Tag Archives: smokers

FTC Rescinds Guidance On Cigarette Testing

For over four decades the tobacco industry has used machine testing approved by the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) to measure tar and nicotine levels in cigarettes.

But in a 4-0 vote, the FTC has now shunned the tests, known as the Cambridge Filter Method, rescinding guidance it established 42 years ago.

The National Cancer Institute (NCI) found that cigarette design changes had reduced the amount of tar and nicotine measured by smoking machines using the Cambridge Filter Method. However, there was no evidence the changes reduced disease in smokers. Furthermore, the machine does not account for ways in which smokers adjust their behavior, such as inhaling deeper or more often to maintain nicotine levels.

The FTC said the test method is flawed, and results in erroneous marketing of tar and nicotine levels that could deceive consumers into believing that lighter cigarettes were more safe.  The move means that future advertising that includes the tar levels for cigarettes will not be permitted to include terms such as “by FTC method.”  “Our action today ensures that tobacco companies may not wrap their misleading tar and nicotine ratings in a cloak of government sponsorship,” said FTC Commissioner Jon Leibowitz.  “Simply put, the FTC will not be a smokescreen for tobacco companies’ shameful marketing practices.”

Using current methods, cigarettes with a tar levels in excess of 15 milligrams per cigarette are typically called “full flavored”, while those with less than 15 milligrams are considered “low” or “light”. Cigarettes with tar levels below 6 milligrams are regarded as “ultra low” or “ultra light.”  “The most important aspect of this decision is that it says to consumers that tobacco industry claims relating to tar and nicotine are at best flawed and most likely misleading,” Matthew Myers, president of the Campaign for Tobacco-Free Kids, told Reuters.

The commission said that during the 1960s it believed that providing consumers with uniform, standardized information about tar and nicotine levels in cigarettes would help them make better decisions. At that time, most public health officials believed that reducing the amount of tar in a cigarette would also reduce a smoker’s risk of lung cancer. However, that belief no longer exists.Sen. Frank Lautenberg (D-N.J.) introduced legislation earlier this year that would prohibit companies from making claims based on data derived from the Cambridge testing method.  But the bill did not progress to the Senate for a full vote.  “Tobacco companies can no longer rely on the government to back up a flawed testing method that tricks smokers into thinking these cigarettes deliver less tar and nicotine,” said Lautenberg.

Pamela Jones Harbor, an FTC commissioner, called on Congress to approve the regulation of the tobacco industry by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration, a move that would authorize government scientists to monitor, analyze and regulate cigarette components.  Tobacco companies have been clear over the years in saying that there is no such thing as a safe cigarette.

In a statement by Philip Morris USA, the United States’ largest tobacco company, the company said it is committed to working with the federal government to identify and adopt testing strategies that improve on the Cambridge method.

FTC BuildingThe FTC said that all four major domestic cigarette makers told commissioners the 1966 recommendations should be retained until a suitable replacement test was approved.  Philip Morris told commissioners that eliminating the current guidance could lead to a “tar derby”, in which cigarette makers would employ different methods to measure yields in their cigarettes, leading to greater consumer confusion.

Source:  Red Orbit

Smokers Use Cigarettes to Cope with Stress

Smokers are poorly equipped to deal with distress without resorting to cigarettes because of their implicit belief that smoking helps them to deal with difficult feelings, a conference for psychologists was told yesterday.

Nigel Vahey of NUI Maynooth said research had found that a key psychological component of tobacco-dependence involved the implicit belief that smoking was an effective way of regulating unpalatable feelings.

“In other words, to the degree that smokers implicitly believe that smoking can enhance their enjoyment and reduce their stress levels, then they are more likely to engage in smoking as a means of controlling and coping with fluctuating feelings throughout the day,” he said.

Smoking was used as a way to avoid dealing with painful thoughts and emotions but this was unproductive as it did not make those feelings go away permanently.

Young Smoker“Such people who smoke to regulate their feelings, whether consciously or unconsciously, become very poorly equipped to cope with distress of any sort without recourse to smoking,” Mr Vahey said. This made quitting even more difficult. “Smokers must not only cope with biological cravings for nicotine, but must also learn to cope with distressing feelings in more productive ways.” He said treatment that dealt with this issue was more successful long term than nicotine replacement therapy or other medications.

Mr Vahey was speaking at the Psychological Society of Ireland’s annual conference which ended yesterday in Tullow, Co Carlow. Earlier, the conference heard a call for proper training for juries in cyber-crime cases.

