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December 10th, 2015:

Smoking Fact: Nicotine Is MORE Addictive Than Cocaine, Morphine, Heroin Or Alcohol

Smoking Fact: Nicotine Is MORE Addictive Than Cocaine, Morphine, Heroin Or Alcohol – Affecting BOTH Sides Of Your Brain


On the right side of your brain, you’ve got the ability and functions for art, creativity, imagination, intuition, insight, holistic thoughts, music awareness, and of course, left hand control. Then, on the left side of your brain, you’ve got the abilities and functions to develop analytic thought, logic, reasoning, language, science and math, writing, and of course, right hand control. Which hand do you smoke with? Drive with? Brush your teeth with? Which side controls your emotions about life, and very importantly, which side will give you the drive and willpower to quit smoking nicotine? It’s possibly the most addictive drug on the planet as far as your brain is concerned. Let’s find out why.

Reward Activity via Synapses and Dopamine Researchers at the University of Chicago found that the nicotine in cigarettes doesn’t just stimulate the brain’s reward system, but alters the BALANCE OF INPUTS from two kinds of NEURONS that regulate reward system ACTIVITY which makes the pleasure of smoking last longer.

Research from 2003 on “Dopaminergic Neurons”

Sure, scientists have known for years that hard core drugs attach to the core neurons of the brain’s reward system in order to reinforce behaviors, but those same “behaviors” can essentially save your life, like drinking water when you’re thirsty, or eating dark organic chocolate when you’re depressed. In your brain, in your VTA (ventral tegmental area), you have reward system neurons (dopaminergic) that trigger the release of dopamine in another nearby region of your brain. Nicotine actually ATTACHES to these neurons and they increase their ACTIVITY. This floods your nucleus accumbens (NAc). That’s when you feel the pleasure and your brain creates the DISPOSITION for that situation, whether it’s drinking water, eating chocolate or lighting up a smoke. That’s why addictions can be good or bad. You could actually be addicted to eating right, exercising and meditating, if you reinforce positive feelings with organic supplements, Superfoods and clear thinking. Think about it.

The research also revealed that nicotine attachment only stimulates the DA neurons for a few minutes, while dopamine levels in the nucleus remained elevated for MUCH LONGER. So when someone tries to quit smoking, their brain will be searching for those rewards and for extended periods of time throughout the day, unless they can find some other way to replace and replenish their nutrient base and the right foods that stimulate dopamine production, like organic cabbage, mucuna pruriens (legume supplement also called dopabean), kale, spinach, goji berries, maca, to name a few.

Experiment: Scientists exposed VTA cells in rats to nicotine for 10 minutes How long does the average person take to smoke a cigarette? About ten minutes.

How long does it take ammonia-treated nicotine, which is in virtually all commercial and domestic cigarettes, to reach the human brain? About three seconds. Scientists found that when they measured electrical properties of the brain tissue of rats exposed to nicotine, BOTH “pacemaker” neurons were affected– the GABA producing cells and glutamate producing cells–where in the latter the brief nicotine application induced a condition known as LONG-TERM POTENTIATION. This explains why the brain activity occurs at a high-level for an extended period of time, beyond the nicotine-attachment phase, when GABA transmission decreases.

Now think about this, how long does the nicotine last for a smoker? That depends on the physiology of the person, the brand of cigarette (varying nicotine potency), and how they smoke it–whether quick short tugs or long, drawn-out drags. Most people have NO CLUE that commercial cigarettes register off the charts for average nicotine potency, at over 100mg per “serving.” You thought it was 10 – 20 milligrams, didn’t you? Or maybe 35? Nope. The nicotine has been free-based, like crack from cocaine, into a vapor form that reaches the heart AND both sides of your brain within three seconds and lasts up to about 20 or 30 minutes. A two-pack-a-day smoker can maintain nicotine and artificial dopamine boosting feelings all day, but the health trade-off means eventually their body will stop producing dopamine naturally and rely 100% on cigarettes for their reward system neurons to fire long enough for them to enjoy anything at all. Sound familiar?

