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April, 2008:

Secondhand Smoke Blocks Artery Repair

By Ed Edelson – HealthDay Reporter – Washington Post – Tuesday, April 29, 2008; 12:00 AM

TUESDAY, April 29 (HealthDay News) — Secondhand smoke not only damages the delicate cells that line blood vessels but also disrupts the body’s natural repair mechanism for those cells, a new study shows.

The research was done because there still are skeptics who doubt the health value of public smoking bans, said study co-author Stanton A. Glantz, professor of medicine at the University of California, San Francisco, Center for Tobacco Control Research and Education.

“There still are some people out there saying these effects [from smoking bans], seen in terms of reduced heart attacks and an immediate drop in heart attacks, are just not feasible,” Glantz said.

The findings were expected to be published in the May 6 issue of theJournal of the American College of Cardiology.

The new study tested the arterial effects of 30 minutes exposure to secondhand smoke on 10 young adult nonsmokers. The concentration of ambient smoke used was “about the level you would get in a bar,” Glantz said.

The researchers did a number of detailed tests to measure the impact of that exposure on the endothelial cells that line blood vessels. These cells line the entire circulatory system and serve as a kind of interface between circulating blood and the interior of the vessel wall.

That endothelial cells are damaged by secondhand smoke was already known, Glantz said. However, “Everybody asks how long that effect persists, but nobody had studied that question,” he said.

The answer, according to the study, is that “most of the effects persist for at least a day,” Glantz said. “We only did 24 hours, because we thought they would be gone after 24 hours. They weren’t.”

There was also a clear negative effect on endothelial progenitor cells, which are produced in the bone marrow and circulate through the body. The progenitor cells’ job is to seek out and repair endothelial damage.

Secondhand smoke exposure interfered with chemical signals that bring these progenitor cells to the sites of damage, Glantz said. “It wiped out the chemotaxis [direction signaling] for at least a day,” he said. “We don’t know how long the effect persists.”

It’s a “fascinating” study, said Dr. Norman H. Edelman, chief medical officer of the American Lung Association.

“We already know that exposure to secondhand smoke can cause endothelial changes,” Edelman said. “The beginning of arterial disease is endothelial damage. What this study shows is that the cells that are essential in the repair of the endothelium are also affected by secondhand smoke.”

The study comes as Atlantic City becomes the latest American community to ban smoking in public places, Edelman noted.

“The good news is that a little more than half of the country is now smoke-free,” Glantz said. “The bad news is that a little more than half of the country is not smoke-free.”

Swedish Anti-Nicotine Vaccine

Swedish anti-nicotine vaccine to be tested in Nordic countries

STOCKHOLM (AFP) — An anti-nicotine vaccine will be tested on 400 people in the Nordic countries over the next year aimed at helping smokers kick the habit, the Karolinska Institute in Sweden said on Monday.

“A Swedish vaccine against nicotine will be tested on 400 people in three Nordic countries,” the institute said in a statement.

Lena Wikingsson, head of Independent Pharmaceutica, which is running the experiment, told Swedish daily Svenska Dagbladet that people taking part in the study — heavy smokers who would like to quit — would be given counselling before they stop smoking and would be given a drug to help them quit.

They will then receive one injection a month for four months. Half of the participants will be given the vaccine and the other half a placebo.

They will be followed for a year to see whether they begin to smoke again, Wikingsson said.

The vaccine, called Niccine, has been developed over the course of 10 years by Swedish researchers at the Karolinska Institute, under the guidance of professor Torgny Svensson who founded Independent Pharmaceutica.

Niccine is supposed to help the immune system build antibodies against nicotine.

If a person who has taken the vaccine smokes a cigarette, the antibodies jump into action, latching onto the incoming nicotine and preventing it from reaching the reward system in the brain — thereby stopping the smoker from getting the “kick” that makes smoking addictive.

One problem in developing nicotine vaccines is that the immune system doesn’t react to normal nicotine.

In order to activate the immune system, the nicotine in the vaccine needs to be latched onto a “carrier” or “host” that stimulates the immune system to create as many antibodies as possible.

