DiscoverPAVe: Big Tobacco Messed with the Wrong Moms
PAVe: Big Tobacco Messed with the Wrong Moms
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PAVe: Big Tobacco Messed with the Wrong Moms

Author: Parents Against Vaping E-Cigarettes

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Every week on “Big Tobacco Messed with the Wrong Moms”, hosts Meredith Berkman and Dorian Fuhrman, two of PAVe’s co-founders, will discuss the youth vaping epidemic, sharing important information about everything from serious health risks to quitting resources. Moderating important conversations with top public-health experts, these MOMvocates will speak directly to parents and other key stakeholders across the country, empowering them to join the fight to keep our kids from becoming an entire generation of nicotine addicts.
33 Episodes
This week’s episode highlights Sara, a New York State pediatrician who has been fighting the tobacco industry’s targeting of teens on multiple fronts: as a doctor seeking to protect her patients; as a PAVe volunteer warning other parents; and, most importantly, as a mom desperate to help her college-age son quit vaping. 
Decades ago, tobacco Industry research  revealed that menthol amplifies nicotine addiction, especially in African Americans; the more melanin in a smoker’s skin,  the greater menthol’s impact. Armed with this knowledge, Big Tobacco methodically marketed menthol combustible cigarettes to African Americans; the more melanin in a smoker’s skin, the greater menthol’s impact.(In 2009, when the federal government banned flavored cigarettes, menthol was the blatant exemption.)Last April, after years of inexplicable delay, a federal lawsuit brought by plaintiffs including the African American Tobacco Control Leadership Council forced FDA to finally announce it would “begin the rule-making process” to end the sale of menthol cigarettes-but that could take years.That’s why the Center for Black Health and Equity is fighting deadly menthol tobacco products in real time at community levels across the country. In this week’s episode we interview the Center’s Greg Bolden about the No Menthol Movement in Atlanta; local partner D’Jillisser Kelly of the H.E.A.R.T coalition will discuss on-the-ground efforts including the Great American Smokeout on November 18th.
This is the last chance for parents to make our voices heard before FDA rules on JUUL!Between now and September 9th the agency must decide whether or not to approve Juul and any flavored e-cigarette. Over the last several weeks, over two thousand parents have signed our letter urging FDA to deny all applications for these dangerous products. In this week's podcast episode, part of our “Back to school, not back to Juul” campaign, we interview Dr. Rachel Boykan, Clinical Professor, of Pediatrics at the Renaissance School of Medicine at Stony Brook University who explains why she believes FDA must act NOW against flavored e-cigarettes that have already caused enormous harm to millions of kids. 
On today’s episode, Bloomberg News investigative reporter Lauren Etter discusses “The Devil’s Playbook: Big Tobacco, Juul, and the Addiction of a New Generation”. With FDA poised to rule on JUUL’s applications for its menthol and tobacco flavored products, Etter’s new book provides a deep dive into how the collision of Silicon Valley values and the industry’s predatory behavior created an adolescent public-health crisis that could impact our kids for years to come. Says Etter, a mom of three young children, “If a (JUUL) representative had come into my kids’ school, I’d be pissed.”FDA could formally approve a menthol JUUL at any moment. The time to make our voices heard is NOW.Our message to FDA must be loud and clear: Don’t let JUUL get away with it.Menthol is not only preferred by nearly 40% of youth who vape, but it also makes it easier to get addicted and harder to quit. If we're going to protect kids from flavored e-cigarettes, menthol is no exception.Add your name to send letter:
In 2016, Paula’s son Walter had just started high school in Delaware when a friend offered him a cool-looking flavored e-cigarette that had just come on the market: a JUUL. Walter, a twin, and one of Paula’s four children, was almost immediately addicted, often vaping multiple mango or menthol JUUL pods every day.  Walter’s asthma, largely under control since childhood, returned with a vengeance:  the more Walter vaped, the more severe his asthma attacks.  The final attack led to Walter’s death in September 2020, just a few days before his 20th birthday.Tune in to this week’s episode to hear why Paula believes that publicly sharing her family’s tragedy will protect others--and is the most powerful way to fight back against an industry preying on teens.
On this week’s episode, we hear the story of a Connecticut mom struggling to save her son from his nicotine addiction as a result of flavored e-cigarette products. Kathy from Connecticut’s story shows us that we are not alone and when we stand up and fight back against Big Tobacco, just how powerful we can all be.
