Tag Archives: nicotine addiction

Anti-Smoking Drug Chantix Tied to Serious Mental Illness

Melinda and Kenny Peterson wanted to kick their two-pack-a-day smoking habit.

In early January, the Green Bay couple started taking three-month prescriptions of Chantix, a new anti-smoking pill. About six weeks later, they weren’t smoking at all.

But what the Petersons didn’t know was that as they were weaning themselves off cigarettes, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration issued an alert.

Chantix Causes Neuropsychiatric Symptoms

Some patients taking the powerful drug had experienced serious neuropsychiatric symptoms. And Pfizer, the maker of Chantix, had recently added a warning about these symptoms in a more prominent position in the drug’s information packet, at the FDA’s urging.

The alert was issued in early February. But the Petersons didn’t know about it until the end of March, when a friend who was a pharmacist filled them in.  By then, it was too late. About a week earlier, Kenny Peterson had spiraled into a deep depression. He told his wife he wanted to kill himself. His family checked him into a hospital psychiatric ward four days before Easter. Chantix’s safety is now under fire, as similar stories of patients with suicidal thoughts, depression and aggressive behavior surface. The FDA received reports of 37 suicides and 491 cases in which people had suicidal thoughts. The FDA also said it “appears increasingly likely that there is an association between Chantix and serious neuropsychiatric symptoms.” About 5 million people use the drug.

“I think the jury is still out on what’s going on here,” said Carlyle Chan, a professor in the psychiatric department at the Medical College of Wisconsin. “Be aware that there are some concerns about (Chantix). It needs to be watched closely.”

A Pfizer spokeswoman said the company was rolling out Chantix globally but halted advertising the drug to consumers in February. The FDA approved the drug in May 2006.

The company maintained that the serious neuropsychiatric symptoms are rare, but physicians and patients should be on the lookout for them. Pfizer said a causal relationship between the drug and these symptoms has not been determined.

“The real problem out there right now is smoking,” Senior Vice President and Chief Medical Officer Joe Feczko said at a health investor conference in March.

Chantix can help shrink the global population of 1.3 billion smokers, he said, thus addressing health problems such as cancer and cardiovascular disease. In 2007, Chantix brought in $883 million in revenue.

Chantix, known generically as varenicline, works by blocking nicotine receptors in the brain. When people smoke, nicotine attaches to receptors and the brain releases the chemical dopamine, which gives pleasure. Chantix activates the receptors and blocks nicotine from attaching to them.

Before You take Chantix Be WarnedThe drug now includes a mention of possible serious neuropsychiatric symptoms in a warning section of the printed information that accompanies each prescription and is folded inside the packaging. Previously, the information was in a less prominent place in a section of the drug’s literature in which “adverse events” were reported. But there is no requirement to put the warning on the actual package because the FDA hasn’t mandated it.

None of this is comforting to Melinda Peterson, who believes that Chantix cost her family too much.

In the psychiatric ward, Kenny Peterson was diagnosed with bipolar disorder. He’s out of the hospital now but can’t work, and his doctors said they wouldn’t know when he would be able to work.

“He is completely mentally ill right now,” Melinda Peterson said. “My belief is that the drug caused him to go into a manic episode. He has paranoia. He has delusions.”

Chan said it was unclear whether Chantix actually caused depression and suicidal thoughts or whether Chantix exacerbated the symptoms of people who already have some sort of depressive behavior.

The FDA reported that it has seen both types of situations – some in which patients had no history of depression, and cases in which depression previously was an issue.

Source: Ellen Gabler,  journalsentinel.com

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.

One Smoker’s Advice to Teens: Add up the Costs of Cigarettes

While most adults would counsel the greatest negative involved with smoking cigarettes is increased risk of lung cancer.

This truth is far away in the minds of most young smokers, they tend to not even think about it.

So, if you’re a teen smoker and “not afraid” of lung cancer, just think about the following here-and-now downsides to smoking.

They should be more than enough to convince you to quit.

Nicotine Addiction Facts

Nicotine is considered the most addictive substance known to man, and the longer you smoke, the more powerful your addiction becomes. It is much easier for a smoker of a few years to overcome nicotine addiction than for someone who has smoked for decades. Quit now, while it’s still fairly easy to do. You will never regret the decision.

