Tag Archives: nicotine levels

FTC Discontinues Tar and Nicotine Test

After 42 years, the U.S. Federal Trade Commission has ended a test to measure the amount of tar and nicotine in cigarettes.

According to the Associated Press, the FTC decided to discontinue the testing for two reasons: the test itself was flawed, and tobacco companies could use the results to promote one brand of cigarette over another.

The test was known as the Cambridge Filter Method, the A.P. reports, and on Nov. 26 the FTC commissioners voted unanimously to discontinue it. Saying that the FTC would no longer be a “smokescreen” for tobacco companies’ marketing programs, Commissioner Jon Leibowitz told the wire service, “Our action today ensures that tobacco companies may not wrap their misleading tar and nicotine ratings in a cloak of government sponsorship.”

Over the years, many cigarette advertisements had promoted low tar and nicotine levels in some brands, using the phrase, “by FTC method.” Insofar as the testing itself was concerned, it had long been criticized by scientists because it never took into account how people smoked, such as how deeply they inhaled, the A.P. reports.

Cigarette Smoke The National Cancer Institute acknowledged that the Cambridge Filter Method did measure changes in design and quantity of tar and nicotine, but there has never been any evidence that so-called light cigarettes reduced disease caused by smoking, the wire service reports.

Progress Has Been Made in Cutting Nicotine Risks, but Exposure Remains Problem for Nonsmokers

Nearly half of America’s non smokers are sucking in fumes from tobacco products.

And that’s the good news!

A new study from the Centers for Disease Control showed that 46 percent of nonsmokers had signs of nicotine in their bodies during blood tests conducted between 1999 and 2004.

That is down significantly from 84 percent when similar tests were conducted in the late 1980s and early 1990s.

But CDC researchers emphasize that this is no reason for celebration – not with statistics showing that exposure to secondhand smoke increases nonsmoking adults’ risk of lung cancer by at least 20 percent and their odds of heart disease by at least 25 percent.

“It’s still too high,” research Cynthia Marano told The Associated Press. “There is no safe level of exposure.”

Moreover, there was little change regarding the exposure of children ages 4 to 11 to secondhand smoke. That percentage stands at 60 percent, and CDC officials note this greatly increases children’s chances of respiratory illnesses and ear problems. In babies, the possibility of sudden infant death syndrome also increases.

Officials attributed the overall decline in the exposure rate of nonsmokers to the growing number of laws banning smoking workplaces, bars, restaurants and other public settings.

The CDC study’s findings justify the public indoor smoking legislation that will go into effect in September in Pennsylvania, virtually nullifying the argument that these bans usurp proprietors’ and individuals’ rights. Indoor smoking creates a public health issue for others and contributes to rising health care and insurance costs for everyone.

It’s good to see at least some progress being made, but to paraphrase that old cigarette commercial, “we’ve come a long way, but we have a long way to go.”

Source: The Patriot News

Toenails Reveal All

Your toes tell it all, ladies.

Toenail clippings can provide evidence of tobacco exposure and help explain the risk of heart disease, at least in women, according to a unique study from the University of California-San Diego and Harvard University.

The medical researchers examined levels of nicotine in toenails of 905 women who were diagnosed with coronary heart disease from 1984 through 1998.

The women were among the 62,641 participants in the Nurse’s Health Study. Those with heart disease were randomly matched to two other participants by age and by the date that their toenails were collected.

The twenty percent of women who had the highest nicotine levels in their toenails turned out to have more than triple the risk of being diagnosed with heart disease as those whose levels put them in the lowest twenty percent. The risk remained significantly higher after the researchers took smoking into account, adjusting for the number of cigarettes smoked as well as exposure to second hand smoke.

Women's Toenails“Using toenail nicotine is a novel way to objectively measure exposure to tobacco smoke, and ultimately, to increase our understanding of tobacco-related illness, said Wael Al-Delaimy, of UC-San Diego’s department of family and preventive medicine, lead author of the study published this month in the American Journal of Epidemiology. “This would be especially helpful in situations where smoking history is not available or is biased.”

