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March, 2014:

WSJ: E-Cigarettes, Shisha Go Up in Smoke in Cambodia

by Sun Narin and Chun Han Wong, writing for the Wall Street Journal:

Cambodian authorities have banned imports and sales of shisha tobacco and electronic cigarettes, saying rising consumption of such products among youths poses health and social problems.

A Cambodian man smokes a cigarette near a traffic sign along a street in Phnom Penh on May 31. The country has banned the use of e-cigarettes and shishas to prevent health and social problems. (AFP/Getty/WSJ)

The ban—approved by Prime Minister Hun Sen on Tuesday—has already prompted an official crackdown in the tourist town of Siem Reap and alarmed business owners in other cities, where shisha lounges have proliferated in the past year.

Shisha, or flavored tobacco smoked through a water pipe, and electronic cigarettes, which emit vapor containing nicotine, have become increasingly popular among young Cambodians, and could hurt their ability to work and study, Cambodia’s National Authority for Combating Drugs said in a statement.

The anti-drug agency doesn’t have precise data on the prevalence of e-cigarettes and shisha smoking, but Kao Boumony, deputy director of law enforcement at the agency, said he has seen anecdotal evidence pointing to high shisha consumption in the capital, Phnom Penh, as well as Siem Reap and the beach resort of Sihanoukville.

Officials are also concerned that shisha could become a gateway drug, particularly among youths who then go on to consume more addictive substances, Mr. Boumony said.

On Tuesday, police enforced the ban by raiding nightspots in Siem Reap, arresting 15 people and confiscating 55 shisha pipes, known as hookahs. The crackdown was meant to “maintain security” and “prevent ill effects on people’s health,” said city governor Khim Bunsong.

Phnom Penh authorities also plan to take action against shisha consumption in the capital, by potentially shutting down shisha lounges, according to Phnom Penh Municipal Governor Pa Socheatvong.

A number of shisha lounges there have already closed their doors, as their owners seek clarity on the new regulations, according to local news reports.

Shisha smoking, whose roots stretch back to ancient Persia and India, has gained worldwide appeal as a social activity, particularly among young adults. Medical authorities, including the World Health Organization, say shisha smoking is as unhealthy as cigarette consumption, exposing users to higher risk of lung disease, cancer and other adverse health effects.

E-cigarettes too have proven controversial amid their rising popularity as a purported tool for helping smokers quit tobacco. The WHO, a United Nations agency, currently advises against the use of e-cigarettes, saying their safety and supposed benefits as a smoking alternative haven’t been scientifically proven.

27 Feb 2014

SCMP: Art Basel coming to Hong Kong in a cloud of cigar smoke

from Howard Winn’s Lai See column in the SCMP:

Cigars and high art don't mix. (SCMP)

Art Basel, the art fair jamboree par excellence, comes to Hong Kong in May. Last year’s event was fun and attracted all those art sophisticates like Roman Abramovich, Kate Moss and so on. But much as we enjoyed the show we were a little disturbed at its relationship with the cigar company Oettinger Davidoff Group, which is one of the fair’s principal sponsors along with UBS, AxaArt and Netjets.

When governments around the world are trying to stop people from smoking because one out of every two people that smokes ultimately dies from a smoking related disease, it seems strange to say the least that Art Basel thinks it is okay to take tobacco money. Tobacco sponsorship is pretty much banned in Hong Kong. So it is something of a surprise to see it surface at Art Basel.

Davidoff signed an agreement with Art Basel in 2012. At the time Hans-Kristian Hoejsegaard, president and CEO of Oettinger Davidoff Group said: “Davidoff and Art Basel is a perfect fit.” The company also said then that its products are “deeply connected to the handicraft traditions involved in the rolling and blending of fine cigars as well as the art of marquetry”, portraying Davidoff as a kind of upmarket craft company.

Art Basel’s co-director Marc Spiegler went on to say: “We seek partners like Davidoff who are intensifying their engagement with the arts.”