This article appears in the print edition of the Irish Times, LISON HEALY

Bigger Belly May Up Smokers’ Lung Cancer Risk

Reuters Health – Smokers who carry more weight around their waistlines may be at greater risk of lung cancer, according to a new study.

The finding, along with the fact that lung cancer risk is actually higher among leaner smokers, provides “intriguing” evidence that how a smoker stores fat could play a role in his or her likelihood of developing lung cancer, Dr. Geoffrey C. Kabat of the Albert Einstein College of Medicine in the Bronx, New York, told Reuters Health.

Several studies have found that a lower body mass index (BMI) means a higher lung cancer risk among smokers. “Reflex explanations” for the link include the fact that smokers are skinnier than non-smokers, Kabat noted in an interview, as well as the tendency for people to gain weight after they quit smoking.

Another proposed mechanism for the relationship is that people lose weight when they develop lung cancer.

But careful analysis of the data doesn’t bear out these explanations, Kabat said. To better understand the relationship, he and his colleagues looked at data from the Women’s Health Initiative.

Over the course of 8 years, 1,365 of the study’s 161,809 participants developed lung cancer. When the researchers looked at BMI after adjusting for weight circumference, they found that both smokers and ex-smokers with lower BMIs had a greater lung cancer risk.

But when they looked at waist circumference independent of BMI, they found that a larger waistline conferred a greater likelihood of lung cancer for smokers and ex-smokers. There was no relationship between BMI or waist circumference and lung cancer risk among never-smokers.

The findings, reported in the American Journal of Epidemiology, must be confirmed by other investigators, and don’t offer any clues on the mechanism behind the relationship, Kabat noted.

belly fatHowever, he speculated, “it may have to do with the storage, the mobilization, and the metabolization of carcinogens. These carcinogens … tend to be stored in fat tissue. That may play a role in the development of lung cancer. It may be that it’s linked to smoking but that it plays a role on top of smoking.”

He added: “We’re not ready to give people advice, because overall the advice would not be changed. We’re not advocating that people lose weight so that they have a lower risk of lung cancer. Smoking is so far and away the dominant risk factor.”

News Source: American Journal of Epidemiology, July 15, 2008.

Anne Harding, Cancerpage.com

Smoking Brings on Menopause

Norwegian researchers have discovered that women who smoke are 59 percent more likely than non-smokers to have an early menopause.

The researchers say smokers are more likely to begin the menopause before the age of 45 putting themselves at an increased risk of osteoporosis and heart disease.

Dr. Thea F. Mikkelsen of the University of Oslo and her colleagues found that among 2,123 women 59 to 60 years old, those who currently smoked were 59 percent more likely than non-smokers to have undergone early menopause and for the heaviest smokers, the risk of early menopause was almost double.

The researchers also found that women who were smokers, but quit at least 10 years before menopause, were substantially less likely than current smokers to have stopped menstruating before age 45.

Photo of Woman with HeadacheMikkelsen and her team say evidence already exists which shows that smoking later in life makes a woman more likely to have early menopause, while smokers who quit before middle age may not be affected.

However the researchers went one step further and investigated whether exposure to second-hand smoke might also influence the timing of menopause.

They found that almost 10 percent of the women went through menopause before age 45 and of that number around 25 percent were current smokers, 28.7 percent were ex-smokers and 35.2 percent reported current passive exposure to smoke.

The women who had quit smoking at least a decade before menopause were 87 percent less likely than their peers who currently smoked to have gone through menopause early.

When they were compared with married women, widows were also at increased risk of early menopause, as were women who were in poor health.

In general the better educated women were less likely to go into menopause early, but they were also less likely to be smokers.

A good social life also appeared to cut the early menopause risk and the researchers found no link between coffee or alcohol consumption or passive exposure to smoke and early menopause risk.

Mikkelsen and her team say the earlier a woman stops smoking the more protection she derives with respect to an early onset of menopause.”

The research is published in the online journal “BMC Public Health.”

Source: Women’s Health News, News.medical.net

Ready for the Smoking Ban? (UK)

Soon there will be no hiding place for smokers with a smoking ban in public places in England in force from 1 July.

However, despite the majority of smokers saying they would like to quit, many of them are still unsure what the ban will entail. We look at the impact the ban will have and find out the best ways of quitting.

Smokers, now so often forced to huddle outside offices and homes, will find even less places where their habit’s welcome from July 1.

That’s when the English public smoking ban comes into effect, banning smokers from having a drag in pubs, cafes, clubs and restaurants and a host of other places that will become smoke-free zones.

