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E-cigarette aerosols caused embryo defects in the laboratory

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Smoke-Free Car Legislation and Student Exposure to Smoking

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Toxicity of the main electronic cigarette components

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E-cigarettes: How safe are they for cardiovascular health?

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Advancing the endgame for the tobacco pandemic

Advancing the endgame for the tobacco pandemic: Hāpai Te Hauora backs new research to achieve Smokefree 2025.

Hāpai Te Hauora supports new research on tobacco control published by the University of Otago in the British Medical Journal this month. “This is significant for the tobacco control sector” says Zoe Hawke, General Manager of the National Tobacco Control Advocacy Service for Hāpai Te Hauora.

“We have new strategies to advance Smokefree 2025 in Aotearoa and now we have an evidence base to support these strategies. Novel interventions can be difficult to advocate for without a track record to link outcomes to. The evidence presented in this study will go a long way to mitigating those difficulties. It also sends a clear message to decision-makers about the critical crossroads we’re at, and what we need to do if we’re serious about achieving Smokefree 2025.”

The study, titled “Impact of five tobacco endgame strategies on future smoking prevalence, population health and health system costs: two modelling studies to inform the tobacco endgame” was a trans-Tasman collaboration between the University of Otago and the University of Melbourne. It was specifically focussed on the New Zealand Smokefree 2025 goal and identified major health gains and cost savings could be achieved by utilising:

1. 10% annual tobacco tax increases

2. a tobacco- free generation: a ban on the provision of tobacco to those born from a set year onwards

3. a substantial outlet reduction strategy

4. a sinking lid on tobacco supply

5. a combination of 1,2 & 3

These strategies are new and the study modelled their potential impacts using New Zealand-specific data to achieve their findings. The authors propose that the data are used as modelling-level evidence for countries looking to achieve health gains, cost savings and reduce inequities related to tobacco consumption. They suggest that the findings will be validated and improved upon as the interventions are adopted.

Hawke says supply reduction is the key to achieving Smokefree 2025, but it won’t be easy. “If we think we’ve seen battles with the tobacco lobby, we’ve seen nothing yet. Reducing supply is the final hurdle to removing this harmful product from our communities and you can guarantee it will be fiercely fought by the industry.”

Is Vaping As Harmful As Smoking Cigarettes? Here’s What You Need To Know

Vaping seems to have taken the mantle of becoming the healthier alternative to smoking, along with the fact that they were designed with the motive to help smokers eventually quit.

In fact, the trend has caught on so rampantly that it’s set to outsell traditional cigarettes by the end of 2023!

With the FDA regulating these products since 2016, it comes as no surprise that vaping is due to become the norm, surpassing traditional smoking in time to come.

In a report on the use of e-cigarettes in Canada, a report previously stated that “Among those whose primary reason for use is to help to quit tobacco, a similar proportion no longer smoke (24%), and this may be considered the success rate for this method of smoking cessation.”

How is vaping different from smoking?

To differentiate itself from tobacco products, vaping is the process of smoking nicotine without inhaling the other harmful substances in tobacco—out of which there 70 known carcinogens. Some products contain little to no nicotine in them. Canada for instance still does not approve of nicotine-containing e-cigarettes.

These battery-powered devices heat the liquid that contains nicotine and/or other flavours, which in turn is inhaled as the vapour.

There is no smoke without fire, however

Since the key objective of switching to e-cigarettes is to cut down the number of cigarettes you smoke, researchers have been assessing the ‘relative harm’ vaping can cause to your tissues.

A study conducted by Jessica Wang-Rodriguez, a head and neck cancer specialist at the University of California at San Diego and her team found that cells lining human organs sustained up to twice the DNA damage seen in unexposed cells. They were also five to 10 times more likely to wither and die than unexposed cells even if the vapour contained no nicotine, the addictive ingredient in conventional and most electronic cigarettes, as reported in New Scientist.

“Without the nicotine, the damage is slightly less, but still statistically significant compared with control cells,” says Wang-Rodriguez, who led the research.

The toxins from the flavouring are another cause of concern

“E-cigarette vapour is known to contain a range of toxins which include impurities in the e-cigarette liquids and toxins generated when solutions are heated to generate vapour,” says John Britton, a toxicologist at the University of Nottingham, UK. “Some are carcinogenic, so it’s likely some long-term users of e-cigarettes will experience adverse effects on their health, and the authors fo the study conducted by Rodriguez and company are correct to point out that these products should not be considered risk-free,” he says. But if smokers can’t give up completely, e-cigarettes are safer than smoking, he says, as reported in New Scientist.

