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Category Archives: Protection for Smokers

Mother’s fear of bright tobacco packs”

In a survey of more than 2,000 women for Cancer Research UK, found 8 of the 10 thought bright packaging was attractive to young people while 85% said that children should not be exposed to any tobacco marketing in general. The Government has established plans to introduce plain packaging on hold, saying he wanted to gather more evidence first. A decision has been delayed so more time can be spent on the study of how such a scheme has worked in Australia.

19may-smoking_2562573bHealth Minister Anna Soubry said in July that she “never give in to pressure.” Labour accused the Government of “caving in to big business.” Under the plans, all tobacco packages would be the same color and would carry prominent, graphic warnings about the dangers of smoking.

The examination of the mother and grandmother of children less than 18 years found 92% would be worried about their children when they are addicted to smoking under age.

Cancer Research UK runs a campaign to remove all the “stylish and attractive” branding from the packaging and increase the number of picture warnings about the health effects of smoking. More than 200,000 children start smoking every year, with more girls smoke regularly than boys, figures show.

Alison Cox, Cancer Research UK’s director of tobacco control, said: “Smoking causes more than 8 out of 10 cases of lung cancer, and more than 100,000 tobacco-related deaths each year. We also know that starting smoking at a young age greatly increases the risk of lung cancer, so most mothers and grandmothers believed that no child shall be subjected to exposure to advertising of tobacco products.

“We are urging the Government to introduce a simple, standardized packaging of tobacco, which, as well as being a popular movement, would show that the government cares more about the health of future generations than the profits the tobacco industry. We would like to see the government to protect children from the temptation of sophisticated marketing of tobacco industry and introduce a simple, standardized packaging as a way to reduce the number of young people who start smoking. “

Simon Clark, director of the smokers’ lobby group Forest, said: “There is no credible evidence that children start smoking because of the cigarette packaging. Teenagers are influenced primarily by their peers and family members. The introduction of plain packaging can be the source of the black market and it would have been much worse for children because the gangs do not care who they sell to.

“The government has rightly decided to wait until there is no conclusive evidence that supports plain packaging. To his credit, he also took into account the views of hundreds of thousands of people who responded to the public consultation on standardized packaging. Vast majority was against the policy, and not without reason. “

Martin Dockrell, director of policy and research at Action on Smoking and Health, said: “Mothers and grandmothers clearly want to protect children from tobacco industry: Since the advertising ban on smoking among children doubled removal promotional items from tobacco packaging that will help finish the job and further reduce take-up of smoking by children. “

Plain packaging reduce smoking appeal

A new study by the tobacco industry discredited assertion that there is no proof plain packaging on cigarette packs reduces the appeal of smoking.

Scientists from Canada, the United States and Brazil conducted a study of 640 young Brazilian women to determine the cigarettes were the same treatment when presented in a plain packaging. “The women in this study rated branded packs as more appealing, more stylish and sophisticated than the plain packs,” said study leader David Hammond of the University of Waterloo, Canada.

“They also believed that the cigarettes in the branded bags will be better tasting and smooth. Proposal package in the test, participants were three times more likely to choose branded packaged as a gift.”

British American Tobacco New Zealand (BATNZ) last month launched a print, television and radio campaign costing hundreds of thousands of dollars in response to the plan of the Government of New Zealand strip all branding from cigarette packs to make them less attractive to smokers.

BATNZ general manager Steve Rush said plain packaging creates “a disturbing precedent” for other industries, adding that the British government is considering a similar proposal on alcohol.

He said New Zealand should not “blindly follow the example of Australia” policy in his words, not proven to help curb smoking.

But the latest study adds to the mounting criticism of such claims.

Professor Alistair Woodward, head of department at the University of Auckland public health, said the findings fit into what is observed in other places – that tobacco packaging influences the opinions and behavior of smokers.

“The tobacco industry knows very well the value of brand packaging. That is why they have invested so heavily in design and illustration in the past, and why the industry is opposed to plain packaging so hard, “he said.

Janet Hoek of Otego University Department of Marketing said that the paper adds to the growing evidence base to support plain packaging measures.

“Overall, this study confirms earlier work showing how plain packaging will reduce smoking and reduce the perception of the benefits of smoking is perceived to deliver.

“In addition, New Zealand research has shown that plain packaging affects not only perception, but also affects their choice of behavior – much smaller then” just smokers’ package -., And the likely decision to quit smoking, “Health Minister Tony Ryal last month said BATNZ was “wasting their money” for his campaign.

He believes New Zealanders are turning against the tobacco companies and their marketing strategies.

“New Zealanders have moved from under the influence in this way. There is a lot of support for what the government does in tobacco.”

The Ministry of Health has issued a discussion paper on plain packaging and expects to report the results in October. The Government has agreed to support a change in policy in principle.

Will removing menthol from cigarettes to improve health?

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) are currently considering banning the use of menthol as an additive to cigarettes. Menthol cigarettes account for about 30 percent of cigarettes sold in the United States, and they are favored by African-American smokers is about three times the margin of white smokers. They also spoke of women smokers. One of the most important aspects of the charge by the FDA is whether the use of menthol cigarettes is more harmful than the use of menthol cigarettes are not.

Menthol has become the focus of epidemiologists, and tobacco, the researchers after seeing my colleagues and I in the 1988 letter to the American Journal of Public Health, that the mortality from esophageal cancer among non-white (primarily African-Americans) has grown remarkably in parallel with the increase in the proportion market and menthol that African-American smokers tend to favor menthol cigarettes.
hot-cigs.biz/menthol-cigarettes-brandsAt that time, we hypothesized that menthol deserves study as a possible factor contributing to significantly higher rates of smoking-related cancers among African Americans.
Since then, many studies have addressed this issue and could not manage to show that menthol has no effect in that smoking it. However, most studies of lung cancer, the most common smoking-related cancer and a few examined the association with esophageal cancer and cancer of the oral cavity and larynx.

Because our ecological observations from 24 years ago first drew attention to menthol, we decided to investigate the ecological changes in the rates of the four smoking-related cancers by race and gender, from 1973 to 2007 the prevalence of smoking menthol cigarettes. Cancers were those of lungs, throat, mouth and throat. Information about cancer came from the SEER Program of the National Cancer Institute, as well as information on the prevalence of the use of menthol cigarettes came from representative surveys of the U.S. population.

Ecological studies of this type have certain limitations: first of all, they use a set of data on exposure and disease groups, but not information on individuals. Second, the analysis of environmental, no one can control the confounding factors as possible in the epidemiological study of the analytical.
However, because there is such a strong preference for menthol contrast to race and gender, and because there are great differences in the rates of these cancers are also on the grounds of race and gender, we felt that this was a case where an ecological approach can be informative.
Our approach was also justified by the fact that African-American smokers actually have lower cumulative exposure to smoke than their white counterparts, as they smoked significantly less cigarettes per day on average and begin smoking later in life. In addition, alcohol use, other major risk factors for esophageal cancer, and is lower in African-Americans.

Despite significant differences in the rates of the four cancers by race and gender, as well as significant changes during the 35-year period there was little evidence of correlation between the prevalence of the use of menthol cigarettes and cancer. Thus, our study showed that smoking menthol cigarettes does not appear to affect the risk over and above the effect of smoking itself.
As stated in the document, the fact that we still can not explain why blacks have higher rates of esophageal cancer and other smoking-related cancer compared with whites.
For smokers, the fact is that smoking is smoking, and menthol is probably not important.

Tobacco and Nicotine

Nicotine, the main drug in tobacco, is one of the most heavily used addictive drugs in the United States. In 2008, 28.4 percent of the U.S. population 12 and older used tobacco at least once in the month prior to being interviewed. This figure includes 3.6 million young people age 12 to 17. Young adults aged 18 to 25 reported the highest rate of current use of any tobacco products (44.6 percent) in 2008. Most of them smoked cigarettes.

In 1989, the U.S. Surgeon General issued a report that concluded that cigarettes and other forms of tobacco, such as cigars, pipe tobacco, and chewing tobacco, are addictive and that nicotine is the drug in tobacco that causes addiction. In addition, the report determined that smoking was a major cause of stroke and the third leading cause of death in the United States. Once hooked, nicotine addiction is extremely difficult to overcome.
Health Hazards

It’s highly addictive. Nicotine is highly addictive and acts as both a stimulant and a sedative to the central nervous system. The ingestion of nicotine results in an almost immediate “kick” because it causes a discharge of epinephrine from the adrenal cortex. This stimulates the central nervous system, and other endocrine glands, which causes a sudden release of glucose. Stimulation is then followed by depression and fatigue, leading the abuser to seek more nicotine.
Smoking cigarettes and marijuana are closely related. Research shows that youth who smoke cigarettes are fourteen times more likely to try marijuana as those who don’t.
Nicotine accumulates in the body. Nicotine is absorbed readily from tobacco smoke in the lungs, regardless of whether the tobacco smoke is from cigarettes, cigars, or pipes. Nicotine is also absorbed readily when tobacco is chewed. With regular use of tobacco, levels of nicotine accumulate in the body during the day and persist overnight thus exposing daily smokers to the effects of nicotine for 24 hours each day.

