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December, 2007:

Quitting Smoking Greatly Reduces Serious Risks to Your Health

This admission of serious risks to your health caused by cigarette smoking is published on the Philip Morris USA website here:

Smoking & Health Issues

Quitting Smoking

To reduce the health effects of smoking, the best thing to do is to quit.

Public health authorities do not endorse either smoking fewer cigarettes or switching to lower tar and nicotine brands as a satisfactory way of reducing risk. In fact, one of the required cigarette warnings for packages and advertisements in the U.S. is, “SURGEON GENERAL’S WARNING: Quitting Smoking Now Greatly Reduces Serious Risks to Your Health.”

Philip Morris Agrees – Cigarette Smoking is Addictive

This admission of addiction to cigarette smoking is published on the Philip Morris USA website here:

Smoking & Health Issues


Philip Morris USA agrees with the overwhelming medical and scientific consensus that cigarette smoking is addictive. It can be very difficult to quit smoking, but this should not deter smokers who want to quit from trying to do so.

Cigarette Smoking and Disease

This admission of health issues caused by cigarette smoking is published on the Philip Morris USA website here:

Smoking & Health Issues

Cigarette Smoking and Disease

There is no safe cigarette.

Philip Morris USA (PM USA) agrees with the overwhelming medical and scientific consensus that cigarette smoking causes lung cancer, heart disease, emphysema and other serious diseases in smokers. Smokers are far more likely to develop such serious diseases than non-smokers.

These have been and continue to be the messages of the U.S. Surgeon General and public health authorities worldwide. Smokers and potential smokers should rely on these messages when deciding whether or not to smoke.

Smoking Ban Opportunity Missed

Smoking ban ‘bungled quit goal’

Anita Lam
Updated on Dec 11, 2007

The government missed a golden opportunity to help smokers quit when the smoking ban was introduced almost a year ago, campaigners say.

The comments yesterday followed a poll that found that since the smoking ban was imposed on January 1, nearly one in seven smokers had little idea of what could help them quit apart from will-power.

Some 43.8 per cent said air quality was better and 37.1 per cent said the ban had cut involuntary inhalation of second-hand smoke.

But 72.2 per cent of non-smokers said promotion of cessation services was inadequate and free anti-smoking drugs should be offered.

The Alliance for Patients’ Mutual Help Organisations and Quit-Winners Club interviewed 1,004 people.

Homer Tso Wei-kwok, chairman of the Council on Smoking and Health, said the government had missed the best chance to convert smokers. “For many smokers, the will to quit is momentary.”

He said finance was also an obstacle, with a complete course of nicotine chewing gums and patches costing up to HK$3,000.

Health Department clinics offer free anti-smoking drugs to people on the dole, but only samples or limited doses are provided to others.

Lo Wing-lok, chairman of People’s Health Action, said authorities should at least subsidise medication for the poor, and heavy smokers.

Nicotine Addiction Controlled By Influencing Brain Mechanisms?

American College of Neuropsychopharmacology

Study suggests nicotine addiction might be controlled by influencing brain mechanisms

Findings provide possible clues to addiction in humans, animals

Boca Raton, FL, December 8, 2007 –There is a clear link between GABA – a chemical substance of the central nervous system that inhibits neurons in the brain – and nicotine dependence, according to a study presented today at the American College of Neuropsychopharmacology (ACNP) annual meeting. Researchers discovered that nicotine has significant effects on brain GABA, a finding which could potentially help curb the pleasurable effects of nicotine and help people break their addiction to it.

“We found that GABA may provide a very useful target for nicotine addiction therapies,” said Graeme Mason, Ph.D., associate professor in the Magnetic Resonance Research Center in the Departments of Diagnostic Radiology and Psychiatry at Yale University School of Medicine and an ACNP member. “GABA is just one of a complex network of actors that promotes addiction, and we’re hoping that this research will ultimately lead us to ways to help people quit smoking.”

