Tag Archives | Smoking

Asthma Rate Rising Sharply in U.S.

Peak flow meters used to measure one's maximum speed of expiration.

Peak flow meters used to measure expiration speed.

Roni Caryn Rabin writes in the New York Times:

Americans are suffering from asthma in record numbers, according to a study released by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Nearly one in 10 children and almost one in 12 Americans of all ages now has asthma, government researchers said.

According to the report, from 2001 to 2009 the prevalence of asthma increased among all demographic groups studied, including men, women, whites, blacks and Hispanics. Black children are most acutely affected: the study found that 17 percent of black children — nearly one in five — had a diagnosis of asthma in 2009, up from 11.4 percent, or about one in nine, in 2001.

While officials at the Centers for Disease Control emphasized that asthma could be controlled if managed effectively, they were at a loss to explain why it had become more widespread even as important triggers like cigarette smoking had become less common.

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Hey Smokers, You’re Killing The Fish

Photo: Sillyputtyenemies

Photo: Sillyputtyenemies (CC)

It turns out that fish are also helpless victims of smokers. No joke, as reported by Jeffrey Kluger for TIME:

For smokers, the world has always been one big ashtray, with cigarettes flicked away pretty much anywhere. That’s especially true now, since smokers are increasingly forbidden to light up in restaurants, office buildings and even new no-smoking condos. In the great river of litter human beings create each year, so tiny a thing as a cigarette butt hardly seems to amount to much. But with the world’s smokers burning through a breathtaking 5.6 trillion cigarettes per year — 4.5 trillion of which are simply tossed away outside after they’re smoked — little things add up fast. That, as it turns out, can be especially dangerous for one type of nonhuman critter: fish.

About a third of all of the trash found on U.S. shorelines consists of cigarette butts.

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Tobacco Smoke Promoted As Cancer Cure In Indonesia

Photo: Andrew Magill (CC)

Photo: Andrew Magill (CC)

Agence France-Presse via the Raw Story reports:

An Indonesian woman exhales cigarette smoke into the mouth of a gaunt, naked patient at a Jakarta clinic, where tobacco is openly touted as a cancer cure.

The Western patient is suffering from emphysema, a condition she developed from decades of smoking. Along with cancer and autism, it’s just one of the ailments the Griya Balur clinic claims it can cure with cigarettes.

“I missed this,” says the woman, a regular customer, with an American accent, as Phil Collins?s “I Can Feel It” blares in the background.

Griya Balur would be shut down in many parts of the world, but not in Indonesia, one of the developing-country new frontiers for big tobacco as it seeks to replace its dwindling profits in the health-conscious West.

Long traditions of tobacco use combined with poor regulation and the billions of dollars that flow into government coffers from the tobacco industry mean places like Griya Balur go unchallenged.

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Smokers Believe ‘Silver’, ‘Gold’ and ‘Slim’ Cigarettes Are Less Harmful

CigaretteScienceDaily reports:

Despite current prohibitions on the words ‘light’ and ‘mild’, smokers in Western countries continue falsely to believe that some cigarette brands may be less harmful than others. In fact, all conventional brands of cigarette present the same level of risk to smokers, including ‘mild’ and ‘low-tar’ brands.A study published in the journal Addiction polled over 8000 smokers from Australia, Canada, the United Kingdom and the USA. Approximately one-fifth of those smokers incorrectly believed that “some cigarette brands could be less harmful than others.” False beliefs were highest among US smokers.

Current research shows that smokers base their perceptions of risk on pack colour, believing that ‘silver’, ‘gold’ and ‘white’ brands are less harmful to smoke than ‘black’ or ‘red’ brands. The reason for those beliefs may lie in the history of cigarette branding. Cigarettes used to carry labels like ‘light’, ‘mild’, and ‘low tar’, and in some places they still do.

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Brain Scan Can Tell If A Smoker Will Quit

If your New Years resolution is to quit smoking every year, there may be scientific proof as to why you never seem to be able to follow through with it. Or you can keep telling yourself, “I’ll quit tomorrow.” The Vancouver Sun reports:

U.S. researchers have found a way to predict how successful a smoker will be at quitting by using an MRI scan to look for activity in a region of the brain associated with behaviour change.

The scans were performed on 28 heavy smokers who had joined an anti-smoking program, according to the study published Monday in the peer-reviewed journal Health Psychology.

Participants were asked to watch a series of commercials about quitting smoking while a magnetic resonance imaging machine scanned their brains for activity.