For the vaccine to be successful, a large number of antibodies must be created, and the carrier component is therefore the key part of Niccine, Wikingsson said.

“There are several possible applications if the vaccine proves to be effective,” Wikingsson told Svenska Dagbladet.

Smoking Ban Behind Attempts To Quit

The Press Association

More than 40% of smokers in England tried to kick the habit in the year it was banned in enclosed public places, it was revealed.

The matter is being discussed at a conference in Cardiff organised by Action on Smoking and Health (ASH) Wales.

Professor Robert West, Cancer Research UK’s director of tobacco studies, will tell delegates the biggest motivator for smokers wanting to give up is New Year’s Eve, when 10% decided to quit.

Eight per cent of smokers and ex-smokers surveyed said they attempted to quit due to the ban on smoking in public places being introduced in England last July.

Professor West, co-director of Cancer Research UK’s Health Behaviour Research Centre at University College London, said 43% of the 27,000 smokers and ex-smokers in England surveyed from November 2006 to January 2008 had tried to quit.

He said: “It can take many attempts to stop smoking for good, but the more times you try, the more likely you are to succeed in the end. I think the best chance of success comes from getting advice and assistance from the specialist NHS Stop Smoking Service. It provides friendly advice and assistance and is based on sound evidence of effectiveness.”

The survey showed that half of those who tried quitting used products like nicotine gum, patches or lozenges. Research suggests smokers are four times more likely to quit successfully with NHS support and nicotine patches and gum, Cancer Research UK said.

Legislation banning smoking in enclosed spaces was introduced in England on July 1 2007.

Elspeth Lee, Cancer Research UK’s head of tobacco control, said: “It’s good news that the smoke-free legislation, as well as protecting people from second-hand smoke, encouraged some smokers to quit. But with about 10 million smokers in the UK, half of whom will die from a smoking related disease, we cannot be complacent.

“We need the Government’s continued commitment to reducing smoking rates and stopping future generations from starting to smoke.”

More Government Action To Curb Smoking

Public Demand More Government Action To Curb Smoking, UK

29 Apr 2008 – Medical News Today

The government will launch a public consultation next month on its plans to tighten legislation on the sale of tobacco – but new research reveals that people, including smokers, are already demanding more action.

A poll carried out for ASH revealed that:

– 76% of GB adults support a ban on smoking in cars carrying children under the age of 18,
– 85% of adults in England and Wales want retailers who are convicted of selling tobacco illegally to children to be banned from selling tobacco products, and
– 88% of adults in Scotland agree that businesses found to have sold or supplied tobacco to under-18s more than once should have their right to sell tobacco suspended.

Results of the research will be presented at a tobacco control conference attended by health professionals in Cardiff today.

Deborah Arnott, Director of ASH said:

“It’s what people want; health campaigners need to work hard to keep up with the demand for further reform.”

Smoking remains the biggest cause of preventable deaths in the UK – five times greater than traffic accidents, poisoning, over-dose, alcoholic liver disease, HIV, accidental death, murder and manslaughter combined [2]

The government is considering action on the display of tobacco products in shops, requiring retailers to sell them from under the counter, and a possible ban on cigarette vending machines.

The ASH research shows a majority of people are in favour of these policies but for the following measures more than three out of four want more action:

– Easier access to quitting medications, such as nicotine gum and patches (82%);
– Licences for tobacco vendors, which should be removed if they are caught selling to underage smokers; (87%)
– A crackdown on tobacco smuggling (75%).

Report author Martin Dockrell said:

“The law on smokefree public places has been very popular. Our research shows that almost two out of three (63%) people strongly support it compared to only one in 12 who are strongly opposed. People understand that it is not about smokers: 76% say smokefree legislation has been good for their health and overall people support a wide range of further tobacco control measures.”

Ban Smoking In Cars When Kids Are Present

Legislation aims to ban smoking in cars when kids are present

Lindsay Kines – Canwest News Service – Monday, April 28, 2008

VICTORIA – Following through on a throne speech promise, B.C. Solicitor General John van Dongen introduced legislation Monday that bans smoking in cars when children are present.