Your Supporting the Tax Man

Unfair (but life itself is not fair, as you are just now learning), cigarettes are an easy target for tax revenue generation. Because of money grubbing politicians and sheep-like citizens, the price of a pack increases constantly and exponentially – and that trend is guaranteed to continue. If you think it’s financially painful to support your habit today with the cost of a pack at more than $4, just imagine how badly your bank account will suffer when that pack costs $10 or more a decade from now.

Nicotine Normalcy Habit

Think about what nicotine provides you: Your first few smokes gave you a very short, very minor high. While that was certainly interesting, you should realize by now that as your body has become addicted to nicotine, the only “benefit” you’re provided by the drug is a feeling of normalcy. Think hard about this one: You’re paying money for a drug that does nothing, other than allowing you to feel normal – allowing you to obtain the exact same state of normalcy that non-smokers obtain without doing anything, or paying any money. Now is that stupid, or what?

Do the Math

Break out your calculator and punch in the following numbers for a smoker who starts in 2008 and continues for four decades: 40 years x 365 days x average of 1.5 packs per day x average of $8 per pack (I’m being conservative on the average price; in reality, it will probably be even greater) = $175,200.

That’s no typo: $175,200. Think about what you could do with $175,000! You like boats? How about a 40-foot live-aboard ocean sailboat? Cars? You could buy four brand-new Corvettes. Or a very high-performance airplane, or 50 percent of a beautiful home, or a business, or medical/law school, or…

Teen Cost of SmokingOr…you could just buy cigarettes. And feel normal. Just like a non-smoker feels. All for the low, low price of just $175,200.

Quit while it’s still easy, and take all the pennies you used to spend on smokes and throw ’em in a big jar. It would only take a few years before you could buy the first of your four Corvettes.

Source:  The Reporter in Letters to the Editor, Paul Domeier, Coarsegold

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

Researchers Identify Genetic Variant Linked To Nicotine Addiction

NIDA Researchers Identify Genetic Variant Linked To Nicotine Addiction And Lung Cancer – Variant Also Increases Risk For Cardiovascular Disease

Scientists have identified a genetic variant that not only makes smokers more susceptible to nicotine addiction but also increases their risk of developing two smoking-related diseases, lung cancer and peripheral arterial disease.

The research was supported by the National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA), part of the National Institutes of Health (NIH).

The study, published in the April 3 issue of the journal Nature, “highlights the advances that are being made in genetics research, which can now identify gene variants that increase the risk of complex bio-behavioral disorders,” says NIH Director Dr. Elias Zerhouni. “This finding will help us in our efforts to further reduce the scope and devastating consequences of cigarette smoking.”

“These results suggest for the first time that a single genetic variant not only can predispose to nicotine addiction but may also increase sensitivity to extremely serious smoking-related diseases,” explains NIDA Director Dr. Nora Volkow. “Additionally, it points to potential targets for new smoking-cessation medications that may be more effective at helping smokers to quit.”

The variant is closely linked to two of the known subunits of nicotine receptors, the sites on the surface of many cells in the brain and body that can be bound by nicotine. When nicotine attaches to these receptors in the brain, there are changes in cell activity that results in its addictive effects.Carriers of this genetic variant are more likely than noncarriers to be heavy smokers, dependent on nicotine, and less likely to quit smoking. “The variant does not increase the likelihood that a person will start smoking, but for people who do smoke it increases the likelihood of addiction,” says Dr. Kári Stefánsson, the study’s principal investigator and chief executive officer of deCODE Genetics, a biopharmaceutical company based in Reykjavik, Iceland.

The variant was identified through a technique known as genome-wide association, in which DNA samples (from more than 10,000 Icelandic smokers) were analyzed for the presence of more than 300,000 genetic markers. Subsequent investigation showed that carriers of the variant strongly associated with nicotine dependence were also at increased risk for two smoking-related diseases, peripheral arterial disease and lung cancer. The findings were replicated in populations from five European countries and New Zealand. The researchers estimate that the variant explains 18 percent of cases of lung cancer and 10 percent of cases of peripheral arterial disease in smokers.

Nicotine addictionThe same variant was identified as one that increased risk for lung cancer in two other articles appearing in the April 3rd, 2008, issues of Nature and Nature Genetics, partially funded by two other NIH institutes–the National Cancer Institute and the National Human Genome Research Institute.

For more information on Smoking/Nicotine: http://www.drugabuse.gov/DrugPages/Nicotine.html

The National Institute on Drug Abuse

The National Institute on Drug Abuse is a component of the National Institutes of Health, U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. NIDA supports most of the world’s research on the health aspects of drug abuse and addiction.

