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Quitting Smoking Greatly Reduces Serious Risks to Your Health

This admission of serious risks to your health caused by cigarette smoking is published on the Philip Morris USA website here:

Smoking & Health Issues

Quitting Smoking

To reduce the health effects of smoking, the best thing to do is to quit.

Public health authorities do not endorse either smoking fewer cigarettes or switching to lower tar and nicotine brands as a satisfactory way of reducing risk. In fact, one of the required cigarette warnings for packages and advertisements in the U.S. is, “SURGEON GENERAL’S WARNING: Quitting Smoking Now Greatly Reduces Serious Risks to Your Health.”

Cigarette Smoking and Disease

This admission of health issues caused by cigarette smoking is published on the Philip Morris USA website here:

Smoking & Health Issues

Cigarette Smoking and Disease

There is no safe cigarette.

Philip Morris USA (PM USA) agrees with the overwhelming medical and scientific consensus that cigarette smoking causes lung cancer, heart disease, emphysema and other serious diseases in smokers. Smokers are far more likely to develop such serious diseases than non-smokers.

These have been and continue to be the messages of the U.S. Surgeon General and public health authorities worldwide. Smokers and potential smokers should rely on these messages when deciding whether or not to smoke.

Tobacco Kills 100 Million

Public Health and Cancer Prevention: Success and Future Challenges in Cancer Policy

WEBWIRE – Saturday, December 08, 2007

PHILADELPHIA – Medical research has revealed much about cancer prevention, but is the information reaching all Americans, and are they acting on it? Today, at the American Association for Cancer Research’s Sixth Annual International Conference on Frontiers in Cancer Prevention Research, being held from December 5 to 8 in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, researchers explore the question of how best to translate cancer prevention science into public health policy.

Quitting smoking and inoculation with the human papillomavirus (HPV) vaccine are two ways that major segments of the general population can drastically lower their risk of developing certain cancers, yet researchers have found that these messages are not necessarily translating into action by the public.

Policies to reduce tobacco harm: What works? Abstract no. A29

To discourage cigarette use, the strategies that are working best on a global basis are to

  • use large graphic package warning labels,
  • ban cigarette advertising,
  • institute smoke-free policies,
  • increase cigarette prices and
  • implement methods to prevent smuggling and counterfeiting of tobacco products,

say researchers at Roswell Park Cancer Institute involved in an International Tobacco Control (ITC) Policy Evaluation study. What hasn’t worked as well as hoped is mandating tar and nicotine levels in cigarettes, they add.

The researchers have been investigating progress on controlling tobacco use from the ongoing Framework Convention on Tobacco Control (FCTC), the treaty devoted to improving public health put forth by the World Health Organization.

The FCTC was adopted by WHO’s member states in May, 2003, and became legally binding for those countries that ratified the treaty in 2005. To date, 151 countries have done so, and are thus required to implement the policies within three years.

“For the first time ever, we are beginning to scientifically assess which governmental tobacco control policies are working and which ones are not” said K. Michael Cummings, Ph.D., MPH, chair of the Department of Health Behavior at Roswell Park Cancer Institute. “In the same way that evidence-based medicine has been built from rigorous evaluation of treatment options, our goal is to contribute to the development of a sound science base for tobacco control policies”

The ITC serves to study which policies are working best in countries that have imposed restrictions, says Cummings. Cummings started the study in four countries in 2002 with a $1.5 million grant from the Robert Woods Johnson Foundation, and to date, $35 million has been raised to expand the research into 15 countries, utilizing the aid of 60 investigators from 17 research institutes.

Because randomized clinical trials can’t be used to evaluate government policies, the ITC study uses as controls those countries that have implemented tobacco control policies and compares the effects on tobacco use behaviors in countries that have not, such as the United States. It is tracking tobacco use behaviors of 1,000 to 2,000 participants in each of the countries, Cummings says. “This is a new model for global public health research that can be used to evaluate other public health policies such as HIV, diet, and cancer screening” he said.

“It made sense for WHO to start off with tobacco as a focal point for action since tobacco use is the leading cause of preventable death in the world today and is a growing epidemic in the developing world” he said. Tobacco use was responsible for 100 million deaths in the 20th century, and that number is expected to grow to 1 billion in the 21st century, he says.

ITC researchers have found that boosting tobacco taxes, comprehensive advertising bans, smoke-free laws, and strengthening cigarette package warnings is an effective recipe for reducing tobacco consumption. “Our research on package warnings has revealed that these warnings, especially if they are large and graphic, are more effective than anyone realized, especially in poorer countries that can’t afford expensive counter-marketing campaigns” he said.

An example of a policy that hasn’t worked, Cummings says, is the European Union’s (EU) establishment of maximum emission standards for tar and nicotine. The goal was to make cigarettes less toxic, but the testing method adopted by the EU was flawed and cigarette makers increased filter ventilation to get around the new rules. Actual exposure to toxins didn’t change. “The well intentioned, but flawed EU policy has given smokers the false illusion that their cigarettes deliver less tar and nicotine, when they don’t” he said.