Mason sought to discover whether the enjoyable effects associated with smoking could be reduced in some way. When people use nicotine they may experience a sensation of reward, diminished anxiety, or a belief that they can focus more clearly or learn more easily. Researchers wanted to explore how a specific type of neuron that releases dopamine, a chemical that has been associated with pleasure, can prolong and intensify the pleasurable effects of nicotine. Although GABA inhibits those neurons, nicotine works against the ability of GABA to inhibit dopamine neurons after about 20 minutes, so the gratifying effects of nicotine are prolonged.

Researchers gave people who smoked regularly nicotine inhalers that deliver the same amount of the drug as in one cigarette. The amount of GABA in the subjects’ brains rose about 10%, but the brain was found to make GABA four times faster after using the inhalers, and the rate of new GABA generation remained high for at least 45 minutes. In other words, keeping the supply of GABA levels high has the potential to reduce the pleasurable effects of smoking, in terms of duration and intensity.

“While GABA is probably not the root of nicotine addiction, it is part of a complex network of actors that are involved in addiction,” Mason says.

Another study presented at the ACNP annual meeting which explored the role of GABA, genetics and environmental factors in smoking found that tobacco addiction is at least 50% determined by genetics. For this reason, researchers may be able to identify individuals who are vulnerable to nicotine dependence, and then implement prevention strategies accordingly.

For this study, Ming Li, Ph.D., Professor of Genetics in Psychiatry and Neurosciences at the University of Virginia recruited more than 2000 participants representing more than 600 families of smokers. They examined different regions on various chromosomes that showed linkage to nicotine addiction. Then they searched for susceptibility genes within these regions that appear to be associated with addiction. Some of these are the GABA-B receptor subunit 2 (GABAB2) gene on chromosome 9, and the GABA-A receptor-associated protein (GABARAP) gene on chromosome 17.

Li says the research could have significant public health implications because it could help curb smoking rates since researchers may be able to predict who is more prone to nicotine addiction. Tobacco is one of the most widely used substances; it kills more than 435,000 Americans each year, and despite increasing public awareness of the health risks associated with its use, little reduction in smoking prevalence has been achieved nationwide in recent years.

Tobacco Kills 100 Million

Public Health and Cancer Prevention: Success and Future Challenges in Cancer Policy

WEBWIRE – Saturday, December 08, 2007

PHILADELPHIA – Medical research has revealed much about cancer prevention, but is the information reaching all Americans, and are they acting on it? Today, at the American Association for Cancer Research’s Sixth Annual International Conference on Frontiers in Cancer Prevention Research, being held from December 5 to 8 in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, researchers explore the question of how best to translate cancer prevention science into public health policy.

Quitting smoking and inoculation with the human papillomavirus (HPV) vaccine are two ways that major segments of the general population can drastically lower their risk of developing certain cancers, yet researchers have found that these messages are not necessarily translating into action by the public.

Policies to reduce tobacco harm: What works? Abstract no. A29

To discourage cigarette use, the strategies that are working best on a global basis are to

  • use large graphic package warning labels,
  • ban cigarette advertising,
  • institute smoke-free policies,
  • increase cigarette prices and
  • implement methods to prevent smuggling and counterfeiting of tobacco products,

say researchers at Roswell Park Cancer Institute involved in an International Tobacco Control (ITC) Policy Evaluation study. What hasn’t worked as well as hoped is mandating tar and nicotine levels in cigarettes, they add.

The researchers have been investigating progress on controlling tobacco use from the ongoing Framework Convention on Tobacco Control (FCTC), the treaty devoted to improving public health put forth by the World Health Organization.

The FCTC was adopted by WHO’s member states in May, 2003, and became legally binding for those countries that ratified the treaty in 2005. To date, 151 countries have done so, and are thus required to implement the policies within three years.

