Tag Archives: tobacco research

New Zealand, Clearly Becoming Smoke-Free

If you want to stop smoking then pack your bag and fly over to New Zealand.

While you are there New Zealand tobacco regulatory agencies will offer you the facts on smoking dangers and by 2017 you may have to leave the country to buy tobacco products.

New Zealand is one of the many countries incorporating smoking bans, and like Canada they are banning smoking in your car.

Under the Influence While Driving

In New Zealand now you could be fined for smoking while driving in your car.

If you are a cigarette smoker you may be asking, “Do they fine people if they are not driving, but just sitting by the side of the road with the car ignition off?”

Or you might even ask, “Is there a smoking airbag that will explode if I am smoking in my car?”

Seriously, it does matter if you smoke while driving. You are polluting the air around you with second hand smoke. Windows up, windows down; it doesn’t matter.

Passengers who are riding with you including young children are also subject to your second hand smoke that could lead to potential harm, like contributing to asthma and other bronchial ailments.

It’s a Matter of Respecting Others


Young children are more at risk for these ailment because their lungs, like the rest of their bodies are still in the development stage.

The casual cigarette puff near a crib where an infant may be sleeping has been known to result in Sudden Death Syndrome. Children’s lungs actually take in more air because they breathe faster. They are unable to turn away from the smoke and of course infants do not know how harmful the smoke from tobacco is or even what it is.

A child who is around an adult smoker might draw closer to the lite cigarette because it is something new and their curious minds want to investigate. They do not know any better.

Adults may not want to smell your second hand smoke either. Many people are polite and will tolerate the fumes when they accompany you walking, driving or riding in a car.

Also, think about it. Many friends will endure second hand smoke before offending you. You might ask how you will feel if in time they suddenly fall victim of an unexplained bronchial infection, cancer, and other ailments that are known to be smoker related.

New Zealand’s Stop Regulations and Initiative

If we take the initiative and see what’s working for the people of New Zealand, (we are not saying they are doing everything right) we might learn something. Their smoking rates are considerably lower than those in other countries, including the US.

Why not concentrate on more aggressive efforts to teach our kids not to smoke. How about becoming a good example by not smoking nor exposing our children to friends who still smoke. These three actions would be a good start.

Paying higher premiums for healthcare services could also be a major game changer to help smokers quit.

New Zealand is on the right track to help smoking statistics drop in their country, which will in turn improve the quality of life for everyone. In fact, on September 5th,  2007, Action on Smoking and Health (ASH) in New Zealand called for the removal of tobacco from sale by 2017.

Research Discovers Tobacco in Cigarettes Contain Live Bacteria Strains and Human Pathogens

Scientific American just published an article by Brett Isreal with a stiff warning that users of tobacco products are also inhaling live bacteria into their lungs when they smoke tobacco.

The amount of carcinogenic substances and chemicals in cigarettes has been the bulk of the research studies, along with the effects of nicotine addition, until now.

This new research study at University of Maryland points to “hundreds of different strains of bacteria” being introduced to the body with cigarette use. The facts found in this research study begin to explain why smokers contract so many infections and chronic diseases.

The live bacteria, which they are inhaling also contains human pathogens. This is a very serious discovery and researches are trying to deal with the public health implications and additional risks from the second-hand smoke.

Almost every organ in the human body system is harmed by smoking cigarettes. The evidence points to high risks for catching colds, influenza, asthma, bacterial pneumonia, and even interstitial lung disease.

Cancer research facilities are finding the news of this study exciting because it spurs on new research opportunities on the bacterial diversity of tobacco. This is critical research to help scientist understand the dangers for everyone who is exposed, whether they are the smoker or a passerby who experiences the smoke indirectly.

pic-bacteriasThe discovery of bacteria contamination in tobacco leaves prior to harvesting caused concern over what happens when the tobacco is harvested and made into tobacco products and cigarettes. The answer that was found is that the harvested tobacco was also contaminated and was a breading ground for various bacterial strains.

The health implications of smoking that was once thought to just be related to ingesting heavy metals, carcinogenic chemicals, and dealing with the negative effects of nicotine has just added another contributor.

The concern of smoking bugs by inhaling them deep into the lungs is a pretty gruesome picture. I thought parasites were bad.

Stay tuned for new health alerts once this study circulates providing the public is made aware.

Excuse me honey, while I go outside to inhale some bugs in that tasty cigarette!

Credit: Brett Israel and Environmental Health News & Scientific American

Big Tobacco Companies Covered Up Radiation Dangers From Smoking

Tobacco companies have covered up for 40 years the fact that cigarette smoke contains a dangerous radioactive substance that exposes heavy smokers to the radiation equivalent of having 300 chest X-rays a year.

Internal company records reveal that cigarette manufacturers knew that tobacco contained polonium-210 but avoided drawing public attention to the fact for fear of “waking a sleeping giant”.

