90% of smokers start before they turn 18. Will this legislation help?

On Aug. 9, Oregon became the fifth state to raise the legal age to purchase tobacco products to 21.

Oregon has been at the forefront of tobacco cessation and prevention programs for more than 20 years. A 1996 voter-approved tobacco taxation and prevention initiative has prevented an estimated 31,000 Oregon children from picking up the habit, and cigarette use has declined by more than 50% in the state.

The latest tobacco bill, signed by Governor Kate Brown, will continue to build on these efforts, prohibiting the sale and use of cigarettes, e-cigarettes, and tobacco products to people under the age of 21.


Photo by Justin Sullivan/Getty Images.

Oregon joins California, Hawaii, Washington, D.C., Maine, and New Jersey in raising the legal age for tobacco use to 21.

Like Oregon, Maine and New Jersey raised the tobacco age to 21 this summer. The Maine legislature successfully overrode the veto of Governor Paul LePage to turn the bill into law on Aug. 2. While New Jersey Governor Chris Christie signed the bipartisan bill July 21.

In a statement, Christie cited his mother's death from the effects of smoking and hoped the measure would keep young people from ever starting the addictive habit.

"By raising the minimum age to purchase tobacco products to 21, we are giving young people more time to develop a maturity and better understanding of how dangerous smoking can be and that it is better to not start smoking in the first place,” he wrote.

New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie. Photo by Jeff Zelevansky/Getty Images.

While only five states and D.C. have raised the tobacco age so far, many cities and states are considering the measure.

After nearly 10 years of trying, a bill in Texas to raise the tobacco age has bipartisan support and positive momentum. Efforts in Utah, Massachusetts, and Washington state are similarly underway after several fits and starts.

Since statewide measures are time consuming and difficult, 200 cities and towns have taken the step to raise the tobacco age on their own, including Chicago, New York City, Kansas City, and Boston.

Photo by Noel Celis/AFP/Getty Images.

Cigarette smoking causes more than 480,000, or 1 in 5, deaths in the U.S. each year.

Measures like these are truly a matter of life and death. Smoking causes a majority of the cases of lung cancer and chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD), and it significantly increases the risk of cardiovascular and respiratory diseases and cancer. It can affect fertility and smoking, while pregnant can result in stillbirth or low birth weight.

Each day, more than 3,200 people under 18 try their first cigarette. If current patterns persist, 5.6 million Americans currently under the age of 18 will ultimately die from a smoking-related illness.

Photo by Matt Cardy/Getty Images.

Something has got to give.

Since 99% of smokers have their first cigarette by 26, (90% before 18), raising the legal tobacco age is an important step toward keeping the next generation healthy and tobacco-free.

Hawaii, California, Maine, New Jersey, and Oregon are leading the way. Make sure your city government and state legislature are working to join them.

Photo by Johannes Eisele/AFP/Getty Images.

Family

On an old episode of "The Oprah Winfrey Show" in July 1992, Oprah put her audience through a social experiment that puts racism in a new light. Despite being nearly two decades old, it's as relevant today as ever.

She split the audience members into two groups based on their eye color. Those with brown eyes were given preferential treatment by getting to cut the line and given refreshments while they waited to be seated. Those with blue eyes were made to put on a green collar and wait in a crowd for two hours.

Staff were instructed to be extra polite to brown-eyed people and to discriminate against blue-eyed people. Her guest for that day's show was diversity expert Jane Elliott, who helped set up the experiment and played along, explaining that brown-eyed people were smarter than blue-eyed people.

Watch the video to see how this experiment plays out.

Oprah's Social Experiment on Her Audience www.youtube.com

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Cadbury has removed the words from its Dairy Milk chocolate bars in the U.K. to draw attention to a serious issue, senior loneliness.

On September 4, Cadbury released the limited-edition candy bars in supermarkets and for every one sold, the candy giant will donate 30p (37 cents) to Age UK, an organization dedicated to improving the quality of life for the elderly.

Cadbury was prompted to help the organization after it was revealed that 225,000 elderly people in the UK often go an entire week without speaking to another person.

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Well Being

Young people today are facing what seems to be greater exposure to complex issues like mental health, bullying, and youth violence. As a result, teachers are required to be well-versed in far more than school curriculum to ensure students are prepared to face the world inside and outside of the classroom. Acting as more than teachers, but also mentors, counselors, and cheerleaders, they must be equipped with practical and relevant resources to help their students navigate some of the more complicated social issues – though access to such tools isn't always guaranteed.

Take Dr. Jackie Sanderlin, for example, who's worked in the education system for over 25 years, and as a teacher for seven. Entering the profession, she didn't anticipate how much influence a student's home life could affect her classroom, including "students who lived in foster homes" and "lacked parental support."

Dr. Jackie Sanderlin, who's worked in the education system for over 25 years.

Valerie Anglemyer, a middle school teacher with more than 13 years of experience, says it can be difficult to create engaging course work that's applicable to the challenges students face. "I think that sometimes, teachers don't know where to begin. Teachers are always looking for ways to make learning in their classrooms more relevant."

So what resources do teachers turn to in an increasingly fractured world? "Joining a professional learning network that supports and challenges thinking is one of the most impactful things that a teacher can do to support their own learning," Anglemyer says.

Valerie Anglemyer, a middle school teacher with more than 13 years of experience.

A new program for teachers that offers this network along with other resources is the WE Teachers Program, an initiative developed by Walgreens in partnership with ME to WE and Mental Health America. WE Teachers provides tools and resources, at no cost to teachers, looking for guidance around the social issues related to poverty, youth violence, mental health, bullying, and diversity and inclusion. Through online modules and trainings as well as a digital community, these resources help them address the critical issues their students face.

Jessica Mauritzen, a high school Spanish teacher, credits a network of support for providing her with new opportunities to enrich the learning experience for her students. "This past year was a year of awakening for me and through support… I realized that I was able to teach in a way that built up our community, our school, and our students, and supported them to become young leaders," she says.

With the new WE Teachers program, teachers can learn to identify the tough issues affecting their students, secure the tools needed to address them in a supportive manner, and help students become more socially-conscious, compassionate, and engaged citizens.

It's a potentially life-saving experience for students, and in turn, "a great gift for teachers," says Dr. Sanderlin.

"I wish I had the WE Teachers program when I was a teacher because it provides the online training and resources teachers need to begin to grapple with these critical social issues that plague our students every day," she adds.

In addition to the WE Teachers curriculum, the program features a WE Teachers Award to honor educators who go above and beyond in their classrooms. At least 500 teachers will be recognized and each will receive a $500 Walgreens gift card, which is the average amount teachers spend out-of-pocket on supplies annually. Teachers can be nominated or apply themselves. To learn more about the awards and how to nominate an amazing teacher, or sign up for access to the teacher resources available through WE Teachers, visit walgreens.com/metowe.

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One of the major differences between women and men is that women are often judged based on their looks rather than their character or abilities.

"Men as well as women tend to establish the worth of individual women primarily by the way their body looks, research shows. We do not do this when we evaluate men," Naomi Ellemers Ph.D. wrote in Psychology Today.

Dr. Ellers believes that this tendency to judge a woman solely on her looks causes them to be seen as an object rather than a person.

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Culture