The ban already exists in Scotland and Wales and making it UK wide is predicted, by the Department of Health, to provoke up to 600,000 people to attempt quitting for good. There are many ways of quitting a habit that’s getting harder and harder to enjoy.

Millions more would like to join them – at least 70% of the UK’s 12 million smokers would like to kick the habit – but are daunted by the difficulty of kicking the weed.

Click for > Methods for quitting

Smokers need support to succeed according to Jennifer Percival, head of the Royal College of Nursing Tobacco Education project and author of You Can Stop Smoking, a self-help guide to overcoming the habit. She says: “Smoking is extremely difficult to give up and people shouldn’t feel bad about themselves or failures if they struggle with it.

Smoking Ban Cartoon“Nicotine is as addictive as heroin or cocaine, and so the cycle of addiction can be difficult to break. Most people try five or six times to quit before they succeed.”

From MSN Money: how the ban won’t kill the pub trade

Percival points out that those using nicotine replacement therapy products – such as patches, gum, or inhalators which mimic cigarettes – and getting support, are four times more likely to quit than those simply going cold turkey.

She says: “Nicotine replacement therapy is no magic cure but combined with willpower and support maybe from a group or even a sympathetic friend it can significantly help you overcome your desire to smoke.”

Nicotine and withdrawal symptoms

Percival also counters the two major reasons people give for smoking – that it aids concentration and helps reduce stress. “The reality is that smokers experience higher levels of stress than non-smokers. After stopping, the level of stress in ex-smokers drops noticeably.

“And although many people believe smoking helps them clear their thoughts and concentrate, research shows that nicotine does not enhance a smoker’s performance level above that of a non-smoker’s.”

Medicines to help you quit

Reasons to Quit Smoking

  • According to the British Heart Foundation, one in five people will die from smoking and annually there are 114,000 deaths of smokers in the UK.
  • Over the past 50 years smoking has killed 6.3 million Britons – the equivalent of the population of London.
  • Most risks from smoking come with the first few cigarettes of the day. Just one cigarette triples the risk of lung cancer, while a five-a-day habit increases a woman’s risk of dying of lung cancer fivefold.
  • It’s worth quitting. Within 10 to 15 years of giving up smoking, an ex-smoker’s risk of developing lung cancer is only slightly greater than that of a non-smoker, according to statistics from ASH.
  • If you ditch a 20-a-day habit you’ll now find an extra £35.50 in your wallet every week, which adds up to £152 a month or £1,825 a year.

What you gain when you quit

What type of smoker are you?

  • Light smokers have fewer than 10 cigarettes a day, or only smoke in certain situations – while socializing or when stressed.
  • Heavy Smokers light up more than 15 to 20 times a day and see smoking as an integral part of life.

Test: are you addicted to nicotine?

What Can I Do?

  • Check out the condition of your lungs, it could boost your desire to stop!
  • Take a free ‘smokelyser’ test at Boots to measure the level of carbon monoxide in your lungs. Carbon monoxide thickens and clots blood, which can cause a heart attack or stroke. Test three months after quitting to see the difference.
  • Boots also offers, from June 20, a free lung age test, measuring the ‘real’ age of lungs.
  • Set a quit date and prepare for it by getting guidance on how to give up. Visit your GP, or visit the NHS website: http://www.nhs.uk/smokefree. Seek advice from helplines such as NHS Stop Smoking Service: 0800 169 0169 or the Quitline: 0800 00 22 00.
  • Boots, alongside charity Quit, offers a personalised quitting plan, with the charity’s stop smoking counsellors giving further support.

The phases of quitting

What Can Help?

Nicotine patches as a once-a-day solution are most suitable for smokers who have a regular pattern of smoking. They release a steady dose of nicotine into the bloodstream via the skin. They come in three strengths to allow users to reduce the dose when they’re ready. “In general, people who smoke 10 cigarettes or more a day should start with the highest dose patch,” Percival says. A week’s supply costs around £15, but they may be available on prescription.
Nicotine nasal spray is the strongest form of NRT available. “It’s especially suitable for heavy and highly addicted smokers as it is absorbed faster than any other NRT”, Percival explains. It’s recommended for those who smoke more than 20 cigarettes a day or light up within 30 minutes of waking. It costs around £21 for one spray.

The social and psychological influences

Nicotine gum “lets you control your nicotine dose yourself”, Percival says. It comes in two strengths,the 2mg gum for those who smoke 20 cigarettes or fewer a day, and 4mg for those who smoke more than 20 a day. Most people use 10-15 pieces of gum daily for at least the first 12 weeks. A pack of 24 costs around £4.

