Friday, December 30, 2011

Lessons from tobacco prevention (part 2): dedicated funds diverted to general fund

As our state starts implementing I-1183 (privatization of liquor sales and further deregulation of liquor and wine) and considers changing laws regarding illegal drugs, with proponents stating that tax revenue generated from these changes will fund prevention and other social services, it is interesting to consider lessons learned from similar promises made regarding tobacco prevention. 

From the Campaign for Tobacco-Free Kids:

Historically, Washington funded tobacco prevention largely through the Tobacco Prevention and Control Account, which included a portion of the revenue raised by a 2001 voter-approved 60-cent per pack cigarette tax increase. The ballot initiative dedicated the new revenue to the state’s Basic Health Plan, to tobacco prevention and cessation, and other existing programs that were already funded with tobacco tax revenue. The initiative required the state to spend at least $26.24 million a year on tobacco prevention and cessation beginning July 1, 2002. In the 2009 legislative session, the Washington State Legislature changed this law and diverted tobacco tax money to the general fund. After June 30, 2011, the Tobacco Prevention and Control Account had no remaining funds to sustain the program.

In FY2012, the state’s tobacco prevention program was essentially eliminated as the state will spend only $750,000 on tobacco prevention efforts.

As a result of the dramatic funding cut, Washington will no longer fund anti-tobacco media campaigns or local tobacco prevention and cessation programs in schools or through local governments or community organizations.

Washington is spending almost nothing on tobacco prevention despite the fact that the state is receiving more tobacco-generated revenue than ever before as a result of a $1.00 per pack cigarette tax increase, to $3.025 per pack, and increases in the tax rates on other tobacco products effective May 2010.

Thursday, December 29, 2011

Lessons from tobacco prevention: well-funded programs work

According to a story I heard on the radio yesterday: States will rake in over $25 billion this year from tobacco taxes and tobacco settlement money.  However, less and less of that money will go toward prevention activities. 

One lesson we have learned from tobacco settlement dollars and tax revenue that have gone to fund tobacco prevention programs is that, when well-funded and comprehensive, prevention works.

Washington's success
Our state has had much success in preventing tobacco use among youth when our prevention programs were well funded.  In a report from the Campaign for Tobacco-Free Kids:

The Washington State Tobacco Prevention and Control program was implemented in 1999 after the state Legislature set aside money from the Master Settlement Agreement to create a Tobacco Prevention and Control Account.  Tobacco prevention and control received additional funds in 2011 when the state's voters passed a cigarette tax that dedicated a portion of the new revenue to tobacco prevention and cessation.
  • Since the tobacco control program was implemented, Washington has reduced the adult smoking rate by one-third, from 22.4 percent in 1999 to 15.2 percent in 2010.  Washington's tobacco prevention efforts have also reduce youth smoking rates in half, saving additional lives and dollars. 

An earlier study in the CDC's peer-reviewed journal, Preventing Chronic Disease, found that although Washington made progress in implementing tobacco control policies between 1990 and 2000, smoking prevalence did not decline significantly until after substantial investment was made in the state's comprehensive tobacco control program. 

The following chart, from the Washington State Department of Health's most recent tobacco prevention progress report, shows the decline in youth smoking rates since 1999.  The chart indicates that while our state has seen a significant reduction in use rates, progress has stalled since funding for prevention has been reduced.

What does an effective prevention program include?
The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has established Best Practices that recommend key elements of tobacco prevention and cessation programs.

Key elements include:
  • Hard-hitting education and media campaigns;
  • Community and school-based programs;
  • Effective enforcement of laws prohibiting tobacco sales to minors;
  • Affordable, accessible assistance for smokers trying to quit;
  • Rigorous evaluation to ensure these programs are delivering results.

While these reports focus on tobacco prevention, the lessons learned may be applied to all youth substance abuse prevention programs.

Friday, December 23, 2011

How parents can prevent teen drug use

Here is a roundup of parenting-related information that has been sitting in my Inbox . . .