The changes to the Motor Vehicle Act give police the power to ticket anyone caught smoking in a vehicle with a passenger under 16 years of age.

If people fail to pay their fines they won’t be able to get a driver’s or vehicle license.

The fines have yet to be determined.

“More than 4,000 chemicals can be found in secondhand smoke, including carbon monoxide, nickel, formaldehyde and arsenic,” van Dongen told the legislature. “Secondhand smoke has also been measured to be significantly more toxic in the enclosed space of a vehicle than in a home.

“Although secondhand smoke is dangerous to anyone, it is particularly hazardous to children who are at greater risk due to their smaller lungs and the fact that their bodies are still developing.”

Nova Scotia, Prince Edward island and the Yukon have introduced similar legislation, as have the U.S. states of Arkansas, California, Louisiana and Maine.

Call To Increase Tobacco Tax

Jessica Irvine and Yuko Narushima – The Sydney Morning Herald – April 28, 2008

THE Rudd Government’s chief adviser on preventive health has called for an increase to the excise on tobacco of 2.5 cents a cigarette, which could raise $400 million a year on top of the $500 million to be raised from the increased excise on “alcopops”.

Rob Moodie, who chairs the National Preventative Health Taskforce, said the increased excise on ready-mixed spirits – imposed at the weekend to fight teenage binge drinking – was “terrific” and should be extended to cigarettes.

“Using taxation or pricing as a lever for reducing harmful consumption is a really good idea,” Dr Moodie told the Herald.

He said Australians were very sensitive to price rises, and increasing the excise by 2.5 cents a cigarette would reduce consumption by about 3 per cent.

“There is certainly room to move [and] this issue will certainly come up in the taskforce,” Dr Moodie said.

The Government has raised the excise on drinks such as Bacardi Breezers and Vodka Cruisers from $39 per litre of pure alcohol to $67, adding as much as $1.30 to a bottle.

The excise was expected to raise $2 billion over four years, or $500 million a year, a “significant proportion” of which would be channelled into preventive health programs, a Government spokesman said.

It comes as a National Household Drug Survey reveals that risky drinking has risen among girls and young women. The survey found that girls aged 14 to 19 were more likely than boys their age to drink at risky levels. It found 10 per cent of teenage girls had 15 or more drinks in a week, and 4 per cent were at high risk of doing long-term harm by consuming 29 drinks or more. This compared with 7 per cent of teenage boys drinking at dangerous levels. Less than 3 per cent of boys consumed high-risk quantities of alcohol – for them, 43 drinks or more in a week.

According to the Australian Bureau of Statistics, 60 per cent of female drinkers aged between 15 and 17 consume pre-mixed drinks, compared with 14 per cent in 2000.

“This is an explosion that we think needs to be tackled,” the Minister for Health, Nicola Roxon, told Channel Nine yesterday. “We have a problem that must be turned around and this is the place where we’re starting.”

She blamed the Howard government for fuelling binge drinking when it cut the excise in 2000, with the introduction of the GST. The Opposition Leader, Brendan Nelson, called this an “outrageous slur” but supported the tax rise as long as some of the money was spent on public hospitals and drug treatment.

Paul Dillon, from the National Drug and Alcohol Research Centre, said it might not work. “One of the common misperceptions is that young people see pre-mixed drinks as cheap, whereas if you speak to any teenager they’ll tell you it’s actually an expensive option.

“So price will be a barrier for moderate drinkers, but problem drinkers will just move to the cheaper alternative, which is commonly spirits.”

Health groups welcomed the increase but urged the Government to go further.

The chief executive of the Australian Drug Foundation, John Rogerson, wants a uniform tax on all drinks, based on the amount of pure alcohol they contain. “This is a big step in the right direction but there’s some way to go,” he said

The Alcohol Education and Rehabilitation Foundation wants a full review of alcohol taxation and is calling for a volumetric tax across all alcohol products. “We believe this is the fairest system, and one which will ensure binge drinking challenges are comprehensively addressed,” said the foundation’s chief executive, Daryl Smeaton.