On this week’s episode, Congresswoman Lisa Blunt Rochester of Delaware, author of the Quit Because of COVID-19 Act to expand Medicaid coverage for tobacco-cessation during the pandemic, explains that her passion on this issue is personal. A Former CEO of the Urban League and mother of two, Blunt Rochester blames the industry’s glamorizing of smoking--the Virginia Slims ads and Newport KOOL concerts she recalls from when she was young--for leading family members to a lifetime of nicotine addiction. Now she sees similar tactics being deployed to hook a new generation through flavored nicotine products. 
On this week’s episode, Rae O’Leary, a member of the Turtle Mountain Band of Chippewa, describes how JUUL representatives offered hundreds of thousands of dollars and free products to hook her tribe on what they falsely described as “smoking cessation” products. In 2019, O’Leary, who leads public-health initiatives for Missouri Breaks in Eagle Butte, South Dakota on the Cheyenne River Sioux Reservation, testified about this meeting at the Congressional hearing investigating JUUL’s marketing to teens. (In fact, that’s where we “wrong moms” met.) Hear, this tobacco-control educator and advocate--whose leadership led her tribal council to pass one of the strongest smoke-free air policies in Indian country--share her community’s historic struggle to fight Big Tobacco’s predatory behavior, especially towards Native American teens.
On this week’s episode, Truth Initiative CEO and President Robin Koval explains why our kids tune us out but listen to a total stranger--as long as it’s a fellow teen. Truth has mastered the essential art of peer-to-peer messaging, and that’s why the new #quitwithus social-media campaign is going viral. Learn how you can access important resources like “This is Quitting”, a texting tool written in an authentic teen voice, and a “cool” school curriculum that can inspire your kid to kick the e-cig habit.
In this week’s episode, American Lung Association National President and CEO Harold Wimmer and Chief Marketing Officer Julia Fitzgerald introduce the organization’s parent-focused initiative encouraging adults to discuss the dangers of vaping with younger children. We love the “Get Your Head Out of the Clouds” campaign ( --created in partnership with the Ad Council--gently spoofing parents’ misinformation about e-cigarettes and the all-too-familiar reluctance to believe that their own kids might be vaping. 
In this week’s episode, Dr. Kelly Henning, public-health lead of Bloomberg Philanthropies, explains why Mayor Michael Bloomberg, a tobacco-control pioneer, views banning flavored e-cigarettes--and protecting kids from a lifetime of nicotine addiction--as essential to the ongoing campaign to end the industry’s predatory behavior. 
On this week’s episode, we interview a small-business owner taking on Big Tobacco.  Mitch Bradley of Heebs East Main Grocery in Bozeman, Montana has stopped selling tobacco products in order to fight the industry’s predatory behavior toward teens-even though he feared his decision could hurt his bottom line. (We’re pleased to report it did not.) Inspired by his father’s health battles after a lifetime of tobacco use, Bradley has also become a volunteer advocate in the legislative fight to ban flavored tobacco products in his home state. We hope that hearing this story will inspire other retailers to follow Mitch’s bold lead!
In this week’s episode, PAVe Maryland mom Donna speaks with remarkable candor about the painful discovery that her teenage son Jacob--an honor student and star athlete--had become dependent on flavored e-cigarettes and was severely addicted to nicotine. As her son’s grades plummeted and he developed respiratory problems, Donna pledged to help Jacob fight his addiction, mobilizing support from Jacob’s school, her family’s church, and even Jacob’s friends. As a PAVe advocate, Donna has joined a supportive community of parents using their powerful voices to push for banning flavored e-cigarettes in cities and states across the country--and fighting to keep Big Tobacco away from our kids.
In this week’s episode, named for our new #Vapes are Trash campaign, we discuss the environmental harms potentially caused by hazardous e-cigarette waste. Morgan, an 11th grade student, provides details about this Instagram competition developed with our youth initiative Students Against Vaping e-Cigarettes (SAVe) and explains why this issue should resonate with her peers. Share Morgan’s segment with your kids! Our second guest is Dr. Jeremiah Mock, Associate Professor at the University of California, San Francisco, a leading expert on the environmental impact of tobacco products. Dr. Mock explains the dangers posed by rapidly proliferating vaping waste; why companies including Juul, Stig, and Puff Bar should clean up the mess; and what role FDA could have in making sure they do it!
