Tag Archives: Primary and secondary education

FDA crackdown on vaping flavors has blind spot: disposables

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WASHINGTON —
The U.S. government on Thursday began enforcing restrictions on flavored electronic cigarettes aimed at curbing underage vaping. But some teenagers may be one step ahead of the rules.

Parents, researchers and students warn that some young people have already moved on to a newer kind of vape that isn’t covered by the flavor ban.

These disposable e-cigarettes are sold under brands like Puff Bar, Stig and Fogg in flavors such as pink lemonade, blueberry ice and tropical mango.

The Food and Drug Administration’s crackdown narrowly targets reusable vaping devices like Juul, the blockbuster brand that helped trigger the teen vaping craze in the U.S. Under the new policy, only menthol and tobacco flavors are allowed for those devices.

Critics of the FDA policy fear teens will simply switch to the cheaper disposables, which are widely available at convenience stores and gas stations.

“They are very accessible and seem to be the new buzzy product,” said Dr. Karen Wilson, a tobacco researcher and pediatrician at Mount Sinai’s medical school in New York.

The FDA confirmed that the flavor restriction won’t apply to “self-contained, disposable products,” but only to rechargeable ones that use pods or cartridges prefilled with a nicotine solution.

The agency’s rationale: Reusable vaping devices are far and away the most popular with underage users, preferred by more than 60% of high schoolers who vape, according to survey data collected last year.

The FDA’s top tobacco regulator said it can still go after any vaping product that appeals to teenagers.

“If we see a product that is targeted to kids, we will take action,” Mitch Zeller, who heads the agency’s tobacco center, said in a statement.

Thursday was the deadline for makers of reusable e-cigarettes to stop selling fruity and candy flavors. Juul was already in compliance. It dropped its best selling mint and most other flavors before the ban was announced in early January and only sells tobacco and menthol.

At a congressional hearing Wednesday, the CEO of Fontem U.S., which makes blu vapes, was pressed to drop its vivid vanilla and cherry crush disposable e-cigarettes.

Fontem chief Antoine Blonde countered that its customers are adults, not children. Less than 3% of high school students who vape reported blu as their preferred brand, according to 2019 government data.

“We’re not aware of any issue caused by our disposable flavors,” Blonde said.

Sales of disposable e-cigarettes and all other tobacco and vaping products are prohibited to teenagers under the government’s new age limit, which went from 18 to 21 late last year.

High school student Philip Fuhrman says most of his New York classmates who vape have ditched Juul for disposables like Stig, a tiny e-cigarette sold in flavors like mighty mint and mango bomb.

They’re easier to hide because “they’re smaller and when you’re done you can just throw it away,” said the 16-year-old Fuhrman, who says he no longer vapes. He’s now an anti-vaping activist and his mother is one of the founders of a parents’ group opposed to youth vaping.

At $20 for a three-pack, Stig may not seem cheap. But Fuhrman and other teens say it’s a smaller investment than the $40 or $50 needed to buy a Juul device and a four-pack of pods. Furhman says teens will instead buy a pack of Stigs “for the weekend and then just be done with it.”

The makers of Stig, Puff Bar and Fogg disposables did not respond to requests for comment.

Analysts report that disposables are still just 5% of the nearly $15 billion global vaping market, according to the firm ECigIntelligence.

Researchers who study e-cigarette trash around high schools say they have noticed a shift in what teens are vaping. Jeremiah Mock, of the University of California, San Francisco, has been finding discarded Puff Bars in local school parking lots over the last three months.

Vape shop owners also say the market is changing.

Since the FDA announcement, distributors and manufacturers have ramped up their disposable offerings, according to Vapewerks owner Jeremy Gardner in Cumberland, Maryland.

“How do disposables get a free pass when they’re essentially the same thing as a Juul or anything else that comes with a prefilled pod?” he asked.

