, suicide was the second leading cause of death for Black youths ages 15 to 24, according to the Office of Minority Health. The same report found Black high school-aged girls were 60 percent more likely to attempt suicide than their white peers. And, by June 2020, the CDC saw the rate of Black respondents who reported having “seriously considered suicide” was significantly higher.

For a variety of reasons — ongoing stigma, lack of insurance, most accessible — Black students often rely on the mental health services offered at school.Outside of a mental health-specific practice, Black students were nearly 600 times as likely to get mental health help in an academic setting compared to other options, according to 2020 data from the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration.

In fact, mental health services in schools have been steadily gaining popularity among students since 2009, before dropping slightly in 2020 when the school year was interrupted, according to the SAMHSA report. As a result, the rate of students receiving mental health care through school decreased by 14 percent in 2020 compared to 2019.

So how are schools changing the way they address and prioritize mental health — and the specific needs of Black students — since 2020?

The Renewed Focus on Mental Health

For school-aged people, the majority of their time is spent in a school building — about eight hours per day, 10 months out of the year. To help address mental health during academic hours, schools are trying to focus on social-emotional learning: self-awareness, self-control, and interpersonal skills. This includes teaching kids how to be in touch with their emotions and protect against adverse mental health outcomes.

But it’s been difficult.

Though there’s been more conversation, the implementation is challenging, says Dr. Kizzy Albritton, an associate professor of school psychology at the University of Texas at Austin. There was already a shortage of school-based mental health professionals before the pandemic, which has now been exacerbated, as have mental health issues. In addition, though schools clearly recognize the importance of mental health, they aren’t always provided adequate resources.

“Unless there are more resources funneled into the school system, we’re going to see a continued catch-up issue across the board,” Albritton says. “And, unfortunately, our Black students are going to continue to suffer the most.”

In a survey of high school principals and students, Education Week Research Center found discrepancies in how principals and students viewed a school’s mental health services. While 86 percent of the principals said their schools provided services, only about 66 percent of students agreed. The survey did point out it’s possible the school offers these services and students aren’t aware. The survey also found Black and Latinx students were less likely than their peers to say their schools offered services.

Dr. Celeste Malone, the president-elect of the National Association for School Psychologists and a Howard University associate professor, says she hasn’t previously seen this degree of attention to mental health in schools.

“I see that a lot in my role for a school psychology graduate program: the outreach and people contacting me with openings where they didn’t exist previously,” Malone says. “With this increased push in funding to hire more, that’s definitely a very, very positive movement.”

Mental Health Is Not One Size Fits All

Just like with many aspects of health, Black youths need different mental health support from their peers of other races. They need a counselor who understands their lived experiences, like microaggressions and other forms of discrimination or racism, without the student having to explain.

For example, in order to best address the specific mental health needs of Black students, districts need to provide information breaking down mental health stigmas; focus on hiring Black counselors, social workers, and mental health professionals; and fund anti-racist and trauma-informed mental health practices, according to the Center for American Progress.

While she hears a lot of talk, Albritton says she isn’t seeing widespread evidence of these solutions in practice.

“There needs to be a willingness, first of all, to understand that our Black students, their needs look a lot different,” Albritton says. School officials need to understand where Black students are coming from — that their families and households experience systemic and structural racism, which are known to trigger anxiety and depression. The effects of the racial wealth gap also play a role, from the neighborhood kids are living in, to the schools they can attend to the impacts on their health. Students might be bringing worries about these challenges to school, which could be reflected in their behavior. This is why, Albritton says, it’s crucial to also work with students’ families.

The post #WordinBlack: Schools and Black Students’ Mental Health: The Kids Aren’t Alright appeared first on AFRO American Newspapers .

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