Addiction

Graphic of the week

AlcoholTobaccoTrend_HighSchool_Standalone

Analysis from HPIO late last year found that the most notable change in tobacco use in recent years has been the shift away from combustible cigarettes and toward e-cigarettes among teens and young adults (see graphic above). By 2019, only 4.9% of Ohio high school students reported that they had smoked a cigarette in the past 30 days, while e-cigarettes surpassed alcohol and became the most commonly used drug among teens. Similarly, the percent of 18-24-year-olds reporting e-cigarette use jumped 77% from 2016 to 2020, making this the group of adults with the highest rate of e-cigarette use in 2020 (19%).

Learn more in HPIO’s fact sheet, Tobacco, Alcohol and Health Series: Health Impacts of Excessive Alcohol Use in Ohio.

 


FDA effectively bans Juul e-cigarette sales in U.S.

The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) on Thursday ordered Juul to stop selling e-cigarettes on the U.S. market, a profoundly damaging blow to a once-popular company whose brand was blamed for the teenage vaping crisis (Source: “F.D.A. Orders Juul to Stop Selling E-Cigarettes,” New York Times, June 23).

The FDA order affects all of Juul’s products on the U.S. market, the overwhelming source of the company’s sales. Juul’s sleek vaping cartridges and sweet-flavored pods helped usher in an era of alternative nicotine products that became exceptionally popular among young people, and invited intense scrutiny from antismoking groups and regulators who feared they would do more harm to young people than good to former smokers.

In its ruling, the agency said that Juul had provided insufficient and conflicting data about potentially harmful chemicals that could leach out of Juul’s proprietary e-liquid pods.


Nonprofit created to oversee Ohio opioid settlement funds begins work

The decision of how Ohio will spend hundreds of millions of dollars – and maybe more – in opioid settlement money will be up to a new non-profit, whose board met for the first time on Monday (Source: “New nonprofit will decide how to spend hundreds of millions of Ohio’s opioid settlement money,” Cleveland.com, May 16).

The 29-member OneOhio Recovery Foundation Board consists of state representatives, local government leaders, addiction treatment experts and others from around the state. Under an agreement between state and local officials made in 2020, the new foundation will decide how to distribute more than $440 million (or 55%) of an $808 million settlement reached last year with the nation’s three largest pharmaceutical distributors and drugmaker Johnson & Johnson.

Under the agreement, another 30% of the settlement money will get distributed among more than 2,000 local governments in Ohio. The final 15% will go to the state, though Gov. Mike DeWine said OneOhio might also gain control over spending some of the state’s share.


FDA moves to ban menthol cigarettes with aim of reducing smoking-related disparities

The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) on Thursday announced a plan to ban sales of menthol-flavored cigarettes in the United States, a measure many public health experts hailed as the government’s most meaningful action in more than a decade of tobacco control efforts (Source: “F.D.A. Moves to Ban Sales of Menthol Cigarettes,” New York Times, April 28).
 
The ban would most likely have the deepest impact on Black smokers, nearly 85% of whom use menthol cigarettes, compared with 29% of white smokers, according to a government survey. If effective in reducing smoking, the ban could significantly diminish the burden of chronic disease and limit the number of lives cut short by one of the most hazardous legal products available.
 
Public health experts say menthol cigarettes have been heavily marketed to Black people, to devastating effect: African American men have the highest rates of lung cancer in America, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.


White House plan to reduce drug overdose deaths leans on harm reduction strategies

President Joe Biden is sending his administration’s first national drug control strategy to Congress as the U.S. overdose death toll hit a new record of nearly 107,000 during the past 12 months (Source: “Biden drug control plan stresses harm reduction, treatment,” Associated Press, April 21).

The strategy, released Thursday, is the first national plan to prioritize harm reduction, said White House drug czar Dr. Rahul Gupta. The strategy calls for changes in state laws and policies to support the expansion of harm reduction.

For an overview of harm reduction policy in Ohio, see HPIO’s “Ohio Addiction Policy Scorecard: Overdose Reversal and Other Forms of Harm Reduction.”


Study: Smoking rates double in underserved communities

Patients in underserved communities smoke at a rate double that of the general U.S. population, according to a new study (Source: “Smoking rate in underserved communities double that of general population, study says,” Medical Economics, March 7).
 
The American Cancer Society study, which was published in the journal Cancer, found that the prevalence of smoking among adults served at federally qualified health centers was 28.1%, compared to 14% reported for the general U.S. population.
 
Among other major findings in the study are that Black adults who smoked had more than two times the odds of reporting substance use disorders.
 
“Our study underscores the importance of understanding the association and increased risk of mental health conditions and substance use disorders among adults from underserved communities who smoke while also addressing socioeconomic risk factors to achieve better health outcomes,” said study author Dr. Sue C. Lin of the Health Resources and Services Administration within the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. “The study further highlights the significance of tailored smoking cessation treatments for individuals from underserved communities that will support cancer prevention care.”