They caused considerable damage to your key blood vessels; similar to normal cigarettes

A study conducted by researchers at the European Society of Cardiology Congress in Rome states that vaping has an impact similar to the what normal cigarettes have on the stiffening of you heart’s aorta, as reported the Independent, UK.

The lead researcher, Professor Charalambos Viachopoulos of the University of Athens said, “We measured aortic stiffness. If the aorta is stiff you multiply your risk of dying, either from heart diseases or from other causes. “There could be long-term heart dangers. They are far more dangerous than people realise.”

The problem lies with the rising number of teens taking to smoking E-cigarettes

A 2014 high school survey conducted in the US found that 17 percent of 12th graders reported the use of e-cigarettes compared to 14 percent who smoked traditional cigarettes. The lower price points at which they are promoted, their perception of being safer than traditional cigarettes, the various flavours they come in and the fact they’re in trend make it a very attractive option for the youth.

Adolescents and young adults who try e-cigarettes are more than three times as likely to take up smoking traditional cigarettes as their peers who haven’t tried the devices, states a recent research review published in Reuters Health.

E-cigarette use, or vaping, was as least as strong a risk factor for smoking traditional cigarettes as having a parent or sibling who smokes or having a risk-taking and thrill-seeking personality, the researchers found.

“E-cigarette use among teens and young adults could increase the future burden of tobacco by creating a new generation of adult smokers who might have otherwise not begun smoking,” said lead study author Samir Soneji of the Dartmouth Institute for Health Policy and Clinical Practice in New Hampshire.

“To the extent that e-cigarette use mimics the behaviour of smoking a cigarette—handling the e-cigarette, the action of puffing, and the inhalation of smoke—it sets the adolescent up for easily transitioning to smoking,” added Soneji. “Like transitioning from driving a Tesla to driving a Chevy.”

Dr Brian Primack, a researcher at the University of Pittsburgh stated that “Young people report that there is a lot of pressure among e-cigarette only users to smoke a ‘real’ cigarette,” Primack said by email. “It may be somewhat analogous to the fact that teens who use flavoured alcohol are often pressured socially to step up their game to harder forms of alcohol.”

Although e-cigarettes claim to be less harmful than conventional cigarettes it could make sense to pay heed to the lack of conclusive long-term evidence

Cigarette smokers are well aware of the perils of smoking normal cigarettes. The New England Journal of Medicine states that smoking tobacco reduces your life span by at least 10 years. But studies on smoking e-cigarettes remain largely inconclusive.

A review of studies published in the journal Tobacco Control reveals that the long-term effects of the vaporised form are not known yet. For instance, it is not known if the chemical propylene glycol, which is mixed with the other chemicals in e-cigarettes known to irritate the respiratory tract, could result in lung problems after decades of vaping, says Dr Michael Siegel, a tobacco researcher and professor of community health sciences at the Boston University School of Public Health in Live Science.

Besides, “because e-cigarettes have been on the market for only about 10 years, there have been no long-term studies of people who have used them for 30 to 40 years. Therefore, the full extent of e-cigs’ effects on heart and lung health, as well as their cancer-causing potential, over time is not known,” says Stanton Glantz a professor of medicine and the director of the Center for Tobacco Control Research and Education at the University of California, San Francisco to Live Science.


E-cigarettes found to cause as much DNA damage as unfiltered cigarettes

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Study: China Struggles to Kick World-Leading Cigarette Habit

Most smokers in China, the world’s largest tobacco consumer, have no intention of kicking the habit and remain unaware of some of its most damaging health effects, Chinese health officials and outside researchers said Wednesday.

An estimated 316 million people smoke in China, almost a quarter of the population, and concerns are growing about the long-term effects on public health and the economy.

The vast majority of smokers are men, of whom 59 percent told surveyors that they have no plans to quit, according to a decade-long study by the Chinese Center for Disease Control and Prevention and Canadian researchers with the International Tobacco Control project.

Such numbers have prompted efforts to restrict the formerly ubiquitous practice. Major cities including Beijing and Shanghai having recently moved to ban public smoking, with Shanghai’s prohibition going into effect in March. In 2015, the central government approved a modest nationwide cigarette tax increase.

But Chinese and international health officials argue that more is needed, including a nationwide public smoking ban, higher cigarette taxes and more aggressive health warnings. Such actions are “critically important,” Yuan Jiang, director of tobacco control for the Chinese Center for Disease Control, said in a statement released with Wednesday’s study.

A public smoking ban appeared imminent last year. The government health ministry said in December that it would happen by the end of 2016, but that has yet to materialize.

“They have to figure out what’s important as a health policy,” said Geoffrey Fong of Canada’s University of Waterloo, one of the authors of Wednesday’s study. “Every third man that you pass on the street in China will die of cigarettes. …When you have cheap cigarettes, people will smoke them.”