Excitatory signals promote addiction for the brain’s reward system Dr. McGehee, the lead researcher testing nicotine effects on rat brains, comes to this conclusion:

“This suggests that in humans a relatively short nicotine exposure, even for someone who has never smoked before, can cause long-lasting changes in excitatory neurotransmission. It may be an important early step in the process that results in addiction.” … “The combination of effects–increasing dopamine release and decreasing the inhibitory [GABA] response–results in an amplification of the rewarding properties of nicotine” … “It would be difficult to design a better drug to promote addiction.”

Nicotine is MORE addictive than heroin, because it affects BOTH sides of your brain–and it’s why you haven’t quit, yet Nicotine, therefore, has a combination effect of INCREASING dopamine release while DECREASING inhibitory GABA response. The artificially-induced reward of nicotine is therefore amplified as is the addiction, and THAT is why nicotine is now considered the most addicting drug in the world. It’s not cocaine or heroin or morphine or viagra or xanax or oxycodone or percocet, it’s nicotine. You’re on a drug-induced emotional roller coaster manipulated by cigarette manufacturers to make you their customer for life. It’s affecting your motivation, creativity, deep thinking, attentiveness, learning, and relaxation, and in the worst of ways.

The brain-effect differences between nicotine, cocaine, heroin, morphine …

Dopamine is essential for survival as it is involved in so many functions including motivation, learning and memorization, since the beginning of time. Dopamine is a key element that identifies natural rewards and is involved in the UNCONSCIOUS memorizing of the signs associated with these rewards. Cocaine is different than nicotine in that cocaine increases the dopamine in the synapses. Ecstasy (a powerful stimulant and hallucinogen) increases serotonin. Alcohol blocks the natural neuromediator (NMDA) receptors. Morphine binds to receptors for endorphin (the brain’s natural morphine production). Nicotine binds to the receptors for what is called acetylcholine.

Nicotine causes Desensitization

Nicotine is lying to you. It’s faking you out. It’s tricking your brain – and both sides at that, into believing a cigarette is the only way you can feel the way you feel during and after smoking one. Their is no side of your brain unaffected that can come rescue YOU from the vicious cycle, so you’ll have to physically “break it.” The nicotine in tobacco imitates the action of a natural neurotransmitter called acetylcholine, and so it binds to that type of receptor, now identified as the nicotine receptor. The ion channel opens for a few milliseconds and allows sodium ions to enter the neuron, depolarizing the membrane and “exciting” the cell, then the channel closes again, and the receptor becomes disabled, unresponsive to ANY neurotransmitters whatsoever. That’s the state of desensitization that is being ARTIFICIALLY PROLONGUED by the chronic, perpetual habit of smoking cigarettes.

Are you wondering now about your motivation, sex drive, attitude, senseless fears, senseless worrying, sleepless nights, high blood pressure, depression, anxiety and loss of drive? The experience of cigarette nicotine reduces more and more over time as you build up tolerance and experience reduced pleasure from it. What now? Quit smoking and do it without medication or nicotine replacement programs. When your receptors become functional again, within days, you will replace any cravings with Superfoods that naturally raise dopamine and serotonin levels.

Bottom Line: Your two-sided brain needs the right food and herbal supplements right now. It’s time to exit nicotine and enter the health enthusiasts world. Become one of us starting now. Quit cigarettes and do it naturally.

Flavouring chemical in e-cigarettes linked to severe respiratory disease

Diacetyl among three harmful compounds found in over 75 per cent of flavoured electronic cigarettes; in other research, male hormone gives women a better sense of direction