When we asked Art Basel about its connection with tobacco money, Spiegler, via its public relations company, told Lai See: “Alongside its enduring support for Art Basel as an associate partner, Oettinger Davidoff has also developed the Davidoff Art Initiative, which is making a significant contribution to the arts by fostering cultural exchange between the art scenes in the Caribbean and in cultural capitals across the world. The two organisations both have roots in the Swiss town of Basel, and both are strongly committed to art and artists.”

We all know why Davidoff is “strongly committed to the arts”. It’s because it is one of the few areas where it can market itself. High art and fine cigars – they’re a natural fit? Wrong. While having an interest in art might be true, the main motivation is that art provides good “cover” that helps to make it look like a good citizen, tries to normalise cigar smoking “as a way of life”, smartens up Davidoff’s corporate image, enhances it products and corporate visibility, and of course helps it to sell more cigars.

Its association with Art Basel, despite what perhaps can be called the hype about art, is a commercial decision, and a marketing cost to promote its business. The fact remains that smoking kills and rather than helping Davidoff seduce more customers, Art Basel should look for other sponsors.

20 Mar 2014

Comments on Kaul & Wolf “The (possible) effect of plain packaging on the smoking prevalence of minors in Australia: a trend analysis”

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E-Cigarettes Won’t Help You Quit, Study Finds

http://consumer.healthday.com/mental-health-information-25/addiction-news-6/e-cigarettes-won-t-help-you-quit-study-finds-686098.html

MONDAY, March 24, 2014 (HealthDay News) — Contrary to some advertising claims, electronic cigarettes don’t help people quit or cut down on smoking, a new study says.

Users of e-cigarettes inhale vaporized nicotine but not tobacco smoke. The unregulated devices have been marketed as smoking-cessation tools, but studies to date have been inconclusive on that score, the study noted.

“When used by a broad sample of smokers under ‘real world’ conditions, e-cigarette use did not significantly increase the chances of successfully quitting cigarette smoking,” said lead researcher Dr. Pamela Ling, an associate professor at the Center for Tobacco Control Research and Education at University of California, San Francisco.

These findings — based on nearly 1,000 smokers — are consistent with other studies and contradict the claims frequently found in e-cigarette advertising, she said.

“Advertising suggesting that e-cigarettes are effective for smoking cessation should be prohibited until such claims are supported by scientific evidence,” Ling said.

For the study, Ling’s team analyzed data reported by 949 smokers, 88 of whom used e-cigarettes at the start of the study.

One year later, 14 percent of the smokers had quit overall, with similar rates in both groups.

“We found that there was no difference in the rate of quitting between smokers who used an e-cigarette and those who did not,” Ling said.

There was no relationship between e-cigarette use and quitting, even after taking into account the number of cigarettes smoked per day, how early in the day a smoker had a first cigarette and intention to quit smoking, Ling added.

However, the researchers noted that the small number of e-cigarette users may have limited the ability to find an association between e-cigarette use and quitting.

The report, published online March 24 in JAMA Internal Medicine, also found that women, younger adults and people with less education were most likely to use e-cigarettes.

One expert said the study is flawed and shouldn’t be taken seriously.

“It’s an example of bogus or junk science,” said Dr. Michael Siegel, a professor of community health sciences at Boston University School of Public Health.

“That’s because the study does not examine the rate of successful smoking cessation among e-cigarette users who want to quit smoking or cut down substantially on the amount that they smoke, and who are using e-cigarettes in an attempt to accomplish this,” Siegel said. “Instead, the study examines the percentage of quitting among all smokers who have ever tried e-cigarettes for any reason.”

Many of the smokers who tried e-cigarettes may have done so out of curiosity, Siegel said.

“It is plausible, in fact, probable, that many of these 88 smokers were not actually interested in quitting or trying to quit with electronic cigarettes,” he said. “These products have become very popular and have gained widespread media attention, and it is entirely possible that many of these smokers simply wanted to see what the big fuss is all about.”

Calling that a “fatal flaw” in the research, Siegel said it “destroys the validity of the authors’ conclusion.”