Source: Josh Goldstein, The Philadelphia Inquirer

Toddlers Most Affected by Second Hand Smoke

Second hand smoke in the home appears to induce markers for heart disease as early as the toddler years.

Researchers reported this news at the American Heart Association 48th Annual Conference on Cardiovascular Disease Epidemiology and Prevention in March.

It has long been known that many forms of cardiovascular disease in adults are initiated and progress silently during childhood. Now researchers have found a young child’s response to smoke may not just affect the respiratory system, but the cardiovascular system as well.

“This is the first study that looks at the response of a young child’s cardiovascular system to secondhand smoke,” said Judith Groner, MD, lead author of the study, pediatrician and ambulatory care physician at Nationwide Children’s Hospital and Research Institute in Columbus, OH.The study included 128 children, 2 to 5 years old and adolescents between the ages of 9 and 14. Researchers found that the younger children absorbed six times more nicotine than the older children from the same levels of parental smoking. That exposure resulted in a dramatic increase of markers of inflammation and vascular injury signaling damage to the endothelium, the inner lining of the vessel walls.

Hair samples of the younger children had average nicotine levels of 12.68 nanograms per milligram of hair compared to adolescent group, which had 2.57 nanograms per milligram of hair. Toddlers had significantly higher levels of the inflammatory marker soluble intracellular adhesion molecules (ICAM).

“Toddlers in the homes of smokers not only had higher levels of nicotine, but also had higher levels of markers for cardiovascular disease in the blood,” said John Bauer, PhD, senior author of the study and director of the Center for Cardiovascular Medicine at Nationwide Children’s Hospital. “The dose of smoke is greater in toddlers than adolescents who are able to move in and out of the home. Toddlers are like a fish in a fishbowl. They are exposed at a higher dose. And it appears that toddlers also are more susceptible to the cardiovascular effects of smoke.”

Toddlers and a Fish BowlMost of the children in the study had varying levels of secondhand smoke exposure, measured by the number of adult smokers a child was exposed to in 24 hours. Researchers took hair samples to determine nicotine levels in the body and drew blood to determine endothelial progenitor cell (EPC) levels by flow cytometry. Endothelial progenitor cells replenish the endothelium and serve as a biological marker for vascular function.

Researchers also measured known inflammatory markers, such as ICAM, in the blood. “When we analyzed our data by looking at the relationships between the number of smokers in the home and the EPC levels, we found that in toddlers, there was an inverse relationship between secondhand smoke exposure and EPC prevalence,” Dr. Groner said. “In other words, the more smokers the toddler was exposed to, the fewer EPC cells were circulating in his bloodstream. This relationship was not present among the adolescents.”

The vascular endothelium (the inner lining of arteries and blood vessels) plays a key role in promoting cardiovascular health by maintaining the tone and circulation of the arteries. ICAM is a specific marker of endothelial cell stress, which contributes to artery clogging and atherosclerosis, raising the risk of heart disease.

“The combustion of the cigarettes appears to be causing endothelial damage which is reflected in the increase in soluble ICAM in exposed children,” Dr. Groner stated. “Toddlers who are in the vicinity of smokers in the home have a higher dose of tobacco chemicals. They live at home and can’t escape. Young children also breathe faster, taking more smoke into their respiratory system.”

Past studies found that the levels of EPC are lower in adult smokers. EPCs have not been studied previously in non-smokers who are exposed to secondhand smoke.

This study indicates that cardiovascular effects of tobacco exposure in children are very similar to that of adults in the affect on the vascular wall, Dr. Groner said.

She noted the study is a “snapshot in time” and doesn’t give a long-term picture of the effects of secondhand smoke on the developing cardiovascular system of children.

“The results are intriguing, but further study is needed,” she said. “We’re not sure what happens to kids if they stay in a smoking environment or if they have multiple risk factors such as being overweight or having high blood pressure. Until then, parents and others should not smoke in homes with children, and should be especially attentive to this issue around toddlers.”

Other study authors were: Hong Huang, MD, PhD; Lisa Nicholson, PhD; Danielle Frock; Catherine Schroeder; and Jennifer Kuck, ACSM.

