среда, 26 сентября 2012 г.

Increased obesity is wiping out most health benefits of less smoking

The American smoking rate is going down. The obesity rate is going up. And when it comes to women’s life expectancy, those trends have just about canceled each other out. A team of researchers with the National Bureau of Economic Research published data looking at obesity and smoking rates.

The trends are, as shown in this graph below, not exactly subtle: Both of those trends have an impact on longevity; these researchers wanted to tease out how each affected lifespan. Overall, the benefits of less smoking are outweighing the negatives of rising obesity – but only by a little bit, especially when it comes to women. The combined effect of changes in smoking and obesity is expected to produce steady improvements in male life expectancy through 2040, with a total gain of 0.92 years by that date.

On the other hand, women’s life expectancy is expected to be lower as a result of the combined changes through 2030. Thus, the pattern of reductions in the female advantage in life expectancy that has been evident since 1979 is expected to continue for another two decades, at least from these sources.

By 2040, life expectancy is anticipated to be 0.26 years higher for females as a result of these combined behavioral changes. That assumes that current trends hold, although there is some evidence that tobacco use is going up among young adults, which could change some of the calculus here.

Smoking pot too young lowers IQ

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I'm in Eighth grade and my best friends are starting to smoke weed. One is getting it from his parent's supply and they are doctors. I don't want to smoke it but they say everyone does it and our parents did, too, and there is nothing harmful about it. What do you make of their claims? — "James," Lodi Colin, 19, Los Angeles: Marijuana isn't as hardcore as meth or cocaine, but teen marijuana smokers are averaging an 8-point drop in IQ — permanently.

There is also the trade, which is dominated by Mexican drug cartels using brutality right out of the Middle Ages. Do you really want to support that? Finances? It's expensive. Illegal? Yes. I choose not to smoke marijuana. I am perfectly happy as I am. Brandon, 20, Mapleton, Maine: Pot is, sadly, the new cool thing in middle school. Yes, your parents may have experimented with pot (I know mine did). They grew up in the "freedom-peace-love" era and didn't understand the risks of starting young. I am completely against youth smoking.

If you want to get into it as an adult, that's your call. But smoking young will affect you negatively. Regarding friends, they come and go. The last time I saw my eighth-grade friends was three years ago. Worry about advancing yourself, your education and your future. I guarantee you can find friends who don't smoke weed. Katelyn, 17, Azusa: Recent research shows that while smoking pot may make you feel smarter in the present, it severely impacts your future learning abilities. Listen to your instincts! Kira, 20, Moraga: Eighth grade is way too young!

The earliest my friends started was sophomore year. I didn't try it till senior year and nobody pressured me. Personally, I don't like it, plus I get drug tested to play a college sport. Gregg, 21, Los Angeles: I was the kid getting my friends involved. I started smoking right after eighth grade. By junior year, my entire paycheck went to my drug dealer. My grades dropped, I lost friends, teachers eyeballed me. Finally, my parents forced me into a weekly rehab program and drug tested me randomly. (I was over 18; it can be done.)

Since I stopped over two years ago, I'm back! I'm more alive, active, outgoing and have better memory. The contrast gives me no desire to smoke again. It's actually a pretty boring activity. Dear James: "Keep your brain clean till at least 19." I wrote this catch-phrase based on observation. It is now backed by science. A recent long-term study shows that smoking pot before age 18 results in what may be a permanent IQ drop of eight points.

This is not small. This is a person of average intelligence dropping from 50th percentile in intelligence to 29th. For those in the study who waited until after 18 to start smoking, their IQ remained steady. (A note on Boomer parents: For those who lit up, the vast majority started after age 19 — and the pot was significantly weaker.) The adolescent brain undergoes huge changes and is vulnerable. Best practice: give it a pass. For non-users, IQ actually increases.

Banning Smoking Before Bayfest

Could Mobile's new smoking ordinance keep smokers away from Bayfest? The new law takes effect October 1st and bans smoking not only in restaurants but also in public parks and on sidewalks in the Downtown Mobile Business Improvement District. All of Bayfest is in that district. "Why you got to be on the sidewalk? You can smoke on private property when ever you get ready. Step over there where it's private.

You can smoke til you fall out," said City Councilman Fred Richardson. "If you want to commit suicide, don't take me with you." Richardson, who sponsored the ordinance, says not only can you not light up on the sidewalks and in public parks, but you also can't smoke in the streets. "It says public property. We own the streets," said Richardson. Some smokers we spoke with say if they can't light up, they're not showing up.