Ohio Senate President won’t bring cannabis legalization bill to the floor

Ohio Senate President Matt Huffman, R-Lima, said this week that he doesn't support an effort to legalize cannabis and won't bring it to a vote in his chamber (Source: “Proposal to legalize marijuana in Ohio faces yet another roadblock in Senate GOP leader,” Columbus Dispatch, Feb. 9).

The Coalition to Regulate Marijuana Like Alcohol recently submitted enough valid signatures for Ohio lawmakers to consider its proposal, which would allow Ohioans age 21 and older to buy and possess up to 2.5 ounces of cannabis and 15 grams of concentrates. They could also grow up to six plants individually and no more than 12 in a household with multiple adults.

If lawmakers don't pass the bill or pass an amended version within the next four months, supporters can collect another 132,887 valid signatures to put their measure on the ballot. "I don't want anybody to misunderstand my position," Huffman said. "I'm not going to bring it to the Senate floor. And if that means people want to go put it on the ballot, have at it."

Gov. Mike DeWine already said he would veto a bill to legalize marijuana in Ohio, calling the idea "a mistake." 

HPIO recently released a fact sheet examining lessons learned from tobacco and alcohol control policies that could inform future cannabis regulation in Ohio.


Opioid prescriptions continue to drop in Ohio, report finds

Ohio doctors and pharmacists cut back the number of prescription opioids they dispensed last year, a move that continues a large-scale drop in the number of painkillers distributed across the state (Source: “Ohio doctors, pharmacists cut back on the dispensing of prescription opioids in 2021, continuing a yearslong trend,” Cleveland Plain Dealer,  Jan. 17).

Ten years after the peak of the prescription opioid crisis hit, medical providers have sharply reduced the number of pills that reach consumers. Healthcare providers across Ohio distributed 334 million opioid pills last year, nearly a 60% drop from the 793 million in 2012, according to figures released this week by the Ohio Board of Pharmacy. The numbers are based on the board’s statewide reporting system that tracks prescriptions.

Despite the drop in opioid prescriptions, the number of Ohioans who died from an overdose rose 54% from 2015 to 2020, according to an HPIO fact sheet titled “Refocusing Ohio’s Approach to Overdose Deaths.” The primary reason appears to be the increased presence of synthetic opioids (such as fentanyl and carfentanil) in the drug supply. Since 2016, fentanyl and related drugs have been the most common drugs present in unintentional overdose deaths in Ohio.


Ohio Senate passes bill expanding medical cannabis

The Ohio Senate passed a bill this week that would expand medical cannabis conditions to migraines, autism spectrum disorder, opioid use disorder and any condition that could “reasonably be expected to be relieved” from the drug (Source: “Ohio Senate passes bill expanding medical marijuana to any patient whose symptoms ‘may reasonably be expected to be relieved’ by drug,” Cleveland.com, Dec. 15).

Senate Bill 261 passed 26 to 5. It now heads to the Ohio House.

In addition to broadly expanding medical conditions, the bill would change other aspects of the Ohio medical marijuana program. The bill would expand the forms of medical marijuana that can be legally sold to include pills, capsules and suppositories, oral pouches, oral strips, oral or topical sprays, salves and inhalers. Smoking marijuana would still be prohibited but vaping would continue to be allowed.

The Health Policy Institute of Ohio recently released a brief, Alcohol, Tobacco and Health: Implications for Future Cannabis Policy, that lays the groundwork for future cannabis policy discussions by applying lessons learned from tobacco and alcohol policy to upcoming decisions about recreational cannabis legalization.


HPIO policy brief series explores tobacco, alcohol and implications for future cannabis policy

 

The Health Policy Institute of Ohio has released a series of briefs that explore the health impacts of tobacco and excessive alcohol use, and apply lessons learned from tobacco and alcohol policy to upcoming decisions about recreational cannabis legalization.

Alcohol, Tobacco and Health: Implications for Future Cannabis Policy lays the groundwork for future cannabis policy discussions by:

  • Highlighting what works to reduce tobacco and excessive alcohol use
  • Describing recent and upcoming tobacco, alcohol and cannabis policy changes
  • Applying lessons learned from tobacco and alcohol to inform equitable and effective cannabis regulation in the future

“Now is the time to set clear policy goals on legal drugs. Evidence-based approaches to cannabis, tobacco and alcohol policy are needed to improve health, decrease disparities and control healthcare spending,” the brief states.

The two other briefs in the series, Health Impacts of Tobacco Use in Ohio and Health Impacts of Excessive Alcohol Use in Ohio explore:

  • How each substance affects health and healthcare spending
  • Recent trends and disparities
  • What works to reduce harms