Does Drug Education Help People Make Smarter Decisions?

by Mike Miller October 11, 2013

Is “older, but wiser” a true refrain? As a man who highly respects his parents and grandparents I would like to believe that old adage is true. There are exceptions to every adage, however.

Here comes a perfect example to this adage. This guy, most definitely was not very wise. As reported in www.messagemedia.co.

Seventy-three-year-old Ray Martin McFeters was with distribution or possession of more than 42.5 grams of marijuana and failure to attach tax stamps to the marijuana. What is worse, the sale of the weed or the tax evasion? I hope you answered that both are equally wrong.

McFeters is also charged with felony possession of “not a small amount of marijuana.” It is always interesting how legislators word laws, right?

McFeters is a retired computer programmer who learned to write code while serving four years with the United States Air Force in crypto maintenance during the Cuban missile crisis. He was honorably discharged in 1964. Yes, you read correctly, 1964! He should know better.

This guy actually justified his behavior by claiming his illegal marijuana plants helped keep money away from drug cartels.

The total weight of McFeter’s marijuana came out to 175 grams (just over 6 ounces), more than enough to convict him of both the felony charges he’s facing.

The charge of failing to attach tax stamps to the marijuana carries a maximum penalty of 7 years in prison and/or a $14,000 fine.

McFeters estimates that he smokes between 25 and 30 bowls of marijuana a day. He admits he is a serious marijuana user, smoking an ounce every couple of weeks.

He certainly does not feel like he needs an educational drug class. Do you?

Educational Tobacco Class is a Healthy Alternative

by Mike Miller October 9, 2013

Do you smoke cigarettes? Are you considering a switch to electronic cigarettes? If so, I might like to offer the healthiest alternative – an online tobacco class. This is the fourth in a series of blogs looking at the growth of the e-cigarette industry.

Smoking e-cigarettes, or “vaping” as it’s sometimes called, is the current craze to help people get their tobacco fix. As reported in www.nytimes.com.

There are some “vapers who are elderly, but it’s the young who have been the early adopters and the target of intense marketing.

NJOY, a leading maker in the United States whose investors include the tech entrepreneur Sean Parker (of Facebook fame-played by Justin Timberlake in the movie), has aggressively courted younger smokers and trendsetters. The company, based in Scottsdale, Ariz., tapped Courtney Love, a longtime chain-smoker, to star in an online commercial, in which she smokes at the symphony.

One of the marketing goals of e-cigarettes is to make them chic again. What better way to spread the word than to have tastemakers acting as unpaid ambassadors in the city’s restaurants, bars and clubs?

Some clubs go so far as to encourage vaping. The way they view the situation is that customers are hard enough to bring in and then you’re forcing them out on the street to smoke. Some bars and restaurants even encourage restroom attendants to sell e-cigarettes alongside breath mints and chewing gum.

Just how should bars and restaurants regulate the use of nicotine infusion through e-cigarettes? Should it be OK? They also have e-cigarettes for marijuana.

Tobacco Education is Better for You Than E-Cigarettes

by Mike Miller October 7, 2013

For the past few days we have been exploring the current craze of electronic cigarettes (e-cigs). E-CIGARETTES, which use a nicotine solution instead of tobacco and emit a smoke like water vapor, are already popular in Asia and Europe and are now catching on in the land of the Marlboro Man.

Users boldly partake in nicotine inhaling in all sorts of public places where tobacco cigarettes are verboten. As reported in www.nytimes.com.

Are they a “healthy” alternative? Absolutely not.

However, given that the traditional tobacco cigarette has more than 3,000 chemicals in it, I would find it difficult to believe that the liquid nicotine and its flavor ingredients could be as bad.

Just who regulates e-cigarettes? The Food and Drug Administration, said that although the agency does not regulate the devices, it wants to extend its authority to other categories of tobacco products, like e-cigarettes. There is no doubt that further research is needed to assess the potential public health benefits and risks of electronic cigarettes and other novel tobacco products.

E-cigarettes are also rekindling old turf battles and raising new etiquette questions. How do you give the stink eye to smokers and demand they stub out a cigarette when there’s no flame?

How do you feel about e-cigarettes? I look forward to hearing your thoughts.

Take an Online Tobacco Class Before Trying E-Cigarettes

by Mike Miller October 5, 2013

This is the 2nd in a series of blogs looking at the current efforts to regulate the use and manufacture of electronic cigarettes (e-cigs). Users have no qualms about getting their nicotine fix in places traditionally where no smoking is allowed.

You can’t walk into a nightclub in New York City and not see multiple people “lighting” up. As reported in www.nytimes.com.