Arguing with mom preps teens for peer pressure (TODAY!Moms)

New report shows that adolescents are far more likely to drive under the influence of alcohol or drugs if they live with a parent that drives under the influence (Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration)

Adult-supervised Alcohol Use and Harmful Consequences among American and Australian Teens (Underage Drinking Enforcement Training Center)

From the CDC:
  • Positive Parenting Tips -- Young Teens (12 to 14 years)
  • Positive Parenting Tips -- Teenagers (15-17 years)
  • "Parents Are the Key" -- CDC offers parents tools and proven steps for reducing teen driving injuries and deaths.
I set the rules of the road.

Monday, December 19, 2011

Underage drinking rates decline, teen marijuana use rates increase

Last week, results from the nationwide Monitoring the Future (MTF) survey were released and the findings include:

~ Marijuana use among teens rose in 2011 for the fourth straight year -- a sharp contrast to the considerable decline that had occurred in the preceding decade.  Daily marijuana use is now at a 30-year peak level among high school seniors.

~ Underage drinking -- and, importantly, occasions of heavy drinking -- continued a long-term gradual decline among teens, reaching historically low levels in 2011. 

Why is teen marijuana use increasing?
The MTF report states: One possible explanation for the resurgence of marijuana use is that in recent years fewer teens report seeing much danger associated with its use, even with regular use.  "Perceived risk", as the investigators call it -- which the study has shown is often a harbinger of changes to come in the use of a drug -- has been falling rather sharply for marijuana in the past five years or so . . .

How do local use rates compare to national rates?
Here are the 10th grade current (30-day) marijuana use rates from MTF and local Healthy Youth Survey data:
  • MTF: 18%
  • Washington State: 20%
  • King County: 18%
  • Seattle Schools: 22%
  • Nathan Hale High School: 21%
  • Roosevelt High School: 23%
Among Hale 10th grade students, use rates have declined since 2008 when 29% of them reported currently using marijuana.  Like the nation, Roosevelt 10th grade marijuana use rates have steadily increased over the past few years -- 18% in 2006, 20% in 2008 and 23% in 2010.

Detailed Healthy Youth Survey data for Nathan Hale, Roosevelt and Seattle Schools may be accessed through the Prevention WINS website.  Other Healthy Youth Survey data may be accessed through

Science-based information about marijuana, including a fact sheet about Adolescents and Marijuana, is available through the University of Washington's Alcohol & Drug Abuse Institute

Prevention Specialist Training to be offered in Renton

Substance Abuse Prevention Specialist Training (SAPST): a comprehensive training on the science and application of prevention

February 29, March 1, 7 & 8 (4-day training)
8:30 a.m. - 5:00 p.m.
Blackriver Training & Conference Center
800 Oakesdale Ave, SW in Renton

Training topics:
  • The history of prevention
  • Research and planning
  • Evaluation
  • Media
  • Human development/culture
  • Prevention ethics

Cost: $25

More information is available on the Prevention Specialists Certification Board's website

Friday, December 16, 2011

2012 general coalition meeting dates

Prevention WINS 2012 General Coalition Meetings

Thursday, March 15, 2012
8-9:30 a.m.
Seattle Children's, G-1026
4800 Sand Point Way NE

Friday, June 22, 2012
8-9:30 a.m.
Seattle Children's, SDR-3
4800 Sand Point Way NE

Thursday, September 20, 2012
8-9:30 a.m.
Eckstein Middle School
3003 NE 75th Street

Thursday, December 20, 2012
8-9:30 a.m.
Seattle Children's, G-1026
4800 Sand Point Way NE

All coalition meetings are open to the public.  Everyone who is interested in preventing youth substance abuse in NE Seattle is welcome! 

Wednesday, December 14, 2011

Transitioning to private liquor sales in WA

The Liquor Control Board's (LCB) website now contains information about the work being done in response to the passage of Initiative 1183.  The LCB will cease state liquor store and liquor distribution operations by June 1, 2012. The Seattle Distribution Center - which supplies state and contract liquor stores with liquor - and its assets will be sold.  The private sector will be allowed to sell and distribute liquor with the proper liquor licenses.