Gardner doesn’t stock his most requested brand, Puff Bar, but sells a rival disposable. Most of his business comes from larger, tank-based vapes, which are more popular with adults and allow users to customize flavors and nicotine concentrations. Those products are exempt from government flavor restrictions.

E-cigarettes, which heat a nicotine solution into a vapor, are often promoted as a less harmful alternative to traditional cigarettes but the FDA has not approved any vaping product to help smokers quit. The makers of all vaping products face a May deadline to submit applications for government health and safety review.

Mike Chang, owner of Master Piece Smoke Shop in New York City, says most of his customers who buy disposables switched from Juul after the company pulled its mint, mango and dessert flavors last fall. The company took that voluntary step under pressure from multiple federal investigations and lawsuits from state and local authorities.

The San Francisco company’s retail sales have fallen 35% since their peak last July, driven by the loss of flavors, according to Wall Street research firm Piper Sandler. Juul does not sell disposable e-cigarettes.

In a government survey last year, more than 1 in 4 high school students reported using e-cigarettes in the prior month. The next federal study begins this spring.

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AP videojournalist Marshall Ritzel in New York contributed to this report.

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Follow Matthew Perrone on Twitter: @AP—FDAwriter

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The Associated Press Health and Science Department receives support from the Howard Hughes Medical Institute’s Department of Science Education. The AP is solely responsible for all content.

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All-girls school becomes 1st in US with varsity esports

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As a liaison at the U.S. Department of Education, J Collins watched as colleges by the dozen rolled out varsity esports programs, complete with scholarships, coaches and even some arenas. Collins had a gnawing concern: Gaming was beginning to have an impact on education, and at least anecdotally, the benefits were going largely toward male students.

Now, Collins is on the ground attempting to solve a puzzle that’s perplexed an industry approaching $1 billion revenues — where are all the female gamers?

Collins helped a private school near Cleveland become the first U.S. all-girls school to launch a varsity esports program during last school year. With Collins as coach, the 10-person team at Hathaway Brown competed against local schools and libraries, with players ranging from novices to avid gamers. The players reported many of the benefits associated with traditional sports — bonding, teamwork and improved confidence among them — and some say they might pursue college scholarships. Collins hopes the program can set an example for how high schools can attract more girl and gender minority gamers so they can take advantage of expanding opportunities at the university level.

Collins has a background in game-based education and was the first to broach the topic of esports at the Department of Education late in President Barack Obama’s final term. Football became a go-to analogy — the sport has impacted high school and college education in major ways, with resources poured into aiding its almost exclusively male participants.

Esports has already begun to spread in similar fashion. Over 100 colleges have varsity esports programs, and more are joining each year, with many smaller schools using teams as recruiting tools. That expansion could open doors for students of all genders, especially since video games don’t have the same physical barriers as most traditional sports.

“There was an imperative for us to be involved with it from an early outset, so that we could ensure there was equity across implementations,” Collins said.

Collins found that collegiate esports teams were struggling to find non-male players. The same complaint kept coming up: Girls and women aren’t in esports because they don’t play video games.

That didn’t jive with the data, which shows that 45% of gamers in the U.S. are female .

“It got us thinking, maybe the problem isn’t that there aren’t girl gamers and gender minority gamers,” Collins said. “Maybe the problem is that they’re in different places than the esports teams are looking.”

Collins suspects the trajectory for girls in gaming is similar to girls and gender minorities in STEM. Research shows many girls shy away from science, technology, engineering and math tracks around middle school due to “lack of role models, toxic culture and generally feeling like they don’t fit in in that world,” Collins said.

League of Legends, the world’s most popular esport, fits a similar description. There are no women in its highest professional circuit, and its largely male player base has been criticized for its toxic reputation. After leaving the Department of Education to teach at Hathaway Brown last fall, Collins polled students, who reported enthusiastically playing games like Super Smash Bros., a fighting game from Nintendo, and Just Dance, a motion-based dance game. Hardly any were interested in League of Legends.