A new therapy, IQS (I Quit Smoking) from America, has just launched in the UK, and involves having electrical stimulation applied to the earlobe. It’s claimed this releases endorphins that help reduce nicotine cravings.

Top tips for quitting

It’s aimed at those who smoke over 15 cigarettes a day, and have smoked for over eight years. It costs £399 and includes four treatment sessions, and six months helpline/follow up support at five London clinics, with another opening shortly in Birmingham. IQS also offers a money back guarantee if the treatment fails to work over six months. For more information call 0800 107 5877 or visit www.iqs.uk.com

Nicotine microtab is a small white tablet that dissolves allowing the mouth to absorb the nicotine. It should be taken for 12 weeks. It’s around £16 for a pack of 100 tablets.

How to keep your weight down when you quit

Nicotine inhalators are plastic devices shaped like a cigarette with a nicotine cartridge fitted into it. “It’s held like a cigarette so it’s suitable for people who miss the habit of holding and handling a cigarette,” Percival says. It’s around £6 for a starter pack.

How to Avoid Temptation

  • Keep busy, go for a walk or start a new project.
  • Change your routine, and avoid shops where you usually bought cigarettes.
  • Research shows that you are four times more likely to quit if you let people around you know and gain their support.
  • Wear a commitment ring, which costs £1 from Boots and proceeds go to the Quit charity.
  • When your desire for a cigarette is intense, clean your teeth or wash your hands to reinforce how pleasant it is not to smell of smoke.
  • If you miss having something in your mouth, try a toothpick, carrot and celery sticks.
  • Never allow yourself to think that ‘one won’t hurt’ – it will. It’s the slippery slope.

You Can Stop Smoking, by Jennifer Percival, is published by Virgin Books, priced £10. Out now.

By Gabrielle Fagan

Get Fit and Kick the Habit

Make the most of the national smoking ban on Monday by swapping cigarettes for exercise, says Philip Carling of the Sports Council for Wales

THE ban on smoking will revolutionize the very face of Wales’ public indoor spaces, transforming them into healthier, smoke-free zones as the last cigarettes are stubbed out in nightclubs, restaurants, and pub ash-trays from Angelsey to Monmouthshire.

Smokers can take the ban more personally by making a pledge to integrate 30 minutes physical activity five times a week into their lifestyle, even if they are not intending to stub out the habit for good. It’s all part of Health Challenge Wales.

The message that ‘smoking is bad for you’ is so old now that people have stopped giving it their full attention. Instead I would urge adults to consider that physical activity has profound benefits and can only enhance your well being, regardless of whether you smoke.

Woman on Treadmill PictureThe pub smoking ban offers a perfect opportunity for smokers to adopt a healthier more active lifestyle. If, like many smokers throughout Wales, you’re dreading its onset, now is the time to start putting the benefits of physical activity into practice. It has been proven that exercise is one of the best ways to help smokers kick the habit, and by stopping you are benefiting the health of the nation.

Research shows that smoking kills around 114,000 people in the UK each year owing to smoking related cancers, cardiovascular and lung disease, or high blood pressure leading to heart attacks and stroke. Exercise reduces the risk of coronary heart disease and stroke, lowers the chance of lung cancer, boosts circulation and helps maintain a healthy blood pressure.
Exercise is a vital tool in your successful quitting kit, and you don’t have to spend money buying it from the supermarket shelf. Aside from improving physical ability and appearance, physical activity provides fun, focus and fitness which are more likely to help you stub out the habit for good, not just for two weeks.

What exercise can do for you

1. Naturally increases metabolism
According to the National Centre for Health Statistics, nicotine artificially raises your metabolic rate (the amount of calories you burn within a 24-hour period) by 20%. So when you quit, your metabolism returns to what it really should be.

Getting firmer, stronger muscles by doing regular physical activity like cycling and walking is a much healthier way of increasing your metabolic rate.

2. Controls weight gain
One of the scariest things about quitting smoking is the fear of gaining weight. A slower metabolism after quitting, combined with an improvement in taste and smell, a tendency to substitute food for cigarettes and emotional eating to relieve the stress of quitting can all result in weight gain of anywhere between 5-10lbs for the average smoker.

The combination of eating more calories while burning less means that regular physical activity is crucial. Aerobic exercise like walking, cycling, swimming or dancing for 30 minutes a day at a low-intensity will burn anything between 100-300 calories depending on the intensity and duration of your exercise.