Several laws related to the three-tier system will also change, including:
  • Uniform pricing is repealed for liquor and wine.
  • Ban on quantity discounts is repealed for liquor and wine.
Repealing these policies will enable retailers to sell liquor and wine at lower prices.  These are of particular concern to underage drinking prevention advocates because lower alcohol prices are associated with higher alcohol consumption among teenagers.

Learn about substance abuse prevention online for free

During tomorrow's general coalition meeting, Prevention WINS members will discuss how to educate the community about public policy related to preventing youth substance abuse.  Working on public policy issues is one example of an "environmental" prevention strategy.

As part of their Pathways to Prevention program, the Center for Substance Abuse Prevention (CSAP) has a good, free online course that provides an overview of environmental prevention strategies.  According to CSAP, types of environmental strategies include:
  • Policy
  • Enforcement
  • Education
  • Communication
  • Collaboration

Monday, December 12, 2011

Why prevent youth substance use?

The American Academy of Pediatrics recently released a policy statement regarding the role of primary care providers in screening for drug use, brief intervention and referral to treatment.  The introduction provides a good summary of why those of us working to prevent youth substance abuse do what we do.

Although it is common for adolescents and young adults to try mood-altering chemicals, including nicotine, it is important that this experimentation not be condoned, facilitated, or trivialized by adults including parents, teachers, and health care providers.  Use of alcohol and other drugs remains a leading cause of morbidity and mortality (disease/injury and death) for young people in the United States.  Even the first use of alcohol or another drug can result in tragic consequences such as unintentional injury or death.  All substance use involves health risks that can occur long before there is drug addiction, and teenagers seem to be particularly susceptible to health risk-taking behaviors and injuries related to alcohol, tobacco, and other drug use.  In addition, research has established that adolescence is a period of neurodevelopmental vulnerability for developing addictions; age of first use is inversely correlated with lifetime incidence of developing a substance use disorder. 

Thursday, December 8, 2011

I-1183: How NE Seattle voted

The Seattle Times posted maps that show precinct by precinct election results for I-1183, the initiative for privatizing liquor sales and further deregulating alcohol in general.  Below is a snapshot of how NE Seattle voted. 

Mercer Island passes state's first social host law

From the Mercer Island Patch:

Mercer Island City Council approved an ordinance Monday night intended to prevent underage drinking by fining local homeowners — with few exceptions — where teens 18 and younger were found drinking alcohol. The civil ordinance is the first of its kind in the state.

The council voted 6-1 to hold persons responsible by having to pay a fine for failing to prevent underage drinking at gatherings on property they own or otherwise control. The civil fines of $250 per infraction would be levied if police find evidence of drinking by minors 18 years old and under — even if the drinking occurred without their knowledge.

In some places, social host laws include criminal penalties.  NBC's Today Show recently covered a story about a California father who may face jail time for underage drinking that occurred in his home. 

General coalition meeting on December 15

Prevention Works in Seattle General Coalition Meeting
Thursday, December 15, 2011
9:00 - 10:30 a.m.
Seattle Children's Hospital
4800 Sand Point Way NE

All coalition meetings are open to anyone interested in preventing youth substance abuse in NE Seattle.  For more information please contact the coalition coordinator.   

Tuesday, December 6, 2011

Town hall meeting on youth substance abuse in NE Seattle

Save the date!

Town Hall Meeting
Topic: youth substance abuse & what parents can do to prevent it

January 31, 2012
6:00 - 8:00 p.m.
Eckstein Middle School

Free pizza!
Free childcare! 

More information will soon be posted on the Prevention WINS website.

Monday, December 5, 2011

WASAVP 2012 legislative priorities

After surveying members, the Washington Association for Substance Abuse and Violence Prevention (WASAVP) Board of Directors identified the following issues as top priorities for their work during the 2012 state legislative session.

1. Prevent liquor privatization and further deregulation.

2. Support designation of all ATOD (alcohol, tobacco and other drugs) fees and taxes to go toward enforcement, prevention and treatment in communities, not the general fund. 

3. Reclassify medical marijuana so that it may be regulated and sold in pharmacies like other prescription medications.

4. Oppose state and federal budget cuts to community and school-based prevention programs.

The Board also identified several issues that will be monitored.