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April 29th, 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.”