Diacetyl, a flavouring chemical linked to cases of severe respiratory disease, was found in more than 75 per cent of flavoured electronic cigarettes and refill liquids tested by researchers at the Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health. Two other potentially harmful related compounds were also found in many of the tested flavours, which included varieties with potential appeal to young people such as Cotton Candy, Fruit Squirts, and Cupcake. For more than a decade, inhaling diacetyl has been linked with the debilitating respiratory disease bronchiolitis obliterans, colloquially termed “popcorn lung” because it first appeared in workers who inhaled artificial butter flavour in microwave-popcorn processing facilities. The researchers tested 51 types of flavoured e-cigarettes and liquids sold by leading brands for the presence of diacetyl, acetoin, and 2,3-pentanedione, two related flavouring compounds that may pose a respiratory hazard in the workplace. Each e-cigarette was inserted into a sealed chamber attached to a lab-built device that drew air through the e-cigarette for eight seconds at a time with a resting period of 15 or 30 seconds between each draw. The air stream was then analysed. At least one of the three chemicals was detected in 47 of the 51 flavours tested. Diacetyl was detected above the laboratory limit of detection in 39 of the flavours tested.

The data on plain cigarette packaging that tobacco companies don’t want you to see

Four of the world’s largest tobacco companies are taking on the UK’s decision to require plain packaging for cigarettes, starting in May next year. The outcome of the six-day hearing that starts today (Dec. 10) and is likely to influence similar plans in more than 20 countries.

Big tobacco will make two main arguments: that forcing cigarettes to be sold in plain packages infringes on companies’ intellectual property rights; and that the change won’t lead to a reduction in smoking. On both counts, the UK government should have a robust counter argument.

Plain-packaging rules generally require green or brown boxes without any designs, apart from health warnings and the brand’s name in a plain font. Tobacco companies will struggle to convince the court that this infringes on their intellectual property. British law considers package designs and logos as trademarks, which give firms “the negative right to prevent others from exploiting their brand” explains Enrico Bonadio, a lecturer in law at City University. “This will still be there with the new rules: the government does not touch this right.”

The point about plain packaging not discouraging smokers is also hard to support. Australia introduced plain-packaging rules in 2012, and the data clearly show that this can have an impact, speeding the decline of smoking that is already taking place in many developed countries:



Not all tobacco-control measures work in the same way. Simon Chapman, professor of public health at the University of Sydney, explains how some are quick-acting, like raising taxes or taking cigarettes off shelves. Others are on-going, slow-burn measures like plain-packaging rules. These take longer to have an effect, which can nonetheless be long lasting.

The tobacco companies’ last-ditch court challenge in London will be watched closely by several other countries. (A ruling is likely to be announced early next year.) Apart from the UK and Australia, plain-packaging laws have been passed—but not yet implemented—in France, Hungary, Ireland, and Burkina Faso. A host of other governments are in the earlier stages of introducing similar rules.

Partner believed winning Alberta tobacco-litigation team would have political advantage, email suggests

Retired Mountie says email shows criminal investigation warranted

Six months before Alberta launched its “independent” process to select outside legal counsel for a multibillion-dollar lawsuit against the tobacco industry, a partner in the legal consortium eventually chosen believed it was in the “forefront” for the potentially lucrative legal claim.

CBC News has obtained an internal email that suggests Jamie Cuming, a partner in the winning International Tobacco Recovery Lawyers (ITRL) consortium, believed it had an inside track to then justice minister Alison Redford through its pending association with the law firm of her former husband, Robert Hawkes.

Hawkes is a partner in Calgary-based JSS Barristers, the consortium’s lead law firm, which had close personal and political ties to Redford and the ruling Conservative Party.

In the email, dated April 16, 2010, the lawyer Cuming details the outcome of a meeting he said he had that morning with JSS Barristers partners Sabri Shawa and Hawkes, whose firm was then being recruited to join the ITRL consortium.

“Rob is the ex-husband (on a very friendly basis) with Alison Redford, QC (our justice minister),” Cuming wrote in the email to ITRL lobbyist Tim Wade and two of the consortium’s Ontario partners.

“The positives that arose from the meeting are that Rob Hawkes has discussed the file directly with Alison Redford, and she indicated to him we were in the forefront on the matter,” said Cuming, a partner in Cuming & Gillespie, the other Calgary law firm in the ITRL consortium.

On Nov. 1, 2010, six months after Cuming wrote that email, Alberta Justice asked for expressions of interest from law firms to represent Alberta. On Dec. 14, 2010, Redford issued a memo to her deputy minister in which she chose ITRL to represent Alberta.