Polonium-210 emits alpha radiation estimated to cause about 11,700 lung cancer deaths each year worldwide. Russian dissident and writer Alexander Litvinenko died after being poisoned with polonium-210 in 2006.

The polonium-210 in tobacco plants comes from high-phosphate fertilisers used on crops. The fertiliser is manufactured from rocks that contain radioisotopes such as polonium-210 (PO-210).
The radioactive substance is absorbed through the plant’s roots and deposited on its leaves. 

People who smoke one-and-a-half packets of cigarettes a day are exposed to as much radiation as they would receive from 300 chest X-rays a year, according to research.

New health warning labels such as “Cigarettes are a major source of radiation exposure” have been urged by the authors of a study published in this month’s American Journal of Public Health. 

“This wording would capitalise on public concern over radiation exposure and increase the impact of cigarette warning labels,” the Mayo Clinic and Stanford University authors say.

Quit Victoria executive director Fiona Sharkie said Australian tobacco companies were not legally obliged to reveal the levels of chemicals contained in cigarettes. This made it difficult to know exactly how damaging PO-210 was and meant it was impossible to know what effect it had on other poisons contained in cigarettes.

“It (PO-210) is obviously highly toxic and we applaud any efforts to publicise the dangers,” she said. “But the industry needs to be better regulated before we can support specific warnings.” 

Inhalation tests have shown that PO-210 is a cause of lung cancer in animals. It has also been estimated to be responsible for 1% of all US lung cancers, or 1600 deaths a year.

The US authors analysed 1500 internal tobacco company documents, finding that tobacco companies conducted scientific studies on removing polonium-210 from cigarettes but were unable to do so.  “Documents show that the major transnational cigarette manufacturers managed the potential public relations problem of PO-210 in cigarettes by avoiding any public attention to the issue.”

Second Hand Smoke Laces the AirPhilip Morris even decided not to publish internal research on polonium-210 which was more favourable to the tobacco industry than previous studies for fear of heightening public awareness of PO-210.

Urging his boss not to publish the results, one scientist wrote: “It has the potential of waking a sleeping giant.” Tobacco company lawyers played a key role in suppressing information about the research to protect the companies from litigation.

The journal authors, led by Monique Muggli, of the nicotine research program at the Mayo Clinic, say: “The internal debate, carried on for the better part of a decade, involved most cigarette manufacturers and pitted tobacco researchers against tobacco lawyers. The lawyers prevailed.

“Internal Philip Morris documents suggest that as long as the company could avoid having knowledge of biologically significant levels of PO-210 in its products, it could ignore PO-210 as a possible cause of lung cancer.”

Source: William Birnbauer, Theage.com.au

Could Genetics Play a Role in Degrees of Addiction?

As a practicing hypochondriac it was of particular interest to me to learn about a research company in, of all places, Iceland, which is making what could be historic advances in medicine through the study of human genetics.

This company, deCODE genetics, is exploiting a most unusual data base: that of the total population of Iceland where excellent records have been kept since Norwegian and Celtic (Scottish and Irish) settlers arrived there about ten centuries ago. Today there are only slightly more than 300 000 Icelanders, of whom 94 percent are descended from the original settlers. For gene searchers this is, apparently, like a gift from heaven.

It is akin to having a vast private laboratory, enabling research on thousands of volunteers uniquely related in a manner which renders the search for genetic clues to future health problems. For example, more than 50,000 Icelanders, that is one-sixth of the population, participated in research into the disposition to smoking and, for smokers, the inherent risks of contracting diseases linked to nicotine.

Now deCODE is coming up with suggestions that, through the study of human genetic makeup, or our DNA, it can be predicted with accuracy that one will be predisposed to a particular kind of illness or even, as in the case of cigarette smoking, particular types of addiction.

The company’s scientists have established “a clear link between a single-letter variant of the human genome (SNP) and susceptibility to nicotine dependence.”

Such addiction can lead, for example, to lung cancer and peripheral arterial disease (PAD), a common and debilitating constriction of the arteries to the legs.

The odds of this happening to a given individual can be calculated using these genetic techniques.

The research, which also studied smokers in New Zealand, Austria, Sweden, Italy, the Netherlands and Spain, revealed that there is correspondence not only between genetic makeup and the likelihood of addiction but also to the approximate number of cigarettes an addict is likely to smoke daily.

DeCODE has also isolated key genes “contributing to major public health challenges from cardiovascular disease to cancer, genes that are providing us with drug targets rooted in the basic biology of disease”.

smoking cigarettesGiven the incidence in South Africa of dermatological problems such as the deadly cutaneous melanoma (CM) and basal cell carcinoma (BCC) it is interesting to learn that it is not only very fair skin, blue or green eyes, freckles, red hair and exposure to ultraviolet light (obviously prevalent in South Africa) that can expose one to CM and BCC.

