Tag Archives: anti-smoking groups

Kick Butts Day(s) the Young People’s Great American Smoke Out

Quitting smoking is hard.

And the more help and support that we can give smokers to help them quit, the better off we all – men, women, children, dogs, cats, etc. will be.

March 24th was the 15th Annual Kick Butts day celebrated across the country.

Kids and young adults across the country will stand up to ask legislators to protect them from the tobacco industry. Protect them? The tobacco industry is not pulling teens and young adults out of their beds, homes or schools and telling them that they must smoke cigarettes or else.

Kick Butts Day – Are They Sending the Wrong Message?

toxic cigsThe way this Kick Butts Day is designed is open for discussion, because the creators of the day are pointing fingers at the legislators, the tobacco industry and everyone else except those that are currently smoking. Why should just legislators and the tobacco industry get all the blame? Yes, advertising campaigns that target youth is an indirect way to entice young adults to start smoking, but they didn’t force them …did they? Why are the creators of this day not also taking responsibility?

What if the Kick Butts Day focused more on getting teens and young adults to quit if they have started smoking and their friends rallying in support of them quitting. The day could commemorate the commitment to quitting, like a commitment to sobriety. The Kick Butts Day could be rallying around those that we know smoke and asking them to commit to quitting while also pointing them to support systems to help them.

What if we also celebrated those who have quit! Honoring them for taking responsibility for their life, health, and the impact smoking has on their loved ones. We could also remember  those we have lost to cigarette smoking.

Putting a Positive Spin on a Positive Effort

We have rehabs for alcohol, drugs, sex, gambling, perhaps we need more rehab centers offering innovative approaches to smoking cessation. And we don’t need rehab centers because if we can rally to vote, rally to fight for healthcare, then we can rally to help teens and young people quit on the Kick Butts Day.

So let’s take a step to help smokers stop. An educational and positive spin on this day could implemented, instead of just name calling, or what some might label as cry baby blaming and finger pointing at legislators and the tobacco industry. The Kick Butt Day creators could make this a day of positive action rather than a day of focusing on negative reaction.

A Different Approach

Let’s think about this a moment.

Kick Butts Day could be a rally cry one day each month of the year. One day a month could be a way to check in and hold accountable those who have made the commitment to quit smoking.

One day a month and if that is too much then one day every three months those that have committed to smoking will be obligated to answer to their peers, parents, friends, etc. as to what they are doing and if in fact they have quit.

Diaries should be kept on a daily basis so that the potential quitters are mindful of what they have promised to do and make note of the bad habits that keep them from fulfilling their commitment to quit smoking.

This would certainly be a morale booster for those who have quit and an example to peers and those who want to kick but have been afraid to try.

Kick Butts Day could create a movement to eradicate the need to smoke if we focus inwards instead of outwards.

notable references:

Georgia Kids ‘Kick Butts’ on March 24 – CNBC

On March 26 at Manteo High School in Manteo, students will hold a cigarette butt cleanup to determine if the tobacco-free campus policy is successful. …

STUDENTS at Joseph Priestley College tackled the effects of smoking in association with National No Smoking Day last week.

Tobacco Harm Reduction Catches On

Yesterday I mentioned the controversy over legislation that would give the FDA authority to regulate tobacco products, authority the FDA itself (or at least its current head) does not want.

One reason for the agency’s leeriness is the possibility that FDA regulation could actually increase the harm associated with tobacco use.

One way that could happen, as I’ve noted before, is through censorship of truthful comparative risk claims – in particular, efforts to promote smokeless tobacco as a harm-reducing alternative to cigarettes.

Last week there were a couple of positive developments in this area. Britain’s Royal College of Physicians endorsed the concept of tobacco harm reduction, saying snus (Swedish-style oral snuff) and other nicotine-delivering products should be available to smokers who want to cut their risks but are not prepared to give up their drug habit.

In a commentary published by The Lancet (which has long supported “less harmful nicotine delivery systems”), two doctors who worked on the RCP report, John Britton and Richard Edwards, note that the health risks associated with snus are roughly 90 percent lower than the health risks associated with cigarettes.

They question the E.U.’s ban on smokeless tobacco (which does not apply in Sweden) and the policy of treating nicotine replacement products as quitting aids instead of long-term replacements for cigarettes:

snus.jpgWe believe that the absence of effective harm reduction options for smokers is perverse, unjust, and acts against the rights and best interests of smokers and the public health.

Addicted smokers have a right to choose from a range of safer nicotine products, as well as accurate and unbiased information to guide that choice.

Britton told The Independent:

Smokers smoke because they are addicted to nicotine, but it isn’t nicotine in cigarette smoke that kills….We need to liberalise the medicinal market and introduce a decent cigarette substitute. We may end up with millions of people addicted to nicotine inhalers, but so what? Millions are addicted to caffeine.