Hawkes and Redford divorced in 1991, but Hawkes remained a strong political supporter. Within two months of Redford choosing ITRL in December 2010, Hawkes joined a committee to draft Redford to run for the Conservative Party leadership.

Hawkes then chaired her leadership campaign after she resigned in mid-February 2011 to run, and served as her transition team leader when she won in October 2011 and became Alberta’s premier. JSS Barristers, and Hawkes himself, has said Hawkes has no involvement in the Alberta litigation.

Criminal investigation warranted, ex-Mountie says

Last month, a CBC News investigation revealed Alberta’s independent selection process had been manipulated, allowing Redford to choose ITRL even after it had been ranked last and effectively eliminated by a review committee consisting of senior justice and health ministry lawyers.

“I think what we are seeing here is potentially a breach of trust,” said Garry Clement, a retired RCMP superintendent with 34 years’ experience, including investigating corruption within government.

“And that definitely falls within the jurisdiction of law enforcement and probably particularly the RCMP on this,” Clement said after viewing the April 2010 email, adding that the RCMP should investigate, even if the government of Premier Rachel Notley doesn’t request an investigation.

In an emailed statement to CBC News, Cuming said, “I have no recall of believing that Mr. Hawkes or JSS would provide ITRL with a political advantage.”

But he said he did recall that “Mr. Hawkes’ experience in politics would be an asset to ITRL in understanding what government might be looking for if they chose to hire outside counsel,” he said, adding that “Mr. Hawkes being at JSS played no part in my approaching JSS to ask them to join ITRL.”

Hawkes, also in an emailed statement, said: “I did not meet with Minister Redford to discuss tobacco (litigation) as you describe and at no time did Minister Redford ever inform me that ITRL was at the forefront of the selection process.”

He said he met with Redford once briefly at a social function and told her JSS was likely to join ITRL. He said Redford told him the decision would be merit based.

The lobbyist Wade said Alberta’s selection process didn’t begin until the fall of 2010, and “prior to this, ITRL was at the forefront of the effort to get every government in Canada not yet litigating against tobacco to proceed with litigation.”

Redford and JSS partner Shawa did not respond to interview requests.

Selection process manipulated

The entire process to choose a legal consortium for the largest lawsuit in the Alberta government’s history took less than seven weeks. If successful, the $10-billion lawsuit could reap billions of dollars for Alberta’s coffers and hundreds of millions of dollars for ITRL.

As reported last month, leaked internal Alberta Justice documents obtained exclusively by CBC News show ITRL had been ranked last by an “independent” government review committee and effectively eliminated from consideration.

But the committee inexplicably changed its assessment after it sent its initial recommendation in a briefing note to Redford’s executive assistant.

The committee produced a second version of the same briefing note that inserted ITRL back into the competition, removed its last-place ranking and recommended Redford choose whichever of the three remaining consortiums she thought “appropriate.”

Less than a week later, Redford chose ITRL, saying it represented the “best choice.”

Nothing in the documents shows Redford saw the first version of the briefing note, and she told CBC News no one from the ministry told her ITRL had been ranked last.

CBC News first revealed on Nov. 28, 2012, that Redford had personally selected ITRL. Opposition parties demanded an investigation by Alberta’s ethics commissioner, Neil Wilkinson, into conflict of interest allegations against Redford, which in part involved her past relationship with Hawkes.

The subsequent investigation cleared Redford of those allegations, but confirmed — despite her repeated denials — that she had personally chosen ITRL.

But last month CBC News also revealed that critical documents and other information may have been withheld from Wilkinson’s investigation. In response, Alberta NDP Justice Minister Kathleen Ganley announced the ethics commissioner’s investigation would be reviewed by retired Supreme Court of Canada justice Frank Iacobucci.

Email reveals contradiction

The statements made by Cuming in his April 2010 internal ITRL email directly contradict the ethics commissioner’s report in 2013.

“[Cuming] was ‘shocked’ when it came to his attention through events leading up to this investigation that there was a prior relationship between Mr. Hawkes and Premier Redford,” Wilkinson’s report states.