“For the first time ever, we are beginning to scientifically assess which governmental tobacco control policies are working and which ones are not” said K. Michael Cummings, Ph.D., MPH, chair of the Department of Health Behavior at Roswell Park Cancer Institute. “In the same way that evidence-based medicine has been built from rigorous evaluation of treatment options, our goal is to contribute to the development of a sound science base for tobacco control policies”

The ITC serves to study which policies are working best in countries that have imposed restrictions, says Cummings. Cummings started the study in four countries in 2002 with a $1.5 million grant from the Robert Woods Johnson Foundation, and to date, $35 million has been raised to expand the research into 15 countries, utilizing the aid of 60 investigators from 17 research institutes.

Because randomized clinical trials can’t be used to evaluate government policies, the ITC study uses as controls those countries that have implemented tobacco control policies and compares the effects on tobacco use behaviors in countries that have not, such as the United States. It is tracking tobacco use behaviors of 1,000 to 2,000 participants in each of the countries, Cummings says. “This is a new model for global public health research that can be used to evaluate other public health policies such as HIV, diet, and cancer screening” he said.

“It made sense for WHO to start off with tobacco as a focal point for action since tobacco use is the leading cause of preventable death in the world today and is a growing epidemic in the developing world” he said. Tobacco use was responsible for 100 million deaths in the 20th century, and that number is expected to grow to 1 billion in the 21st century, he says.

ITC researchers have found that boosting tobacco taxes, comprehensive advertising bans, smoke-free laws, and strengthening cigarette package warnings is an effective recipe for reducing tobacco consumption. “Our research on package warnings has revealed that these warnings, especially if they are large and graphic, are more effective than anyone realized, especially in poorer countries that can’t afford expensive counter-marketing campaigns” he said.

An example of a policy that hasn’t worked, Cummings says, is the European Union’s (EU) establishment of maximum emission standards for tar and nicotine. The goal was to make cigarettes less toxic, but the testing method adopted by the EU was flawed and cigarette makers increased filter ventilation to get around the new rules. Actual exposure to toxins didn’t change. “The well intentioned, but flawed EU policy has given smokers the false illusion that their cigarettes deliver less tar and nicotine, when they don’t” he said.

The ITC has also established the first international cigarette repository, which currently holds 10,000 cigarette pack varieties from 15 different countries. This research shows that tobacco manufacturers alter their products frequently without revealing that they are doing so, he says. “Foods and drugs are regulated so that consumers are informed when the products are altered. The same should be true for tobacco products” Cummings said.

Smoking Costs Over 6.5% Of National Income To Nations

6 Dec, 2007, 1138 hrs IST, PTI – The Economic Times

NEW YORK: Love for nicotine is weighing heavily on developing nations with top ten smoker countries losing more than $30 billion annually which is more than 6.5 per cent of their gross national income (GNI).

The top ten smokers countries, identified by Forbes magazine include Kenya, Turkey, Namibia, Yemen, Guinea, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Serbia and Montenegro, Mongolia, Nauru and Sao Tome and Principe.

Thanks to celebrity activism and widespread media attention, the magazine notes, HIV, malaria and starvation are well-known diseases of the third world. But there’s another resource-draining plague afflicting these countries – smoking.

While the smoking population is half what it was a generation ago in the US and other industrialised nations, with only one in five using tobacco, it’s different in Africa and East Asia, where time stands still when it comes to cigarettes, it says.

Smoking rates of 40 per cent or more of the population are common in these regions and medical services are limited.

In Turkey, for example, 44 per cent of its 71.5 million population smokes, draining USD 22.4 billion annually which accounts for 5.8 per cent of its GNI of 384.3 billion dollars.

Around 45 per cent of Yemen’s population smokes costing $1 billion to its economy annually and accounts for 6.2 per cent of GNI.

Societal costs in those countries, Forbes says, can’t be calculated the same way they would be in the US, where most studies measure how much smokers burden taxpayers with extra medicare and medicaid payments.

For poor countries, there is no medicare-like programme to fund. Nor is there enough data about the economic impact of other diseases to make real comparisons.