It would be a tragedy, he said, if policy makers use the study to draw conclusions about the effectiveness of e-cigarettes for smoking cessation purposes.

Erika Ford, assistant vice president for national advocacy at the American Lung Association, said the study confirms what is already clear — “e-cigarettes are not associated with quitting among smokers.”

Ford noted that most e-cigarette companies no longer make claims that their products help smokers quit. “But there is a need for the FDA [U.S. Food and Drug Administration] to begin their oversight of these products. It’s time for the FDA to find out which products are making no smoking claims and which ones might be in violation of current law,” she said.

The FDA plans to introduce regulations for e-cigarettes, but hasn’t yet. In the past, the agency has warned companies about making false claims and for poor manufacturing practices.

More information

For more information on quitting smoking, visit the American Cancer Society.

SOURCES: Pamela Ling, M.D., M.P.H., associate professor, Center for Tobacco Control Research and Education, University of California, San Francisco; Michael Siegel, M.D., M.P.H., professor, Department of Community Health Sciences, Boston University School of Public Health; Erika Ford, assistant vice president for national advocacy, American Lung Association; March 24, 2014, JAMA Internal Medicine, online

Selling a Poison by the Barrel: Liquid Nicotine for E-Cigarettes

http://www.nytimes.com/2014/03/24/business/selling-a-poison-by-the-barrel-liquid-nicotine-for-e-cigarettes.html?_r=0

A dangerous new form of a powerful stimulant is hitting markets nationwide, for sale by the vial, the gallon and even the barrel.

The drug is nicotine, in its potent, liquid form — extracted from tobacco and tinctured with a cocktail of flavorings, colorings and assorted chemicals to feed the fast-growing electronic cigarette industry.

These “e-liquids,” the key ingredients in e-cigarettes, are powerful neurotoxins. Tiny amounts, whether ingested or absorbed through the skin, can cause vomiting and seizures and even be lethal. A teaspoon of even highly diluted e-liquid can kill a small child.

But, like e-cigarettes, e-liquids are not regulated by federal authorities. They are mixed on factory floors and in the back rooms of shops, and sold legally in stores and online in small bottles that are kept casually around the house for regular refilling of e-cigarettes.

Evidence of the potential dangers is already emerging. Toxicologists warn that e-liquids pose a significant risk to public health, particularly to children, who may be drawn to their bright colors and fragrant flavorings like cherry, chocolate and bubble gum.

The liquid stimulant used in e-cigarettes, when ingested or absorbed through the skin, can cause vomiting, seizures or death. Credit Frank Franklin II/Associated Press

The liquid stimulant used in e-cigarettes, when ingested or absorbed through the skin, can cause vomiting, seizures or death. Credit Frank Franklin II/Associated Press

“It’s not a matter of if a child will be seriously poisoned or killed,” said Lee Cantrell, director of the San Diego division of the California Poison Control System and a professor of pharmacy at the University of California, San Francisco. “It’s a matter of when.”

Reports of accidental poisonings, notably among children, are soaring. Since 2011, there appears to have been one death in the United States, a suicide by an adult who injected nicotine. But less serious cases have led to a surge in calls to poison control centers. Nationwide, the number of cases linked to e-liquids jumped to 1,351 in 2013, a 300 percent increase from 2012, and the number is on pace to double this year, according to information from the National Poison Data System. Of the cases in 2013, 365 were referred to hospitals, triple the previous year’s number.

Examples come from across the country. Last month, a 2-year-old girl in Oklahoma City drank a small bottle of a parent’s nicotine liquid, started vomiting and was rushed to an emergency room.

That case and age group is considered typical. Of the 74 e-cigarette and nicotine poisoning cases called into Minnesota poison control in 2013, 29 involved children age 2 and under. In Oklahoma, all but two of the 25 cases in the first two months of this year involved children age 4 and under.

In terms of the immediate poison risk, e-liquids are far more dangerous than tobacco, because the liquid is absorbed more quickly, even in diluted concentrations.