There are long-term hazards. In addition to nicotine, cigarette smoke is primarily composed of a dozen gases (mainly carbon monoxide) and tar. The tar in a cigarette, which varies from about 15 mg for a regular cigarette to 7 mg in a low-tar cigarette, exposes the user to a high expectancy rate of lung cancer, emphysema, and bronchial disorders. The carbon monoxide in the smoke increases the chance of cardiovascular diseases.

Second-hand smoke can cause illness. The Environmental Protection Agency has concluded that secondhand smoke causes lung cancer in adults and greatly increases the risk of respiratory illnesses in children and sudden infant death.

theantidrug.com

Japanese Smokers: Going the Way of the Dodo?

The Japanese smoker is becoming an increasingly rare breed. According to a new survey, 21.7% of Japanese adults are smokers, the smokers Japanlowest proportion recorded since the annual report conducted by Japan Tobacco Inc. began in 1965.

The smoking population in Japan declined for the 16th consecutive year, but the latest figure is 2.2 percentage points lower than 2010, reflecting the steepest annual drop seen in recent years. It’s another victory for the anti-smoking movement, against the backdrop of a pervasive smoking culture where 45.8% of surveyed adult men considered themselves smokers as recently as June 2005. That has now fallen to 33.7%, according to the JT survey released Thursday.

The curbed behavior puts Japan on the lower end of the scale compared to other corners of the world. About 20.6% of all U.S. adults smoke, according to the Center for Disease Control in 2009. Over in Europe, Greece has the highest smoking rate with the proportion of smokers exceeding 40%, according to a European Commission study published in 2010. The same study said the smoking rate among the French came in at 34% and 28% in the U.K. But boasting the world’s largest population, China also has the most smokers – over 300 million.

Japan Tobacco, the country’s leading cigarette maker known as JT, attributes the decline to the graying population, greater awareness about the health risks as well as tightening smoking restrictions. Whereas Japanese smokers could light up with abandon just about anywhere in the past, new regulations have scaled back smoking spots. Local governments have designated specific areas for smoking in public congested spots, such as train stations and outside department stores. Meanwhile, walking while smoking is prohibited. But perhaps the biggest nicotine-killer in Japan has been a tax hike imposed on tobacco last October – the unprecedented increase of ¥3.5 hike per cigarette, or ¥70 on a pack of cigarettes led to about nearly 40% hike in tobacco prices.

Although the beleaguered Democratic Party of Japan is likely to shelve plans that would have hiked the tobacco tax again, albeit temporarily, the leaf is not out of the woods yet. The DPJ is expected to hold talks on a potential exclusion with opposition parties the New Komeito and the LDP, which is supported by the tobacco farmers, according to the local business daily Nikkei on Thursday.

The smoking culture here has come a long way from the 1990s, when people started to quit. The country’s smoking rate among adults was 36.3% in 1995, the year the proportion of nicotine puffers started its long, slow decline. (Although JT notes that the survey method changed in 2006.) In Japan, it is illegal to smoke and purchase cigarettes for those under 20 years of age.

The world’s third-largest tobacco company by sales volume after Phillip Morris International Inc. and British American Tobacco PLC, said in late July its group operating profit declined 9.5% to ¥71.98 billion ($922.9 million) in its fiscal first quarter, hurt by the disruption of its tobacco sales following the March 11 disaster.

To deal with the changing tide, JT has pushed for compromise rather than an all-out ban on smoking like ones imposed in the U.S. and Europe. “JT will continue its efforts to realize a society in which smokers and non-smokers can co-exist in harmony,” said the company in the survey report. One example of nurturing this harmony is in urging smokers to be polite, such as courteously not littering the streets with used butts. Also, the company said it offers complimentary consulting services to restaurants, offices and stores to help create smoking and non-smoking sections before the practice is banished to the outdoors, as it is in all dining establishments in New York City.
By Yoree Koh

Sarah Jessica Parker’s Cigarette Habit Takes Toll on Beauty

Actress Sarah Jessica Parker, who recently premiered in her new film “I Don’t Know How She Does It,” is known for her trim figure. Sarah Jessica Parker smokeBut despite being a workout fanatic, she still smokes cigarettes, putting her health at risk.

Young people take up smoking for a lot of reasons, but by the time they are in their mid-20s, many come to their senses and quit.

Parker smoked for several seasons on her hit HBO Show “Sex and the City,” until protests caused her to write it out of the script. But in real life, she’s still addicted.

Husband Matthew Broderick has worried in public what affect it might have on their kids.

In a 2008 interview, he expressed concern that their son might eventually pick up the nicotine habit because of his parents.

“I used to smoke cigarettes, and I still do, lately,” said Broderick. “I gave that up a long time ago, but every now and then I will fall off for a week.”

Broderick says Parker is “worse than me on that.”

And he says their son, James Wilkie is “already curious. He’ll see a cigarette butt and say, ‘What is that? Why do people smoke?’ I can just see the little budding gene of a smoker in there.”

Smoking substantially raises the risk of contracting cancer of the lungs, throat, pancreas and stomach.

Today, more women die from lung cancer than from breast cancer, according to medical authorities.

Hollywood stars often set examples and are viewed as role models, so its always worse when a celebrity smokes, creating an aura that it can’t happen to them.

But in so many cases, it does happen. Actor Michael Douglas is a prime example.

His father, legendary actor Kirk Douglas is 93, and outside of a stroke in his later years, has lived a long robust life.

With longevity genes like that, Michael, 65, probably thought, he too, could look forward to a similar life span.

But he was diagnosed with stage IV throat cancer last year. He blames it on smoking cigarettes and drinking alcohol.

Douglas has an 80 percent chance of beating the disease, and recently said he was cancer free after eight weeks of excruciating treatment.

Late actor Patrick Swayze’s wasn’t so lucky. His pancreatic cancer was also tied to a life of cigarette smoking. He died at 57.

Parker has a toned physique that most twenty-somethings would envy, and she works hard to maintain her slender size 0 figure.

She typically runs fives miles at a time and also does yoga and Pilates. In fact, SJP is so disciplined about exercise that she doesn’t need a workout buddy to push her to hit the gym.

But the signs of smoking can already been seen in her face and skin. Cigarettes have been linked to wrinkles and pre-mature aging and yellowing of the skin.

Cancer is a killer no matter how healthy you are. If you smoke nothing else matters, whether it’s eating better or exercising.

And, it can strike at any time. Here’s hoping she finally quits.

Does smoking pot make you skinny?

Smoking marijuana is notorious for bringing on the munchies, but a new study has found that contrary to what you might think, pot smokers are skinnier than their non-smoking peers.

Rates of obesity are lower by roughly a third in people who smoke pot at least three times a week, compared with those who don’t use marijuana at all, reports Time’s Healthland blog.

Researchers looked at the results of two large national surveys of Americans, covering about 52,000 people. In one, 22 per cent of those who did not smoke marijuana were obese, compared with just 14 per cent of the regular marijuana smokers. In the second, 25 per cent of nonsmokers were obese, compared with 17 per cent of regular cannabis users, reports the blog.

The study is published in the American Journal of Epidemiology.

Yes, we know correlation doesn’t equal causation, or, as writer Maia Szalavitz puts it, “…the correlation between weed and weight doesn’t mean that marijuana smoking actually causes weight loss.”

Some suggested mediators at work could include religious faith, since highly religious people are less likely to take drugs, but more likely to be obese.

“So, some of the obese people in the national surveys may be religious folk, who might otherwise be heavy marijuana smokers, but are eating too much instead. That could make it look like marijuana is slimming,” she writes.

One nagging question, though, is why marijuana smokers didn’t get fatter by taking a drug that can clearly stimulate appetite – one of the major uses of medicinal marijuana.

One factor may be tolerance: many of marijuana’s effects are reduced in frequent users, as the body adjusts to it, she writes.

“Another may be substitution — the smokers could be seeking comfort by smoking more marijuana, rather than eating more. Or, perhaps other ingredients in cannabis like cannabidiol (CBD) could reduce the appetite-increasing effects of THC in the same way that they reduce its paranoia-inducing properties.”

Bottom line: Here’s hoping this study doesn’t show up as the basis for the next diet fad.

Popularity of smokeless tobacco on the rise

We were discussing teenagers, and my patient’s mother shared how lucky she felt to have a teenage son who was a fine student and gifted athlete who never got into trouble. In fact, the young man not only had no bad habits, but he also tried hard to be a good role model for his teammates. His most recent efforts involved discouraging the other boys from using chewing tobacco.

While older men once were the main users of smokeless tobacco products, the addiction referral organization Teen Drug Abuse notes that young men and teenage boys now make up 92 percent of smokeless tobacco consumers. Smokeless tobacco use among boys is on the rise, with 15 percent of U.S. high school boys admitting current use. Smokeless products also tend to attract kids even before their teen years, with an average start age of 12 years for smokeless tobacco use compared to 14 years for cigarette smoking.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reports that chewing tobacco and snuff are the two most popular smokeless tobacco products in the United States. Users typically put the tobacco between cheek and gum, suck or chew the product, and then spit out or swallow the remaining tobacco juice and saliva.

The CDC cautions that even though these tobacco products are usually not inhaled by the user, smokeless tobacco actually contains 28 known carcinogens and should never be viewed as a safe alternative to cigarettes.

Carcinogenic chemicals in smokeless tobacco include nitrosamines, which are formed during tobacco processing, along with radioactive polonium-210, an element found in tobacco fertilizer.