Ten years after Mayor Michael Bloomberg banned smoking in public places, it is returning to the city’s bars, restaurants and workplaces, thanks to the growing popularity of e-cigarettes.

They can be spotted wherever traditional cigarettes had been outlawed. Tattooed Web designers and writers chain-smoke at their desks at the Vice offices in Williamsburg. Models inhale at No. 8, a Chelsea lounge, as they order Champagne. Leonardo DiCaprio has been spotted smoking an e-cigarette at several clubs and while riding a Citi Bike in SoHo.

As the educational director for an online tobacco class I have had students say they have quit pack-a-day, two-decade smoking habits by switching to e-cigarettes. They no longer take smoke breaks from work and no longer reek of tobacco.

Manufacturers suggest that e-cigarettes are safer than their conventional counterparts and cheaper because they can last longer and are reusable; critics, however, say they glorify smoking and turn back the clock on public health advances.

What are your thoughts? We will continue to address e-cigarettes in future blogs.

Jenny Haliski, a spokeswoman for the Food and Drug Administration, said that although the agency does not regulate the devices, it wants to extend its authority to other categories of tobacco products, like e-cigarettes. “Further research is needed to assess the potential public health benefits and risks of electronic cigarettes and other novel tobacco products,” she said.

E-cigarettes are also rekindling old turf battles and raising new etiquette questions. How do you give the stink eye to smokers and demand they stub out a cigarette when there’s no flame?

E-CIGARETTES, which use a nicotine solution instead of tobacco and emit a smokelike water vapor, are already popular in Asia and Europe but are only now catching on in the land of the Marlboro Man. One major draw is that they allow smokers to indulge in places where their habit had been circumscribed or outlawed.

Recent converts include Lewis Lapham, the 78-year-old editor and irrepressible smoker, who once lost a public bet to Ralph Nader that he could give up cigarettes (he lasted five hours). In April, Mr. Lapham began smoking e-cigarettes, or “vaping” as it’s sometimes called, as a way to come in from the cold, literally and figuratively.

“For 10 years, I’ve been feeling like a pariah,” said Mr. Lapham, who has been smoking since the days when four out of five doctors recommended Lucky Strikes. “If I want to smoke, I’ve got to go outside or stand against a highway billboard.”

Now he smokes inside the offices of Lapham’s Quarterly near Union Square without fear of eviction or the inconvenience of interrupting work. “I can get through the whole office day, instead of having to go outside,” said Mr. Lapham, who switches between two brands, Blu and V2.

But he is an outlier among so-called vapers; it’s the young who have been the early adopters and the target of intense marketing.

NJOY, a leading maker in the United States whose investors include the tech entrepreneur Sean Parker, has aggressively courted younger smokers and trendsetters. The company, based in Scottsdale, Ariz., tapped Courtney Love, a longtime chain-smoker, to star in an online commercial, in which she smokes at the symphony. It also held a party for NJOY King, a new disposable model, at the Jane Hotel, the West Village hot spot, last December.

Bedford Slims, which bills itself as “Brooklyn’s Vapourette,” had set up a booth at the Verboten party, and its chief executive was passing out thin stainless-steel samples like candy.

Smarty Q, based in England, makes a matte-back model that was until recently sold at the fashionable boutique Colette in Paris. (“We’re trying to bring back the chic attitude, the sexiness in smoking,” said the chief executive, Olivier Girard.)

What better way to spread the word than to have tastemakers acting as unpaid ambassadors in the city’s restaurants, bars and clubs?

Some clubs go so far as to encourage vaping. Mark Birnbaum, a co-owner of the EMM Group, which operates SL, Finale and other high-wattage nightclubs, says it keeps customers from leaving. “It’s hard enough for us to get them in,” he said. “Then you’re forcing them out on the street to smoke.” Mr. Birnbaum, who is also an investor in NJOY, even encourages restroom attendants to sell e-cigarettes alongside breath mints and chewing gum.

Others take a more laissez-faire attitude. “Our policy is to tolerate them, as long as no one complains about it,” said Benjamin Maisani, a co-owner of Eastern Bloc and Bedlam in the East Village, who is opening a new bar in Hell’s Kitchen this fall.

Similarly, e-smoking barely raises an eyebrow at Le Baron, a louche lounge in Chinatown run by French owners.

But although e-cigarettes “are not covered under any current policies, and can be legally used in bars and restaurants,” said Samantha Levine, a spokeswoman for Mr. Bloomberg, some places have discouraged their use or banned them outright.

Leah Rausch, who presides over the lobby of the Ace Hotel in Manhattan, said the management does not allow e-cigarettes because they might be a gateway to breaking the law. “People see them and might light up a real cigarette,” she said.