Cuming now appears to contradict statements attributed to him in the ethics commissioner’s report. In his statement to CBC News, Cuming said he learned a few months after first meeting JSS partners Shawa and Carsten Jensen in January 2010 that “Mr. Hawkes was at JSS and that he was Alison Redford’s ex-husband.”

The Wilkinson report also states that “Mr. Hawkes was not involved, in any way, in any of the discussions between JSS and other members of the ITRL consortium.”

Hawkes, however, in his statement to CBC News, said “he wasn’t asked if he was involved in any internal discussions between ITRL and JSS, and “any internal discussions would be irrelevant to the issues before the ethics commissioner.”

Wilkinson made special note that the ITRL lobbyist Wade “was very thorough by providing copies of all communications and conversation notes relating to his engagement by ITRL from start to finish.”

If Wade disclosed Cuming’s April 2010 email, Wilkinson failed to note the obvious contradictions it created. Wade, in his response to CBC News, did not address this issue.

Wilkinson’s investigation report also inexplicably failed to note Hawkes had met with Redford before the selection process began and discussed the selection process for the tobacco lawsuit. That fact was contained in a letter, attached to the report, written by retired Alberta Court of Queen’s Bench judge Edward MacCallum, who was hired to assist the investigation.

MacCallum wrote that “the pending tobacco litigation piqued the interest of the legal community, including Hawkes’s firm. He told Redford that the firm was likely to submit a proposal, as part of a coalition of firms, to represent Alberta in the tobacco litigation. Redford replied that the process would be merit based. That was the extent of their conversation on the subject prior to the awarding of the contract.”

Clement, the retired Mountie, called Wilkinson’s investigation a “charade.”

“It was done in such a way that there was no way that, from an investigative standpoint, you would ever get to the truth of the matter,” Clement said, adding that the Notley government needs to go further than a narrowly defined review of Wilkinson’s investigation.

“I think they owe it to the Alberta taxpayer to bring the facts out as they should be so that this does not happen again.”

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Report: North Dakota only state spending enough on tobacco prevention

GRAND FORKS — A report released this week argues that almost every state in the country is not spending enough money on tobacco prevention and cessation programs–every state, that is, except for North Dakota.

The report, released by the Campaign for Tobacco-Free Kids, focuses in part on the billions of dollars states have received since they settled lawsuits against major tobacco companies in 1998. With $10 million set aside for fiscal year 2016, North Dakota is the only state to spend at levels recommended by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and was one of five states to spend at least 50 percent of what the CDC recommends.

“It’s so frustrating because it’s such a critical investment, and we’re talking about such a small amount of money,” said John Schachter, director of state communications for the Campaign for Tobacco-Free Kids. “When there’s a pot from which to draw from logically–tobacco taxes and the settlement–as we say, it’s a no-brainer.”

States spent as much as $717.2 million on tobacco prevention programs in fiscal year 2008, but that dropped during the recession and bottomed out at $459.5 million in 2013, according to the campaign’s report. Spending will reach $468 million in fiscal year 2016, a fraction of the estimated $25.8 billion they will collect in settlement funds and tobacco taxes, though the budgets for two states were not yet available.

Tobacco companies spend about $9.6 billion a year on marketing, according to the campaign’s report.

“We believe states should use (settlement) payments to fund tobacco cessation and underage tobacco prevention programs at levels recommended by the Centers for Disease Control,” Brian May, a spokesman for tobacco giant Philip Morris, wrote in an email to the Herald.

While tobacco companies cannot advertise on television or the radio, Schacter said “it’s pretty clear the industry is out there in force.” He said the industry spends most of its marketing dollars at “point of sale,” such as displays at convenience stores and gas stations.

“The states still know it’s an issue, but for whatever reason they’re deciding to spend the money elsewhere,” Schachter said.

N.D. in the lead

The campaign’s report highlights North Dakota as an example for the rest of the states to follow, citing a drop in high school student smoking rates in recent years.

