Clear The Air News Tobacco Blog Rotating Header Image

July 12th, 2009:

Smoking GI Joes will be a dying breed if report has its way

Agence France-Presse – SCMP

The iconic image of the US soldier, muddy and tired, with a cigarette hanging from his mouth could become a thing of the past if the Pentagon accepts new calls for a ban on tobacco products in the military.

An Institute of Medicine report, requested by the Pentagon and the Department of Veterans Affairs, says an anti-tobacco policy could make the military “virtually tobacco-free within 20 years”. The report found the proportion of smokers in the US armed forces was higher than in the civilian population, with 32 per cent of military personnel using tobacco products, compared with 20 per cent of civilians.

Troops on deployment were twice as likely to be smokers than home-based counterparts. The Defence Department spent US$564 million in 2006 treating tobacco-related illness.

“There are numerous reasons the military would support the goal of becoming tobacco-free, such as improved military readiness, better health of [the] force, and decreased health care costs,” the report said.

Pentagon spokesman Bryan Whitman said the Department of Defence had long recognised the health effects of smoking.

“The federal government and the US military were the first to go smoke-free in their office buildings,” he said.

But the study criticised the military for its continued subsidies of tobacco products sold on military bases.

“The committee believes the department should not sell products that are known to impair military readiness and health,” the report said.

But it acknowledged the difficulty of phasing out smoking, noting the habit had “long been associated with the image of a tough, fearless warrior”.



Researcher explores why smoking increases the risk of heart disease and strokes

Contact: John L. Mitchell
Charles Drew University of Medicine and Science

LOS ANGELES—Researchers at Charles Drew University of Medicine and Science in Los Angeles and Western University of Health Sciences in Pomona have discovered a reason why smoking increases the risk of heart disease and strokes.

The study, which will be presented Thursday, June 11 at The Endocrine Society’s 91st annual meeting in Washington, D.C., found that nicotine in cigarettes promotes insulin resistance, a pre-diabetic condition that raises blood sugar levels higher than normal. People with pre-diabetes are at greater risk of developing cardiovascular disease.

Theodore Friedman, MD, Ph.D., chief of the endocrinology division at Charles Drew University, said the findings help explain a “paradox” that links smoking to heart disease.

Smokers experience a high degree of cardiovascular deaths, Friedman said. “This is surprising considering both smoking and nicotine may cause weight loss and weight loss should protect against cardiovascular disease.”

The researchers studied the effects of twice-daily injections of nicotine on 24 adult mice over two weeks. The nicotine-injected mice ate less food, lost weight and had less fat than control mice that received injections without nicotine.

“Our results in mice show that nicotine administration leads to both weight loss and decreased food intake,” Friedman said. “Mice exposed to nicotine have less fat. In spite of this, mice have abnormal glucose tolerance and are insulin resistant (pre-diabetes).”

Studies have shown that smokers who are pre-diabetic have blood glucose levels higher than normal, but not high enough for diabetes, a known risk factor for heart disease. Smokers also have higher rates of diabetes, but it is not directly clear whether smoking is the cause, because there could be other risk factors, Friedman said.

In the tests, however, the mice receiving nicotine developed pre-diabetes and also had high levels of the stress hormone cortisol, which increases blood pressure and blood sugar. The study’s authors were able to partially reverse the harmful effects of pre-diabetes by treating the mice with a drug that blunts the action of nicotine.

“Our results suggest that decreasing insulin resistance may reduce the heart disease seen in smokers,” Friedman said. “We anticipate that in the future there will be drugs to specifically block the effect of nicotine on insulin resistance.”

New drugs are needed because those that are currently available are not specific enough to completely block nicotine’s effects or they have bothersome side effects, said Friedman, whose study is one of 34 being featured at The Endocrine Society’s 91st annual meeting..



CDU is a private nonprofit, nonsectarian, minority-serving medical and health sciences institution. Located in the Watts-Willowbrook area of South Los Angeles, CDU has graduated over 550 medical doctors, 2,500 post-graduate physicians, more than 2,000 physician assistants and hundreds of other health professionals. The only dually designated Historically Black Graduate Institution and Hispanic Serving Health Professions School in the U.S. CDU is recognized as a leader in health inequities and translational research, specifically with respect to heart disease, diabetes, cancer, mental health, and HIV/AIDS. The University is among the top 7% of National Institutes of Health (NIH)-funded institutions and rated one of the top 50 private universities in research in the U.S. Recently, the CDU/UCLA medical program was named the “best performer” in the University of California System with respect to producing outstanding underrepresented minority physicians. For more information, visit.

Richmond bans smoking in apartments and condos

The Associated Press

RICHMOND, Calif.—City officials in Richmond are snuffing out smoking in apartments, condominiums and public places, making it the hardest place in the San Francisco Bay area to smoke.

The City Council approved an ordinance this month that will ban lighting up in all multiunit housing by Jan. 1, 2011. Officials say smoking in multiunit housing exposes people to secondhand smoke, which can travel between apartments.

The city has already banned smoking in parks, farmers markets and other public places. Fines start at $100 for violating the bans.

Richmond was given an “F” by the American Lung Association in January, which got city leaders to move quickly to enact tougher restrictions to discourage smoking and reduce secondhand smoke.


Information from: Contra Costa Times