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November 22nd, 2007:

Smokers get lung cancer reminder

The Sydney Morning Herald November 22, 2007

Victorian health authorities will recycle a confronting anti-smoking campaign, after new research revealed most smokers did not identify lung cancer as a disease they could develop.

Research from the Cancer Council Victoria shows that despite smoking accounting for 80 per cent of all lung cancer cases, six in 10 smokers did not mention it when asked to name diseases caused by smoking.

The five-year survival rate for lung cancer sufferers is just 11 per cent, and 34 Victorians each week die from the disease, according to the Cancer Council.

The council’s Professor David Hill said deaths from lung cancer had decreased in recent years, though more specific data was not immediately available.

The council and anti-smoking body Quit on Monday relaunched their 23-year-old television advertisement showing a smoker’s lung, represented by a sponge, filling with tar and being squeezed out into a beaker.

Also, the Victorian government announced an extra $5.6 million boost to anti-smoking marketing.

Victorian Premier John Brumby said advertising was proving to be an effective tool in the fight against smoking with 46 per cent of successful quitters listing mass media as a prompt for quitting.

The government aims to reduce Victoria’s smoking rate from 17.4 per cent to 14 per cent by 2013.

Higher targets will be set for disadvantaged groups, including Aborigines, whose smoking rates are higher.

The figures show the proportion of smokers who spontaneously identified smoking as a cause of lung cancer had decreased by 25 per cent over three years.

Quit executive director Fiona Sharkie said “reinventing” the sponge campaign would help deliver the lung cancer message to a new generation of smokers.

“Back in the early 80s there were no distinct trends that we could really identify in smoking rates … about a third of the population were smokers,” Ms Sharkie said.

“But the original sponge ad was a real turning point on tobacco control, it was the first time smokers were shown the effects smoking had on their health in a graphic and uncompromising way.

“And as a result of that, smoking rates dropped significantly.”

Victorian Health Minister Daniel Andrews said the data showed more work was needed to stop people smoking and the extra money announced on Monday would bring the government’s total expenditure on social marketing and Quit campaigns to $10 million.

Non-smokers the big winners when it comes to smoking bans

Medical Studies/Trials
Published: Thursday, 22-Nov-2007

American scientists have found that heart attacks decreased after a smoking ban was imposed but this only applied to non-smokers.

Their study suggests that the major benefit of the ban on smoking in public places is being seen in nonsmokers.

The researchers from Indiana University say even those with no risk factors for heart disease can still experience heart attacks but after a countywide smoking ban was implemented, hospital admissions for such heart attacks dropped 70 percent for non-smokers, but not for smokers.

The researchers conducted the study in order to investigate whether smoking bans led to any changes in hospital admissions for myocardial infarction (MI).

They did this by comparing hospital admissions for MI in Monroe County, Indiana, which has had a public smoking ban in place since August 2003, with those in Delaware County, also in Indiana, which has much in common with Monroe Country but does not have a smoking ban.

Dong-Chul Seo, lead author and an assistant professor in IU Bloomington’s Department of Applied Health Science, says heart attack admissions for smokers saw no similar decline during the study, so the benefits of the ban appear to come more from the reduced exposure to second-hand smoke among non-smokers than from reduced consumption of tobacco among smokers.

The study is the first to examine the effect of public smoking bans on heart attacks in non-smokers.

Previous studies did not distinguish between non-smokers and smokers when examining the effect of the bans or specifically look at non-smokers who had no risk factors for heart disease, such as high blood pressure, high cholesterol or previous heart surgery.

Experts say exposure to second-hand smoke for just 30 minutes can rapidly increase a person’s risk for heart attack, even if they have no risk factors because the smoke, which contains carbon monoxide, causes blood vessels to constrict and reduces the amount of oxygen that can be transported in the blood.

The researchers say it is of concern that about half of all non-smoking Americans are regularly exposed to second-hand smoke, even though more than 500 municipalities nationwide have adopted some form of a smoking ban in public places.

The study also compared the hospital admissions in Monroe county before and after the smoking ban was adopted and found there was a 70 percent drop in the number of hospital admissions for AMI among non-smoking patients with no history of heart disease.

The study is published in the latest issue of the Journal of Drug Education.

Cigar Show Air Quality

Published in the New York Times November 22, 2007

At a Cigar Show, an Air-Quality Scientist Under Deep, Smoky Cover


The agitators met a few blocks from the target at a secret location, so as not to call attention to the devices in their bags.

They synchronized their watches. They reviewed the well-rehearsed game plan: If their bags were searched, the first operative, known as “Researcher 1 (female),” would say the device was for an asthma condition. If she was not allowed into the event with the device, she would activate Plan B: go to the ladies’ room and strap it to her body.