The Flight Attendant Medical Research Institute (FAMRI) funded the study.

Source: Advance

Tobacco Companies Alter Cigarettes to Keep You Smoking

A doctor from the American Cancer Society reports on how large tobacco companies keep you smoking.

By upping nicotine in cigarettes each year and intensifying the concentration smokers stay addicted.

Even though smoking is responsible for one in five deaths in the US, the Tobacco industry has no qualms about using nicotine addiction and dependency to line their pockets.

Future of Nicotine Levels in Cigarettes Uncertain

Washington – The Food and Drug Administration may soon have the ability to regulate sales, distribution and advertising of tobacco products, but it would not be allowed to require removal of nicotine from cigarettes.

Nicotine, the most addictive ingredient in a cigarette, increases the level of the dopamine neurotransmitters in the brain.

Dopamine controls many important responses in the brain, such as behavior.

Nicotine spreads in the brain within a few minutes of the first inhalation, creating feelings of reward, which then cause the smoker to continue smoking.

“People may smoke for non-nicotine reasons, but it is the nicotine that is the primary addictive component of cigarettes,” said Dr. Allison Chausmer from the National Institute of Drug Abuse.

American Lung Association Graph of Chemicals in CigarettesAlthough the FDA would not be able to get rid of nicotine altogether under the bill being considered by Congress, it would have the power to reduce nicotine levels in tobacco products.

The possible benefits for smokers, just like the bill, remain debatable.

A study by the National Institute of Drug Abuse found that tapered reduction of nicotine in cigarettes over a four-week span led one-fourth of smokers who were not trying to quit to spontaneously stop smoking after returning to their regular cigarettes.

“If a cigarette has nicotine levels that are below the level that people find rewarding, it may result in a reduced incidence of smoking initiation and/or increased incidence of quitting,” Chausmer said.

Chausmer also said that if the FDA lowers the nicotine content of cigarettes, “Fewer people will become addicted, and those who are addicted may find it easier to quit.”

However, smokers’ behavior varies, and some, if faced with lower nicotine levels in cigarettes, might smoke more to achieve the same nicotine satisfaction. Chausmer noted that smoking more cigarettes would mean spending more money and taking more time away from work or friends because of today’s smoke-free workplaces and restaurants.

The bill that would give the FDA regulatory power was approved by a House committee last week and will move to the House floor in the coming months.

Source: Farah Khan, Medill Reports, Northwestern University

Chantix Questions Illuminate Hold of Cigarettes on Mind

The mentally ill consume 45% of the cigarettes smoked in America these days, the WSJ reports. A striking figure in its own right, the number takes on new significance amid reports of psychological troubles associated with Pfizer’s anti-smoking drug Chantix.

Nicotine increases the level of dopamine in the brain’s reward center — a powerfully addictive effect. And as reports have emerged of suicidal thoughts and behaviors in patients taking Chantix, Pfizer has pointed out that, even in the absence of drug treatment, quitting smoking can have a powerful effect on the mind.

But, the FDA suggested, taking Chantix — which binds to the same neural receptors as nicotine — may add to the psychological tumult, at least for some patients. And because the mentally ill were excluded from the drug’s pre-approval clinical trials, it’s hard to know where mental illness fits into the picture.

Chantix BoxStill, the benefits of quitting smoking are so great that some degree of risk should be tolerable in a drug that helps people quit. “If you have a history of depression, you need to be careful when you stop smoking that it doesn’t come back,” John Hughes, a professor of psychiatry at the University of Vermont and a Pfizer adviser, told the WSJ.

But for people who’ve failed to quit with a nicotine patch and are thinking about using Chantix, he wouldn’t avoid the drug over fears of mental problems: “The risk is so small under a physician’s care, and the benefit is so huge.”Bonus Smoke: One man’s strange Chantix trip landed in New York Magazine last week. “Maybe I should just go downstairs and leap in front of a tour bus,” the author thought at one point. “Or launch my head through the computer screen. All this seemed logical, but also weirdly funny, even at the time: I could see how crazy these impulses were, I could recognize them as suicidal clichés.”

