The Coalition for Healthy and Safe Communities has been busy visiting tobacco merchants in Sussex County with new and innovative materials encouraging the continual training of staff who sell tobacco. Most recently, coalition members visited several stores, dropping off free brochures, stickers and magnets to remind management of the importance of checking identification of people attempting to purchase tobacco. This is just one way for our community businesses to be actively involved in keeping our youth drug-free. Bottom line for parents, youth and all community members? Tobacco use is the leading cause of preventable death and disease in the U.S. The young brain is especially vulnerable to addiction and preventing exposure to tobacco during adolescence (in any way, shape or form) can prevent a lifetime of serious problems. It takes a community effort to keep our next generation safe.
In addition to tobacco merchant education, the coalition is also working on creating a county that has 100% adoption of the underage drinking ordinance in every municipality. Underage drinking prevention continues to be an essential part of keeping youth drug-free. At a recent coalition meeting, the conversation became focused on how youth are many times unaware of how alcohol affects their young brains and bodies. Having conversations with youth from a very young age is essential to instilling trust and acceptance when they get to the teen years. Talking to kids, as young as two years old, parents and caregivers can build upon a foundation that teaches kids to take care of their brains! Check out www.parentadvicenj.org for the coalition’s continually updated underage drinking prevention blog. And, take a quiz here, for parents. See what you know about youth alcohol use: http://www.parentchecknj.com/quiz/
Marijuana continues to be a hot topic to discuss and a most recent development in the federal government has been the DEA ruling to continue with marijuana as a Schedule 1 drug. Scientific research on marijuana is currently ongoing and, just as it has been for the last 50 years in our country, evaluating potential medicines should remain a process grounded in science. Kids are talking about marijuana because they are hearing the voice of legalization advocates loud and clear. The tobacco industry of yesteryear was not unlike the current marijuana industry. But, providing youth with a fair and accurate picture is most important today when discussing marijuana. Check out this link with references to why current products and the legalization of recreational marijuana are causing great concerns: http://www.poppot.org/mission/ Want to have a conversation with kids?Here’s a link to great information on how to have conversations with youth and young adults from age two to twenty-two about remaining drug-free. It is not as uncomfortable as you might think. http://www.drugfree.org/