The man behind the subterfuge (Researcher 2, male) was Ryan David Kennedy, 34, a scrappy Canadian graduate student with crooked glasses who is studying the impact of tobacco on air quality.

He crossed the border at Buffalo on Monday morning and on Tuesday crashed the giant cigar party and trade show sponsored by the publisher of Cigar Aficionado magazine at the Marriott Marquis in Times Square.

A nonsmoking vegetarian posing as a cigar lover, Mr. Kennedy was nervous. Canadians are, for the most part, known to be earnest, demure and very law-abiding.

“I think I’m being watched,” he said before the event, known as the Big Smoke, which drew hundreds of cigar lovers and peddlers into a ballroom on the hotel’s sixth floor. He said he strongly believed his room at the Marriott had been searched.

Mr. Kennedy, who holds a master’s degree in environmental science from the University of Waterloo in Ontario and is working on a doctorate in psychology there, soon found himself in the belly of decadence. The ballroom was swarming with stogies — Bolivar, Ashton, Don Tomas and a dozen other brands — whiskey, tequila and exotic dancers.

Mr. Kennedy, who has also researched the level of particulate matter produced by smoking tobacco on outdoor patios, and Kerri Ryan (Researcher 1), a friend from college who lives in New York, sneaked their devices in the door. (Mr. Kennedy’s professor used a discretionary fund to cover the costs of the event tickets — $400 each — and other expenses.)

A tiny white plastic tube protruding from each of their bags like a hidden microphone took in the air, which was then measured for particles by the device, known as a Sidepak. The device can log 516 minutes of air sampling before the battery runs out, and is a well-established method for detecting dust and smoke.

Mr. Kennedy measured the particles in the air on Monday to obtain a baseline before the cigar smokers descended. Then on Tuesday he tested the air inside the ballroom and in various places outside the cigar party — at the elevators, in guest rooms and in the lobby. To log enough data on the air, he would need to stand in one place for 5 or 10 minutes and look busy.

If Mr. Kennedy and Ms. Ryan were lurking in one place for too long, perhaps seeming suspicious to security guards, they would say loudly, “We’re waiting for Sally.”

It was easy for Mr. Kennedy to prove his thesis: that plumes of cigar smoke lead to high levels of particulate matter in the air.

Marriott Hotels announced in July that it was making all of its hotels 100 percent smoke-free, but it has made an exception for the Big Smoke.

Opponents of smoking working with Mr. Kennedy said the exception was a glaring violation of the hotel’s own policy.

“The event is really a flagrant contradiction to their commitment to their guests and employees,” said Louise Vetter, president of the American Lung Association of the City of New York and a spokeswoman for the New York City Coalition for a Smoke-Free City. “The dangers of secondhand smoke are indisputable, and in New York City it is law to protect workers from secondhand smoke. We applauded Marriott, but to have this event in New York City and to create an exception — there’s no exception for public health.”

Under the state law, smoking is banned in most indoor places, including the Marriott ballroom (though there is no legal ban on smoking in guest rooms). But the law allows an exception for tobacco promotional events “where the public is invited for the primary purpose of promoting and sampling tobacco products.”

Cigar bars that were open in the city before Dec. 31, 2002, and can prove that they generated at least 10 percent of their gross income from the sale of tobacco products are also exempt; they can extend their registration each year if they continue to meet those criteria and do not expand or change location.

Kathleen Duffy, a spokeswoman for Marriott Hotels, said the company was honoring a longstanding contract with the publisher of Cigar Aficionado, Marvin R. Shanken, and had been the host of the Big Smoke at the Marriott Marquis for at least 10 years.

“We are not going out and booking smoking events at any of our hotels,” she said. “We did announce we would be smoke-free, but with this client we had an obligation.”

She said “we tripled our efforts” to keep the smoke contained, banning smoking outside the ballroom and increasing the filtration in the room, so that the smoke was funneled outside the hotel through air vents.

Under Environmental Protection Agency guidelines, air with fewer than 15 micrograms per cubic meter is considered good quality; air with more than 251 micrograms per cubic meter is hazardous.

Mr. Kennedy’s preliminary findings showed that the average level of particulate matter in the hotel the day before the event was 8 micrograms per cubic meter, 40 micrograms where he was waiting to get in line for the event and 1,193 micrograms inside the ballroom.

About 10 p.m., after one last measurement — “Elevators, 9:44!” Mr. Kennedy said to his assistant — he was bloodshot and stinky, but he declared the experiment a success.