The Institute carries out a large variety of programs to inform policy and improve practice. Fact sheets on the health effects of drugs of abuse and information on NIDA research and other activities can be found on the NIDA web site at http://www.drugabuse.gov.

The National Institutes of Health

(NIH) – The Nation’s Medical Research Agency – includes 27 Institutes and Centers and is a component of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services.

It is the primary Federal agency for conducting and supporting basic, clinical and translational medical research, and it investigates the causes, treatments, and cures for both common and rare diseases. For more information about NIH and its programs, visit http://www.nih.gov.

New Report on Global Tobacco Control Efforts

NEW YORK — WHO today released new data concerning tobacco control.

The data show that while progress has been made, not a single country fully implements all key tobacco control measures, and outlined an approach that governments can adopt to prevent tens of millions of premature deaths by the middle of this century.

In a new report which presents the first comprehensive analysis of global tobacco use and control efforts, WHO finds that only 5% of the world’s population live in countries that fully protect their population with any one of the key measures that reduce smoking rates.

The report also reveals that governments around the world collect 500 times more money in tobacco taxes each year than they spend on anti-tobacco efforts.

It finds that tobacco taxes, the single most effective strategy, could be significantly increased in nearly all countries, providing a source of sustainable funding to implement and enforce the recommended approach, a package of six policies called MPOWER (see below).

“While efforts to combat tobacco are gaining momentum, virtually every country needs to do more.

These six strategies are within the reach of every country, rich or poor and, when combined as a package, they offer us the best chance of reversing this growing epidemic,” said Dr Margaret Chan, Director-General of WHO. Dr Chan launched the WHO Report of the Global Tobacco Epidemic at a news conference with New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg. Bloomberg Philanthropies helped fund the report.

“The report released today is revolutionary,” Mayor Bloomberg said. “For the first time, we have both a rigorous approach to stop the tobacco epidemic and solid data to hold us all accountable. No country fully implements all of the MPOWER policies and 80% of countries don’t fully implement even one policy. While tobacco control measures are sometimes controversial, they save lives and governments need to step up and do the right thing.”The six MPOWER strategies are:

  1. Monitor tobacco use and prevention policies
  2. Protect people from tobacco smoke
  3. Offer help to quit tobacco use
  4. Warn about the dangers of tobacco
  5. Enforce bans on tobacco advertising, promotion and sponsorship
  6. Raise taxes on tobacco

The report also documents the epidemic’s shift to the developing world, where 80% of the more than eight million annual tobacco-related deaths projected by 2030 are expected to occur.

This shift, the report says, results from a global tobacco industry strategy to target young people and adults in the developing world, ensuring that millions of people become fatally addicted every year. The targeting of young women in particular is highlighted as one of the “most ominous potential developments of the epidemic’s growth”.

The global analysis, compiled by WHO with information provided by 179 Member States, gives governments and other groups a baseline from which to monitor efforts to stop the epidemic in the years ahead. The MPOWER package provides countries with a roadmap to help them meet their commitments to the widely embraced global tobacco treaty known as the WHO Framework Convention on Tobacco Control, which came into force in 2005.

WHO WHO is also working with global partners to scale up the help that can be offered to countries to implement the strategies.

Dr Douglas Bettcher, Director of WHO’s Tobacco Free Initiative, said the six MPOWER strategies would create a powerful response to the tobacco epidemic. “This package will create an enabling environment to help current tobacco users quit, protect people from second-hand smoke and prevent young people from taking up the habit,” he said.

Other key findings in the report include:

  • Only 5% of the global population is protected by comprehensive national smoke-free legislation and 40% of countries still allow smoking in hospitals and schools;
  • Only 5% of the world’s population lives in countries with comprehensive national bans on tobacco advertising and promotion;
  • Just 15 countries, representing 6% of the global population, mandate pictorial warnings on tobacco packaging;
  • Services to treat tobacco dependence are fully available in only nine countries, covering 5% of the world’s people;
  • Tobacco tax revenues are more than 4000 times greater than spending on tobacco control in middle-income countries and more than 9000 times greater in lower-income countries. High- income countries collect about 340 times more money in tobacco taxes than they spend on tobacco control.

Source: Press Release

The “Sunny Side” of Tobacco

Washington, DC, February 22, 2008

In 2008, the truth® youth smoking prevention campaign unleashes music, dancing and cartoons to reveal the “sunny side” of tobacco use and the tobacco industry.