"Simple fact is, it won't be as pleasurable. Everybody is going to want to smoke," said Daniel Kincaid. "The whole ordinance is silly," said Bowie Cupit. "It's just absurd." "Will some citizens be inconvenienced? Probably so. Will some of them want to fire up in front of everybody. Probably so. What's the city going to do about it? I don't know?" said Richardson.

Several city leaders Local 15 News spoke with said they believe officers will be too busy with other matters to enforce the smoking ban during Bayfest. Bayfest's President declined to go on camera but said smokers will have plenty of places to light up.

FAU’s revised smoking policy tries scaring violators with possible expulsion

Corbin Rooks is smoking by the new black ash cans outside the entrance to the Innovation Village Apartments. As he chain smokes four cigarettes, he flicks them into the grass or crushes them into the sidewalk crack under his foot. Rooks, a junior business major, has no idea this is one of 20 areas he can smoke on campus without risking expulsion. As of Aug. 6, FAU’s Policies and Procedures Committee strengthened the smoking ban so students could be expelled for smoking outside designated areas. “It’s right, nonsmokers have the right to not be around smokers,” Rooks says. “As long as you give me my area, I’m good.” 

Two years ago, FAU created designated-smoking areas and banned smoking elsewhere on campus. When the new smoking policy started on Jan. 2, 2010 — the same year University of Florida went smoke-free — there was no punishment for students caught smoking outside the designated areas and no enforcement from administrators. Now it’s different. With the new smoking policy, there are a few alternatives to expulsion like warnings and suspensions. But before any of those alternatives are considered, someone must file a complaint against a student caught smoking outside a designated area (see sidebar).

Even before the new policy and possible expulsion, students and non-students alike violated the policy in front of administrators, professors and even FAU police officers without repercussions. But the smoking policies have been enforced on non-students. C.J. Phelps and Eric Johnson, the co-managers of Hookah Hut, began setting up a hookah at a table outside Einstein Bros Bagels last spring — neither one is a student. Phelps and Johnson moved their hookah 10 feet away from the table, to the smoking area between the S.E. Wimberly Library and Einstein’s after Associate Dean of Students Terry Mena took notice of them.

“We build customer relationships,” Phelps says. “It’s perfectly legal.” “A lot of FAU kids are into this,” Johnson says. “We’ve had teachers tell us they like it. We want people to have fun.” Mena then asked Phelps and Johnson how they felt, if they were students, and then threatened to call FAU police if they didn’t move, according to Phelps. Then Mena walked away without another word. “He came up to us with a bad attitude, interrupted our customer pitch,” Phelps says. “We just picked it up and walked over here.”

Mena could not be reached for comment about the incident as of press time. No FAU student has been reported, investigated, charged, expelled or punished in any way for violating the smoking policy as of press time, according to Dean of Students Corey King. “The students will go through the student code of conduct process,” King wrote in an email. Mike Thompson, a senior exercise science major who’s smoked for 17 years, thinks the revised policy is absurd.

“Expulsion for getting caught outside [a smoking area] is retarded,” Thompson says as he finishes his cigarette in the smoking area between the S.E. Wimberly Library and Einstein Bros Bagels. “I’ll write to [FAU President Mary Jane] Saunders.” Thompson also believes the faculty responsible for updating the policy should let students vote on it. When the university polled the student body in spring 2009, 1,376 voters supported limiting smokers to designated smoking zones, while 1,172 supported a smoke-free university.

Student Government Chief Justice Nicholas Scalice — a nonsmoker who sits on the Policies and Procedures Committee — favors the smoking areas, but not a smoke-free university. “That’s a fair compromise, a nice middle of the road approach,” Scalice says. Outside IVA, Corbin Rooks finishes smoking and is ready to go back to his dorm. “Where do you draw the line? Yeah we all share the same air,” Rooks says. “If you’re going to make it legal to smoke, then it should be legal anywhere.”


Secondhand smoke claims 42,000 US lives annually, including nearly 900 infants, according to University of California, San Francisco (UCSF) study, taking a serious physical and economic toll on families and communities. The UCSF study, published Thursday, September 20, 2012 in the American Journal of Public Health, is the first of its kind to use a biomarker to measure secondhand cigarette smoke and its physical and economic costs.

 Secondhand smoke results in nearly 600,000 years of potential life lost annually, researchers estimate, and an average of 14.2 years per person with $6.6 billion in lost productivity (amounting to $158,000 per death). Of the 42,000 total deaths resulting from secondhand smoke, 80 percent were white, 13 percent were black, and 4 percent were Hispanic.