Scientists at deCODE have discovered that “a novel, tightly-linked pair of single-letter variants” near a certain gene on chromosome 20 and another on chromosome 11 specifically increases our susceptibility to sunburn and hence to its dangers.

All this should be of enormous future use to the medical profession, although one suspects that our health minister, Manto Tshabalala-Msimang, would probably prefer some quackery or other for guidance rather than the research of serious Icelandic scientists.

Interestingly, the company offers a personal, on-line service for those wishing to explore their genome tree or whatever geneticists call these things. Just log on to www.decodeme.com – although I haven’t done this, so I cannot advise you what to expect.

By the way, this little cutting edge company is listed on the Nasdaq in New York and the stock quote is DCGN. This writer holds no shares.

Source: Stephen Mulholland, Dispatch Online

UT takes $445,000 of Philip Morris Money for Tobacco Grower Research

Should the University of Tennessee accept money from the tobacco industry to help promote the growth of domestic tobacco production?

That ethical question has yet to be debated—even nearly six months after UT quietly received a one-year $445,000 grant from Philip Morris to establish and operate a Center for Tobacco Grower Research in Morgan Hall on the Knoxville campus.

News of the grant is coming as a surprise to anti-smoking activists and even UT staff.

“It blows me away that UT would take money from a cigarette manufacturer, knowing that smoking kills,” says Douglas Benton, an Alcoa resident who earned a business degree at UT and founded No Smoking in Restaurants in Tennessee (NoSIR) in 2005. “I don’t like people making one penny off killing other people. I don’t understand why my university would try to help farmers to make more money selling something that has no possible benefit at all to a human.”

UT initially released its big news to ag extension agents, tobacco growers, and Burley strade publications where the reaction was positive. The inaugural Nov. 29 press release unabashedly quotes Philip Morris’ Vice President of Leaf, Jeanette Hubbard: “Because American tobacco is the backbone of our blends, a stable supply of U.S. tobacco is very important to Philip Morris USA. That’s why we are pleased to work with the University of Tennessee to support sustainability of U.S. tobacco production through the research conducted by the center.”

But there’s been hardly a murmur about the ethics of accepting funding from a manufacturer of tobacco products, which the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention say cause 438,000 deaths in the United States per year, representing 5.5 million years of potential life lost and $167 billion in health-care costs and lost productivity annually.

“I’m not really catching any heat,” says the center’s director Daniel Green, who also worked with the Burley Tobacco Growers Cooperative Association. “Obviously you get some questions about, ‘Why tobacco?’ but we’re getting a lot of support from the growers.”

This support from growers will probably continue—after all, they stand to gain production and industry information that hasn’t been available since the 2004-2005 federal tobacco-quota buyout terminated federal tobacco price-support and supply-control programs, and the center’s research will undoubtedly provide them with ways to produce more competitively in the new free-market economy.

But away from the burley fields, opposition and outrage are mounting as more members of Tennessee’s public health community and UT alumni learn of the center’s creation and the source of its funding.

Jenny Carico, a nurse at Student Health Services who earned her Bachelor’s of Nursing at UT, says tobacco money funding anything on campus is ill-advised and unethical. “I think a great deal of tobacco marketing is geared to my patient population and it makes me spitting mad,” she says.

Tobacco According to the state Department of Health’s Prevalence of Tobacco Use in Tennessee, 1997-2007, smoking prevalence among adults ages 18-24 years is around 29 percent, compared to 22.6 percent of the state’s general population and 20.1 percent for the United States on the whole.

“The cigarette manufacturers are gunning for these kids with marketing that gets them started smoking at an age when they think they’re bulletproof,” she says. “By the time they figure out they’re not, they have to deal with the reality that tobacco is addictive, sometimes at great expense to their health—that’s not the kind of profit we want funding university research.”

The agricultural portion of the university community, though, doesn’t see what all the fuss is about.

“You know, tobacco is still a legal commodity for farm owners to produce,” says Green, himself a non-smoker though he grew up on a tobacco farm in Kentucky. “Here, it’s just a part of agriculture—an important part of agriculture.”

Kelly Tiller, an assistant professor at UT’s Agricultural Policy Analysis Center, whose work is partially funded by Philip Morris, explains the agricultural community’s emotional disconnect between tobacco fatalities and the product they grow as a long-time cultural phenomenon, one that hasn’t changed much even though around three-fourths of the state’s tobacco growers ceased production after the federal tobacco-quota buyout.

“To them, tobacco growing is viewed as a legal farm enterprise that has provided a significant economic base for many of our rural communities for a very long time, and is tightly integrated into those communities,” Tiller says.

The research center, she says, will also emphasize tobacco merely as an agricultural commodity. “The data will revolve around the farm part of production, not cigarettes or any other manufactured products.”