Smokers who philosophize that smoking keeps them slim may also need to consider that nicotine causes body fat to be distributed to the upper body and abdominal area or in an “apple” shape – which is linked with a higher risk of heart disease, diabetes and early death.

3. Suppresses appetite
Stub out cigarettes and you can guarantee human nature will have you automatically reaching for the biscuit tin instead. Just like your regular rugby match, kicking a habit is always a game of substitution. But exercise is a natural way to temporarily suppress appetite because it regulates sugar levels in your blood. This in turn reduces the cravings for sweets and junk foods which we might bring onto the pitch to replace cigarettes.

4. Offers relief from nicotine cravings
Take a 10-minute brisk walk every time the nicotine cravings come calling, and fitness levels will soon be soaring. Physical activity can help take the ‘edge’ off nicotine cravings by bringing temporary relief until they pass.

Exercise improves blood circulation, so just a ten-minute walk can produce chemical endorphins in the brain which create a sense of well-being – the same ‘buzz’ smokers get from filling their lungs with smoke.

Regular physical activity is also a cheaper and more maintainable way of curbing the cravings for those who don’t want to use nicotine replacement therapy.

5. Curbs boredom
Boredom is one of the biggest barriers to quitting smoking. You can predict the routine now – arrive home after a hard day; slump into the sofa; stick the telly on and already your mind is wandering towards the ash tray as you gradually lose the fight to keep your hands occupied.

A cycle through the park or to the shops where there are things to look at, an exercise class where there are people to meet, or just a mind-challenging mountain-stroll at the weekend will help keep your mind away from the cigarettes. Don’t let boredom beat you down. Physical activity and sport can be a hobby, offering a fresh focus to get your teeth stuck into – without wasting your time whiling the hours away in frustration.

6. Relieves anxiety and stress
If you have ever tried to quit or know someone who is in the process, you’ll know that grouchiness, anxiety and depression are lurking nearby like an unwanted guest. Exercise is a proven mood lifter and anxiety reliever so you can banish any late-night desires to creep out the back door and light-up after a tough day.

Mood swings are a common temporary side effect of kicking any habit, but they can be used to fuel your physical goals. Vent your frustration at kick-boxing, whack out your woes with a tennis ball, or release tension with a gentle session of yoga or pilates.

7. Fuels a revitalising sleep
People who exercise regularly have fewer episodes of sleeplessness – a common side-effect of quitting. The temptation to light up is probably at its strongest after a heavy day when we are tired, so a more sufficient sleep may help stop the hands from reaching for the cigarettes simply because the body needs a boost.

Moderate exercise lasting 20-30 minutes five times a week promotes a more revitalising sleep because it is a physical stressor to the body. The brain compensates for physical stress by increasing deep sleep and so we sleep more soundly.

8. Promotes a buzzing social life
Lots of smokers argue that their social life will be affected if they quit. Getting involved in sport and physical activity is one of the most enjoyable ways to socialise – whether going for walks with the family, taking the kids for a kick-about or giving Grandma some company to the shops. Join a club, try out a gym class – talk to the regulars at your local swimming pool. The friends you make through sport and physical activity might just be your friends for life.

More importantly, swapping bad breath, sallow skin and yellow teeth for a healthier body image is crucial to fostering confidence and a positive mental attitude. Physical activity burns fat and boosts circulation, bringing more oxygen and nutrients to the skin so that it is firmer and better nourished – good news since smoking can leave the skin up to 40% thinner. People who are physically fit not only look good, but feel good too.

9. Cuts huffing and puffing
Physical activity strengthens your heart and lungs while improving circulation so there is to be no more humiliating huffing and puffing as you climb the stairs behind your colleagues.

Lots of people mistakenly think exercise will make them tired, but – at the appropriate intensity and duration for your current fitness level – it will actually invigorate you and make you more energetic.

10. Slows lung decline
Studies suggest that smokers who exercise are at a 35% lower risk of developing lung cancer than those who don’t exercise. But, not surprisingly, smokers often complain of breathing difficulty and muscle fatigue during exercise and hence avoid it at all costs. Physical activity does not improve lung function but will slow its decline by strengthening the limb muscles and respiratory system. It enables more oxygen to practice getting to the vital muscles, thus gradually improving endurance and reducing breathlessness.

Philip Carling is chairman of the Sports Council for Wales.

Source: This article© owned by or licensed to Western Mail & Echo Limited 2007
It is a trade mark of Western Mail & Echo Limited.