The American Legacy Foundation®’s edgy truth® campaign is designed to educate teens about tobacco by exposing Big Tobacco’s marketing practices, as well as highlighting the toll of tobacco use in relevant and innovative ways.

Facts About the Tobacco Industry

The industry has been found by a Federal judge to have manipulated the amount of nicotine delivered by its cigarettes to create and sustain addiction.1 At the same time, research indicates that nicotine is highly addictive.

Research has shown that the tobacco industry “youth prevention” ads aimed at parents actually increased the likelihood that teens will smoke in the future

Finally, according to the Federal Trade Commission, in 2005 the industry spent nearly 36 million dollars each day marketing its products in the U.S. alone.

The latest truth® campaign aims to shine a light on some of these activities and satirically point out some of the “hidden positives” associated with tobacco.

The “Sunny Side of truth®” television ads unfold in a way reminiscent of previous truth® ads – with young people on the streets doing real truth® stunts like gathering in front of tobacco industry headquarters buildings. But then the spots continue in a saccharin sweet, yet super-sarcastic fashion.

When the young people consider a tobacco fact and the “sunny side” of Big Tobacco, a live singin’-and-dancin’ musical number breaks out. Despite the musical diversion, the ads remain gritty, real, and true to the campaign, delivering a strong anti-tobacco message or illuminating facts about tobacco.

In reality, there is no sunny side to the issue of tobacco use in America; more than 400,000 Americans die each year from tobacco-related diseases, specifically 45,000 African-Americans have lost their lives to tobacco use. The tobacco industry continues to use questionable practices in promoting and marketing its products despite these recent morbidity statistics.

Case Against Major Tobacco Companies

On August 17th, 2006, in the Department of Justice’s racketeering case against the major tobacco companies, a federal court found that the tobacco industry was guilty of more than 50 years of racketeering and fraud in promoting its deadly products.

More recently, in the spring of 2007, one company – R.J. Reynolds – introduced a new product called Camel No. 9, which featured slick black and fuchsia packaging and was heavily advertised in many publications that reach millions of young women. Despite the female-friendly packaging and placement in leading women’s fashion magazines, the tobacco industry maintained that Camel No. 9s were not designed for young women. In November 2007, R.J. Reynolds announced that in 2008, it would not spend money on print advertising, including the Camel No. 9 campaign. However, the product continues to be sold on store shelves and R.J. Reynolds will continue to devote resources to promoting the brand through “bar nights” and other activities.

Sunny side cigarettes

The “Sunny Side of truth®” campaign will roll out the week of January 22, 2008 and run through the end of October 2008. In addition to national television and online advertising, a grant from the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) will extend the campaign to smaller, rural markets that have high smoking rates and limited exposure to truth® ads. The CDC recently renewed a three-year $3.6 million matching grant that will allow for higher penetration of truth® ads in smaller television markets.

“With the Foundation continuing to face a decline in funding, our strategy is always to try and extend our resources as best we can while staying relevant with teens,” said Cheryl G. Healton, Dr. P.H., president and CEO of the American Legacy Foundation®. “Whether it’s by watching American Idol and High School Musical, or by tuning in to music on their I-Pods, we know this generation of teens is enthralled with singing and dancing. The ‘Sunny Side’ ads and their music, dancing, and animation are a terrific new approach for truth® to continue to engage teens and share important tobacco facts with them. ” Healton added that the campaign’s robust online presence – both through thetruth.com Web site and various truth® homepages on social networking sites, will also capitalize on music and animation to capture teens’ attention.

The “Sunny Side” television spots all feature music, dancing and lyrics written by established Broadway professionals and performed by actors joined by cartoon characters such as unicorns, Cupids, storks and others. The Sunny Side campaign marks the first time truth® has used animation in its advertising.

Anti-Tobacco TV Spots

The first two television spots, Magical Amount and Typo, roll out in January and February 2008 respectively.

In Magical Amount, a teen is shown setting bear traps in a park in New York City, with a pack of cigarettes as bait. The bear traps serve as an analogy for the addiction faced by potential smokers. A teen begins to speak into a bullhorn, informing the passersby that “In 2006, a federal judge found that, to keep smokers addicted, Big Tobacco manipulated nicotine levels. But too much nicotine can make you sick.” The teens are interrupted by a unicorn who explains “That’s why they need the magical amount.” The unicorn is joined by other fantastical creatures that begin to sing about how the tobacco companies have found the “magical amount” to keep smokers addicted. The ad ends with the teen and the magical characters looking at each other in disbelief. The words “The Sunny Side of truth®!” appear on screen before it fades to black.