Source: Jacob Goldstein

Talk (Cold) Turkey: Visit the WSJ’s forum on quitting smoking.

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Bee in the Bonnet

Meaning: Preoccupied or obsessed with an idea.

“Resolving The Bee In the Bonnet Problem”
by Bear Jack Gebhardt

This article was originally hosted at Seventraditions. I have been unable to locate Bear Jack Gebhardt, but have decided to save this wonderful file here at Ciggyfree until some time in the future when Jack reclaims it. Thank you Jack!

You ever get a bee in your bonnet? Or in your hat? In your car? All
of sudden, you’re not thinking of anything, else, right? Everything in
your life, except that bee, is immediately back burner.

You need to do something about that buzzing bee and you need to do it now. When you
have a bee in your bonnet, life is suddenly very intense, and
uncomfortable, or potentially uncomfortable, and that potential makes
it uncomfortable right now.

Child in a Bee CostumeFor a lot of smokers, quitting smoking is very similar to having a bee
in their bonnet, or a bee buzzing around in the car with them. Life
is suddenly very intense, and uncomfortable, or potentially
uncomfortable. They feel they need to do something about it, “right
now.” Nothing else really matters.

Contrary to popular belief, it is not the lack of nicotine that makes
a quitting smoker so jumpy. The use of nicotine patches, and the new
drug Zyban can be helpful, but, so far, in fewer than 30% of the
cases. Even with nicotine levels at “ordinary,” and with stress levels
reduced, the “bee in the bonnet” feeling persists, and smokers go back
to smoking in order to let the bee out. The “relief ” which a smoker
feels with his or her first cigarette, after an unsuccessful quitting
attempt, is exactly the same relief as when the bee flies out the
window. “Whew, thank goodness that’s over.”

So, what is it, exactly, that makes a smoker feel as if he or she has
a bee in the bonnet, a bee in the car just as soon as the Quit Date
arrives? If we could figure out where the bee comes from, we could go
a long way to making it easier to quit, yes?

From careful research, and long discussions with smokers and
ex-smokers, it seems clear that the “bee in the bonnet” comes in the
form of a simple little question that the smoker continually asks.
That question is, “Should I, or shouldn’t I?”

Should I or shouldn’t I have a smoke? Should I or shouldn’t I give up
on this quitting business? The answer to the question, of course, is
logically no, don’t have one, don’t give up. That’s obvious, that’s
easy. So the smoker answers, “no, of course not, I won’t have one, I
won’t give up.” And then the question comes up again, and then again,
and then again, should I or shouldn’t I?

Here’s the rub: To answer, no, is obvious, but just to answer no does
not stop the question from recurring! The recurring question is the
bee in the bonnet!

Researchers have consistently found that the reason most smokers give
for trying and failing to quit is that they were unable to resist the
“cravings” they experienced shortly after stopping. A craving is
basically a thought repeated over and over. It may be a craving for
chocolate pie or a craving for a ski trip or a new Ferrari. A craving
is a thought repeated, again and again, until finally action is taken
or— here’s the freedom– the “craver” consciously decides to change
his or her thinking patterns. The key words here are consciously
decides. In the minutes and hours and days after quitting smoking, the
thought– in the form of a question– continually arises, “Should
I or shouldn’t I?” Most smokers assume it is their job to just keep
saying no long enough for the question to finally go away. Of course,
that works, sometimes.

More directly, though, the conscious decision to drop the question,
and think about something else, is a conscious decision to drop the
craving, and thus drop the habit. We are inherently free to drop our
cravings! In the same way we are free to develop or nourish our
cravings.

Non smokers don’t ask the question, “should I or shouldn’t I” Asking
that particular mental question is the basic habit that smokers are
breaking when they quit smoking. The secret to quitting is not so much
in correctly answering the question, “should I or shouldn’t I?” The
secret is in not asking the question at all. That lets the bee out of
the bonnet. Then, whether to smoke or not smoke is simply no longer
the question.