National Cancer Institute research shows that smokeless tobacco use causes oral, esophageal and pancreatic cancers, and has been linked to the development of precancerous white patches in the mouth (leukoplakia), gum disease and heart disease.

Experts at the NCI explain that smokeless tobacco, like all other tobacco products, contains nicotine, an addictive stimulant. Smokeless tobacco use can therefore lead to nicotine addiction and dependence. Medical studies reveal that users of smokeless tobacco products have blood nicotine levels similar to cigarette smokers, and that these blood levels linger longer in smokeless users than in smokers.

“There is no safe level of tobacco use,” states the cancer institute, which urges all tobacco consumers, including smokeless tobacco users, to seek help in quitting. Counseling is available through many resources, including the NCI’s Smoking Quitline at (877) 448-7848 and the website ChewFree.com.

By Dr. Helen Minciotti

Tobacco display ban set for spring

Belfast, Northern Ireland – A ban on displaying cigarettes in shops will not begin until next spring at the earliest, the health minister has said.

Edwin Poots wants to introduce regulations barring the tobacco products from view in stores and scrapping vending machines.

Mr Poots said: “Despite all the available evidence on the harm caused by smoking, hundreds of children and young people are still taking up this life-limiting habit each year. By removing displays of tobacco products from view in shops, and preventing children from accessing them through vending machines, we are building upon measures already in place aimed at reducing the prevalence of smoking.”

Shop owners have highlighted the time it will take them to be ready for the new legislation. There are also legal challenges to the equivalent regulations in England.

Mr Poots said the ban will not commence in Northern Ireland until next spring at the earliest. Vending machine sales should end from February 1 next year.

In March 2009 the Assembly approved the ban on the display of tobacco items in shops in Northern Ireland. Then health minister Michael McGimpsey wanted to introduce the prohibition in 2010 but the DUP argued for a delay to 2013 to give retailers time to fund changes to their premises.

Following delays caused by ongoing legal action, England and Scotland are now proposing an introduction date of April 6 2012 for large stores and April 6 2015 for small stores. Wales has yet to announce a new date. The Republic of Ireland introduced a display ban and further restrictions on underage access to vending machines from July 1 2009.

The latest survey results available show that almost 9% of 11 to 16-year-olds in Northern Ireland are regular smokers.

Nicotine protects the brain from Parkinson’s disease

If you’ve ever wondered if smoking offered society any benefit, a new research report published in The FASEB Journal (https://www.fasebj.org) offers a surprising answer. Nicotine protects us from Parkinson’s disease, and the discovery of how nicotine does this may lead to entirely new types of treatments for the disease.

“This study raises the hope for a possible neuroprotective treatment of patients at an early step of the disease or even before at a stage where the disease has not been diagnosed according to motor criteria,” said Patrick P. Michel, co-author of the study from the Institut du Cerveau et de la Moelle Épinière, Hôpital de la Salpêtrière, in Paris, France.

To make this discovery, scientists used mice genetically engineered without a specific nicotine receptor (the alpha-7 subtype) and mice with a functional receptor. Using tissue from mouse embryos, researchers prepared brain cultures using conditions that favor the slowly progressing loss of dopamine neurons, a hallmark of the disease. The scientists found that nicotine had the potential to rescue dopamine neurons in cultures from normal mice, but not in cultures from mice without the nicotine receptor. These findings suggest that it may be feasible to develop novel therapies for Parkinson’s disease that target nicotine receptors, particularly the alpha-7 nicotine receptor.

“If you’re a smoker, don’t get too excited,” said Gerald Weissmann, M.D., Editor-in-Chief of The FASEB Journal. “Even if smoking protects you from Parkinson’s, you might not live long enough to develop the disease because smoking greatly increases the risk for deadly cancers and cardiovascular diseases. But now, we should be able find non-toxic ways to hit the same target.”

By Cody Mooneyhan
cmooneyhan@faseb.org
301-634-7104
Federation of American Societies for Experimental Biology

Fighting for smoke-free buildings

You’ve lived in your apartment or condo for many years. All of a sudden, a new neighbour moves in – a smoker – and the smell and smoke is infiltrating your living space.

Is there anything you can do? Polite conversation with the neighbour is a start, and failing that, you could complain to the building’s owner or the condo association. If it can be proved the smoke is destroying your “covenant of quiet enjoyment,” the landlord can ask the tenant to stop smoking in his or her apartment.

If that doesn’t work – unless the new tenant or owner has signed a lease or purchase agreement that specifies no smoking in the unit – you are out of luck. “Unless there is a clause in the lease forbidding smoking, you can do nothing,” said Jean-Yves Benôit of the Régie de Logement, the provincial rental board.

Increasingly, some condo associations and new buildings are putting in clauses that forbid smoking in the units.

In some cases with existing multi-unit dwellings, as one tenant moves out, the new tenant will be asked to sign a no-smoking lease, marked where the “no pets” restriction is noted.

Increasingly, across North America, buildings are going smoke-free – not just in common areas as mandated by law, but in individual units, said François Damphousse of the Non-Smokers Rights Association. “Smoking in multi-unit buildings affects the non-user, unless the unit is hermetically sealed,” Damphousse said. “Buildings share air ducts and heating.”

In Florida, many condos for snowbirds are now smokefree. In St. John’s, Nfld., social housing units are smoke-free.

Damphousse has been successful in making the Montreal condo building he bought for his mother smoke-free by going to the building association and passing a new bylaw.

“We don’t bar smokers from living there; they’re just not allowed to smoke in the building,” Damphousse said.

Too bad rules like this don’t exist in the Côte des Neiges condo where Ilona Eberhardt has lived for 32 years.

“I’m 80 years old and I had bronchitis three times last year and I never had any problems before,” she said. “A new owner moved into the 4½ rooms in July, and there are two heavy smokers. The smoke is coming through the baseboards of our shared living room wall.”

Eberhardt said she tried the neighbourly approach but was told by the son of the new owner that the problem was hers, not his. She said she was also rebuffed by the condo administration, which told her the problem was between her and the neighbour and it would not interfere.

Damphousse noted a lawsuit in 2008 pitting a duplex owner with asthma against her tenant. The owner said the lease prohibited smoking but the tenant denied seeing this. The rental board ruled for the tenant but the owner appealed and won. The tenant left.

Cogir Property Management, which oversees 15,000 apartments in Quebec, complies with the anti-tobacco laws by banning smoking in common areas, and stipulates that anyone who wishes to smoke in their apartment must keep the door closed.

“This is already in the lease and we have no plans in the near future to tell people they can’t smoke in their apartments,” said Jessica Ndoye, Cogir’s administrative director.

By ANNE SUTHERLAND, The Gazette
asutherland@ montrealgazette.com

African Americans and tobacco: Statistics

“Big Tobacco” may be on the ropes again after a recent court ruling requiring that one company, Lorillard, pay out $152 million in a wrongful death suit. A Massachusetts court has ruled in favor of the family of Marie Evans eight years after she died from lung cancer. The case was strengthened by documents used in the trial that showed Lorillard purposely marketed its Newport cigarettes to African Americans such as Evans when they were teenagers.

Another document in the case, a Lorillard company memo stated, “the base of our business is the high school student.” Court testimony revealed Lorillard gave out sample packs of its menthol-flavored cigarettes to teenagers in minority enclaves such as Roxbury in Boston. That included giveaways outside of neighborhood middle schools. Lorillard is appealing the decision.

It’s not surprising that tobacco companies such as Lorillard gave away menthol cigarettes. According to a recent FDA report, menthol-flavored cigarettes can be more addictive. That’s because menthol acts as an anti-irritant and also masks tobacco’s unpleasant taste. That also makes the cigarettes more appealing to kids.

Studies, such as one published in Addiction, have shown African Americans and young adults are the biggest menthol smokers. Studies also have shown menthol cigarettes are harder to give up than non-menthols. One study of 7,000 smokers recently published in Preventive Medicine showed that 62 percent of African Americans and 61 percent of Hispanics who attempted to quit smoking non-menthol cigarettes did so. Yet only 44 percent of African Americans and 48 percent of Hispanic menthol smokers could quit.

All that marketing – an explanation

According to study co-author, Dr. Cristine Delnevo, tobacco companies target minority populations when marketing menthols. So although minorities smoke at about the same rate as Caucasians, more smoke harder to quit menthol cigarettes. Dr. Delnevo also thinks that helps explain why minorities suffer higher rates of tobacco-related disease and death.

Big Tobacco is facing a possible FDA ban of all menthol cigarettes. Makers of menthols have been arguing against the ban. In March, the FDA’s own Tobacco Products Scientific Advisory Committee failed to make a clear recommendation on the proposed ban. One reason was the tobacco company claim that a ban could lead to a black market demand for the cigarettes.

The decision is now up to the FDA. But from a sales standpoint, tobacco companies have a lot to loose. Menthols make up a third of the U.S. Market. One study showed 40 percent of menthol smokers would quit if they were banned. The National Cancer Institute estimates that by 2020, a ban would result in 17,000 fewer premature deaths and 2.3 million fewer smokers.