“That got me thinking that maybe it wasn’t just the structure of some of these things,” Collins said. “Maybe it was the game selection.”

Collins helped organize a league comprised of 10 schools and libraries from varying backgrounds, including rural, urban, underserved and all-girls. In order to attract a wider selection of students, a panel selected three games for the first year of the league. It settled on a sports game (Rocket League), a digital card game (Hearthstone), and a multiplayer online battle arena game (Heroes of the Storm) — not the games requested by female students, necessarily, but none with reputations similar to League of Legends, either.

Ninth grader Claire Hofstra was among the most enthusiastic respondents, and Collins asked her to find four other freshmen to fill out a Heroes of the Storm squad. Even though the game is similar in playstyle to League of Legends — the kind of thing girls supposedly don’t like — the ninth graders enjoyed it so much they continued to get together and play, even when the season ended.

The benefits for the girls were plenty. Julianna Reineks was in her first year at HB and lives an hour away from the school, and the esports team helped her make friends. Kaila Morris, another freshman who described herself as “pretty shy,” found her voice as a broadcaster during the league’s championship matches. And Hofstra — an avid gamer before joining the HB team — overcame the peer pressure she felt at her previous public school to give up gaming.

“This helped me stick with it,” she said. “I definitely felt the pressure, just because I’m a girl, people don’t really take you seriously.”

All three students who spoke to The Associated Press plan to return to the esports team next season, and they’re hoping the league will adopt games even better targeted to them and their friends — Super Smash Bros and Splatoon are the big ones. They’re still a few years off from making college decisions, but all three also said they’d consider playing collegiate esports, especially if a scholarship is involved.

It’s a small but encouraging step to Collins, who is transgender and has felt alternately better connected and more isolated from people in their own life because of video games. Perhaps the most heartwarming takeaway from the first-year esports league for Collins was that the loudest complaint from students was they didn’t get enough interaction with kids from other schools.

“I was stunned,” Collins said. “That’s pretty incredible.

“Games can bring people together. They can just sit down and start playing together. That’s a beautiful thing. We need to make sure that the systems that we have in place encourage that instead of discourage that.”

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Follow Jake Seiner on Twitter: https://twitter.com/Jake—Seiner

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More AP Esports: https://apnews.com/Esports and https://twitter.com/AP—Sports



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All-girls school becomes 1st in US with varsity esports

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As a liaison at the U.S. Department of Education, J Collins watched as colleges by the dozen rolled out varsity esports programs, complete with scholarships, coaches and even some arenas. Collins had a gnawing concern: Gaming was beginning to have an impact on education, and at least anecdotally, the benefits were going largely toward male students.

Now, Collins is on the ground attempting to solve a puzzle that’s perplexed an industry approaching $1 billion revenues — where are all the female gamers?

Collins helped a private school near Cleveland become the first U.S. all-girls school to launch a varsity esports program during last school year. With Collins as coach, the 10-person team at Hathaway Brown competed against local schools and libraries, with players ranging from novices to avid gamers. The players reported many of the benefits associated with traditional sports — bonding, teamwork and improved confidence among them — and some say they might pursue college scholarships. Collins hopes the program can set an example for how high schools can attract more girl and gender minority gamers so they can take advantage of expanding opportunities at the university level.

Collins has a background in game-based education and was the first to broach the topic of esports at the Department of Education late in President Barack Obama’s final term. Football became a go-to analogy — the sport has impacted high school and college education in major ways, with resources poured into aiding its almost exclusively male participants.

Esports has already begun to spread in similar fashion. Over 100 colleges have varsity esports programs, and more are joining each year, with many smaller schools using teams as recruiting tools. That expansion could open doors for students of all genders, especially since video games don’t have the same physical barriers as most traditional sports.

“There was an imperative for us to be involved with it from an early outset, so that we could ensure there was equity across implementations,” Collins said.