“This is one of the most potent naturally occurring toxins we have,” Mr. Cantrell said of nicotine. But e-liquids are now available almost everywhere. “It is sold all over the place. It is ubiquitous in society.”

The surge in poisonings reflects not only the growth of e-cigarettes but also a shift in technology. Initially, many e-cigarettes were disposable devices that looked like conventional cigarettes. Increasingly, however, they are larger, reusable gadgets that can be refilled with liquid, generally a combination of nicotine, flavorings and solvents. In Kentucky, where about 40 percent of cases involved adults, one woman was admitted to the hospital with cardiac problems after her e-cigarette broke in her bed, spilling the e-liquid, which was then absorbed through her skin.

The problems with adults, like those with children, owe to carelessness and lack of understanding of the risks. In the cases of exposure in children, “a lot of parents didn’t realize it was toxic until the kid started vomiting,” said Ashley Webb, director of the Kentucky Regional Poison Control Center at Kosair Children’s Hospital.

Nicotine solutions at Volt Vapes in Boise, Idaho. The “e-liquid” comes in colors and flavors that experts say may entice children. Credit Katherine Jones/The Idaho Statesman, via Associated Press

Nicotine solutions at Volt Vapes in Boise, Idaho. The “e-liquid” comes in colors and flavors that experts say may entice children. Credit Katherine Jones/The Idaho Statesman, via Associated Press

The increased use of liquid nicotine has, in effect, created a new kind of recreational drug category, and a controversial one. For advocates of e-cigarettes, liquid nicotine represents the fuel of a technology that might prompt people to quit smoking, and there is anecdotal evidence that is happening. But there are no long-term studies about whether e-cigarettes will be better than nicotine gum or patches at helping people quit. Nor are there studies about the long-term effects of inhaling vaporized nicotine.

Unlike nicotine gums and patches, e-cigarettes and their ingredients are not regulated. The Food and Drug Administration has said it plans to regulate e-cigarettes but has not disclosed how it will approach the issue. Many e-cigarette companies hope there will be limited regulation.

“It’s the wild, wild west right now,” said Chip Paul, chief executive officer of Palm Beach Vapors, a company based in Tulsa, Okla., that operates 13 e-cigarette franchises nationwide and plans to open 50 more this year. “Everybody fears F.D.A. regulation, but honestly, we kind of welcome some kind of rules and regulations around this liquid.”

Mr. Paul estimated that this year in the United States there will be sales of one million to two million liters of liquid used to refill e-cigarettes, and it is widely available on the Internet. Liquid Nicotine Wholesalers, based in Peoria, Ariz., charges $110 for a liter with 10 percent nicotine concentration. The company says on its website that it also offers a 55 gallon size. Vaporworld.biz sells a gallon at 10 percent concentrations for $195.

Mr. Paul said he was worried that some manufacturers outside the United States — China is a major center of e-cigarette production — were not always delivering the concentrations and purity of nicotine they promise. Some retailers, Mr. Paul said, “are selling liquid and they don’t have a clue what is in it.”

Cynthia Cabrera, executive director of Smoke Free Alternatives Trade Association, said she would also favor regulations, including those that would include childproof bottles and warning labels, and also manufacturing standards. But she said many companies already were doing that voluntarily, and that parents also needed to take some responsibility.

“You wouldn’t leave a bottle of Ajax out,” she said. Advocates of e-cigarettes sometimes draw comparisons between nicotine and caffeine, characterizing both as recreational stimulants that carry few risks. But that argument is not established by science, and many health advocates take issue with the comparison.

“There’s no risk to a barista no matter how much caffeine they spill on themselves,” said Dr. Neal L. Benowitz, a professor at the University of California, San Francisco, who specializes in nicotine research. “Nicotine is different.”

Without proper precautions, like wearing gloves while mixing e-liquids, these products “represents a serious workplace hazard,” he said.