The Centers for Disease Control (CDC) just released the latest figures about the youth vaping epidemic, the 2020 National Youth Tobacco Survey (NYTS). On today’s episode, Meredith and Dorian discuss how this important federal report contains some promising news: a decline in the number of teens regularly vaping, from 5.4 million to 3.6 million. However, these numbers, a return to 2018 figures, remain at “epidemic” levels, the term used then by FDA and the Surgeon General. The difference now is that these teens report more frequent use, possibly a sign of greater nicotine addiction. We’re also alarmed by a1000% increase in the use of disposable e-cigarettes and a rise in use of menthol-flavored products. That includes menthol JUUL, a flavor for which the company has filed for FDA approval, despite claiming it has abandoned flavors to discourage youth use.
On today’s episode we interview Dr. Eduardo Sanchez, Chief Medical Officer for Prevention at the American Heart Association, about the public health lessons learned from the fight against smoking that can help solve the youth vaping epidemic. Sanchez, a former Texas Health Commissioner and father of four, explains why a multi-pronged approach that simultaneously focuses on identifying treatments for teen nicotine addiction, researching short and long term harms of vaping, and pushing for regulations at the state and federal levels must be the way forward. 
Dr. Valerie Yerger and Carol McGruder, co-founders of the African American Tobacco Control Leadership Council ( have spent years fighting to protect African American kids from menthol cigarettes and the predatory behavior of Big Tobacco. A 2009 federal ban on flavored cigarettes exempted menthol, allowing the industry to continue its decades-long targeting of African American communities with menthol-flavored tobacco products. On today’s episode we have a candid conversation with these courageous moms about the racialized public-health issue of banning menthol-flavored tobacco products, why they joined this fight, the catastrophic consequences these products have had on African American families, and they must be banned immediately.
We have breaking news about the first confirmed link between vaping and COVID in teens. According to a study published yesterday in the Journal of Adolescent Health by PAVe advisory board member Dr. Bonnie Halpern-Felsher, Professor of Pediatrics at Stanford Medical School, teens who vape are five to seven times more likely to contract COVID. Could this research explain why so many young people have been infected with COVID, in some cases suffering from severe symptoms, a trend that has surprised public-health experts? Should it factor into back-to-school discussions? Please tune in to hear our interview with Dr. Halpern-Felsher and, most importantly, share this crucial information with your kids!
Senator Dick Durbin of Illinois, whose father died of lung cancer when Durbin was in high school, has battled Big Tobacco for decades. Twenty-five years ago, after a fateful flight from Phoenix to Chicago, he fought to ban smoking on airplanes, a public-health victory that revolutionized air travel and helped change public perceptions of smoking. Today, Senator Durbin’s battling Big Tobacco’s use of flavored e-cigarettes to addict a new generation to nicotine. In September, after years of delay, FDA will finally begin reviewing thousands of these products that have been allowed to remain on the market illegally. Durbin explains why FDA should ban all flavors, why the agency's regulatory process should be public, and why parents voices matter now more than ever in the ongoing fight to protect our kids from the predatory behavior of Big Tobacco. 
How did three moms defeat JUUL in their hometown in California?On today’s episode we hear the inspiring story of PAVe partners Jannell, Kristie and Paula, the women behind Flavors Addict Kids Livermore. In 2018, as the youth vaping epidemic exploded, these passionate moms-of-teens, furious that local vape shops were selling to minors, took action on the local level, calling for a ban on the sale of all vape devices in Livermore. Then JUUL came to town to take them on. What happened next is a playbook for parents across the country who want to keep Big Tobacco away from our kids!
Comments (1)

Shawn C

This podcast is about the most obnoxious thing I have ever heard. Have you listened to yourselves? Of all of the things you could advocate, like poverty, better education, homelessness, fairness in veteran care or possible pushing for more transparency in politics, you chose an anti-vaping campaign using children as a shield to push an agenda? Absolutely and stunningly idiotic. Of all of the things in this day and age that you could support, you would rather waste your time on this? I'm sorry, but I'm led to believe that the rabbit hole you two are involved in goes much much deeper than children and vaporizers. Human trafficking maybe?

May 3rd
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