But North Dakota hasn’t always been a leader in tobacco prevention spending. In fiscal year 2009, it spent just $3.1 million on those programs, or one third of CDC-recommended funding. That changed with the passing of a measure in 2008 requiring a portion of the settlement dollars be used to reduce tobacco use.

“The settlement did not dictate how the money from the settlement was spent, but it did point out that the settlement was entered into because of the unacceptable behavior of the tobacco industry,” said Jeanne Prom, executive director of the North Dakota Center for Tobacco Prevention and Control Policy.

North Dakota’s tobacco tax revenue is not used for prevention efforts, she said.

Minnesota will receive $791.7 million in total tobacco revenue in fiscal year 2016 but will spend only $21.5 million on prevention programs, less than half of what the CDC recommends, according to the campaign’s report.

Laura Oliven, the tobacco control manager at the Minnesota Department of Health, called the CDC recommendations “aspirational.” She also pointed out that the campaign’s figures don’t capture Blue Cross Blue Shield’s Center for Prevention in Minnesota.

Minnesota’s adult smoking rate has dropped to 14.4 percent, the lowest it has ever recorded, the health department announced in January.

“We do a lot to maximize the funds we have,” Oliven said. “I guess the theme here really is that while we’ve made a lot of great strides, there’s still considerable work to be done.”

Local outcomes

Haley Thorson, a tobacco prevention coordinator at the Grand Forks Public Health Department, said tobacco settlement dollars helped fund a study asking residents about second-hand smoke.

She called that a “pivotal piece of information” in Grand Forks passing a law in 2010 that outlawed smoking in bars, casinos and truck stops.

“That policy was passed by the City Council because we really did have the pulse of how the community supported that policy,” she said.

North Dakota passed a similar statewide law in 2012.

The health department receives roughly $300,000 annually from the Center for Tobacco Prevention and Control Policy, or BreatheND. Thorson said they focus much of their efforts on tobacco-related policies.

“We used to go into schools and educate kids on the harms of tobacco use, but the better bang for our buck is to establish a comprehensive tobacco-free school policy that allows them to be educated in an environment where they’re not exposed to tobacco use,” she said.

Those efforts appear to be working.

The percentage of North Dakota high school students who smoked at least once in the past month plunged to 11.7 percent this year after hovering around 20 percent for the eight previous years, according to survey results provided by Thorson.

“For the states that aren’t spending anything or next to nothing, they need to see results like these,” Thorson said.

Cigarette plain packaging to cost Big Tobacco USD5bn a year

Cigarette plain packaging to cost Big Tobacco USD5bn a year, says Goldman Sachs

(ShareCast News) – Goldman Sachs warned Big Tobacco it sees a $5bn annual profit hit from the impact of plain packaging on cigarettes, which the UK will impose next March and other countries following Australia’s lead in the next few years.

As a result of the long-term impact, Goldman downgraded British American Tobacco (BAT) to ‘sell’ and removed fellow FTSE 100 cigarette giant Imperial Tobacco from its ‘conviction buy’ list, but maintained its ‘buy’ recommendation.

“Tobacco multinationals have enjoyed above-inflation pricing owing to the favourable tax and regulatory backdrop and its restrictive effect on competition,” the investment bank said in a note.

“However, three years since its introduction, plain packaging regulation, combined with tax increases in Australia, appears to have driven considerable disruption to the industry profit pool.”

Imperial’s profits have a considerable has a 15% EBIT exposure to the UK market and Goldman estimates a 15% downside risk to the company’s UK profit post plain packaging adoption, with “more downside than upside risk” in the UK as the company has a leading position in cigarettes.

But the investment bank still noted that it had performed impressively in Australia since plain packaging was introduced in 2012 and is expected to be a potential beneficiary of plain packaging outside the UK.

On the other hand BAT is forecast by the bank’s analysts to be the most exposed of the Big Tobacco groups to the next wave of potential plain packaging adoption beyond the UK and Ireland.

Goldman estimates the company’s exposure to key markets such as France, Canada and others currently considering plain packaging to be circa 21%, resulting in an estimated 5% downside to group profits in a scenario of these markets adopting the regulation.