As Delnevo noted, minority populations suffer higher rates of tobacco-related disease and death. A recent study may help explain some of the reasons for the “survival gap” – that mistaken attitudes on lung cancer have a negative effect on survival. Published in the journal Cancer, researchers surveyed the attitudes of 1500 African Americans and whites with lung cancer, a very deadly form of cancer. It revealed that African Americans had a “mistaken, fatalistic” belief about lung cancer that may have delayed diagnosis and treatment. The African Americans in the study tended to wait until obvious lung cancer symptoms such as pain and coughing-up blood appeared. Unfortunately, a delayed diagnosis makes it more difficult to treat lung cancer successfully.

Cancer misconceptions

The study also showed that African Americans “grossly underestimated” the seriousness of lung cancer. And after diagnosis, they were more pessimistic about survival outcomes. That may have interfered with them choosing aggressive treatment. The researchers noted the African-American community needs to be educated on the actual risks of lung cancer and the importance of early diagnosis and treatment.

Smoking and joints

It’s a well-established fact that smoking can cause lung cancer. What is not so well known is that smoking also contributes to the development of rheumatoid arthritis (RA). Now a study shows that for African Americans, that is also the case. The study, published in Arthritis & Rheumatism, compared the rates of RA among never smokers with smokers. The study showed the African Americans in the study with RA were more likely to be smokers. The rate of RA was strongly related to smoking more than 10 years.

Scare the smoke out of you

Perhaps you’ve heard about the new, frightening, cigarette warning labels. The FDA recently announced what these labels will look like.

So why the scare tactics?

One reason is because they work. According to a CDC report on graphic cigarette warning labels in countries where they’ve been used for years, they make people seriously consider quitting. Of course in many of those countries the warning labels are more gruesome than those that will grace American cigarette packages. Halloween is a ways off but you can check out some of the warning labels from those countries at www.smoke-free.ca.

Cigarettes, liquor, even soda: Problems that can be shutdown solutions

In 2005, then-Gov. Tim Pawlenty had a revenue problem, created largely by his pledge against any additional tax increases. State government was in shutdown (though less fully and seriously than now).

Taxes, according to the new Republican orthodoxy, were an unacceptable means of supporting the functions of government. So a “health impact fee” on tobacco products was proposed to avoid the tax tag.

The health impact fee on a pack of cigarettes was and remains 75 cents. It passed and established a Republican precedent of such fees as a response to budget shutdowns.

These fees are recurring money and do not rely on phony shifts of costs to school districts, municipalities, or the elderly and disabled.

While poor people may smoke, drink and engage in other unhealthy behavior more than the rich (including food choices leading to obesity), causing such fees to be regressive, these decisions are voluntary and consistent with a Republican free-to-choose ideology.

In the current impasse, resulting largely from the same rigid antitax ideology, we should consider broadening the Pawlenty precedent of health impact fees to alcohol and soda drinks. Apart from a consensus on the health risks of tobacco, the evidence in favor of the health benefits of reduced alcohol consumption, especially of distilled spirits, needs no repetition.

As the Mondale-Carlson Task Force noted in its recommendations last week, the fee on distilled spirits has not been raised since 1987. In deference to brewing and wine drinking (one for the ballpark, the other for the opera), beer and wine might be exempted.

Finally, Minnesota could again establish itself as a national trendsetter with the first substantial soft-drink health impact fee in the nation. Virtually every study of the impact of soft drinks on childhood and adolescent obesity has found a clear link. Any measure that would induce substitution of fruit juices or milk is a nutritional step in the right direction.

Based on Minnesota Department of Revenue estimates from 2009-10, an increase in the Pawlenty health impact fee on cigarettes of another 75 cents, and in tobacco excise taxes from the current 48 cents to a dollar, would generate $393 million in recurring revenues over the two-year budget cycle, after adjusting for a reduction in consumption due to the higher prices (what economists call the price elasticity response).

An increase in the tax rate on distilled spirits from $1.33 per liter to $2 (exempting beer and wine) would generate another $101 million over the biennium. Finally, adding a health impact fee of 5 percent on a one-dollar, 12-ounce can of soda would generate $36 million in new revenues to state coffers.

These additions add up to $530 million, or more than half a billion dollars in recurring revenues, not simply end-of-session accounting gimmicks. Each of them discourages behaviors that add to the costs of health and human services, due to the serious and expensive private and public consequences of smoking, alcohol abuse and obesity.

If, in their myopic conception of revenue generation, those opposed to these health impact fees prefer to support continued lung and heart disease, traffic fatalities, and cirrhosis, type-2 diabetes and childhood obesity, let this be their choice.

But the time for constructive efforts to generate revenues is now, and health impact fees are the answer.

C. Ford Runge is Distinguished McKnight University Professor of Applied Economics and Law at the University of Minnesota. This article reflects his opinions and not those of the University of Minnesota.

Smokers and drinkers pay higher price than anywhere else in EU

HAVING a smoke and a drink is dearer in Ireland than anywhere in Europe.

New figures also show that food and soft drinks are 20pc more expensive here than in the other 26 European Union states.

High taxes and excise duties are the main reason Ireland had the highest prices for alcohol and tobacco products in the EU last year.

When a range of goods and services were looked at, Ireland emerged as one of the most expensive countries.

Prices overall were 18pc higher here than the average, according to figures from Eurostat, the statistics office of the EU. But costs in Ireland were below the EU average in two areas: clothing was 5pc cheaper and consumer electronics 6pc less expensive.

Transport meanwhile was 16pc more costly in this country than the average for the EU, with restaurants and hotels almost a third more expensive.

The findings are sure to fuel claims by some consumers that they are being “ripped off” by businesses and the Government.

Retail Ireland, whose members have 3,000 shops, blamed high labour costs, service charges and rents which are among the highest in Europe.

Director of the lobby group Torlach Denihan admitted that prices here are high compared with other EU states but insisted that prices have been falling.

“According to the Eurostat survey, Irish prices for food and non-alcoholic beverages have fallen by more than anywhere else in the EU,” he said.

Responded

“The last time the gap between Ireland and the EU average was this small was 2001. We are getting there but have a way to go yet.”

The fall in Irish grocery prices shows how retailers have responded aggressively to the new economic climate, Mr Denihan said.

“Government must take decisive action to get the Irish cost base back into line with the rest of Europe by measures such as the abolition of the retail joint labour committee and early legislation to reduce retail rents.”

Prices for alcohol and tobacco are higher in Ireland due mainly to taxes. This meant there should be no hike in taxes on these items in the Budget, Mr Denihan said.

“Any increase in taxation of tobacco will aggravate the problem of cigarette smuggling, which currently costs the Exchequer an estimated €500m in lost revenue,” he added.

There may be some reduction in prices from Friday when valued added tax (VAT) drops from 13.5pc to 9pc on a range of goods and services, as part of the Government’s jobs initiative. The lower rate will apply to hotels, restaurants, hairdressing, printed matter, amusement services such as fairgrounds and admissions to cinemas and theatres.

Meanwhile, consumer confidence about personal finances and the economy fell in June.

The consumer sentiment index, compiled by KBC Bank and the ESRI, fell to 56.3 from 59.4 in May.

The underlying trend — which averages out the last three months’ figures — also fell for the first time this year.

KBC Bank economist Austin Hughes said the drop was not surprising, as consumers still faced a weak economic outlook and pressures on household spending from coming Budget measures and ECB interest rate increases.

By Charlie Weston Personal Finance Editor

FDA about Menthol Cigarettes

The Food and Drug Administration said it will issue preliminary findings on the health effects of menthol cigarettes this year after outside advisers review an internal report starting next month.

The U.S. market for menthol tobacco products is $25 billion a year, or about 30 percent of cigarette sales, according to data compiled by Bloomberg Government. Lorillard Inc. (LO) of Greensboro, North Carolina, makes the best-selling brand, Newport, with sales of $5 billion a year. Marlboro Menthol, made by Richmond, Virginia-based Altria Group Inc. (MO) and the Kool and Salem brands sold by Reynolds American Inc. (RAI) of www.cigarettespub.biz/winston Salem, North Carolina, are other leading brands.

The FDA is weighing whether to outlaw sales of flavored cigarettes, including menthol products, under a 2009 law that gave the agency regulatory authority over tobacco products. An outside panel advised regulators in a March report that while menthol cigarettes weren’t proven to be more harmful, removing them from the market would improve public health partly because the mint-flavored cigarettes attract new smokers.

The agency doesn’t face a deadline to make a decision, Jeff Ventura, an agency spokesman, said by telephone.

More than 20 percent of adults in the U.S., or 46 million people, smoke cigarettes, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention in Atlanta. Smoking is the nation’s biggest cause of preventable death, killing about 443,000 people a year, according to the public-health agency.

By Jeffrey Young
jyoung89@bloomberg.net

Tobacco labels – a model for potato chip labels?

Cigarette packages will soon carry graphic images warning about the perils of smoking, because the earnest, if understated, written potato-chipmessage simply wasn’t doing the trick. The new images have already grabbed so much attention, it appears health officials may be on to something. Perhaps this could be a way to fight weight gain.

With French fries and potato chips — and, of course, sweetened drinks — named this week as culprits in the nation’s growing girth, perhaps the same approach should be applied to junk food. Pleas to exercise and eat better haven’t worked, and the junk-food tax proposals are going nowhere fast.

But with obesity now linked to almost 17% of the nation’s medical costs, something must be done.

Perhaps images of bulging stomachs or dimpled thighs? Or limbs amputated because of diabetes or chests cut apart in desperate attempts to treat late cardiovascular disease? Could such images on a bag of chips or a can of soda be a deterrent come snack time?