In line with global trends, smoking rates among Chinese have fallen slowly over the past 25 years, by about 1 percent annually among men and 2.6 percent among women, according to a separate study published in April in the medical journal The Lancet.

Yet because of China’s population growth — 1.37 billion people at last count — the actual number of smokers has continued to increase. Rising prosperity means cigarettes have become more affordable, while low taxes keep the cost of some brands at less than $1 a pack.

Sixty percent of Chinese smokers were unaware that cigarettes can lead to strokes and almost 40 percent weren’t aware that smoking causes heart disease, according to the study, which was released on World No Tobacco Day, when the World Health Organization and others highlight health risks associated with tobacco use.

Judith Mackay, an anti-tobacco advocate based in Hong Kong, said China has made strides with the public smoking bans in some cities and a similar ban covering schools and universities, but that’s not enough.

“This is the first time there has been a report looking at the overall picture of where China stands,” said Mackay, senior adviser at Vital Strategies, a global health organization. “The reality is, it’s falling behind.”

Mackay blamed behind the scenes lobbying by China’s state-owned tobacco monopoly for impeding efforts to toughen tobacco policies. The State Tobacco Monopoly Administration did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

Government agencies and research institutes in China, Canada and the United States funded the study.

Study reveals high environmental cost of tobacco

Smoking kills 7 million people a year, and it scars the planet through deforestation, pollution and littering.

Details of the environmental cost of tobacco are revealed in a study released Wednesday by the World Health Organization, adding to the well-known costs to global health, which translate to a yearly loss of $1.4 trillion in health-care expenses and lost productivity.

From crop to pack, tobacco commands an intensive use of resources and forces the release of harmful chemicals in the soil and waterways, as well as significant amounts of greenhouse gases. Its leftovers linger, as tobacco litter is the biggest component of litter worldwide.

“Tobacco not only produces lung cancer in people, but it is a cancer to the lungs of the Earth,” said Dr. Armando Peruga, who previously coordinated the WHO Tobacco Free Initiative and now works as a consultant. He reviewed the new report for the WHO.


Commercial tobacco farming is a worldwide industry that involves 124 countries and occupies 4.3 million hectares of agricultural land. About 90% of it takes place in low-income countries, with China, Brazil and India as the largest producers.

Because tobacco is often a monocrop — grown without being rotated with other crops — the plants and the soil are weak in natural defenses and require larger amounts of chemicals for growth and protection from pests.

“Tobacco also takes away a lot of nutrients from the soil and requires massive amounts of fertilizer, a process that leads to degradation of the land and desertification, with negative consequences for biodiversity and wildlife,” Peruga said.

The use of chemicals directly impacts the health of farmers, 60% to 70% of whom are women. This is especially prominent in low- and middle-income countries, where some compounds that are banned in high-income countries are still used.

300 cigarettes = one tree

Farming also uses a surprisingly large amount of wood, rendering tobacco a driver of deforestation, one of the leading causes of climate change.

About 11.4 million metric tonnes of wood are utilized annually for curing: the drying of the tobacco leaf, which is achieved through various methods, including wood fires.

That’s the equivalent of one tree for every 300 cigarettes, or 1.5 cartons.

This adds to the impact of plantations on forest land, which the study describes as a significant cause for concern, citing “evidence of substantial, and largely irreversible, losses of trees and other plant species cause by tobacco farming.”

Deadly gases

In 2012, 967 million daily smokers consumed approximately 6.25 trillion cigarettes worldwide, the WHO estimates.

“That means about 6,000 metric tonnes of formaldehyde and 47,000 metric tonnes of nicotine are released into the environment,” Peruga said.

Tobacco smoke contains about 4,000 chemicals, at least 250 of which are known to be harmful. It also contains climate-warming carbon dioxide, methane and nitrous oxides. “The combination of greenhouse gases from combustion is equivalent to about 1.5 million vehicles driven annually,” Peruga said.

Secondhand smoke is particularly deadly: It contains twice as much nicotine and 147 times more ammonia than so-called mainstream smoke, leading to close to 1 million deaths annually, 28% of them children.

Some of these pollutants remain in the environment (and our homes) as “third-hand smoke,” accumulating in dust and surfaces indoors, and in landfills. Some, like nicotine, even resist treatment, polluting waterways and potentially contaminating water used for consumption, the study notes.

Non-biodegradable litter

Tobacco litter is the most common type of litter by count worldwide.

“We calculate that two-thirds of every cigarette ends up as litter,” Peruga said.