Collins found that collegiate esports teams were struggling to find non-male players. The same complaint kept coming up: Girls and women aren’t in esports because they don’t play video games.

That didn’t jive with the data, which shows that 45% of gamers in the U.S. are female .

“It got us thinking, maybe the problem isn’t that there aren’t girl gamers and gender minority gamers,” Collins said. “Maybe the problem is that they’re in different places than the esports teams are looking.”

Collins suspects the trajectory for girls in gaming is similar to girls and gender minorities in STEM. Research shows many girls shy away from science, technology, engineering and math tracks around middle school due to “lack of role models, toxic culture and generally feeling like they don’t fit in in that world,” Collins said.

League of Legends, the world’s most popular esport, fits a similar description. There are no women in its highest professional circuit, and its largely male player base has been criticized for its toxic reputation. After leaving the Department of Education to teach at Hathaway Brown last fall, Collins polled students, who reported enthusiastically playing games like Super Smash Bros., a fighting game from Nintendo, and Just Dance, a motion-based dance game. Hardly any were interested in League of Legends.

“That got me thinking that maybe it wasn’t just the structure of some of these things,” Collins said. “Maybe it was the game selection.”

Collins helped organize a league comprised of 10 schools and libraries from varying backgrounds, including rural, urban, underserved and all-girls. In order to attract a wider selection of students, a panel selected three games for the first year of the league. It settled on a sports game (Rocket League), a digital card game (Hearthstone), and a multiplayer online battle arena game (Heroes of the Storm) — not the games requested by female students, necessarily, but none with reputations similar to League of Legends, either.

Ninth grader Claire Hofstra was among the most enthusiastic respondents, and Collins asked her to find four other freshmen to fill out a Heroes of the Storm squad. Even though the game is similar in playstyle to League of Legends — the kind of thing girls supposedly don’t like — the ninth graders enjoyed it so much they continued to get together and play, even when the season ended.

The benefits for the girls were plenty. Julianna Reineks was in her first year at HB and lives an hour away from the school, and the esports team helped her make friends. Kaila Morris, another freshman who described herself as “pretty shy,” found her voice as a broadcaster during the league’s championship matches. And Hofstra — an avid gamer before joining the HB team — overcame the peer pressure she felt at her previous public school to give up gaming.

“This helped me stick with it,” she said. “I definitely felt the pressure, just because I’m a girl, people don’t really take you seriously.”

All three students who spoke to The Associated Press plan to return to the esports team next season, and they’re hoping the league will adopt games even better targeted to them and their friends — Super Smash Bros and Splatoon are the big ones. They’re still a few years off from making college decisions, but all three also said they’d consider playing collegiate esports, especially if a scholarship is involved.

It’s a small but encouraging step to Collins, who is transgender and has felt alternately better connected and more isolated from people in their own life because of video games. Perhaps the most heartwarming takeaway from the first-year esports league for Collins was that the loudest complaint from students was they didn’t get enough interaction with kids from other schools.

“I was stunned,” Collins said. “That’s pretty incredible.

“Games can bring people together. They can just sit down and start playing together. That’s a beautiful thing. We need to make sure that the systems that we have in place encourage that instead of discourage that.”

———

Follow Jake Seiner on Twitter: https://twitter.com/Jake—Seiner

———

More AP Esports: https://apnews.com/Esports and https://twitter.com/AP—Sports



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To boost milk, dairy groups support high school coffee bars

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Coffee bars selling $3 iced lattes are popping up in high schools, helped along by dairy groups scrambling for new ways to get people to drink milk.

It’s one small way the dairy industry is fighting to slow the persistent decline in U.S. milk consumption as eating habits change and rival drinks keep popping up on supermarket shelves.

At a high school in North Dakota, a $5,000 grant from a dairy group helped pay for an espresso machine that makes lattes with about 8 ounces of milk each. The drinks used 530 gallons of milk this year.