Tell us what you think in the comments section below.

By Tami Dennis, HealthKey

Could states block new FDA cigarette warnings?

Among all the recent efforts to criminalize free speech, Tennessee’s Legislature gets the top award for sheer chutzpah. As Ars cigs warnigTechnica reports, the state’s governor, Bill Haslam, this month signed a bill making it a crime to “transmit or display an image” that is likely to “frighten, intimidate or cause emotional distress” to anyone who sees it. Importantly, Ars notes that “if a court decides you ‘should have known’ that an image [would] be upsetting to someone who sees it, you could face months in prison and thousands of dollars in fines.”

While the whole statute stands on weak constitutional grounds, that last nuance seems particularly shaky — and dangerous. That’s because of the special jurisprudential protections granted to core political speech — much of which is consciously intended to upset those who are exposed to it. Indeed, you may be upset by that antiabortion group mailer showing a photo of a fetus, or you may be upset by the antiwar ad showing graphic images of battlefield violence, but that’s constitutionally protected speech (as is, by the way, your right to subsequently express your outrage at the images).

At least some Tennessee lawmakers who support the statute would no doubt insist that those examples have a “legitimate purpose,” which would exempt them from punishment. However, as Iowa State Daily columnist Claire Vriezen astutely points out, “the phrase ‘legitimate purpose’ is open to interpretation.” That “interpretation” part is no theoretical problem — it’s one that could hit courts very soon, thanks to Tuesday’s tobacco-related announcement by the Food and Drug Administration.

* Continue reading

Tennessee is a major tobacco-producing state, which suggests there will be no small number of Tennesseans who may feel “frightened, intimidated or emotionally distressed” by new FDA-mandated warning ads that, according to the Associated Press, “depict in graphic detail the negative health effects of tobacco use.” These ads, announced Tuesday, include images of “rotting and diseased teeth and gums and a man with a tracheotomy smoking” after a World Health Organization survey found more than 25 percent of foreign smokers said such graphic labels led them to consider quitting. (You can view all nine warning labels below).

The ads, in other words, pose a genuine threat to a major Tennessee industry that has lots of eager-to-litigate lawyers and lots of clout with politicians. Now, thanks to Tennessee’s criminalization of free speech, that industry can wield a new statutory weapon against the speech it doesn’t like. In a tobacco-state court composed of tobacco-state judges and tobacco-state jurors, this industry could realistically hope that such ads would be ruled illegitimate — and further, that those who disseminate the ads are criminals. By design, that would undoubtedly create both a chilling effect of self-censorship among tobacco distributors (convenience stores, vending machine owners, etc.), and an innovative legal rationale for the industry to ignore the FDA’s new warning-label mandate.

Of course, this all remains hypothetical right now. Big Tobacco, in fact, may not even be interested in such a court case, fearing that any extra attention to the FDA ads will only serve to educate more Americans about the negative health effects of smoking. But that’s not the point, because if it’s not the tobacco industry that attempts to hijack government censorship power then it will certainly be another industry — as has already happened in other states including Iowa, Florida, Ohio and Minnesota, where agribusiness has recently been trying to statutorily bar revelations about factory farms. In all of these cases, the bottom line remains the same: When the government criminalizes First Amendment expressions, all it is really doing is using state power to preference one set of voices over another.

By definition, that is the opposite of “freedom” and, when inevitably done for industry objectives, the hallmark of a Corporate Police State.

Kids listen to physicians about smoking

UNDATED – A little talk can have a big impact on a child’s life. A new study finds physicians who talk to teens about smoking and tobacco use can have a lasting, positive impact going forward.

Dr. Elaine Schulte did not take part in study but is a pediatrician at Cleveland Clinic Children’s Hospital.

“As the study suggests, teens are much more likely to listen to a physician about all sorts of things that have to do with smoking,” she explains. “Their attitudes about it, cessation, their intent to smoke, so even if you’re talking with teenagers who haven’t smoked and you suggest and explain to them why smoking is bad, they’re actually likely to listen to you.”

A little talk can have a big impact on a child’s life. A new study finds physicians who talk to teens about smoking and tobacco use can have a lasting, positive impact going forward.

University of Memphis researchers studied more than 5,000 adolescent school children. They looked at the kids’ attitudes towards smoking, knowledge about smoking, intentions to smoke, tobacco use and quitting behaviors. Results show physician’s who talked to teens about tobacco use positively impacted their attitudes in all of these areas.

Researchers say even a brief conversation between a pediatrician and patient about the harmful effects of smoking could get the child to quit or change their attitudes about tobacco use.

Schulte says parents and pediatricians can work together to keep teens from lighting up.

“You never really know how much a teen is paying attention to what you’re saying, but we know that we have certain impact and thinking about cigarette smoking, which is extremely common in teenagers,” she says. “One in five teenagers is a cigarette smoker. A thousand kids daily start smoking and many of them remain smokers, so it’s really, really important to talk to teenagers about cigarette smoking.”

Blackfeet to end smoking in Glacier Peaks Casino

Smoking no longer will be allowed at the Glacier Peaks Casino in Browning.

The Blackfeet Tribal Business Council voted 5-4 Monday for a total smoking ban.

“The council believes we’re putting our people’s health above all,” Tribal Chairman Willie A. Sharp Jr. said. “The opportunity will still be there to go and gamble, just minus the smoke.”

The Blackfeet Tobacco Free Act actually dates from 2005, but the casino was exempted for two years.

When the local tobacco initiative group brought to the council’s attention that the ban was not being enforced at the casino, Sharp wrote a letter in April advising the management corporation and the Blackfeet tribal gaming commissioners of the ongoing noncompliance.

Casino representatives met with the tribe Monday and proposed that a third of the casino be smoke free instead, but that proposal was voted down.

“That was following a lot of the initiatives to make places more environmentally safe,” Sharp said. “The Clean Air Act is an issue that has come up many times.”

Sharp said the health hazards of secondhand smoke are at the root of the council’s decision.

“Some people don’t enjoy the smoke that’s being generated from a neighbor blowing smoke, maybe on both sides,” he said. “It has detrimental effects on people. We’re just enforcing the law made by the previous council.”

Spartanburg City Council approves smoking ordinance

Several downtown restaurant owners vowed to continue to fight the newly adopted smoking ban after Spartanburg City Council overwhelmingly approved the ordinance Monday.

Kevin Moore, proprietor of Delaney’s Irish Pub, said he will continue to talk to council members up to the day the ordinance becomes effective on Sept. 1.

The ordinance restricts smoking in downtown bars and restaurants, and smokers must be at least 15 feet from an establishment’s entrance and exit and ventilation system so the smoke doesn’t infiltrate the business. A restaurant owner can have a designated smoking area, but it must meet the distance requirements. The smoking area can’t be used for dining.

The ordinance doesn’t restrict smoking on city sidewalks.

Councilwoman Linda Dogan was the lone council member to vote against the ordinance. Councilman Robert Reeder voted against the ordinance on first reading at the last council meeting, but voted in favor of it on Monday.

Reeder said he needed clarification on several points. He said he’s disappointed there won’t be designated smoking areas at city-sponsored events such as Spring Fling, Music on Main and International Festival, but was pleased that smoking wouldn’t be restricted if groups rented city-owned facilities.

“I was willing to come to a compromise; that’s what politics is all about and this issue is no different,” Reeder said.

Moore, who said he also was speaking on behalf of other downtown business owners, said he’s concerned about the distance requirement for a smoking area. Delaney’s is one of a few downtown restaurants that allows smoking.

“I don’t have outdoor seating and even if I did, it wouldn’t meet the 15 feet requirements,” Moore said. “I have the biggest smoking bar in Spartanburg and to be honest, I’m concerned about how this will effect not only my business, but a lot of businesses downtown.”

Bob Turner, 63, said he’s a former smoker who’s lived in Spartanburg his entire life. He said a smoking ban will not likely hurt downtown businesses since areas that have enacted similar bans have reported business actually has increased.

“I think it’s about time Spartanburg did what other forward-thinking communities are doing,” Turner said. “It’s about breathing clean air — we all have a right to that.”

Wild Wings general manager Ramsey Roe said his restaurant allows smoking upstairs and on a patio, and said he tries to please all of his patrons.

“I’m disappointed (with the ordinance),” Roe said. “I’d like there to be an option for both parties to try to work this out because as it stands now, this severely limits how we can operate.”

Moore said the impact on his business was unclear.

“Hopefully, we can sit down with the city to try to work this out because we want people to come downtown — not just to this restaurant; downtown, period,” Roe said. “I just don’t think this is a way to get people down here.”

Individuals and business owners who violate the ordinance are subject to a fine between $10 and $25.

In other business, council unanimously approved appropriating almost $1 million in one-time expenditures. The city has a balance of $472,974 remaining from the sale of the sewer system to Spartanburg Water, and Assistant City Manager Chris Story said staff is confident after the last bond sale for the Arkwright Landfill closure funds will be sufficient. Staff estimates about $506,154 remaining in that fund.

Council voted to use those proceeds — about $979,128 — for the following: $350,000 toward the settlement of the Marriott at Renaissance Park lawsuit; $215,000 to close-out several completed capital projects; $250,000 toward the long-term Northside initiative; $50,000 for website improvements to improve web-based citizen communication; $28,670 for a grant match to connect the Mary Black Rail Trail to the Union Street Skate Park; $67,000 to update the interface for enterprise system software; and $18,458 for a grant match for Downtown Memorial Airport site work.