Still, Ms. Rausch wasn’t sure if the ban was informal or an official hotel policy. She asked a desk clerk, who wasn’t sure, either, but added, “I know Leonardo DiCaprio gets away with it when he’s here.”

The growing popularity of e-cigarettes is also creating headaches for club security personnel, who have spent the last decade watching for smoke with the eagle-eyed focus of someone manning a fire tower. In a dim club, it is hard to tell the difference between a Marlboro and an NJOY King, which is designed to mimic a real cigarette, from the cherry-red tip to the paper butt.

Goldin Martinez, who works security at Jimmy, the rooftop bar at the James New York Hotel in SoHo, among other places, recalled a recent run-in with a patron he mistakenly singled out for smoking. He’s still annoyed over the encounter. “It gives the place a bad image,” he said. “People think, ‘What’s up with the staff here?’ ”

Still, the mistake happens enough that e-smokers have developed a kind of hand gesture to ward off the cigarette police. The e-smoker will “put the cigarette to their forehead,” Mr. Birnbaum said. “You realize either the person is a psycho or they’re smoking an e-cigarette.”

Andrew Beaver, chief marketing officer for NJOY, likened smoking e-cigarettes to the early days of hands-free Bluetooth conversations: what looks strange now will soon appear normal.

But for now, e-smokers like Mr. Prawatyotin feel like pioneers. “I always feel like I’m the only one vaporing,” he said. That may explain why many e-smokers still huddle on the sidewalk, like nicotine exiles.

On a recent Saturday night in the meatpacking district, a group of 20-somethings took a smoke break outside Bagatelle on Little West 12th Street. Among them was Robert Sasson, 23, who was taking leisurely puffs on a Logic e-cigarette.

Why not stay at the table and smoke during dinner? Isn’t that part of the appeal of e-cigarettes?

Mr. Sasson took a drag and delivered a lecture on smoking etiquette that would no doubt please the mayor.

“Even though it’s water vapor, it’s just not proper to smoke in a restaurant,” he said. “It’s disgusting. You should step outside like any cigarette.”

Will E-Cigarette Ban Create Need for Educational Tobacco Course?

by Mike Miller October 2, 2013

Unless you live in “Marlborough Country” you can’t be missing the current trend in the cigarette industry. The new “it” is the electronic cigarette. They are also called e-cigarettes.

I have written a series of blogs on the growth in this industry so if you care to learn more about e-cigs feel free to go back through the archives and read those blogs. In one sentence – they are electronic devices that allow a user to inhale nicotine as a vapor.

Proponents say they are much safer than smoking traditional tobacco cigarettes. Opponents say there is not enough research to determine how “safe” e-cigarettes are, nor do they condone any device that involves an addictive substance.

Because they emit water vapor, e-cigarette users have bypassed no smoking bans everywhere from restaurants to ball parks and even to airplanes. It may be “hammer time.” Like all other addictive substances, regulations of the use and the manufacture are right around the corner. Where better to start than the “Big Apple?”

Maybe it was the thumping music, the alcohol or the beating sun, or some hallucinatory combination, but for a moment in early July, it appeared as if a waterfront state park in Williamsburg, Brooklyn, had turned into a smoker’s paradise. Bikini-topped women and sweaty guys in muscle tees were puffing away as they danced at a techno party hosted by Verboten, a roving nightclub. The surgeon general might have had a stroke.

Intrigued? I bet you are. If so, we will continue this topic tomorrow.

Drug Education Class Could Save Your Life

by Mike Miller September 30, 2013

If an online alcohol and drug class has any impact on your decision never to experiment with heroin then it will have played a role in saving your life. Heroin use = a ruined life. Very few ever experiment with heroin without suffering severe consequences. Does it sound like a drug you want to stay away from?

This is the seventh in a series of blogs looking at heroin use and its horrific consequences. As reported in www.nytimes.com.

When you think of heroin what country comes to mind? My first thought was Afghanistan. I was wrong. The majority of the heroin in the United States comes from Colombia!

The purity of the heroin varies widely, which law enforcement officers say is partly responsible for the increase in deaths, and bad batches have been reported throughout the region. Even an experienced user might not be prepared for the strength of a particular bag. And because heroin reaches the brain so quickly — and witnesses hesitate to call for help immediately — overdoses are often fatal.

There are more sad and negative stories about the attempts to kick heroin that positive ones. If you have never tried heroin – don’t – you know what you are missing – a lifetime (shortened) of addiction.

If you or someone you care about used heroin, please seek help immediately. A drug class is a good place to start. If you prefer to maintain anonymity, there are online drug classes too.