The ITC has also established the first international cigarette repository, which currently holds 10,000 cigarette pack varieties from 15 different countries. This research shows that tobacco manufacturers alter their products frequently without revealing that they are doing so, he says. “Foods and drugs are regulated so that consumers are informed when the products are altered. The same should be true for tobacco products” Cummings said.

Licensing Scheme For Tobacco Sales in Hong Kong?

Breaking down Big Tobacco

Article Launched: 12/05/2007 08:17:50 PM PST

WHAT’S the No. 1 product sold at your local convenience store? Milk? Beer?

No and no. Guess again. Lottery tickets? Guess again.

OK, give up? It’s cigarettes. Convenience stores in the U.S. last year sold $56 billion worth of cigarettes, accounting for 35 percent of their sales, according to the Center for Tobacco Policy and Organizing’s 2007 State of the Industry Report.

Why are we telling you this? Because the county of Los Angeles is considering establishing a licensing policy for tobacco sellers that strikes at the heart of the convenience stores’ bread and butter. Frankly, the convenience stores are scared to death of such an arrangement because it would lead to a long-overdue tobacco-sales enforcement program that would clamp down on sales to minors.

Considering the cost of tobacco use to residents’ health, local hospitals and taxpayers (Medi-Cal and other entitlements), this figures to be a worthwhile county program. In LA County alone, the health care cost from diseases that are tobacco-related is $2.7 billion. Any drop in sales – especially to minors – would be good for the county and its residents.

Already, some cities police tobacco sales run through convenience stores. Usually, studies show, it sends scofflaws into stores located in county unincorporated areas. The county’s proposed $235-a-year license fee – set for a Dec. 11 vote by the Board of Supervisors – would help shore up this illegal tobacco loophole in unincorporated areas such as Altadena, Rowland Heights, Valinda, Hacienda Heights, etc..

For example, since Pasadena began levying a tobacco sales license fee on stores within its city limits, it has resulted in greater enforcement. Retailers selling cigarettes to minors (that’s illegal, by the way) quickly dropped from 23 percent of retailers in Pasadena to 6 percent. And recently that has gone down to zero, according to testimony given to the county Board of Supervisors from Statice Wilmore who oversees Pasadena’s program.

However, the problem may have moved. According to Day One, a nonprofit group in the west San Gabriel Valley, stings they’ve conducted using underage patrons found convenience store clerks more than willing to sell them cigarettes. The county figures that more than 30 percent of retailers sell cigarettes to minors. Day One’s 15-year-old decoy from Pasadena High School said stores in county areas such as Altadena would ask for her ID, realize she was a minor, but sell her the pack of smokes anyway.

Talk about flaunting the law. This is right up Big Tobacco’s alley: Getting more of our young people hooked on cigarettes.

It’s time to break up the axis of death between Big Tobacco and convenience stores. Because there’s nothing convenient about lung cancer and heart disease.

Smokers & passive smokers

  • The death toll from active and passive smoking in Hong Kong is equivalent to 20 aeroplanes each with 350 people crashing each year.

More Proof Secondhand Smoke Damages Lungs

Published by WebMD on the 27th of November, 2007

More Proof Secondhand Smoke Damages Lungs

(WebMD) For the first time, researchers say they have evidence that long-term exposure to secondhand smoke can cause structural damage in the lungs that is indicative of emphysema.

Their study also suggests that the modified magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) technique used to detect the lung damage may be able to spot emphysema long before symptoms occur.

The researchers used global helium-3 diffusion MRI to study the lungs of 13 current or former smokers and 45 people who had never smoked. Of the nonsmokers, 22 had heavy exposure to secondhand smoke, meaning they lived with a smoker or worked in a bar for at least a decade. None had symptoms of lung disease.

The modified MRI detected signs of early lung damage in 67 percent of smokers and 27 percent of nonsmokers with heavy exposure to secondhand smoke, says researcher Chengbo Wang, Ph.D., of the Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia.

In contrast, only 4 percent of nonsmokers who had never smoked and had fewer than 10 years of exposure appeared to have signs of early lung damage, he says.

The research was presented here at the annual meeting of the Radiological Society of North America (RSNA).

Modified MRI Detects Lung Damage

Wang tells WebMD that it’s long been thought that prolonged exposure to secondhand smoke can cause lung damage and emphysema, but doctors lacked a way to prove it.

“Previous methods of detection weren’t sensitive enough,” he says.

Helium-3 diffusion MRI offers more detailed images of the lungs than previous techniques, he says.

It works like this: first, helium gas is polarized with a laser; this makes it more visible on MRI.