Furthermore, group earnings have not grown materially since 2012 and analysts predict forex to continue to hold back growth in 2016.

Imperial’s target price of 3,800% offers around 8% upside, while BAT target of 3,350p a downside of roughly 12%.

Boys’ fitness affected by smoking mothers – new research shows

Mothers who smoke during pregnancy risk making their sons unfit in later life, according to new research.

In the first study of its kind researchers discovered that the sons of women who smoked had worse aerobic fitness by the age of 19 than those whose mums didn’t smoke.

Lead author Dr Maria Hagnäs, of the University of Oulu, Finland, said: “It’s well established that smoking and breathing in second-hand smoke are harmful for both mother and baby.

“Our study adds to the existing evidence base of the negative and long-standing impacts of maternal smoking.

“Women must receive advice and support to help them stop smoking during pregnancy, as well guidance on how to maintain a healthy weight to minimise the risks to their unborn child.”

The research, published in the International Journal of Obstetrics and Gynaecology, analysed the fitness of 508 men with an average age of 19, as they began their military service.

Of those 59 had mothers who smoked more than one cigarette a day throughout their pregnancy.

Results found that maternal smoking was associated with lower aerobic fitness of their children, which was measured by ability on a running test.

Aerobic activity was also independently associated with their own smoking status, weight and physical activity.

Dr Geeta Kumar, Chair of the Royal College of Obestetricians and Gynaecologists’s Patient Information Committee, said: “Stopping smoking is one of the most important things a pregnant woman can do to improve their baby’s health, growth and development, and this study demonstrates the negative effect smoking in pregnancy can have on a child’s long-term health too.

“It is important that women understand the risks of smoking in pregnancy and are aware of the support that is available to help them stop.

“Women who are unable to quit smoking should be encouraged to abstain during their pregnancy, use nicotine replacement therapy, or to reduce smoking as much as they can.

“We encourage all healthcare professionals working with pregnant women to access the RCOG’s new patient information leaflet which contains practical and evidence-based advice and guidance to share with women about smoking during pregnancy.”

The links between smoking during pregnancy and ill health have long been established.

Mothers who smoke are at a higher risk of miscarriage, ectopic pregnancy, intrauterine growth restriction, premature birth and stillbirth.

Their babies are also more likely to suffer from birth defects, and neurological, psychological or behavioural difficulties.

As well as being smaller babies are also at greater risk of asthma, chest and ear infections and pneumonia as well as being more susceptible to infant death syndrome.

Under-staffing will prevent smoking ban being enforced

A Police Force should be left to focus on solving widespread under-staffing problems rather than having to enforce matters relating to public health, a staff association claims.

The Health Minister for Northern Ireland, Simon Hamilton, is trying to introduce legislation that will make it an offence to smoke in a vehicle in which under-18s are present.

A similar law was passed in England and Wales in October.

But the Police Federation for Northern Ireland (PFNI) argues that policing the ban will be difficult in the current climate, as its officers are already over-stretched.

The PFNI told Police Professional: “We are already seriously under-staffed, and if officers are to have additional responsibility enforcing this new measure, there will be an inevitable impact on other duties.

“The law has to be upheld, but the issue becomes one of where and how that task is accomplished.”

The PFNI has pointed out that as things are, there is little possibility of acquiring the funding necessary to expand the service.

Many forces in the UK already face under-staffing, a fact not helped by cuts to police funding over the last five years. In Northern Ireland, plans were announced last September to cut more than £5.6 million from police overtime budgets.

Former PFNI Chair Terry Spence warned last year that from “ground and command level” everyone was struggling “to deliver a proper police service.”

He said at the time: “We are so desperate for more officers that if it’s a question of money then the time has come to reconsider the £140 million being spent on a training centre at Desertcreat to recruit a mere 168 officers.”

And by 2018/19 the force will face a £104 million funding gap, which will render the cost of recruiting new officers completely unaffordable.

Police opinion in England and Wales appears to favour the view of the PFNI. Derbyshire Constabulary Chief Constable Mick Creedon said that imposing the ban can “never be a priority” for officers.