The latest available figures show alcohol cost the Australian economy $15.3 billion in 2004-05 through lost productivity, crime, violence, treatment and premature death.

A spokesman for Ms Roxon said there were no plans to extend the tax rise to other alcoholic drinks or cigarettes but the Government would listen to its taskforce’s recommendations, which are due in full by June.

AMA Push For Tobacco Licence Scheme

The Age – Marc Moncrief – April 28, 2008

MILK bars, supermarkets and petrol stations are among business that would be subject to a new licence under a plan to harvest more than $20 million for the state from the sale of tobacco.

The Australian Medical Association, in its submission to the state budget, suggests the sale of tobacco should be licensed by the state. It suggests a licensing fee of $1000, to be increased by $250 a year.

“Vendors which currently sell small amounts of tobacco would baulk at the cost of a licence to sell tobacco, and would remove themselves from the market,” the submission says. “Small-volume tobacco vendors often are the only choices available after hours, at convenience stores and service stations. Some of these vendors would prefer to forgo the limited sales they have from tobacco than pay a licence fee.”

Australian Retailers Association executive director Richard Evans said that the initiative might be well intentioned but probably would not work. Mr Evans said it was likely that cigarette companies would pay licence fees and help retailers with compliance as part of supply arrangements.

Support A Higher Tobacco Tax

Apr 26, 2008 – SCMP

I, along with 70 per cent of the population of Hong Kong, am a non-smoker and I support a higher tobacco tax.

Given the threat to health posed by tobacco, anything that can lead to fewer people smoking is an improvement.

I think a higher tobacco tax could achieve this aim. Young smokers, with only a limited amount of pocket money, would probably smoke less and some might even decide to kick the habit.

Tobacco can also exacerbate the environmental problems in Hong Kong, with so many people smoking outside.

The benefits of increasing the tax on tobacco outweigh the disadvantages and the tax should be increased as soon as possible as all Hongkongers will benefit.

Tiffany Ho Sin-yu, Lam Tin

Top Judges Call For Total Smoking Ban

Cyprus: Top judges call for total smoking ban

The existing smoking ban law is not being enforced and what Cyprus really needs is a total ban on smoking.

These are not the conclusions of health experts or politicians, but of two Supreme Court judges who have had enough of the shortcomings of anti-smoking legislation.

The law which prescribes measures for the restriction of public smoking was passed by the House of Representatives in June 2002. It outlines that nobody can smoke in an area where smoking is banned, except in a designated area which has been specifically regulated to accommodate smokers.
Furthermore, employers can only allow smoking in designated areas and employees must ask for written permission to smoke in these.

Penalties for non-compliance are a fine of up to £1,000 (approximately €1,710), and/or a six-month jail sentence.

The judges note that the House of Representatives has failed to adequately define in which areas smoking should be banned and how big these areas should be.

The judges also note that it is paradoxical that police who are present in closed sports centres to prevent violence between fans, do not take any action to stop people who are breaking the law by smoking.

According to the judges passive smoking is a major worry and the only solution is a total ban on smoking in public places.

They do not think that this would be impossible, since countries whose populations were considered fervent smokers such as Italy, Scotland and France have enforced it.

Source: Cyprus Mail, April 2008

Should The Tax On Tobacco Be Increased?

Updated on Apr 23, 2008 – SCMP

Hong Kong has forbidden smoking in public areas since last year. This policy has had some success, in that people can breathe cleaner air.

Now there are calls for increasing the tax on tobacco.

I think such a proposal has advantages and disadvantages. On a positive note, raising the tobacco tax would lead to more people quitting smoking because they are not prepared to buy expensive cigarettes. This would lead to more smokers escaping from the addiction, which is the aim of those calling for a higher tax.

However, on the down side, we could see an increase in cigarettes being sold on the black market, rather than legally in shops. Also, the tobacco sold illegally may be of questionable quality because it is not subject to the strict tests undertaken by cigarette companies. Therefore, it could put smokers at even greater risk than brand cigarettes sold over the counter.

I think the government should think very carefully before deciding whether or not to increase the tobacco tax.

Sandy Cheung, Sau Mau Ping