The nicotine levels in e-liquids varies. Most range between 1.8 percent and 2.4 percent, concentrations that can cause sickness, but rarely death, in children. But higher concentrations, like 10 percent or even 7.2 percent, are widely available on the Internet. A lethal dose at such levels would take “less than a tablespoon,” according to Dr. Cantrell, from the poison control system in California. “Not just a kid. One tablespoon could kill an adult,” he said.

Effects of standardised cigarette packaging on craving, motivation to stop and perceptions of cigarettes and packs

http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/24559249

Abstract

OBJECTIVE:

To assess whether standardised packs of the form introduced in Australia are associated with a reduction in acute craving and/or an increase in motivation to stop, and to replicate previous findings on perceptions of packaging, perceptions of smokers using it and perceived effects on behaviour.

DESIGN:

Following abstinence of at least 12 h, 98 regular and occasional smokers were randomised to exposure to their own cigarette package, another branded package or a standardised package.

MAIN OUTCOME MEASURES:

Craving (QSU-brief), motivation to stop, both at baseline and post-exposure. Ratings of 10 attributes concerning package design, perceived smoker characteristics and effects on behaviour, post-exposure only.

RESULTS:

For craving, a mixed model ANCOVA showed a significant interaction of packaging and time of measurement (F(2,94) = 8.77, p < .001, partial η(2) = .16). There was no significant main effect or interaction for motivation to stop smoking (p = .9). The standardised pack was perceived to be significantly less appealing and less motivating to buy cigarettes, smokers using them were perceived as less popular and cigarettes from them expected to taste worse.

CONCLUSION:

Standardised cigarette packaging may reduce acute (hedonic) craving and is associated with more negative perceptions than branded packaging with less prominent health warnings.

Tobacco industry manipulation of data on and press coverage of the illicit tobacco trade in the UK

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University of California study: e-cigs “new route” to nicotine addiction

Study found adolescents who use e-cigs are less likely to quit smoking tobacco cigarettes

https://www.consumeraffairs.com/e-cigarette-warnings-and-lawsuits

Here’s the latest chapter in the continuing debate over whether e-cigarettes are a cure or an affliction: a study from the University of California San Francisco that finds e-cigs may in fact be a new route to conventional smoking and nicotine addiction.

In what is said to be the first analysis of the relationship between e-cigarette use and smoking among adolescents in the United States, UCSF researchers found that adolescents who used the devices were more likely to smoke cigarettes and less likely to quit smoking. The study of nearly 40,000 youth around the country also found that e-cigarette use among middle and high school students doubled between 2011 and 2012, from 3.1 percent to 6.5 percent.

“Despite claims that e-cigarettes are helping people quit smoking, we found that e-cigarettes were associated with more, not less, cigarette smoking among adolescents,” said lead author Lauren Dutra, a postdoctoral fellow at the UCSF Center for Tobacco Control Research and Education.

“E-cigarettes are likely to be gateway devices for nicotine addiction among youth, opening up a whole new market for tobacco,” she said. The study was published online on March 6 in JAMA Pediatrics.

A trade group took issue with the study, saying it “is implying conclusions that simply aren’t borne out by the data.”

In a prepared statement, Cynthia Cabrera, Executive Director, Smoke Free Alternatives Trade Association (SFATA), said: “As the survey summary itself states, it wasn’t designed to derive any insight about motivation or a possible causal relationship between use of e-cigarettes and combustible cigarettes. What the survey data does show is that cigarette smoking among teens has decreased.”

FDA action expected

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has been considering regulations that could restrict advertising and sales of the popular battery-powered devices, which look like cigarettes and deliver an aerosol of nicotine and other chemicals.

Several states and cities, including New York and Los Angeles, have banned the use of e-cigs, generally treating them as though they were tobacco products.

In Congress, five U.S. Senators introduced the “Protecting Children from Electronic Cigarette Advertising Act” last month. It would prohibit the marketing of e-cigs to children and teens.

“We cannot risk undoing decades of progress in reducing youth smoking by allowing e-cigarette makers to target our kids,” Sen. Barbara Boxer (D-Calif.) said. “This bill will help protect our children from an industry that profits from addiction.”