“The few traffic officers I have will be concentrating on the causes of serious and fatal collisions, such as drink-driving, while my other staff are tackling child sexual exploitation and cybercrime,” he warned earlier this year.

In England and Wales, anyone found to be in breach of this law will be subjected to a fine of £50. However, the Police Service of Northern Ireland’s official policy is not to enforce these.

The PFNI said that it does appreciate the health issues behind the legislation. Its reservations are based only on the practicality of carrying out the proposed ban.

A study by the Northern Irish Chest, Heart and Stroke association found that 82 per cent of people polled were in favour of implementing a ban on smoking in cars.

However, opponents claim that the legislation invades people’s privacy and personal freedom.

Smokers’ group Forest claims that “the overwhelming majority of adult smokers self-regulate when it comes to smoking in cars with children”.

Another report from the Health and Safety Executive found that 15 per cent of adults smoke in their cars even if their children are present. These children can face serious health issues brought on by exposure to second hand smoke.

In an unventilated vehicle, passengers can be exposed to over 200 times the recommended safety level of the toxins found in cigarette smoke.

These children could face increased risks of asthma, meningitis and even cot death.

Children are particularly susceptible to these conditions as they breathe more quickly than adults and proportionally they inhale a higher volume of dangerous substances, the report said.

Scotland will decide next year whether or not it wants to enforce this ban. The Republic of Ireland has already approved the legislation, but as of yet is still to implement it.

Taxman invites EACC to investigate staff over BAT bribery scandal


The British Broadcasting Corporation (BBC) in its investigative show Panorama reported that BAT executives paid bribes to Kenya Revenue Authority (KRA) officials to spy on Mastermind Tobacco — the manufacturer of Supermatch cigarettes — and hand over tax files.

The expose shows that the KRA officials were also paid to make numerous tax demands from Mastermind, a strategy whose aim was to intimidate and damage the reputation of the homegrown Kenyan firm.

“We have taken action to seek relevant details in support including the nature of information allegedly divulged, recordings if any of the bribery incidents, individuals involved on both sides (KRA/BAT), amounts paid/received and the evidence to support bribe taking,” KRA Commissioner General John Njiraini said in a statement released yesterday.

BAT is UK’s fifth-biggest company and last year it sold 667 billion cigarettes and made Sh693 billion (£4.5 billion) profit. It has big operations in Kenya.

The expose also accused BAT of bribing senior politicians and top civil servants in East Africa. One of the top politicians named in the scandal is Bungoma Senator Moses Wetang’ula, who has since denied the allegations.

The programme, dubbed ‘The Secret Bribes of Big Tobacc’, also names Julie Adell-Owino, a Kenyan lobbyist who allegedly arranged bribes totalling Sh2.6 million ($26,000) for three public officials in Rwanda, Burundi and the Comoros Islands. She is a former head of corporate and regulatory affairs at BAT.

Mr Njiraini maintained that KRA requires staff to maintain strict confidentiality as provided by law, in the handling of tax matters of any taxpayer as the grounds on which he would not comment on the substance of the allegations.

Njiraini said that he has declined to publicly comment on the agency’s tax enforcement actions against Mastermind Tobacco (MTK), for ‘confidentiality’ reasons.

Instead, the taxman says he has asked investigating agencies to look into the allegations with the view of taking action.

“We have invited other investigative agencies including the EACC to partner with us in unearthing any unethical practices, and wish to encourage those making the allegations to share them with ourselves and with the EACC at the earliest point,” Njiraini said.

The taxman has a long-running battle with Mastermind Tobacco over tax issues and the allegations give a new dimension to what could have motivated some of its staff to pursue the firm so furiously.

“We paid the KRA guy, the right KRA guy a shed load of money. He issued all the tax demands. I mean we have tax demands now,” says Paul Hopkins in a leaked recorded telephone conversation with then BAT Kenya boss Gary Fagan. Mr Hopkins worked for BAT Kenya for 13 years and was the man tasked with arranging and delivering bribes to tax officials. He has now turned into a whistleblower.

By Paul Wafula, The Standard