Council also unanimously approved two property donations to the city. The owners of 222 Ernest L. Collings Ave. and 492 Greenlea St. offered the parcels to the city. The city will incur demolition costs on both sites and pay the 2010 taxes on the properties ($969.43 for both properties).

By Lynne P. Shackleford
Lynne.shackleford@shj.com

Lorillard Sees New Opportunities But Won’t Stray Far

NEW YORK – Lorillard Co. (LO) will work to keep its market leadership in menthol cigarettes while expanding into other cigarette segments but it won’t overwhelmingly change its strategy, the company said after conducting a months-long operational review.

Lorillard, the third-largest U.S. cigarette maker by sales, said in a slide presentation accompanying an analyst meeting Wednesday that it will “Stay the course in product strategy, stay the course in messaging [and] stay the course in promotion strategy.”

The maker of Newport, Maverick and Old Gold cigarettes launched its strategic review in the fall, soon after President, Chairman and Chief Executive Murray Kessler took the helm. Lorillard said it met with 60% of active shareholders, as well as regulators, clients, consumers and employees as part of the review.

Kessler said in February that the company “is not in need of a course correction,” a sentiment reiterated in Wednesday’s presentation.

Cigarette sales have fallen in recent years amid an increase in indoor smoking bans and the greying of tobacco companies’ core consumers. Volumes have remained strong for Lorillard, however, and the company continues to gain market share. Last week, Lorillard reported first-quarter earnings increased 6.9% and sales rose 13%.

Still, the company faces challenges as the U.S. Food and Drug Administration considers restricting or banning menthol. An FDA panel determined in March that removal of menthol cigarettes from the marketplace would be a public health benefit, but fell short of recommending an outright ban.

Lorillard said it will seek growth opportunities in adjacent areas including non-menthol products. Late last year, the company introduced its non-menthol Newport Red cigarette, which has seen strong sales in trials with promotional pricing.

The company also said it will work to develop a “more widely accepted” non- full flavor–formerly known as “light”–product. Currently, white-tip cigarettes make up 80% of that category, while Newports have a more traditional brown tip.

While cigars and moist smokeless tobacco hold some allure, Lorillard said ” there is no immediate need nor strategic imperative to enter cigars or [moist smokeless tobacco] right now.” Competitors Altria Group Inc. (MO) and Reynolds American Inc. (RAI) have made acquisitions to join those categories, and Lorillard said it, too, would likely need to buy in. Valuation and branding challenges make that a less appealing option.

Kessler said Wednesday that products that are closer to its core competencies will be more profitable. “Our story is one of organic growth,” he said.

Lorillard hasn’t had great success in expanding beyond its basic menthol products in the past, with results that Kessler called “average at best.” It tried a Newport non-menthol cigarette in the 1990s and briefly offered Newport Slims and Newport M Blend as well.

“We have work to do here,” Kessler said. The company will tweak its method for bringing new products to market and has added new product-development and marketing directors to oversee the expansion.

Lorillard shares were off 1.5% to $105.91 in recent trading. The stock has gained 30% so far this year.

-By Melissa Korn, Dow Jones Newswires; 212-416-2271; melissa.korn@ dowjones.com

Demonstrators protest at Reynolds American

A group of 17 demonstrators staged a rally Tuesday in front of Reynolds American Inc.’s downtown headquarters to call attention to tobacco-farm workers, who the protesters said are often underpaid and forced to live in poor conditions.

Gail Phares of Raleigh, an organizer and advocate for immigrants’ rights, said that the U.S. must reform its immigration policies.

“It’s time for us to recognize the labor of farm workers and immigrants and their contributions to economic life in America,” Phares said to the group as they stood in a circle on the sidewalk in front of the building. “We must reject the criminalization of immigrants, and the politicians must fix a broken system.”

The protest was part of the 25th annual Pilgrimage for Justice and Peace, a statewide effort to support human rights for farm workers and undocumented immigrants. Some demonstrators carried white crosses and red flags, representing the Farm Labor Organizing Committee, which is part of the AFL-CIO.

There are about 30,000 tobacco-farm workers in North Carolina. FLOC representatives argued with company officials last year during Reynolds’ annual shareholder meeting. The group also plans to protest at this year’s meeting, which will be held May 6.

Before the rally, the demonstrators participated in a discussion about immigration at Dellabrook Presbyterian Church, off New Walkertown Road. The church and The Maya Angelou Center for Health Equity sponsored the discussion.

They then walked about 3 miles to the Reynolds American’s building on Main Street.

“We are small in numbers today, but we present thousands of people, church members and farm workers,” Alexandria Jones, an organizer with the National Farm Worker Ministry told the demonstrators.

The events were coordinated by two groups founded by Phares — Witness for Peace Southeast, which works for social justice in North and South America; and the Carolina Interfaith Task Force on Central America, which supports poor people in North Carolina and Latin America and advocates immigration reform.

Diego Reyes, a demonstrator from Dudley in eastern North Carolina, told the protestors that Reynolds American must understand the needs of farm workers.

A spokeswoman for Reynolds American declined to comment Tuesday on the protests, referring to an open letter about farm-labor issues on the company’s website.

In the letter, the company says, in part, that it supports a state law that requires adequate working and living conditions for farm laborers. It also said it had taken measures to ensure safe work environments on the farms.

The Rev. Craig Schaub, the pastor of Parkway United Church of Christ, attended the rally with his daughter. “I support a living wage and safe working conditions for farm workers,” Schaub said.

By JOHN HINTON | Winston-Salem Journal
jhinton@wsjournal.com

Teenagers love Hookah

ABU DHABI: Even during extreme hot weather in the country, business at shisha outlets in the capital never runs dry.hookah use

Haris Abdul Kader from the Brazilian Trading Establishment, Abu Dhabi, said that the shisha or hookah is very much “in vogue” in the UAE and is a popular cultural practice. “Because of its social aspects, hookah or shisha will continue to gain loyal smokers because it is also traditional.”

Yet Dr Eric J. Dierks, clinical professor of oral and maxillofacial surgery at Oregon Health and Science University, USA, pointed out, “there is a myth that smoking through a shisha pipe is safer than smoking cigarettes but this is almost certainly not the case. Several recent studies have indicated that shisha smokers actually inhale more of the cooled smoke than would a cigarette smoker, thereby increasing their exposure to carcinogens within the smoke.”

“The main causes of oral cancer have classically been related to smoking tobacco products and the Middle East has a higher rate of tobacco consumption than many other countries and this includes the use of shisha or hookah,” added the specialist, who will be speaking at the upcoming second oral and maxillofacial surgery congress to be held at the Westin Dubai Mina Seyahi Hotel from May 1 to 5.

“Despite this, in terms of death rate from oral cancer, the Middle East is nowhere near the top. Iraq has the highest death rate from oral cancer but is only 31st in world ranking. This is followed by Yemen at 35th, Saudi Arabia at 59th and Iran at 131st. The UAE is 134th, Oman 138th, Lebanon 147th, Kuwait 187th, Qatar 190th and Syria 191st,” he noted.

Speaking to residents in the capital, it is evident that shisha smoking has increasingly become a part of the lives of teenagers. Abdul Kader noted that in the past few years, it has also become increasingly popular with Europeans and tourists and among this group grape flavour is highly preferred. “And among the Arabic clients, ‘mint’ is the popular choice,’ he added.

In Abu Dhabi other flavours that are popular include apple, mint, strawberry, rose, cherry, sweet melon and super cool grape.

One Arab teenager, Rahman 18, said “I know it’s bad, but I just love to hang out with friends and smoke my favourite mint flavour. I prefer smoking shisha because of it’s different flavours, the way it tastes and (the fact that it) smells better than cigarettes.”

Meanwhile an Indian expatriate, 21, said, “I smoke shisha for its taste. It’s relaxing and pleasant, takes away my distress from being away from home. My Arab friends introduced me to it.”

An European teenager, Josh, said that in his homeland in Finland, he will not be able to enjoy shisha. So while during his stay in Abu Dhabi for the next year or two, he hopes to enjoy the flavoured smoking. His favourite is the super cool grape.

Yet health experts warn that an hour-long session with a hookah can actually expose a user to the equivalent of 100 or more cigarettes.

According to Dr Pentti Grohn, professor in Oncology and Radiotherapy, Al Noor Hospital, Abu Dhabi, around one to two patients suffering from lung cancer caused by smoking visit his clinic daily.

He warned that half an hour of shisha is equal to inhaling 200 cigarettes. Dr Grohn pointed out that every cigarette shortens one’s life by seven minutes, reducing life expectancy by 7-10 years when compared to a non-smoker.

Meanwhile, Dr Dierks observed, “The early diagnosis of oral cancer is extremely important because not only is the prognosis significantly better for early stage cancer, but the treatment involved is often less extensive.”

Oral cancer is the sixth most common cancer reported globally with an annual incidence of over 300,000 cases. Roughly two thirds of these arise in developing countries.

The death rate of oral cancer is notably lower in the Middle East than in India or the U.S. In the Middle East, two deaths per 100,000 are caused by oral cancer whereas 10 per 100,000 occur in the U.S. and 20 per 100,000 in India.

