Tobacco Class is a Better Part of Nutritious Breakfast than an E-Cigarette

by Mike Miller November 20, 2013

Oh, the audacity of those darned marketers. They are so, so good. Just when I thought my cravings for nicotine were gone for good. I have not used tobacco in almost 12 years, yet some of these ads make me salivate with the opportunity to make nicotine a part of my morning ritual!

I was standing outside one of our many neighborhood Starbucks shops one recent evening when I noticed a plume of smoke rise above a gaggle of teenagers waiting in line ahead of me.

“Wow,” I thought, “that takes some serious chutzpah.” These kids were smoking in public without the fear of getting caught.

A few minutes later, I realized that it wasn’t actually smoke coming out of their mouths; it was vapor, being inhaled and exhaled from battery-operated electronic cigarettes. Of course, as a counselor for an online tobacco class I knew exactly what they were doing.

E-cigs are devices that vaporize an addictive nicotine-laced liquid solution into an aerosol mist that simulates the act of tobacco smoking. Also known as “personal vaporizers” and “electronic nicotine delivery systems,” e-cigs are sold in trendy shops and are increasingly turning up in bars, clubs, workplaces and other spots where traditional tobacco cigarettes have long been outlawed.

I was like Pavlov’s dog, salivating at the memory of a nicotine fix. Even as I write this I need a break and will finish this for tomorrow’s blog!

Online Drug Class Will Educate You on Marijuana and Driving

by Mike Miller November 18, 2013

Marijuana-impaired drivers are all over the road. Don’t believe me? You should. With medical marijuana legal in 18 states and Washington DC is one of the factors fueling a surge in marijuana use in this country.

Most drivers know that alcohol severely affects their ability to drive. However, many marijuana users claim that driving stoned is not dangerous. Law enforcement officials have to grapple with the issue of stoned drivers more every day. As reported in

For most driving-under-the-influence-of-marijuana cases, the drug charge is secondary to the charge of driving while impaired. DUI laws typically have three aspects: driving while impaired to the slightest degree, driving under the influence of alcohol and driving under the influence of drugs.

Stoned drivers can pass some field-sobriety tests, however, they cannot pass them all as police put suspected drivers through more thorough tests that look for clues of drug use. I am incredulous that there are those who think their medical marijuana card allows them to use the drug and then operate a vehicle.

Even though Colorado has set a limit for THC in the bloodstream (5 nanograms per milliliter), experts say it is complicated by a number of factors including the patient's metabolism and smoking frequency.

There are few studies on the issue. One 10-year study of more than 8,700 DUI-drug cases in Sweden led researchers to conclude that zero-tolerance policies were probably most effective because they help identify suspects whose concentration-level might have fallen below an arbitrarily set limit while waiting to give a blood sample.

Scientists have found it virtually impossible to agree upon the concentration of a psychoactive substance in blood that leads to impairment in the vast majority of people.

I don't want impaired drivers on the road. The key in my mind is looking at whether somebody really is or is not impaired. If they're impaired, I don't care which drug impaired them.

I welcome your thoughts on the issue. Do you think a zero-tolerance policy is in order? Do you think prosecution should be completely based on field sobriety testing by officers at the time of the incident?

Drug Class Will Be required for Marijuana-Impaired Drivers

by Mike Miller November 16, 2013

As states deal with an increasing number of drivers operating their vehicles under the influence of marijuana it is imperative to have a legal limit for THC in the bloodstream. This is especially true in the 18 states and Washington DC who have legalized marijuana for medicinal purposes. It is doubly-true for the two states that have legalized marijuana for recreational purposes – Colorado and Washington.

Colorado has just implemented a legal blood-alcohol concentration for THC in the bloodstream of .05 nanograms. As reported in

In Arizona, one of the states that has legalized marijuana for medicinal purposes is grappling with the problem. Currently, the confusion over interpretation of the Medical Marijuana Act stems from its inception because prosecutors and police didn't have the chance to weigh in before it went to voters in 2010.

Prosecutors say Arizona law allows motorists who are not impaired to drive with prescription drugs in their system if they are using them under doctors' orders.

The problem for marijuana cardholders is that pot can't be prescribed, only recommended, offering no legal grounds for a motorist to drive with even trace amounts of the drug in their system.

What are your thoughts on the issue? Do you worry about stoned drivers? As a counselor for marijuana based drug classes I assure you that you should be very worried about people driving under the influence of marijuana. A good majority of my students feel that marijuana does not impair their ability to drive.