The vast majority of deaths were caused by ischemic heart disease. – The researchers used serum cotinine – a biomarker which detects the chemical consequences of exposure to tobacco smoke in the bloodstream – to measure exposure to secondhand smoke. This measurement reflects secondhand exposure in all settings, not just home or work, the authors wrote. Mortality was measured in two conditions for adults: lung cancer and ischemic heart disease; and four conditions for infants: sudden infant death syndrome, low birth weight, respiratory distress syndrome, and other respiratory conditions of newborns.

 “In general, fewer people are smoking and many have made lifestyle changes, but our research shows that the impacts of secondhand smoke are nonetheless very large,” said lead author Wendy Max, PhD, professor of health economics at the UCSF School of Nursing and co-director of the UCSF Institute for Health & Aging. “The availability of information on biomarker-measured exposure allows us to more accurately assess the impact of secondhand smoke exposure on health and productivity.”

Some smokers have not learned about respect

Stop smoking signs are now part of our everyday lives and for the most part, people obey them. What I have noticed of late is the blatant disregard smokers seem to have for them; especially so in the places they should have the most effect. I went to Nanaimo Regional General Hospital today (Monday) with my wife and entered the front door. I noticed the grounds out front were filled with 'No Smoking' signs.

What stuck out to both my wife and I was the volume of people sitting or standing in front of those very signs smoking. Not one or two people but dozens. I guess I get it on streets, parks and large open spaces where smokers need to get their fix; but within feet of the front door of a hospital. I love a good irony now and then, but this is ridiculous. I note that large Vancouver Island Health Authority facilities have security guards.

Those guards should be given the authority to hand out fines, confiscate smokes and get people out of no smoking areas. The gauntlet my wife and I had to run to get from our car to the front entrance to the hospital was no less than 150 feet. It reminded me of the early days of the smoking ban in bars and restaurants; you'd have to hold your breath for the last 100 feet till you actually got inside. Obviously I'm a non-smoker; always have been and always will. But either enforce the laws, or at least take down the signs so it's not a constant reminder that people just don't care about my health even if they don't care about their own.

понедельник, 17 сентября 2012 г.

Health: The harmful additives in tobacco

European countries on Thursday launched websites informing the public about additives used by the tobacco industry to make cigarettes more attractive. These substances are harmful to health. After all, the more cigarettes they smoke, the more smokers are exposed to toxic substances, the Department of Information said. The initiative is the brainchild of the RIVM and the German Cancer Research Centre (DKFZ) and the aim is to provide European citizens with objective information about additives, such as how they work and their impact on health.

The sites in each of these European countries provide details of 14 specific additives that tobacco companies add to cigarettes. They include glycerine, sugars, cellulose, liquorice, cocoa, menthol and vanilla. The additives are intentionally mixed with tobacco to make the cigarettes more attractive. These added substances make cigarettes more attractive to smokers who have only recently taken up the habit, so they encourage people to smoke more. As a result, these additives have a substantial impact on public health.

This is because smoking is a major factor in the development of lung cancer, cardiovascular diseases, and respiratory diseases. In Europe, nearly 700,000 people die each year from the effects of smoking. Vanilla, one of the most commonly used additives in cigarettes, is also one of the most popular flavours in the world. This is no coincidence. Tobacco manufacturers deliberately add vanilla flavouring to tobacco, cigarette paper, or filters. Burning vanilla is known to release a range of different chemicals, including substances which have been classified as carcinogenic by the International Agency for Research on Cancer.

Vanilla also inflicts damage indirectly, because by masking the sharp taste of cigarette smoke it makes smoking more attractive. Most people do not realize that vanilla and dozens of other substances are added to cigarettes to improve their taste. The countries involved in the partnership are The Netherlands, Germany, Belgium, Bulgaria, Poland, Romania, Estonia, Malta, Austria, the United Kingdom, Norway, France, Finland, Turkey and Switzerland.

Australia Says ‘Big Tobacco’ Will Try to Skirt Plain-Pack Law

Australia’s government said it expects cigarette makers to try to skirt a branding ban due to start Dec. 1, after Imperial Tobacco Group Plc. (IMT) released new packs with the slogan “It’s what’s on the inside that counts.” “We know that Big Tobacco will use every trick in the book to try and get around the new requirements,” Tanya Plibersek, health minister, said in an e-mailed statement. The ministry will foil such efforts by monitoring packaging elements including gloss and tone while poring over marks, she said.