Then, while lying in a conventional MRI scanner, a person inhales the energized helium. In just six seconds, the scanner collects images showing how the helium gas distributes in the tiny air sacs called alveoli in the lung.

Prolonged exposure to cigarette smoke causes the walls of the air sacs to break down and the air sacs to become bigger and bigger – early signs of emphysema, Wang says.

As a result, helium travels much further in people with enlarged air sacs than in people with healthy alveoli, he explains.

“Using helium MRI, we were able to detect microscopic changes suggestive of emphysema in smokers and people exposed to secondhand smoke,” Wang says.

RSNA spokeswoman Katarzyna Macura, M.D., Ph.D., of Johns Hopkins Medical Institutions in Baltimore, tells WebMD that the modified MRI needs to be studied in larger numbers of people before it’s ready for prime time.

“Accessibility and cost are the two big issues that need to be addressed,” she says. “Before any recommendations can be made, we need solid data and proof that what we are seeing [on the scan reflects lung changes indicative of emphysema].”

Improve Your Health – Quit Smoking

Extracted from the article “Health Dept Airs New Anti-Tobacco Ad Campaign” published in medical news today on the 27th of November 2007:

Quitting smoking is the single most important thing you can do for your health

There are many health benefits to quitting, and they begin just 24 hours after you stop.

In 24 hours
– Your chance of heart attack drops.

In 2 days
– Your ability to smell and taste improves.

In 2 to 3 weeks
– Your circulation gets better.
– You can walk more easily.
– Your lung function improves.

In 1 month
– Your cough, sinus congestion, fatigue, and shortness of breath decrease.
– Your lungs start to repair themselves, reducing the chance of infection.

In 1 year
– Your risk of heart disease is cut in half.

In 5 years
– Your risk of cancer of the mouth, throat, and esophagus drops by about half.
– Your risk of stroke and heart disease begins to decrease

In 10 years
– Your risk of lung cancer is about half that of continuing smokers.

In 15 years
– Your risk of heart disease returns to the level of people who have never smoked.

Ten ways to make quitting easier

1. Prepare yourself.
Make a list of your reasons for quitting and read it often.

2. Pick a quit date.
Get rid of ashtrays and lighters, and throw out all cigarettes.

3. Have a smoke-free car and home.
It is healthier for others and will help you not smoke.

4. Get support and encouragement.
Tell you family, friends, and coworkers that you are quitting and ask for their support.

5. Get a quit buddy.
Ask a smoker to quit with you, or find someone who has already quit who you can talk to for support.

6. Notice what makes you want to smoke.
Alcohol, coffee, and stress can make you feel like smoking. So can seeing others smoke; ask smokers you know not to light up in front of you.

7. Think about using medications.
The nicotine patch or gum, and medications such as Zyban (bupropion) and Chantix (varenicline) greatly reduce your cravings and double your chance of success. Talk to your doctor.

8. Help yourself cope.
Drink a lot of water to help with cravings. Exercise to get rid of stress and improve your mood and health; a fast walk often does the trick.

9. Get your mind off smoking.
Talk to a friend when you feel like smoking. Get busy with a simple task, eat a healthy snack, take a walk, or chew gum. Stay away from places and situations you associate with smoking.

10. Stay away from that first cigarette.
Having even one can make you start up again. Cravings will decrease the longer you don’t smoke. If you can quit for 3 months, you’ll likely quit for good.

Population Attributable Fractions And Costs Of Passive Smoking

Sarah M McGhee from the Department of Community Medicine, School of Public Health, University of Hong Kong has come up with the following statistics in relation to passive smoking and the associated health effects and costs involved in this presentation on: Population Attributable Fractions And Costs Of Passive Smoking.

Smoking Costs Hong Kong Over $5 Billion Every Year

A collaborative research project between University of Hong Kong and University of Queensland

School of Public Health Department of Community Medicine University of Hong Kong

The first comprehensive assessment of the costs of tobacco in Asia

Why is this topic important?

  • Smoking tobacco affects the health of the smoker and those around the smoker
  • This effect on health creates costs which are shared by several groups
  • Knowing the extent of these costs and who pays for them is essential information for policy decision-making

View the complete presentation here:

Tobacco industry uses dangerous additives

Published in The Copenhagen Post on the 26th of November 2007:

Research indicates cigarette makers have increased the risks of smoking by adding chemicals

A new study from the Danish Cancer Society charges the tobacco industry with knowingly adding at least 200 different chemicals to its products in order to make it easier for people to smoke.

Some of the chemicals also increase the addictive power of nicotine, according to Per Kim Nielsen of the Cancer Society.

He added that some of the chemicals are directly harmful to the body.

‘We know that smoking causes cancer. But some of these additives increase the risk of developing cancer,’ Nielsen told public broadcaster DR.

Scandinavian Tobacco, Denmark’s largest producer of tobacco products, categorically denied using additives in order to increase the potency of its tobacco products.