“We buy a lot of milk,” said Lynelle Johnson, the food service director for the Williston Public School District.

It’s not clear how much coffee drinks in high schools might help boost milk consumption, or whether the concept will gain traction across the country. But with consumption of milk in the U.S. down 40 percent since 1975, the dairy industry is looking for all the help it can get.

The industry famous for its “Got Milk” advertising campaign is hoping its newer “Undeniably Dairy” slogan will help fend off the almond, oat and soy alternatives that are becoming more popular. And regional dairy groups are encouraging schools to serve milky drinks like smoothies and hot chocolate, as well as iced lattes.

The efforts come as the dairy industry is also trying to adjust to changing views about diet and nutrition.

With fat no longer seen as a dietary evil, skim milk has suffered the sharpest declines in demand in recent years. And it’s difficult for dairy producers to reduce production of skim milk because it is left over after making other products such as butter, cheese and ice cream.

As skim milk becomes especially tough to sell, Organic Valley is even drying some of the surplus and mixing it back into low-fat and fat-free milk to boost the nutrients and make it creamier.

“We’re just exploring everything we can,” said George Siemon, who was CEO of Organic Valley when the plans were developed, but has recently stepped down.

The dairy industry blames rules that limit the fat content of milk in schools for consumption declines, arguing that generations of students are growing up disliking milk because of the watery taste of skim.

In the meantime, it’s hoping lattes can make milk go down easier. In Florida, a dairy group said it paid for coffee carts in 21 high schools this past school year. In the Southwest, a dairy group gave grants to seven schools for coffee programs.

Not all high school coffee bars get grants from dairy groups, and the money may only cover a small portion of costs. School food operators also say lattes offer other benefits, such as giving teens a reason to stay on school grounds. At a national convention for school lunch officials next month, one session will also detail how schools in Orange County, Florida used coffee drinks to get students to buy lunch.

For an extra $2, students can turn the cup of milk served with lunch into a coffee drink at a nearby cart. Without the lunch, it costs $3.

The Orange County schools did not receive industry grants for the coffee bars, but the local dairy council provided chalkboard-style signs and menus.

Cafeteria directors and dairy groups say coffee drinks in schools have to follow nutrition standards, making them healthier than the lattes students would get anyway outside schools.

The U.S. Department of Agriculture, which sets rules for schools participating in its meal programs, says high schools can sell espresso drinks that are no bigger than 12 ounces, and that are made with fat-free or 1% milk. The drinks have around 150 calories, school food directors say.

But not everyone thinks teens should drink coffee, or that they need milk.

The American Academy of Pediatrics discourages caffeine consumption among children, citing potentially harmful effects on developing bodies. And while dairy is an efficient way to get calcium and vitamin D, it’s not the only way to get such nutrients, said Dr. Natalie Muth, a pediatrician and representative for the American Academy of Pediatrics.

As for lattes, Muth said there are ways to encourage students to get the nutrients of milk without promoting caffeine habits that could lead to headaches, agitation and lack of sleep.

“If they’re going to be having that outside of school, that’s one thing. But in schools, the idea is to promote good health and nutrition,” Muth said.

Exactly how schools prepare coffee drinks can vary, but milk is a primary ingredient for lattes. “It’s really milk with some coffee, as far as proportion,” said Julie Ostrow of Midwest Dairy.

It’s why the group is providing a grant for a coffee bar at a fourth high school in the Fort Zumwalt, Missouri district this upcoming year. In exchange, the group gets data on how much milk is used for the lattes, as well as information for personal pizzas, mozzarella sticks and other products with dairy.

But the group might not be happy about one of the newer options: This past year, the coffee bars began offering almond milk for 40 cents extra, said Paul Becker, the district’s food director.

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The Associated Press Health and Science Department receives support from the Howard Hughes Medical Institute’s Department of Science Education. The AP is solely responsible for all content.

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