Under the rules, cigarette packages won’t be allowed to show company logos and will have to use a uniform font on an olive-brown background, with graphic health warnings covering most of the packets. Major retailers will receive the first deliveries of new plain packages this week, she said, with the manufacture of old-style packs banned from Oct. 1 and stores barred from selling them after Dec. 1. Imperial Tobacco’s changes to its Peter Stuyvesant brand packaging was intended to “provide factual information about upcoming legislative changes,” Michelle Park, a Sydney-based spokeswoman for the company, said by e-mail.

“It is also important to inform our adult consumers that the product itself will remain unchanged.” The Imperial Tobacco packaging was a “sick joke,” Plibersek said. “Diseased lungs, hearts and arteries are the reality of what is happening on the inside to a smoker.”

Philip Morris loses Norway tobacco bid

Following in the footsteps of several other countries such as Ireland and Iceland, Norway in 2010 banned the display of cigarettes in stores in an attempt to cut impulse buys of tobacco products. Cigarettes were banished to closed cases and cigarette dispensers do not show brand labels. Philip Morris argued in a lawsuit filed in June that the ban violates European competition rules and would not lead to a reduction in the number of smokers, but an Oslo court rejected the complaint.

"There is no clear proof that the display ban will not contribute to a future reduction of tobacco consumption in Norway," the court said in its ruling. "The court is therefore of the opinion that the measure is appropriate in order to preserve the nation's health," it added. However a spokeswoman for the company that makes Marlboro and L&M cigarettes said they planned to appeal the ruling.

The display ban "restricts information about a legal product, restricts competition, and makes it hard for us to introduce new products into the market, said Anne Edwards, Director of External Communications for Philip Morris International.

Philip Morris loses tobacco battle

The tobacco giant today lost its attempt to get tobacco and snuff visibly on sale again in Norway after Oslo District Court ruled there had been no breach of the EEA agreement. Communications Director for Philip Morris Nordan Helland released a statement revealing how the company is “disappointed with the court's decision and are considering our options for appeal."

The company, which attempted to sue the Norwegian state alleging concealing tobacco products contravenes competition law, also claims that smuggling has increased while consumption remains the same as a result of Norway not having tobacco on display. “We still believe that visibility prohibition does not provide health benefits, and that wed to presenting legal goods in Norway should be allowed,” NRK reports Mr Helland as saying.

Norwegian researchers argue the veto, which came into force on 01 January 2010, has led to fewer smokers and a reduction in tobacco sales. In the same year, a leaked proposal by the Ministry of Health and Care suggested allocating 19 million kroner towards a mass media campaign against smoking for reasons of public health. Government officials also wanted to tighten Norway’s anti-smoking law further. An aggressive campaign was launched at the beginning of 2012.

Many Norwegian companies have failed in their desire to completely ban smoking at work. General secretary of the Cancer Association Anne Lise Ryel told NTB she is pleased with today's decision by the court to allow Norway to keep tobacco out of sight. “The result was what we had hoped and believed. We are incredibly happy that it must be possible for the authorities to take account of public health as has been done with the ban.

The outcome in the District Court is also extremely important in the fight against the use of tobacco products globally.” Research director Karl Erik Lund at Norway’s Institute for Alcohol and Drug Research (Sirius), who testified as an expert witness for the state, declared about today's court decision that, “This verdict sends a signal that it's possible to win over the mighty tobacco industry,"

259 penalised in Sangrur under Tobacco Act last month

In an attempt to make Sangrur district tobacco-free, health officials imposed a fine on 259 persons, including kiosk owners, for violating the Cigarettes and Other Tobacco Products Act last month. The health department collected a fine of around Rs. 20,000 from the defaulters.

Chairing a monthly review meeting on Friday, deputy commissioner Kumar Rahul sought a detailed report on the action taken by the health department to check violations of the Act. The DC asked officials to ensure that anti-tobacco warning boards are installed in all public offices.

 "We are ensuring that challan books are issued to all gazetted officers to tighten the noose on the violators. The heads of NGOs and government schools have also been issued challan books," he said.

Hamilton gets praise for fighting contraband tobacco

The Ontario Convenience Stores Association is praising Hamilton city council for unanimously passing a motion against contraband tobacco. The motion requests that Hamilton's mayor write a letter encouraging the finance ministry to follow through on promises to increase resources in the fight against illegal tobacco.

Association CEO Dave Bryans says contraband tobacco usage is particularly troubling in the Hamilton area. Bryans says RCMP have made major seizures in the area recently.