All of the center’s reports and survey results will be available to the general public, ordinarily from summaries on the center’s website—with no proprietary information for Philip Morris. The benefit to the tobacco giant will be shared by other manufacturers and growers, says Tiller.

And Green hopes that more farmers will decide to grow tobacco because of the center’s research, which could also benefit Philip Morris and other national cigarette and tobacco-product manufacturers.

“While the primary objective will be to collect and disseminate information necessary to enhance the long-term sustainability of U.S. tobacco production, research conducted by the center may improve the success of current growers or attract new or former growers to the industry,” he says.

Green insists that more tobacco farmers, in Tennessee and other tobacco-growing states, would be good for the farm economy.

But Chastity Mitchell, contract lobbyist for the grassroots Campaign for Healthy & Responsible Tennessee (CHART), based in Nashville, is skeptical of more farmers getting in—or getting back to—tobacco production. She’s also wary of Philip Morris’ interest in Tennessee starting in 2007, the same year the state passed the Non-Smokers Protection Act prohibiting smoking in most public places and workplaces, increased its cigarette tax by $0.42 to $0.62 per pack, and significantly increased funding for its tobacco control program.

“I find it interesting that after the big policy year that we had in 2007…that Philip Morris would make this kind of significant investment in Tennessee to sustain the tobacco economy and even to try to recruit new growers,” says Mitchell, who has worked in Tennessee in tobacco control for the past eight years, including stints with the American Heart Association and as Government Relations Director for the American Cancer Society. “We’ve seen, over the years, that domestically grown tobacco is just a minute fraction compared to what tobacco companies purchase worldwide.”

And growers had good reasons to get out of the tobacco business back in 2005—and to continue to stay out, says Mitchell. “They wouldn’t make the same money that they did with price supports, they don’t have the allotment anymore…and to try to get them back, especially when manufacturers like Philip Morris are continuing to buy more and more overseas, it’s just a really strange situation.”

The Philip Morris investment may also cast a shadow on UT Agricultural Economics’ relationship with the public health community, says Mitchell, even though they’ve historically collaborated on tobacco issues that affected both groups, facilitated by Tiller, who was a tobacco policy analyst almost nine years before the research center’s creation.

“I think those collaborations fostered a good bit of communication, but now that we know Dr. Tiller is involved with this Tobacco Research Center, and Philip Morris is underwriting it, it would certainly make those in the public health community hesitant to sit down and have an open dialogue with the tobacco growers, knowing how they’re funded.”

At least on the surface, the Philip Morris money does not seem to benefit the University of Tennessee’s bottom line. It does cover Green’s entire salary and overhead at his Morgan Hall office, but he’s a new hire, not an existing member of the faculty. A small portion goes to cover part of Dr. Tiller’s salary, and a graduate assistant who would come from the Agricultural School is budgeted, but hasn’t been hired. The vast majority pays for data collection expenses.

But even if UT won’t get a new wing for the Ag school, or millions in discretionary funds, NoSIR’s Benton can see no excuse for taking Philip Morris money.

“It’s incredible that an institute of higher learning would promote smoking when ordinarily the more educated people are, the less likely they are to smoke,” Benton says. “I think the university has to learn to be like the rest of us…that sometimes you just have to put your foot down and say, ‘No.’”

Source: —Rose Kennedy, Metro Pulse

Drink Milk to Quit Smoking!

Trying to quit smoking for good but finding it too hard to do?

Well, here’s a simple solution: Drink a lot of milk.

Milk not only does the body good, it may also help you quit smoking.

Consuming milk makes cigarette taste bad and by making a few modifications to the diet one can make quitting a bit easier. And this is not just an assumption, but truth found by medical researchers.

The research, conducted by a team from the journal Nicotine and Tobacco Research, is the first to explore the taste-altering effects of food and beverages on cigarette palatability.

The study examined 209 smokers and asked them to name items that worsen or enhance the taste of cigarettes.

Nineteen percent of them reported that dairy products, such as milk or cheese, worsen the taste of cigarettes; 14 percent reported non-caffeinated beverages, such as water or juice; and 16 percent reported fruits and vegetables.

Forty-four percent of them reported that alcoholic beverages enhance the taste of cigarettes; 45 percent reported caffeinated beverages, such as tea, cola and coffee; and 11 percent reported meat.

Milk to Quit Smoking!Identifying which components of foods and beverages ruin the taste of cigarettes could lead to new treatments to deter smoking, said co-investigator Jed E. Rose of the Duke University Medical Center study.

The researchers are now looking at the possibility of using the chemical silver acetate, known to alter the taste of cigarettes, to help smokers quit.

The additive could be given in the form of a gum or a lozenge as part of smoking cessation treatment, according to a science portal, EurekAlert.

Source: Indo-Asian News Service