Tom Glynn, Director of International Care Control for the American Cancer Society has been quoted as saying. “In Africa, these health care systems don’t exist, at least not in the form we’re used to,” Only Kenya, he says of Africa’s low income nations, has a medical care system that reasonably resembles that of the western world.

Most studies conclude a cigarette costs 10 minutes of life, so a pack-a-day smoker (20 cigarettes a day) loses 13.9 per cent of a year to the habit over the long haul, the magazine notes.

In Namibia, where half of the country’s two million citizens smoke, the average income is about $3,230 a year, according to the World Bank.

The habit drains about USD 448.61 per year in lost income. Multiplied by just over 1 million smokers, it adds up to $461 million in income losses nationwide, or 6.9 per cent of the country’s $6.6 million total.

The average lifespan in Namibia is 47, meaning that many people are losing a lot of prime earning years. And while smoking is hardly the only reason–low income nations have many variables affecting life expectancy–the habit has always been picked up most heavily by the less well-to-do, adding to the health and earning problems even more, it adds.

Guinea, Kenya, Namibia and Yemen, which together average $1,245 in gross national income per capita, are all among the 10 heaviest smoking countries in the world.

The Gross National Income in Nauru, which tops the list, is $5,000 per capita, of which a smoker can expect to lose an average of $694 over his working life.

Over the full population, the national annual income of $67.6 million would be $5.1 million or 7.5 per cent higher if the 54 per cent of the citizens who smoke didn’t lose a portion of their earning years.

What Do You Think Of The Smoking Ban?

Dec 05, 2007 – SCMP

It is unbelievable and embarrassing to read legislator Tommy Cheung Yu-yan’s claim that it is a human “need” to keep smoking, and that no law should ignore that need. (Talkback, May 14). His letter shows that he is still out of touch with reality, and is simply trying to hold on as long as possible to the support of the threatened tobacco lobby. His main constituency is the catering industry, and part of the reason for his claim that the recent smoking ban is painful to some of his members is because the government has yet again failed to live up to its moral obligations.

Smoke is a pollutant, and it also happens to be cancer-causing, not only to those who smoke but also to bystanders who inhale the exhaust from those who disregard themselves and others in their surroundings. In every city in the world that has – out of moral civic duty – installed a smoking ban, the catering industry has actually benefited.

The majority of the world is non-smoking, yet smokers end up ruining it for the rest of us, and we therefore do not patronise the venues which allow smoking. The catering industry should therefore benefit by catering to the majority. This is not rocket science.

The government’s weak stance to allow exemptions to the smoking ban has caused Mr Cheung’s constituents to lose out because there is not a level playing field.

If the government had done what was right for its citizens, and protected them from pollution and significant health risks, as the smoking ban was meant to do, then every catering establishment would have been equal. In an equal world, they can compete based on the quality of their food and service, which is what their main business is meant to be in the first place.

Customers will not stop eating just because the venues which allow them to carry out their “need” to smoke have been changed. Instead, the majority of the population, which the government seems to keep forgetting, can come out to eat because they can breathe. An economic analysis of these benefits is something Mr Cheung needs to carry out.

K. Lim, Wan Chai

Licensing Scheme For Tobacco Sales in Hong Kong?

Breaking down Big Tobacco

Article Launched: 12/05/2007 08:17:50 PM PST

WHAT’S the No. 1 product sold at your local convenience store? Milk? Beer?

No and no. Guess again. Lottery tickets? Guess again.

OK, give up? It’s cigarettes. Convenience stores in the U.S. last year sold $56 billion worth of cigarettes, accounting for 35 percent of their sales, according to the Center for Tobacco Policy and Organizing’s 2007 State of the Industry Report.

Why are we telling you this? Because the county of Los Angeles is considering establishing a licensing policy for tobacco sellers that strikes at the heart of the convenience stores’ bread and butter. Frankly, the convenience stores are scared to death of such an arrangement because it would lead to a long-overdue tobacco-sales enforcement program that would clamp down on sales to minors.