Take an Online Tobacco Class To Help Keep Your Child From Trying E-Cigarettes

by Mike Miller November 14, 2013

Electronic cigarettes are gaining popularity among all age ranges. Touted as a “healthy” alternative to smoking, smokers and tobacco companies alike are jumping on the e-cig bandwagon.

For me, the most frightening part of e-cigarettes are not that smokers are experimenting with them in an effort to quit, but that millions of new users are experimenting. The result is the same as with regular tobacco cigarettes – nicotine addiction. As reported in

One in five middle school students who said they had tried e-cigarettes reported never having smoked a conventional cigarette, raising fears that e-cigarettes, at least for some, could become a gateway. Among high school students, 7 percent who had tried an e-cigarette said they had never smoked a traditional cigarette.

The fact remains that the adolescent brain is more susceptible to nicotine, and that the trend of rising use could hook young people who might then move into more harmful products like conventional cigarettes.

The sharp rise among students mirrored that among adult users and it appeared to be driven, at least in part, by aggressive national marketing campaigns, some of which feature famous actors.

E-cigarettes also come in flavors, which were banned in traditional cigarettes in 2009 and which health officials say appeal to young people.

Kids love gadgets and the marketing for e-cigarettes is everywhere. The rising use of e-cigarettes risked reversing societal trends in which smoking had fallen out of fashion.

How do you feel about your teen using an e-cigarette? You should be scared. Addiction is a terrible thing and e-cigarettes are as addictive due to the nicotine as a tobacco cigarette. My advice is to take an online tobacco class with your child and discuss the danger of nicotine addiction.

Tobacco Class May Keep Your Teen Away From E-Cigs

by Mike Miller November 12, 2013

With electronic cigarettes surge in popularity is it any surprise that teens are using them too? As a parent of a teen, e-cigarettes frighten me.

The share of middle and high school students who use e-cigarettes doubled in 2012 from the previous year, federal data show. The rise is prompting concerns among health officials that the new devices could be creating as many health problems as they are solving. As reported in

One in 10 high school students said they had tried an e-cigarette last year, according to a national survey by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, up from one in 20 in 2011. About 3 percent said they had used one in the last 30 days. In total, 1.8 million middle and high school students said they had tried e-cigarettes in 2012.

E-cigarettes are battery-powered devices that deliver nicotine that is vaporized to form an aerosol mist. Producers promote them as a healthy alternative to smoking, but researchers say their health effects are not yet clear, though most acknowledge that they are less harmful than traditional cigarettes.

One of the biggest concerns among health officials is the potential for e-cigarettes to become a path to smoking among young people who otherwise would not have experimented. The survey found that most students who had tried e-cigarettes had also smoked cigarettes.

It is difficult enough to explain the dangers of nicotine addiction to an adolescent without all the rhetoric spewing out about how e-cigarettes are the “healthy” alternative to tobacco cigarettes. What do you think?

Will Government Inaction Create Need for More Marijuana and Drug Classes?

by Mike Miller November 10, 2013

Are you concerned about the rampant increase in marijuana use in the United States? I sure am. Of course it is generating great business for both in-class and online drug classes.

This is the fourth in a series of blogs addressing the increase in marijuana consumption as well as the lax attitude both citizens and politicians seem to be taking with respect to the drug.

Recently the Justice Department announced it would not be prosecuting marijuana cases. Thus, the last bastion of law enforcement for marijuana has been broken down.

It should come as no surprise that supporters of legalization applaud the statement from the Justice Department. The next state to vote on legalization will be Alaska, with more to come in the future.

Is the writing on the wall? Does this signal that the road to full legalization is imminent? How do you feel about this?

In my last drug class I queried my students, and the vast majority – 85%, all applaud the decision by the justice department.

I feel that while there may be fewer legal violations created by marijuana, there will be a far greater need for educational drug classes because usage is going to spike in all age groups.

Feds Won’t Prosecute Marijuana Cases: Drug Classes Needed

by Mike Miller November 8, 2013

As a parent I am terrified by the fact that marijuana is so easy to obtain for underage youth. How do you feel?

This is the third in a series of blogs looking at how America’s sentiments have relaxed over the years to the point where marijuana is about to be legal all across the country.