Manufacturers promote the devices as safer alternatives to cigarettes and as smoking cessation aids. They are sold in flavors such as chocolate and strawberry that are banned in conventional cigarettes because of their appeal to youth.

Cabrera denied that the e-cig industry is targeting children.

“Our industry does not sell or market to minors, and it is our view that no one under 18 should use electronic cigarettes. Electronic cigarettes and vaping products are intended strictly for adults who smoke cigarettes. We fully support limitations on the sale of these products to youth at retail to further reduce access to anyone under 18,” she said.

Students studied

In the new UCSF study, the researchers examined survey data from middle and high school students who completed the National Youth Tobacco Survey in 2011 and 2012.

The authors found that the devices were associated with higher odds of progression from experimenting with cigarettes to becoming established cigarette smokers. Additionally, adolescents who smoked both conventional cigarettes and e-cigarettes smoked more cigarettes per day than non-e-cigarette users.

“It looks to me like the wild west marketing of e-cigarettes is not only encouraging youth to smoke them, but also it is promoting regular cigarette smoking among youth,” said senior author Stanton A. Glantz, PhD, UCSF professor of medicine and director of the Center for Tobacco Control Research and Education.

Contrary to advertiser claims that e-cigarettes can help consumers stop smoking conventional cigarettes, teenagers who used e-cigarettes and conventional cigarettes were much less likely to have abstained from cigarettes in the past 30 days, 6 months, or year. At the same time, they were more likely to be planning to quit smoking in the next year than smokers who did not use e-cigarettes.

The new results are consistent with a similar study of 75,000 Korean adolescents published last year by UCSF researchers, which also found that adolescents who used e-cigarettes were less likely to have stopped smoking conventional cigarettes.

In combination, the two studies suggest that “e-cigarettes may contribute to nicotine addiction and are unlikely to discourage conventional cigarette smoking among youths,” said the scientists.

The federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reported last year that the majority of adolescents who have ever smoked e-cigarettes also have smoked regular cigarettes. An estimated 1.78 million U.S. students have used the devices as of 2012, the CDC reported.

Pictorial health warning labels on cigarette packages: an investigation on opinions of male smokers

http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/24829777

Abstract

BACKGROUND:

Health warning labels on cigarette packages are among the most straightforward and important tools to communicate with smokers and various studies have illustrated their efficacy.

OBJECTIVES:

The current study aimed to investigate the opinions of male smokers in Mashhad city about the efficacy of health warning labels printed on cigarette packages on the smoking status of smokers.

PATIENTS AND METHODS:

This cross-sectional descriptive study was conducted in 2013 using a questionnaire. The research population included the male smokers of Mashhad. The participants were selected from the customers referring to the newsstands for cigarettes. The obtained data were analyzed employing SPSS software Version 16, and the statistical tests including Kruskal-Wallis, Spearman, and correlation coefficient of Pearson, Chi Square, Mann-Whitney, and Bonferroni correction were used in this regard.

RESULTS:

In this research, there were 500 participants with the average age of 25 years. The initiation age of smoking was eight years while the maximum age was reported as 45 years. Results of this research about the effect of these labels on decreasing cigarette consumption rate showed that almost half of the participants believed that these labels were ineffective for them (52.2%) and other smokers (53.8%).Furthermore, significant relationship was found between the age and opinion of the smokers about the influence of these labels on reducing their cigarette consumption (P < 0.001).

CONCLUSIONS:

To promote the effect of printed images on cigarette packages, it is recommended to consider the suitability of labels in the targeted culture. In addition, to be more effective consultation sites to quit smoking should be introduced under the images.

Letter: Raise tobacco age to 21

http://www.newsday.com/opinion/letters/letter-raise-tobacco-age-to-21-1.7284818

Lane Filler’s column “Illogical bans on tobacco sales” [Opinion, Feb. 26], on banning sales to anyone younger than 21, would be comical if it weren’t so full of flawed logic and self-serving inaccuracies. Filler seems to promote his personal preferences at the expense of future generations, all in a supposed effort to protect our civil liberties.

