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January 9th, 2008:

New Study Confirms Smoking Dangers For Elderly Chinese

Lina Lim – Updated on Jan 09, 2008 SCMP

Smoking among ethnic Chinese carries an increased risk of death in old age, a new study by the University of Hong Kong released on Wednesday has confirmed.

The study found that if elderly Chinese gave up the habit this would significantly reduce their risk of getting smoking-related diseases.

The study was carried out to ascertain the effects of smoking in old age among Chinese people. A university spokesman said although the dangers of smoking were well known, it was still unclear how smoking affected Chinese people in old age.

He explained that some studies had shown lower mortality rates for certain diseases in the elderly smokers compared with people who had never smoked. These studies had also shown that people who gave up smoking had higher mortality rates than those continuing to smoke.

“Hence, some mistakenly believe that smoking in the elderly is not that harmful and quitting may even cause harm,” the spokesman added.

The study was carried out by medical experts from the university and the Elderly Health Service of the Department of Health. It examined 56,000 elderly adults, aged 65 years or above, between July 1998 to December 2000.

Results from the study were later compared with the mortality statistics of non-smokers. In the study, people who gave up smoking had significantly lower risks of death than smokers, who had a 75 per cent risk of getting smoking-related diseases.

Among smoking-related diseases, smokers were more susceptible to lung cancer (58 per cent risk), strokes (67 per cent risk) and cardiovascular diseases (79 per cent risk).

People who gave up, however, had a reduced risk of 16 per cent to lung cancer, 31 per cent for strokes and 21 per cent for all cardiovascular diseases.

Current and former smokers were more likely to die from lung cancer or other cancers into very old age (85 years of age and up). Women smokers had a consistently higher risk of mortality from all causes and respiratory diseases than women who had never smoked.

The university spokesman said: “With a shorter history of smoking and longer survival in women, the harmful effects of smoking were clearly evident even in the oldest group of elderly people.”

He said the study showed a much higher risk of death from all causes “cancer, cardiovascular diseases and respiratory diseases” for current smokers and former smokers in both older men and older women.

“Smoking increased mortality risks even in the oldest-old, but quitting reduced these risks,” the spokesman said. He urged people to stop smoking even in old age. Giving up should be an urgent priority, not only in Hong Kong but in other developing countries.

According to government statistics, smoking is the cause, on average, of 5,700 deaths annually in Hong Kong. As of 2006, there were slightly more than 793,200 smokers in the territory, 14 per cent of which are aged 15 or under.

Quit Smoking? Move to California

Date: January 09, 2008

New Year’s Resolution: Quit Smoking? Move to California

Social Pressure May Be More Effective in Encouraging Life-long Smokers to Quit

Sun. Sand. Surf. And no smoking. California’s attitude toward smoking may be the best recipe for success when trying to quit. New research shows that social pressure plays a key role in getting smokers to quit.

By analyzing the smoking patterns of Asian immigrants from countries where smoking is socially acceptable, researchers at the University of California, San Diego School of Medicine have shown that smokers are far more likely to try to quit when living where smoking is not socially acceptable. And the more these smokers try to quit, the more they succeed.

People say they don’t want to conform but in reality, the desire to conform is strong,” said principal investigator Shu-Hong Zhu, Ph.D., of the Cancer Prevention and Control Program at Moores UCSD Cancer Center, and Department of Family and Preventive Medicine at UCSD School of Medicine. “For a study like this, you have to create a different social norm and then allow people to experience it, so immigrants are an ideal group to study.”

Using data from three previous tobacco studies conducted in California, Zhu’s team looked at smokers who are recent immigrants to California from China and Korea, where smoking is still widely accepted. They found that the California immigrants have a smoking cessation rate much higher than their counterparts in their native countries, where about two thirds of all men smoke, and smoking is a common and expected social interaction.

California provides a radically different setting. The most recent data from the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) shows that only about 14 percent of California’s adults smoke. With a strong state tobacco control program in place since 1989, most Californians see smoking as socially unacceptable. Smoking has been banned in restaurants and bars statewide for nearly a decade, and more than half the Californians who have ever smoked have now successfully quit, one of the highest quit rates in the nation.

The Numbers

In their study, published in Nicotine and Tobacco Research (November 2007: Volume 9, Supplement 3) researchers note that more than half of all Chinese and Korean immigrants in California who ever smoked have quit. Chinese immigrant smokers in California stop smoking at roughly seven times the rate of their counterparts in China. In Korea, a recent, aggressive tobacco control campaign is starting to boost the quit rate, but Korean immigrants in California still stop smoking at more than three times the rate of their counterparts in Korea.

Anti-smoking Campaigns Work

The researchers attribute this marked difference to the difference in social norms. According to the UC San Diego study, over 82 percent of Chinese and Korean immigrant smokers in California reported that they were familiar with the state’s anti-smoking campaigns through print, television, or radio. This familiarity shows an awareness of the new social norm.