[Continues at The Vancouver Sun]… Read the rest

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Smoking The Cause Of Low U.S. Life Expectancy

smokingWhy does the U.S. spend more on health care than any other nation while its population has a life expectancy lower than in many other developed countries? According to a new government report: smoking. From WebMD:

Life expectancies in the U.S. are now lower than for many other industrialized countries, and the nation’s past love affair with tobacco is largely to blame, government officials say.

In a report released Tuesday, a panel commissioned by the National Research Council sought to explain why the U.S. spends more on health care than any other nation, yet Americans are dying younger than some of their counterparts in other high-income countries.

Over the past two and a half decades, life expectancies continued to rise in the U.S., but at a slower pace than those seen in Australia, Canada, Japan, Great Britain, and other high-income European countries.

The average live expectancy for men in the U.S.

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Smoking Damages Your Genes Within Minutes Of Lighting Up

smokingEven the tobacco companies have had to concede that in the long-term smoking is disastrous for human bodies. Probably few people would have guessed just how fast the damage occurs, however. AFP reports on a new study that should give cause to even those who think just an occasional puff will do no harm:

Those first few puffs on a cigarette can within minutes cause genetic damage linked to cancer, US scientists said in a study released Saturday.

In fact, researchers said the “effect is so fast that it’s equivalent to injecting the substance directly into the bloodstream,” in findings described as a “stark warning” to those who smoke.

The study is the first on humans to track how substances in tobacco cause DNA damage, and appears in the peer-reviewed journal Chemical Research in Toxicology, issued by the American Chemical Society.

Using 12 volunteer smokers, scientists tracked pollutants called PAHs, or polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons, that are carried in tobacco smoke and can also be found in coal-burning plants and in charred barbecue food.

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Secondhand Smoke Far More Deadly Than Feared

smokingNon-smokers beware the foul habits of your smoking friends, neighbors and, well, anyone in your vicinity. Oh, and most of all keep your kids away from them! From USA Today:

Secondhand smoke sickens millions and kills more than 600,000 people worldwide each year, including more than 165,000 children under 5, according to the first report to estimate the worldwide burden of disease and death from tobacco.

The World Health Organization’s report on 192 countries appeared in The Lancet on Thursday and found more than half of the deaths are from heart disease, followed by deaths from cancer, lung infections, asthma and other ailments.

More than two-thirds of the children’s deaths are in Africa and Asia, where they have less access to important public health services, such as vaccines, and less advanced medical care, the report says.

“These (statistics) are sad data,” the American Cancer Society’s Tom Glynn says.

Tobacco kills a total of 5.7 million people worldwide each year, including 5.1 million people who die from their own smoking, the report says.

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‘Charlie the Smoking Chimp’ Dies from Old Age, At 52

Charlie The Smoking ChimpVia Reuters:

JOHANNESBURG — A chimpanzee once hooked on smoking by visitors offering it cigarettes has died at a South African zoo at the relatively advanced age of 52, officials said on Wednesday.
“He appears to have died of old age,” said municipal spokesman Qondile Khedama. An autopsy will be conducted to determine the exact cause of death.

“Charlie the smoking chimp” used to put two fingers to his mouth to mimic smoking and reach out with his other hand to bum cigarette butts from visitors at Bloemfontein Zoo. But when videos of him puffing away circulated globally a few years ago, zoo officials moved to cut off the supply of smokes.

The nickname stuck even though the cigarette habit faded.

The life expectancy for chimps in the wild is about 15 years and only 7 percent of wild chimps live past 40, a Harvard University report published in 2007 said.

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Cigarettes Contain Radioactive Polonium

This is an article from 2006 that I found while trying to research the actual ingredients in cigarettes. Robert N. Proctor writes in the New York Times:
Nuclear Pack

When the former KGB agent Alexander V. Litvinenko was found to have been poisoned by radioactive polonium 210, there was one group that must have been particularly horrified: the tobacco industry.

The industry has been aware at least since the 1960s that cigarettes contain significant levels of polonium. Exactly how it gets into tobacco is not entirely understood, but uranium “daughter products” naturally present in soils seem to be selectively absorbed by the tobacco plant, where they decay into radioactive polonium.

High-phosphate fertilizers may worsen the problem, since uranium tends to associate with phosphates. In 1975, Philip Morris scientists wondered whether the secret to tobacco growers’ longevity in the Caucasus might be that farmers there avoided phosphate fertilizers.

How much polonium is in tobacco? In 1968, the American Tobacco Company began a secret research effort to find out. Using precision analytic techniques, the researchers found that smokers inhale an average of about .04 picocuries of polonium 210 per cigarette. The company also found, no doubt to its dismay, that the filters being considered to help trap the isotope were not terribly effective. (Disclosure: I’ve served as a witness in litigation against the tobacco industry.)

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