Filler quoted a British study showing that young people can safely smoke until age 30 with no adverse health effects. This study is encouraging for those who want to quit, but the point that is lost — and which Filler admits — is that it is extremely hard to quit. Very few people will smoke until they are 30 and then just toss out their cigarettes as easily as I’m gong to toss out his article tonight.

Putting up barriers to smoking for 19- and 20-year-olds has the secondary benefit of making it difficult for them to supply their friends who are 18 or younger.

Dr. Michael Melgar, Great Neck

We couldn’t disagree more with Lane Filler’s column. Not only is Suffolk County’s proposal “logical,” it would undoubtedly further decrease youth smoking rates and save lives.

Nearly 3,200 kids younger than 18 smoke their first cigarette each day. We know that nine out of 10 smokers started before they turned 18 and that 99 percent of smokers started before they turned 26.

Raising the purchase age is an important countermeasure to the tobacco industry’s relentless efforts to target young people when they are most vulnerable and can be more easily lured into a lifetime of addiction. If you disagree with our opinion, perhaps you could listen to Big Tobacco’s own words. An RJ Reynolds researcher stated, “If a man has never smoked by age 18, the odds are three-to-one he never will. By age 21, the odds are twenty-to-one.”

The U.S. surgeon general recently concluded that if youth smoking rates continue on their current trend, 5.6 million American kids younger than 18 today will die prematurely from tobacco-related disease. This suggests that we must do more than the status quo.

Michael Seilback, Hauppauge

Editor’s note: The writer is the vice president for public policy and communications for the American Lung Association of the Northeast.

I applaud Suffolk County Community College for wanting to ban tobacco use on its three campuses [“SCCC seeking smoking ban at its 3 campuses” News, Feb. 25].

The surgeon general recommends developing smoke-free environments to help decrease tobacco initiation. Helping reduce the number of people who smoke will lower health care costs from tobacco-related illnesses and save lives.

Christine Fardellone, East Meadow

Editor’s note: The writer is a registered nurse.

Potholes are one among the eyesores

I had to drive through Levittown via Hempstead Turnpike, and for a moment I wondered if I was in Lebanon, Nigeria or Afghanistan. The roads are riddled with giant potholes, making them virtually impossible to navigate [“Our roads need deep rebuilding,” Editorial, March 3].

The reason is poor road construction. Instead of using concrete to fill the potholes, crews throw down blacktop mixed with some pebbles, which may last a few months at best. That road is just one of hundreds in disrepair.

We are one of the most affluent and highly taxed counties in the country. We have manpower, equipment and money.

So why do we see garbage strewn about, potholes a foot deep and vacant buildings covered in graffiti? The situation is a disgrace.

Frank Bonanno, Massapequa Park

Mute swan study severely flawed

The state Department of Environmental Conservation asserts that its mute swan management plan, calling for the eradication of these swans from New York by 2025, had the support of the National Audubon Society [“NY rethinks plan to destroy swans,” News, March 1].

However, Four Harbors Audubon, a local chapter of Audubon New York, is opposed to the DEC mute swan management plan. We believe that the DEC has come to invalid conclusions, has misrepresented data analyses, has done poor sampling, and has frequently relied on dated and out-of-state references. The bottom line is that the report did a poor job of presenting data and correlating it to a valid conclusion.

There was no overall increase in the mute swan population, no significant devastation to aquatic vegetation, a lack of evidence regarding aggression toward other nesting waterfowl and only anecdotal references of aggressive behavior toward people.

Four Harbors Audubon recognizes the relative stability of the mute swan populations on Long Island and in the Hudson Valley. We support a regional approach for the management of mute swans in our state.

Elaine Maas

Susan Krause

St. James

Editor’s note: The writers are the education coordinator and president, respectively, of the Four Harbors Audubon Society of Smithtown, Stony Brook, Port Jefferson and Mount Sinai.