Although there is more to the cigarette habit than nicotine (one reason the success rates for “nicotine replacement therapies” are so low), smokers certainly should be free to switch to other, less dangerous sources of nicotine if that’s what they want.

The distinction that Britton draws between addiction and the harm associated with it is a vitally important one that discussions of drug policy tend to overlook. There is no rational reason we need to pretend that nicotine gum, patches, and inhalers are medicines that treat the disease of nicotine addiction, as opposed to safer ways of getting the same drug.

Another encouraging sign regarding snus: Last week The New York Times ran a story about snus products in the U.S. that clearly reported the truth: Although not 100 percent risk-free, snus is indisputably less dangerous than cigarettes.

The Times quoted Thomas Glynn, director of cancer science and trends at the American Cancer Society, who questioned the evidence that “smokers are able to switch to smokeless tobacco and remain switched.” But even Glynn conceded that “if every smoker in the United States were to switch to smokeless tobacco, ‘in the next decade we would see fewer cancers and less heart disease.'”

That acknowledgment is significant, since American anti-smoking groups (like American public health agencies) generally have been hostile toward harm reduction via smokeless tobacco, muddying or denying the product’s clear health advantages. By contrast, Britain’s Action on Smoking and Health has supported tobacco harm reduction for years.

Why was last week’s story more scientifically accurate that the usual Times take on smokeless tobacco? Probably because it ran in the business section instead of the health section.

Source: Jacob Sullum, Reason Magazine

[Thanks to Brad Rodu and Bill Piper for the tip about the RCP report.]

Cigarillos: Big Tobacco’s Candy Coated Chicanery

Sales of cigarillos in candy flavours like raspberry and mint chocolate are up 300% in Canada.

Anti-smoking groups fear their popularity could fuel a kid-friendly smoking revival and increase youth smoking.

Cigarillos are cigarette-sized, filtered cigars that come in a variety of enticing flavours and – perhaps most dangerously – can be bought as singles at any corner store where they’re often right next to the candy display. And, according to an ongoing study by the Quebec health ministry, kids are eating them up.

Cool With the Kids

Smoking’s been on the decline among young people – down around 50% – for a decade. But cigarillos are bucking that trend. According to a 2004 survey of Quebec teens, 18% said they’d tried cigars or cigarillos, up from 13% in 2000.

Chances are you’ve seen cigarillo packaging – small plastic tubes that look a lot like those old horoscope rolls – littering sidewalks and storm drains. Though it’s illegal to sell single cigarettes, cigarillos – because they’re classed as cigars – are exempt.

Picture of Candy CigarettesCynics say the tobacco industry is taking advantage of this loophole to get kids hooked on smoking. Big Tobacco denies. “Regardless of their intent, they are still attracting underage children to their product,” Rob Cunningham, a senior policy analyst with the Canadian Cancer Society told the Toronto Sun. “There’s no doubt that the tobacco industry on the whole is a declining market. And all new smokers begin in their teens or pre-teens.”

Now public health officials are finally taking notice. Quebec’s health minister Philippe Couillard recently announced his department is looking into banning single cigarillos, citing their wide appeal to teens. “These little, coloured, plastic-tipped cigars, fruit or vanilla-scented, are intended for the youth market.

They can easily buy them for about a dollar each. This worries us enormously,” Louis Gauvin, spokesman for the Quebec Coalition for Tobacco Control told the French-language newspaper La Presse. His organization lodged a formal complaint with the ministry in October, prompting the current study.

“If the law prevented their individual sale and they were sold in packs of 20,” added Mr Gauvin, “a young person might think twice because they’d have to spend over $30 for a pack.”

Swinging Singles

Another issue with cigarillo singles is that, unlike cigarette packs, which feature frightening warnings that take nearly 50% of the packaging, cigarillo tubes only have enough room for tiny text warnings. The main warnings are on the shipping packaging, which the consumer never sees.

A study from the March issue of the American Journal of Preventive Medicine found that Canada’s graphic labels of decaying teeth and cancerous lungs do work to deter people from smoking.

Add to this the fact that cigar smokers tend to underestimate the carcinogenicity of cigars. In fact, cigarillos pose similar hazards to cigarettes; they’re lighter on some chemicals, but heavier on others.

The single cigarillo could also ensnare current smokers who are trying to quit. In smoking cessation, the greatest predictor of a relapse is a lapse. For a quitter, the single cigarillo may feel like less of a slip than buying a pack of 25 smokes, offering a ‘guilt-free’ chance to nurse the cravings – especially if it’s flavoured to taste like a fine single malt scotch.

Source: John Stobo, National Review of Medicine, April 30, 2007|Volume 4, No. 8.