Regardless of nationality, roughly half of long-term smokers die from the effects of tobacco smoking, be it from oral cancer, lung cancer or cardiovascular disease.

Smoking supporters say it’s about freedom

“We want them to vote no on both measure one and two, but to educate them in letting them know they will be losing their china smokersfreedoms to choose,”said Keith Holzer, spokesman for the Employees for Individual Freedom. They referred the Bismarck City Commission vote to ban smoking in all bars.

In recent weeks, the group has began running its own ad campaign to counter messages for the smoking ban. Their “vote no” message is even printed on napkins. Mike Peluso, co-owner of the Stadium and Lodge, said they are only using private money for the ads; drop boxes ask patrons to help.

Holzer argues there are 62 other non-smoking liquor establishments and only 15 that allow smoking. “There are 70 percent of bars already non-smoking,” Holzer said.

According to Holzer, Fargo lost 30 percent of its sales when the smoking ban took effect and he said charitable gaming is down. That might mean layoffs.

A North Dakota Hospitality Association survey showed there were 50 openings in non-smoking bars here, Holzer said, so bar workers have a choice. “These employees were saying ‘we can choose for ourselves where we want to work.’ … They don’t need to be protected,” Holzer said.

It’s not the smoking huts the bar workers in the referendum oppose in the second ballot item, but that it also enforces the smoking ban ordinance for bars. “If the measure 2 goes through, the smoking ban is on,” Holzer said. Nobody has done an air quality study locally for smoking bars, he said.

Peluso said if the ban goes through, it will be costly for him either to add smoking huts or renovate. He won’t need to offer separate smoking and smoke-free bars. “We invested a lot of money into adding that addition of a smoke-free atmosphere.”

Peluso said the smoking ban would “dictate how we’re supposed to spend our money. I don’t agree with that. … At this place and you got a choice -right or left.”

Peluso said his workers ask to work in the smoking bar because they feel they earn higher tips; workers who smoke feel better-suited to work there. Peluso fears a smoking ban will mean a shorter stay for customers. “Now, they might choose to just go home,” he said.

By LeAnn Eckroth: 250-8264, leann.eckroth@bismarcktribune.com

Bulgarian Health Minister Demands All-out Smoking Ban

stefan konstantinov

Health Minister Stefan Konstantinov demanded Sunday an all-out smoking ban in spite of Bulgarian ruling party GERB’s unconvincing record on introducing anti-smoking measures.

“We want a total ban of smoking in public, and we must become a non-smoking Bulgaria,” Konstatinov said on the Bulgarian national radio pointing out that Bulgaria is second only to Greece in the percentage of smokers, and first in the EU on the percentage of smokers between 15 and 20 years of age.

“Smokers are people who need to be helped. I don’t want to restrict their freedoms, I want to improve their health,” the health minister declared.

He announced that health inspectors have visited 27 000 public venues around the country to inspect the introduction of the already existing anti-smoking restrictions.

According to the restrictions that entered into effect on December 19, 2010, indoor smoking in restaurants, clubs, bars, hotels, railroad stations, airports, malls, offices and schools is allowed only in separate spaces with closing doors.

“People think that nobody will inspect them after the working day is over but that is wrong. If somebody thinks that the countries in Western Europe have got rules because all people have been conscientious, they are deluded. Everything is a matter of control,” Kostantinov said.

He stated further that Bulgaria must not put off the introduction of a draconian smoking ban.

“I think that the Bulgarian society has already matured enough, and that the majority of the people are on my side regarding the introduction of the all-out ban sooner rather than later,” the minister said.

Bulgarian Prime Minister Boyko Borisov and his party GERB has been sending mixed messages regarding restrictions to smoking in public after in 2010 it backed down on a planned universal ban in public venues over protests by restaurant and cafe owners.

Illegal trade of tobacco products in Australia

Illegal trade of tobacco products in Australia has jumped 25 percent after the federal government adopted a sharp tax hike last year and pledged to approve plain packaging, according to the chairman of the largest private tobacco company in the world.

Louis Camilleri, chairman and CEO of Philip Morris International, the largest cigarette maker in the world, said during a conference of mainly U.S. analysts in February that the black market of contraband cigarettes in Australia was growing rapidly.

”Our major concern is illegal trade,” stated Mr. Camilleri. ”After the tax rise last April, illegal trade has grown by 25 percent in Australia.”

The alleged increase in tobacco contraband has been a serious threat to the federal government’s revenue expectations, as the Australian Taxation Office generating around $6 billion annually in paid taxes on tobacco products.

According to government’s forecast, the approval of immediate tax increase that hit Australian smokers last April and raised the excise tax by 25 percent would generate an additional $5 billion in tax revenue during the next five years, which will be directed to the National Health and Hospitals Network Fund.

Some news reports say that major tobacco companies that sell their products in Australia will reveal a joint independent report, which will demonstrate a direct relation between the latest tobacco tax increase and a growth in contraband trade by criminal gangs.

Cigarette makers as well state that plain packaging help the counterfeiters to pass their products as legal ones. Plain packaging law is scheduled to be considered by the Parliament later this year and to be implemented on January 1, 2012.

”The plain packaging and similar measures lack logic, since I don’t believe that they will have an impact on consumption rates in any way,” PMI Chairman declared to American analysts.

Report disclosed by the Customs and Border Protection Service of Australia does demonstrate a rise in tobacco contraband in 2009-10, a year, which comprises two months of the sharp increase in tobacco taxes. Confiscations of illegal tobacco reached 310,707 kilograms previous fiscal year, almost doubling the 175,405 kilograms seized in 2008-09. Almost 70 million cigarettes were seized, up from 50.177 million in the previous year.

Tim Wilson, head of the free trade department at the Institute of Public Affairs admitted that higher taxes lead to rise in criminal activities.

”The higher taxes means the higher temptation for organized crime to provide smokers with contraband tax-free cigarettes,” he said.

”Even Intellectual Property Australia, the federal government’s adviser, has opposed plain packaging bill, as it could result in more contraband products coming to Australia,” Wilson added.

”The federal government loves to state they are leading the world by approving plain packaging legislation, but they don’t take into consideration the significant legal threat from banning trademarks like the United Kingdom, Canada, Lithuania and mid-1990s Australia government has turned plain packaging law due to intellectual property grounds.”

Smokeless tobacco in food category?

NEW DELHI: Can smokeless and chewing tobacco, India’s major public health problem, be called food items and then be tested and smokeless tobaccoasked to reveal contents? That’s what the Union health ministry now wants to find out.

The ministry has called a crucial consultation with the Food Safety and Standards Authority of India (FSSAI) — the nodal body to implement the Food Safety and Standards Act, 2006 — on April 4 and 5. The Act replaced the earlier Prevention of Food Adulteration Act of 1954 in which smokeless tobacco was not considered a food item. The ministry now wants to see that if a new clause can be brought into the Act declaring smokeless tobacco as food that people eat.

According to FSSAI CEO Dr V N Gaur, “All sections of the Act have already been notified. In a few weeks time, we will notify all the rules under the new Food Safety Act so that it starts to get implemented. At present, the Act clearly says tobacco is not a food item.”

He added, “However if the ministry wants to define it as a food item, a new clause has to be brought and put into the Act. PFA and FSSAI Act say that anything eaten is a food item.”

Ministry officials said at present, smokeless tobacco comes under no particular category. The rules to regulate tobacco use aren’t proving effective. “If we bring it under a food item, smokeless tobacco items will have to be tested for their ingredients and thus prove how harmful they are,” the officials said.

By Kounteya Sinha

Two tobacco products free of FDA oversight

How dissolvable tobacco products are made could determine whether or not they fall under the jurisdiction of the Food and Drug camel snusAdministration.

Star Scientific Inc., a maker of dissolvable tobacco lozenges, announced Wednesday that it received an FDA notice saying that two of its products are not subject to regulations in the federal Food Drug & Cosmetic Act.

The determination could open the door for other dissolvable tobacco products, such as R.J. Reynolds Tobacco Co.’s Camel orbs, sticks and filmlike strips for the tongue, to also not be subject to FDA regulation.

The industry, led by Reynolds, has put more focus on smokeless tobacco as a revenue source in recent years as the number of U.S. adults who smoke has dropped to about 20 percent.

According to the federal act, smokeless tobacco is defined as “any tobacco product that consists of cut, ground, powdered or leaf tobacco, and that is intended to be placed in the oral or nasal cavity.”

The Star products are Ariva-BDL and Stonewall-BDL — the acronym stands for “below detectable levels” of certain cancer-causing chemicals in tobacco, particularly when it is burned as part of smoking. Star has sold a different version of Ariva and Stonewell for years.

Star declined to discuss its proprietary manufacturing process. Some analysts said its process may involve tobacco being compacted or compressed, rather than made into powder — evidentially enough of a distinction to not qualify as smokeless tobacco.

“It’s a head scratcher how the FDA made its determination since we applied for the products to be considered as a modified-risk tobacco product,” said Sara Machir, a spokeswoman for Star.

Star said that the notice came from a statement by Dr. Lawrence Deyton, the director of the FDA’s Center for Tobacco Products. Deyton said he based the decision on the information submitted by Star.

The FDA verified Deyton’s statement that “not all tobacco products are currently subject” to the act. At this time, only cigarettes, cigarette tobacco, smokeless tobacco and roll-your-own tobacco are subject.