The litter is laced with chemicals including arsenic and heavy metals, which can end up in the water supply. Cigarette butts are not biodegradable, and tossing one on the ground is still considered a socially acceptable form of littering in many countries.

The WHO estimates that between 340 million and 680 million kilograms of tobacco waste are thrown away every year, and cigarette butts account for 30% to 40% of all items collected in coastal and urban clean-ups.

“In addition to that, there are 2 million tons of paper, foil, ink and glue used for the packaging,” Peruga said.

A way forward?

Even though smoking is declining globally, it is increasing in some regions, such as the eastern Mediterranean and Africa. China is a world leader both in production (44%) and consumption, with 10 times more cigarettes smoked than in any other nation.

Every stage of the production of a cigarette has negative effects on the environment and the people who are involved in manufacturing tobacco products, even before the health of smokers and non-smokers is affected.

Although governments worldwide already collect $270 billion in tobacco taxes a year, the WHO suggests that increasing tax and prices is an effective way of reducing consumption and help development priorities in each country, adding that by collecting 80 cents more per pack, the global tax revenue could be doubled.

“Tobacco threatens us all,” WHO Director-General Margaret Chan said in a note. “It exacerbates poverty, reduces economic productivity, contributes to poor household food choices, and pollutes indoor air.”

Rise in Lung Adenocarcinoma Linked to ‘Light’ Cigarette Use

A new study shows that so-called “light” cigarettes have no health benefits to smokers and have likely contributed to the rise of a certain form of lung cancer that occurs deep in the lungs.

For this new study, researchers at The Ohio State University Comprehensive Cancer Center–Arthur G. James Cancer Hospital and Richard J. Solove Research Institute (OSUCCC–James) and five other universities/cancer centers examined why the most common type of lung cancer, called adenocarcinoma, has increased over the past 50 years, rather than decreasing as smokers have been able to quit. Other types of lung cancer have been decreasing in relationship to fewer people smoking, but not lung adenocarcinoma. Because of this, lung adenocarcinoma is now the most common type of lung cancer.

Results confirm what tobacco-control researchers have suspected for years: There is no health benefit to high-ventilation (light) cigarettes–long marketed by the tobacco industry as a “healthier” option–and these cigarettes have actually caused more harm. Holes in cigarette filters were introduced 50 years ago and were critical to claims for low-tar cigarettes.

“This was done to fool smokers and the public health community into thinking that they actually were safer,” said Peter Shields, MD, Deputy Director of the OSUCCC–James and a lung medical oncologist. “Our data suggests a clear relationship between the addition of ventilation holes to cigarettes and increasing rates of lung adenocarcinoma seen over the past 20 years. What is especially concerning is that these holes are still added to virtually all cigarettes that are smoked today.”

The FDA was given the authority to regulate the manufacture, distribution, and marketing of tobacco products through the Family Smoking Prevention and Tobacco Control Act in 2009. Current regulations ban tobacco companies from labeling and marketing cigarettes as “low tar” or “light.” Study authors, however, say that given this new data, the FDA should take immediate action to regulate the use of the ventilation holes, up to and including a complete ban of the holes.

“The FDA has a public health obligation to take immediate regulatory action to eliminate the use of ventilation holes on cigarettes,” added Shields. “It is a somewhat complicated process to enact such regulations, but there is more than enough data to start the process. We believe that such an action would drive down the use and toxicity of conventional cigarettes, and drive smokers to either quit or use less harmful products. There are some open questions about unintended consequences for enacting a ban, which provides for an important research agenda.”

A team made up of lung oncology, public health, and tobacco regulation researchers conducted a comprehensive, multi-faceted analysis of existing literature that included chemistry and toxicology studies, human clinical trials and epidemiological studies of both smoking behavior and cancer risk. They studied scientific publications in the peer-reviewed literature and internal tobacco company documents.

Researchers hypothesized that the higher incidence rates of lung adenocarcinoma were attributable to the filter ventilation holes, which allow smokers to inhale more smoke that also has higher levels of carcinogens, mutagens and other toxins.

“The filter ventilation holes change how the tobacco is burned, producing more carcinogens, which then also allows the smoke to reach the deeper parts of the lung where adenocarcinomas more frequently occur,” explained Shields.

To date, all the scientific evidence involves the adverse impact of adding ventilation, but not removing it. Additional research is needed to confirm that the addictiveness of the cigarette or toxic exposures from cigarettes would not increase with elimination of the ventilation holes. The OSUCCC–James and researchers at the University of Minnesota, Roswell Park Cancer Institute, Virginia Tech, Harvard University and Medical University of South Carolina are conducting additional research to reconcile human biomarkers studies and smoke distribution/exposure in the lung.