Don’t believe me? How about this – despite 75 years of federal marijuana prosecution, the Justice department announced back in August that states can let people use the drug. They will also allow states to license people to grow marijuana and even allow adults to walk right into the stores and buy it!

That sounds pretty legal to me.

Part of the Fed policy is that you can buy it, you just have to keep it away from children, the Black Market and federal property. You want to talk about a legal nightmare. It is only just beginning.

How can you possibly keep it off the Black Market? This is going to inundate communities with marijuana. How long is it going to be before you see people in your neighborhood smoking pot in their yard? Are marijuana smokers going to light up outside of bars with tobacco smokers? Can any of you see the light at the end of this tunnel?

E-Cigs and the Dangers of Nicotine Addiction

by Mike Miller November 6, 2013

Touted as the best thing to help people quit smoking, electronic cigarettes, or e-cigs, have become all the rage in the nicotine world. The trend has gotten so popular that the big tobacco companies are buying in.

But are e-cigarettes a safe alternative? As reported in

The hopes for a healthy cigarette may be nothing more than a pipe dream. A new study suggests that the popular e-cigarettes may contain a comparable level of carcinogens to regular cigarettes.

In recent years, e-cigarettes have become a popular alternative for smokers. The device uses heat to vaporize nicotine but does not actually contain tobacco.

For smokers trying to kick their habit, or at least reduce health risks, the e-cigarettes appeared to provide a desirable third way, allowing smokers to get their nicotine fixes while avoiding most of the health risks commonly associated with smoking, including cancer.

However, a report released in France’s National Consumer Institute claims that many e-cigarettes actually contain a significant quantity of carcinogenic molecules.

According to the study, researchers found that 3 in 10 e-cigarettes contain levels of formaldehyde and acrolein that are nearly equal to levels found in standard cigarettes.

There is no doubt that there is a great need to regulate this new nicotine product. After all, nicotine is still a class 1 addictive substance.

As The Wall Street Journal reports, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration is already considering new potential regulations for the e-cigarettes , including a ban on online sales. Because the e-cigarettes do not actually emit tobacco smoke, users have largely been able to avoid restrictions applied to traditional smokers.

It is true that more research is needed on the health effects of e-cigarettes. However, we do not need more research on whether e-cigarettes should or should not be included in proposed FDA regulations. The time has come to regulate these bad boys and find out what is really in them besides nictone.

Will Legal Marijuana Increase Need for Substance Abuse Classes?

by Mike Miller November 4, 2013

Whether we like it or not, marijuana is becoming more prevalent every day in our society. As a counselor for substance abuse classes, students tell me all the time how easy it is to “score” weed.

This is the second in a series of blogs looking at how our nation seems to becoming more relaxed with respect to marijuana every day. Marijuana is currently legal for medicinal purposes in almost 1/3 of the country and is on the ballot of a few more this year. It is even legal for recreational purposes in both Washington and Colorado.

Do you think this is a good idea? One of the claims is that it is so prevalent that arresting all users is impossible. Another argument is that prosecuting marijuana users is a total waste of money because the drug is pretty benign. Do you agree with either of these theories?

Let’s face it – weed is everywhere. If you have a child and you do not want them using marijuana you are in deep trouble. It is out there and easy to get. So what can we do? I welcome any input from my loyal readers on this issue.

We will continue to look at this issue.

Legal Weed Increases Need for Drug Addiction Education

by Mike Miller November 2, 2013

Is marijuana still illegal in this country? You might think that is a rhetorical question, however, given the current status of the drug all across America, the answer is much more nebulous I assure you.

For those of you unfamiliar with marijuana’s legal status in the United States here is a brief synopsis of the current state of affairs. It is currently legal in 14 states, plus our nation’s capital – Washington DC, for “medicinal” purposes. I put the parenthesis around the word medicinal because to date the American Medical Association, AKA the AMA, has yet to find one malady for which marijuana is a suitable drug.

In addition to being legal medicinally in those states, both Colorado and Washington have legalized it for recreational purposes. By this time next year those states are going to be flooded with legal marijuana. Anyone wishing to get high who is over the age of 21 only has to enter a store and buy the drug.

How do you feel about this? If you live in Colorado or Washington and enjoy marijuana I am sure you are one happy camper. However, if you live in one of those states and have a teenager, you are probably very worried. Marijuana is easier to obtain that alcohol for many high school students.

This is the first in a series of blogs looking at this issue. I respect your opinion.