Jeffery Ventura, a spokesman for the FDA, said that the agency “recognizes there are uncertainties regarding the regulatory status of a variety of nicotine-containing products derived from tobacco; more specifically, whether these products are regulated as drugs or tobacco products.

“The FDA is considering its legal and regulatory options regarding these products.”

With the notices in hand, Star said it will proceed with the marketing and selling of the BDL versions of Ariva and Stonewell. Machir said it could take two months for the products to reach retail shelves.

“These initiatives will be undertaken consistent with our belief that adult tobacco users should be able to have information about the toxin levels in all tobacco products,” said Paul Perito, the chairman, president and chief operating officer of Star.

Star continues to pursue FDA approval for a moist-snuff product that it said has the lowest levels of carcinogens — in this case nitrosamines — in the marketplace. That includes “99 percent lower than the levels found in conventional American moist snuffs, such as Copenhagen or Skoal, and 90 percent less than the level found in current snus products,” the company said.

David Howard, a spokesman for Reynolds, said that according to company policy, “communications with the FDA regarding specific products is confidential.”

Bill Godshall, the executive director of SmokeFree Pennsylvania, is an outspoken advocate for smokeless tobacco as a reduced-risk alternative to cigarettes. He said he is curious about how the FDA made its determination.

“Does this mean that some/many/most/all other dissolvable-tobacco products also aren’t smokeless tobacco?” he asked. “It also appears Star can now claim its Ariva BDL and Stonewall BDL are less-hazardous alternatives to cigarettes.

“Maybe Reynolds will also have to apply for modified-risk status for their dissolvables to find out.”

Scott Ballin, the past chairman of the Coalition on Smoking or Health, said that the FDA’s decision “is indicative to me that people are beginning to realize that not all tobacco-containing products are the same.”

“I have said for more like two years that the current statute is outdated and we need to be looking at a better, fairer regulatory system that regulates the most toxic products more stringently than the lower risk ones.”

Sticking With Nicotine Gum for the Long Haul

As a nicotine-gum addict, Mike Metzger used to worry about the warning on its label: “Stop using the nicotine gum at the end of 12 Nicotine Gumweeks.”

But that was before a prominent smoking-cessation scientist, K. Michael Cummings, told him to keep chewing the gum as long as it helped him stay off cigarettes. So 15 years after quitting smoking, Mr. Metzger, a 63-year old retired New York telephone worker, still chews 16 pieces of nicotine gum a day.

Public health officials are backing away from recommending against the long-term use of nicotine gum, lozenges and patches. The Food and Drug Administration is considering whether to eliminate the 12-week warning and instead recommend nicotine-based quit-smoking aids for extended—perhaps even permanent—use. Anti-tobacco activists and GlaxoSmithKline PLC, the U.S.’s leading marketer of nicotine-replacement therapy, or NRT, are also backing the potential move.

“There really doesn’t appear to be any great harm” with long-term use of NRT, says Mr. Cummings, chair of the department of health behavior in the cancer-prevention division at the Roswell Park Cancer Institute in Buffalo, N.Y.. “You’re better off chewing gum or wearing a patch than smoking.”

By giving former smokers the most addictive chemical in cigarettes—nicotine—NRT is designed to ease the difficulty of quitting. In more than a quarter century on the market, nicotine gum, lozenges and patches have amassed a strong safety record. Even among most long-term NRT users, the hazards of nicotine pale beside the dangers of smoking, which is the number one cause of lung cancer and the most preventable cause of cardiac death.

Nicotine itself is not believed by scientists to raise the risk of developing cancer. It may raise the risk of cardiovascular disease, however. It can elevate heart rate, constrict blood vessels and raise blood pressure. Some people have adverse skin reactions to nicotine patches.

Like other addictive substances, nicotine essentially hijacks the brain’s reward system, conditioning users to associate intake with pleasure. But while other addictive drugs tend either to stimulate or relax users, nicotine can do both, depending on the user’s mood, giving it a particularly tight grip.

Sudden withdrawal from the drug can induce intense cravings, nervousness, irritability, confusion and insomnia, among other symptoms.

Obtaining nicotine from gum, lozenge or patch doesn’t replace entirely the pleasure of smoking any more than popping a tablet of caffeine—the addictive element in coffee—could equal the pleasure of a fresh-brewed cup of cappuccino. But jolts of nicotine can reduce the physical symptoms of withdrawal while quitters battle longings for the taste of tobacco, the sensation of smoke and various rituals that accompany the habit. (Going off NRT can also lead to withdrawal symptoms.)

Studies, typically funded by NRT-manufacturers, have shown that those who use the products are about twice as likely to quit smoking after 12 weeks, compared to those who don’t use NRT. But studies of those who successfully quit outside of NRT clinical trials often show no NRT advantage over the cold-turkey approach.

About one in five American adults smokes—a rate that has remained virtually unchanged since 2004.

NRT makers offer different dosages for heavy and light smokers, and recommend that the frequency of use decline over time, for instance, from a piece of gum every hour or two in the first six weeks of quitting to every four to eight hours in weeks 10 through 12.

Glaxo products—which include Nicorette gum and lozenges and NicoDerm patches—account for more than half of the $835 million market in annual U.S. retail sales of over-the-counter smoking-cessation aids, according to market-research firm Euromonitor International. Pfizer Inc. and Novartis AG also market NRT.

Those skeptical of any move to eliminate warnings on long-term NRT use note that many public-health officials and anti-tobacco agencies have received funding from NRT’s makers. “There’s no money to be made in cold turkey quitting, even though cold turkey is how the vast majority of former smokers kicked the habit,” says John Polito, editor of WhyQuit, a popular blog that endorses cold-turkey cessation from tobacco.

The FDA has faced increasing pressure in recent years to loosen its rules on quit-smoking aids. Some public-health groups have filed petitions with the agency urging changes.

Another impetus is the landmark 2009 law signed by President Barack Obama that, for the first time, empowered the FDA to regulate tobacco products. The law, which is partly aimed at reducing smoking’s toll on the nation’s health, instructs the agency to consider rewriting the warnings on nicotine-replacement products, which range from eight to 12 weeks, depending on the type.

The warnings date back to when nicotine gum first received FDA approval back in 1984. They weren’t based on hard science connecting health hazards to long-term nicotine addiction, but were set to mirror the length of use in clinical trials.

Britain’s Royal College of Physicians, which sets health standards in the U.K., concluded in a 2007 report on nicotine addiction that “medicinal nicotine is a very safe drug” and “there are no grounds to suspect appreciable long-term adverse effects on health.”

Many other countries have less-stringent policies on NRT. Canada, Germany, Japan and the U.K. have approved recommended-use periods of anywhere from six to 12 months.

A few studies have examined the use of NRT beyond the current recommendations. Last year, researchers at the University of Pennsylvania published a study in Annals of Internal Medicine that found that smokers who use a nicotine patch for 24 weeks may be more likely to stay off cigarettes than those treated for eight weeks.

However, the study reported no difference in the quit rates of the two groups when they were checked at the one-year mark, revealing the fact that many people began smoking again. The senior author of the study, funded by federal grants, has served as a consultant for GlaxoSmithKline.

Barbara Gregg says that without nicotine gum she likely would have returned to smoking. Ms. Gregg, a 41-year-old executive assistant in the University of Minnesota’s department of medicine, smoked for 22 years before she quit by going cold-turkey in 2007. She started chewing the gum about six months later, after experiencing nicotine cravings.

In 2009, before the start of her mother’s funeral, she kept her father company as he smoked a cigarette in the parking lot.

“I can guarantee you that if I didn’t have nicotine gum with me, I absolutely would have bummed a cigarette off my dad and picked back up again,” she says.

By David Kesmodel: david.kesmodel@wsj.com and Kevin Helliker: kevin.helliker@wsj.com

UA seeks to control its health care costs

FAIRBANKS – To control costs at the University of Alaska system, employees will be required to pay a higher health care deductible while the university system emphasizes generic drugs and adds a fee for tobacco users.

The changes are expected to take place July 1, reported the Fairbanks Daily News-Miner.

In December, a university consultant estimated that health care costs would more than double during the next seven years. The plan now costs the university system $65 million per year.

Cathy Cahill, Faculty Senate president at the University of Alaska Fairbanks, said employees are not surprised by the changes.

“There’s some sense of inevitability that things were going to go up,” Cahill said.

The sharpest change is in deductibles for employees on the system’s cheapest plan, who will see their deductible spike from $500 to $1,250. Those on the most expensive plan will see their deductible increase from $100 for an individual to $500.

Tobacco users will be charged an extra $50 per month under the modified plan. Also, the university system plans to fully pay for some generic prescription drugs in the future, while employees will need authorization to get some brand name drugs.

“(The University of Alaska’s) current health plan is no longer sustainable and doing nothing is not an option,” said new University of Alaska President Pat Gamble said in a Jan. 31 memo to faculty and staff members.

If the rise in health care costs didn’t raise many faculty eyebrows, a “dependent audit” of spouses and children certainly has.

The announcement of the audit didn’t reach the entire faculty — many learned they were being asked to account for their dependents by a letter in the mail.

Paperwork from the university asked for employees’ birth certificates, marriage licenses and tax forms.

The university system estimates that finding and removing ineligible dependents will save about $500,000.