Changing the social norm not only makes more smokers try to quit, it also makes them more likely to keep on trying, even if earlier tries ended in relapse. Repeated tries will ultimately lead to success.

Zhu points out, “The large difference in annual quit rates is almost completely explained by the difference in proportions of smokers trying to quit. In China, for example, the quit rate is low because a very low proportion of smokers try to quit each year. In California, by contrast, a very high proportion of Chinese smokers try to quit each year. More tries means more success. Cessation aids like nicotine patches, gum, and so on, contribute only in a minor way to these smokers’ dramatically higher quit rate because few of these immigrants use them.”

What does the UCSD study mean for tobacco control? Social norm change is more powerful than people may have realized, said Zhu. Passing new laws and mounting media campaigns is not only a cost effective plan, but will also have dramatic, population-wide impact, the report concludes.

The study, supported by the National Cancer Institute, was conducted by a team of California healthcare professionals, including: lead investigator Shu-Hong Zhu, Ph.D., UCSD; research fellow Shiushing Wong, Ph.D., UCSD; Chih-Wen Shi, M.D. assistant adjunct professor, Department of Family and Preventive Medicine, UCSD; Hao Tang, M.D., Ph.D., California Department of Health Services; and Moon Chen, Ph.D., M.P.H, University of California, Davis.

The Data

Data for the study came from three tobacco surveys conducted in California. Two focused specifically on Asian populations:

The 2003 California Chinese American Tobacco Use Survey (Carr et al., 2005a) and The 2003 California Korean American Tobacco Use Survey (Carr et al., 2005b).

Both surveys recruited respondents by randomly telephoning numbers from purchased lists of households with Chinese and Korean surnames. A professional survey research service, Strategic Research Group, Inc. used a computer assisted telephone interviewing (CATI) system and trained telephone interviewers to screen people at random from the telephone lists.

The third source of data for this present study was the 2002 California Tobacco Survey (CTS), a population-based, random-digit-dialed survey conducted in English and Spanish, every 3 years, for evaluation of the California Tobacco Control Program (Gilpin et al., 2003).

For more detailed information on the study, please visit:

Electronic Cigarette To Be Tested On Smokers In Trial

NZPA | Wednesday, 09 January 2008

Smokers are being asked to trial their habit with an electronic cigarette which delivers nicotine but not the harmful effects of tobacco, in an Auckland University study.

Researchers from the Clinical Trials Research Unit at the university are calling for volunteers from the Auckland area for the trial.

The trial is one of two aimed specifically at smokers that the university is undertaking.

Investigator on the trial Dr Hayden McRobbie said he hoped research would show if the e-cigarette might provide nicotine faster than available nicotine replacement treatments.

The e-cigarette is smoked like a normal cigarette, and even glows at the tip when inhaled, but delivers a measured dose of nicotine similar to other products such as patches and gum.

“On the whole nicotine is not the dangerous element in tobacco smoke.

“However, smokers miss the nicotine when they stop and they often experience nicotine withdrawal symptoms such as cravings.

“By using a product like the e-cigarette nicotine is still delivered and so cravings and withdrawal symptoms are reduced.

“The e-cigarette might be a good way to help people stop smoking as it addresses `the habit’ of smoking whilst still providing nicotine but without the harmful substances in tobacco such as carbon monoxide and tar.”

Dr McRobbie said the trial was for the benefit of smokers.

“We’ve had enough of the finger-wagging.

“At the moment the message is quit or die and we’ve got to give people other ways of stopping smoking and other options.”

While not available in New Zealand, the Hong Kong-made e-cigarette can be bought on the internet for about $200, he said.

The research team is looking for 50 Aucklanders over the age of 18, who smoke mainly factory-made cigarettes, to participate in the study which gets under way at the end of January.

Dr McRobbie also wants smokers who want to quit to take part in a study looking at the changes to their voice as they quit.

“Smoking kills around 4500 New Zealanders every year and causes damage to many parts of the body.

“Most people are aware that smoking causes lung cancer, but less know that smoking can damage the organs such as the vocal cords, causing the vocal cords to become thick and boggy – resulting in a deeper voice.

“By studying smokers’ voices as they quit, we hope to see whether this change is reversible.”

If researchers detect a change in voice quality they may also be able to use technology to monitor the outcome of stop-smoking studies making it easier to test new ways to help smokers quit, he said.

Raise Smoking Age to 21

Raise Smoking Age to 21, says doc

09/01/2008 08:50 – Morning Advertiser

The smoking age should be raised to 21 – that’s the view of a leading cancer specialist in Dundee.
The age for purchasing tobacco was only raised to 18 in October last month but already campaigners are pushing for more.

Dr Jayant Vaidya also wants increased tax on cigarettes and a ban on vending machines.
“Most people start smoking before they are 21, and after they are 21 they are wise enough to realise that it’s not in their interest to smoke,” he told the BBC.

It is a very addictive drug, it contains 4,000 poisons and it has been shown very clearly that when you start young, you start causing all the damage in your body at a young age as well, and it’s very difficult to stop.