Take Drug Awareness Classes, Not Heroin

by Mike Miller September 28, 2013

It terrifies me that heroin is becoming so popular. Anyone who knows anything about the drug would just about sell their soul to keep from becoming addicted. This is not a drug to experiment with. Few, if any, ever make it out unscarred.

Despite ruining the lives of addicts, heroin addiction ruins the life of everyone in the nearby and not-so-nearby neighborhoods. There are more burglaries so addicts can support their habits and heavier demands on health, welfare and law enforcement services. Novice users are more likely to share needles, leading to an expected increase in infections like H.I.V. and hepatitis C. As reported in www.nytimes.com.

Maine is the first state that has limited access to specific medications, including buprenorphine and methadone, that have been proven to be effective in treating addiction, a step taken to save money. This is similar to the clinics in England.

Emergency personnel are often first-responders in the case of overdose. They have seen an increase from two to three overdose deaths per week to three or four per day!

If you or someone you care about uses heroin, please seek help immediately. A drug class is a good place to start. If you prefer to maintain anonymity, there are online drug programs too.

Take a 16 Hour Online Drug Class Before Using Heroin

by Mike Miller September 26, 2013

Do you know someone who has tried heroin? How about someone who uses it regularly? Given the current surge in use with the drug, I would not be surprised if you knew a person or two who used.

As a counselor for both in-class and online drug classes I can tell you the number of students in my class who have tried heroin has gone up drastically in the past two years. As reported in www.nytimes.com.

Heroin is one of the most addictive drugs in the world. About a quarter of everyone who tries it becomes dependent on it. Users can quickly develop a tolerance, prompting them to seek more and more until the pursuit takes over their lives and, often, leads to ruin.

There are thousands of women, and men, out there prostituting their bodies just to support their addiction. One example is 23-year-old Theresa Dumond who lives on the streets of Portland, Maine. She lost custody of her two young children about a year ago and their father died. Nice chance at a childhood for her brood.

Heroin addicts lose interest in every part of their life except getting high. They lose everything. It is impossible to be a functional heroin user.

If you or someone you care about uses heroin, please seek help immediately. A 16 hour drug class is a good place to start. If you prefer to maintain anonymity, there are internet based drug classes available.

Online Drug School Could Keep You From Trying Heroin

by Mike Miller September 24, 2013

This is the fourth in a series of blogs looking at the increase in use and abuse of heroin. When I was a kid only the most serious druggies took heroin and they were “all” going to over-dose. That is how frightening that drug was and still should be.

In previous blogs we discussed how heroin moved out of the big cities and migrated into the suburbs. We also have discussed the role of prescription painkillers as a major cause. As reported in www.nytimes.com.

Simple Economics – Supply and Demand

Yet the rise in heroin abuse here predated the restrictions on painkillers, leading some to blame the simple law of supply and demand. Distributors in New York see a wide-open market in northern New England, where law enforcement can be spotty and users are willing to pay premium prices. A $6 bag of heroin in New York City fetches $10 in southern New England but up to $30 or $40 in northern New England. The dealer gets a tremendous profit margin, while the addict pays half or even less of what he might have to shell out for a prescription painkiller.

We will continue this discussion with future blogs – so stay tuned.

If you or someone you care about uses heroin, please seek help immediately. A drug class is a good place to start. If you prefer to maintain anonymity, there are computer based online drug courses too.

Increase in Heroin Use Means Greater Need for Drug Awareness Classes

by Mike Miller September 22, 2013

This is the third in a series of blogs addressing the current epidemic increase in the use of heroin. In the previous blog we looked at how heroin has made its way out of the ghettos and into middle class and even upper class neighborhoods.

Did you know that last year in Portland, Maine heroin killed 21 people? That is three times as many as in 2011. New Hampshire recorded 40 deaths from heroin overdoses last year, up from just 7 a decade ago. In Vermont, the Health Department reported that 914 people were treated for heroin abuse last year, up from 654 the year before, an increase of almost 40 percent. As reported in www.nytimes.com.

#1 Problem for Police

Vermont police believe that their number one problem is heroin.

One reason for the rise in heroin use is the restrictions on doctors in prescribing painkillers. The tightened supply of pain pills, and physical changes that made them harder to crush and snort for a quick high, have diverted many users to heroin, which is much cheaper and easier to get.

Doctors are part of the problem. All over the country there are doctors who have been overprescribing painkillers, which can be gateway drugs to heroin.

One doctor who described the heroin problem as a bad epidemic has treated many 21-, 22-year-old pregnant women with intravenous heroin addiction.

If you or someone you care about used heroin, please seek help immediately. A drug class is a good place to start. If you prefer to maintain anonymity, take an 8 hour online drug class.