News of Otsego County

Tobacco Free Communities

Opinion by Christopher Bradley: Fighting addictions comes from personal place

Opinion by Christopher Bradley
Fighting addictions comes from personal place

The first time I ever used an e-cigarette I was in line at a bar. I remember the stark contrast of the humid evening to the deep cool inhale of mint flavor that effortlessly filled my lungs. The rush to my head after I exhaled made my knees turn to Jell-O, almost sending me to the ground.

That rush coupled with the social nature of the device fueled my desire to buy my own JUUL. Amidst a vast selection of colorful pods and juices spanning from fruit flavors to your favorite childhood cereals, JUUL stood out as the least intimidating selection as they promoted a starter kit that came with the popular flavors of mint and mango.

I didn’t seem to notice the progression of my reliance on nicotine. I am still not sure if I was unaware or unwilling to admit to myself that the rush I got from vaping while partying with friends had quickly evolved to needing a vape to get through the day. I remember sitting in movie theaters inhaling the aerosol as deep as I could and releasing it into my sweatshirt pulled up to my nose to hide it. I would sneak down into the basement of the building where my internship was to get a hit of nicotine. I even vaped early in the morning at my desk before my coworkers had arrived or as soon as they had gone home. At the time, I did not know that one pod contained as much nicotine as that found in a whole pack of cigarettes.

I was still vaping when I applied for my current position at Tobacco Free Communities Delaware, Otsego and Schoharie.

When I learned that I would be working with teenagers to prevent youth from using tobacco, I knew using the product would be hypocritical. I also began to learn about the tobacco industry’s marketing strategies and tactics to addict youth and young adults to their products quickly and for life. I saw I had done and experienced exactly what the industry had mapped out years ago: getting the euphoric rush from my first hit of highly concentrated nicotine, choosing from numerous sweet e-cig flavors presented like candy in the stores, and using the JUUL starter kit.

The resentment at being manipulated inspired me to quit cold turkey. The first two weeks were excruciating. I had headaches, intense cravings, and a short temper that caused me to flare up at family and friends. Thankfully, I was able to kick my habit, but I still crave nicotine every single day.
The powerful stigma of cigarettes prevented my peers and me from smoking them, but the new vaping products, with sweet flavors veiling their harmful effects, the extreme physical sensation they offered, and the social pressure surrounding them, easily drew us in. TFC-DOS’ youth program “Reality Check” works to educate our communities on the impact the tobacco industry has had on local youth and to prevent youth from initiating tobacco use, whether smoking, vaping or chewing. As Reality Check’s Youth Engagement Coordinator for the tricounty area, I continue to work to elevate local youth’s perspective on tobacco marketing and assist in mobilizing communities to find ways to protect their kids.

Without these sources of inspiration, I would have undoubtedly continued to use e-cigarettes regardless of the consequences. My nicotine addiction and my friends’ continuing use of tobacco products fuels my desire to mobilize communities to protect their youth from this industry.

Christopher Bradley is a youth engagement coordinator at Tobacco Free Communities Delaware, Otsego and Schoharie.

HILL: Reporter Give Thanks To Retired Editor

Reporter Gives Thanks

To Retired Editor

To the Editor:

I need to add my own praise for Jim Kevlin. I moved to Otsego County in July 2018, had never lived in New York State or worked as a breaking news reporter before, and I was 52 years old – not exactly at the most agile stage of life. Yet Jim hired me in Nov. 2018 and I was there for almost a year. It was stressful, but it was also one of the most fun and interesting years of my life.

Jim and Libby Cudmore, then-managing editor, sent me on amazing assignments. I got to report on an American Ninja Warrior from Oneonta, bison who escaped from their ranch, two rescued piglets at the SSPCA, and writer Erica Jong. I got to learn about this area quickly and aspects of it I would probably never have known.

Jim was such a good mentor to me. He always gave me the background to a story that I, as a newbie, needed. He tried mightily to teach me how to take decent photographs since I was a novice at that, too. I often took way too long to write. Given we had looming deadlines, Jim was patient with me although a few times he’d bark, “Hill, why aren’t you finished yet?” in his best editor voice.

All he needed was a cigar although since I now work for Tobacco-Free Communities, I’m glad he didn’t have one.

Mostly, Jim was such a nice man. He treated people who came in to talk to him with dignity. And I enjoyed his sense of humor. I loved that he’d say, “This story could be a hot potato!”

And now that I have overwritten yet another piece for this paper, I will end with congratulating Jim and Sylvia on their retirement and their next fun adventure. Thank you, Jim, for letting me meet and write about people who make this area good and interesting to live in.

Jennifer Hill

Tobacco Free Communities Moves To Downtown Oneonta

Tobacco Free Communities

Moves To Downtown Oneonta

Tobacco Free Communities of Delaware, Otsego & Schoharie (TFC-DOS) cut the ribbon Wednesday on its new offices at 151-153 Main St., the former Stevens Hardware.  Front row, from left, are TFC-DOS Director Judy Rightmyer, Community Engagement Coordinator Jennifer Hill, Program Specialist Barbara Doyle, Youth Engagement Coordinator Chris Bradley, LEAF’s Executive Director Julie Dostal, and Chamber of Commerce President Barbara Ann Heegan. Back row, from left, the Chamber’s Director of Special Events Kathryn Dailey; Alan Cleinman of Cleinman Performance Partners; LEAF Prevention Specialist Carol Mandigo; County Rep. Clark Oliver, D-11; and Oneonta Common Council member Mark Drnek, Ward 8.  Dostal, Cleinman, and Mandigo advocated for Oneonta’s tobacco-free parks ordinance in 2017.
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