Considering the cost of tobacco use to residents’ health, local hospitals and taxpayers (Medi-Cal and other entitlements), this figures to be a worthwhile county program. In LA County alone, the health care cost from diseases that are tobacco-related is $2.7 billion. Any drop in sales – especially to minors – would be good for the county and its residents.

Already, some cities police tobacco sales run through convenience stores. Usually, studies show, it sends scofflaws into stores located in county unincorporated areas. The county’s proposed $235-a-year license fee – set for a Dec. 11 vote by the Board of Supervisors – would help shore up this illegal tobacco loophole in unincorporated areas such as Altadena, Rowland Heights, Valinda, Hacienda Heights, etc..

For example, since Pasadena began levying a tobacco sales license fee on stores within its city limits, it has resulted in greater enforcement. Retailers selling cigarettes to minors (that’s illegal, by the way) quickly dropped from 23 percent of retailers in Pasadena to 6 percent. And recently that has gone down to zero, according to testimony given to the county Board of Supervisors from Statice Wilmore who oversees Pasadena’s program.

However, the problem may have moved. According to Day One, a nonprofit group in the west San Gabriel Valley, stings they’ve conducted using underage patrons found convenience store clerks more than willing to sell them cigarettes. The county figures that more than 30 percent of retailers sell cigarettes to minors. Day One’s 15-year-old decoy from Pasadena High School said stores in county areas such as Altadena would ask for her ID, realize she was a minor, but sell her the pack of smokes anyway.

Talk about flaunting the law. This is right up Big Tobacco’s alley: Getting more of our young people hooked on cigarettes.

It’s time to break up the axis of death between Big Tobacco and convenience stores. Because there’s nothing convenient about lung cancer and heart disease.

No Smoking Area Research Paper

Designated ‘‘no smoking’’ areas provide from partial to no protection from environmental tobacco smoke

T Cains, S Cannata, R Poulos, M J Ferson and B W Stewart

The full research paper can be downloaded here: No Smoking Area Research Paper

Objective: To determine the efficacy of designated ‘‘no smoking’’ areas in the hospitality industry as a
means of providing protection from environmental tobacco smoke (ETS), and whether certain design
features assist in achieving this end.

Methodology: In the greater metropolitan region of Sydney, a representative group of 17 social and
gaming clubs, licensed to serve alcoholic beverages and in which, apart from designated areas, smoking
occurs, agreed to participate. In each establishment, simultaneous single measurements of atmospheric
nicotine, particulate matter (10 mm; PM10) and carbon dioxide (CO2) levels were measured in a general
use area and in a designated ‘‘no smoking’’ area during times of normal operation, together with the
levels in outdoor air (PM10 and CO2 only). Analyses were made of these data to assess the extent to which
persons using the ‘‘no smoking’’ areas were protected from exposure to ETS.

Results: By comparison with levels in general use areas, nicotine and particulate matter levels were
significantly less in the ‘‘no smoking’’ areas, but were still readily detectable at higher than ambient levels.
For nicotine, mean (SD) levels were 100.5 (45.3) mg/m3 in the areas where smoking occurred and 41.3
(16.1) mg/m3 in the ‘‘no smoking’’ areas. Corresponding PM10 levels were 460 (196) mg/m3 and 210
(210) mg/m3, while outdoor levels were 61 (23) mg/m3. The reduction in pollutants achieved through a
separate room being designated ‘‘no smoking’’ was only marginally better than the reduction achieved
when a ‘‘no smoking’’ area was contiguous with a smoking area. CO2 levels were relatively

Conclusion: Provision of designated ‘‘no smoking’’ areas in licensed (gaming) clubs in New South Wales,
Australia, provides, at best, partial protection from ETS—typically about a 50% reduction in exposure. The
protection afforded is less than users might reasonably have understood and is not comparable with
protection afforded by prohibiting smoking on the premises.