Typo opens on some teens in front of a tobacco company headquarters unrolling an enormous document with the heading “Tobacco Related Deaths” printed on it. One teen says “Wait until we show tobacco executives the five million people around the world who died from their products last year,” when the teen with him suggests that “Maybe we’re being too negative. Look on the bright side. Like, maybe it’s a typo or something.” Animated typewriters, documents, and liquid paper then fill the screen and accompany the teens as they sing about how statistics on the millions of deaths from tobacco could have just been a typo. Again, the ad ends with the teens and the characters looking at each other in disbelief. The words “The Sunny Side of truth®!” then appear on screen before fading to black.

Talent and Production

David Yazbek, a Tony-nominated lyricist and composer, wrote the music featured in the campaign. Yazbek is best known for his career as a Broadway composer and lyricist. His two shows, The Full Monty and Dirty Rotten Scoundrels, are both hits that have played all over the world (more than 20 countries and counting). The shows received 21 Tony Award nominations combined and Yazbek was twice nominated for Best Score. His score for The Full Monty won him the Drama Desk award for Best Music.

Tom Kuntz directed the truth® television ads. His career spans both advertising and music television, having received awards for his work for well-known companies like Starbucks, Coca-Cola, and Virgin Mobile. His music video for The Avalanches was awarded Video of the Year at the CADs, the United Kingdom’s premiere video award show, while one of his videos for the band Electric Six was named the 4th best video of all-time by Q Magazine

Web and Social Networking

The television spots will be supported by a new Web site design and social networking profiles. The truth.com Web site will feature applications that allow teens to interact with each other and share information related to tobacco and truth®. For the first time, the site will also feature sound effects – from guitar riffs and guitar chords, to game-related “dings, beeps and bongs.”

Similar applications will be used on MySpace, Facebook, Bebo, Hi-5 and Xanga. Features will include:

  • Log Blog – a messaging system enabling teens to send each other virtual messages that appear to be written in poop. This tactic is used to draw attention to the fact that the ammonia found in feces is also a key ingredient in cigarettes.
  • Games like “Key-tar Slayer” – a game that encourages users to play/jam out to the music from the truth® television ads with nothing but their keyboards. A leader board keeps track of those who excel at the game. Previously released truth® games that were popular with teens will also be available on the site.
  • “The Useful Cigarette” – a feature where visitors can learn how the ingredients found in cigarettes and cigarette smoke can also be found in such common household products as toilet bowl cleaner and nail polish remover, along with rocket fuel.
  • Polls – tongue-in-cheek interactive polls related to facts about tobacco.
  • Downloads – Posters, computer desktops kits, desktop wallpaper and buddy icons.
  • Embedded video of Sunny Side ads.

Animation Advertisements

The “Sunny Side of truth®” campaign marks the first time truth® has incorporated animation into its television advertisements. Curious Pictures in New York worked with truth® to create the unique campaign. Curious Pictures is a diversified design and entertainment company producing live-action, special effects, graphics, comedy and animation of all types. Some recent TV shows include Sheep in the Big City and Codename: Kids Next Door, for Cartoon Network, Little Einsteins on Disney, and Hey Joel for VH 1.

Anti-Smoking in the Cinema

“Sunny Side of truth®” will be seen in 2,065 Screenvision theaters across the country. All told, the campaign will be run on nearly 10,000 screens in all 50 states. Screenvision encompasses some the nation’s largest theater chains, including AMC, Hollywood Theaters and Cinema Productions. The campaign will run through the month of April and then again in September.

The “Sunny Side of truth®” campaign was created by the American Legacy Foundation and its partners, Arnold Worldwide of Boston and Crispin Porter + Bogusky of Miami.

Background on the truth® Campaign

truth®, launched in February 2000, is the largest national youth smoking prevention campaign and the only national campaign not directed by the tobacco industry. The campaign exposes the tactics of the tobacco industry, the truth about addiction, and the health effects and social consequences of smoking. truth®, allows teens to make informed choices about tobacco use by giving them the facts about the industry and its products. The campaign was created by the American Legacy Foundation, which was founded as a result of the 1998 Master Settlement Agreement between the tobacco industry, 46 states and five U.S. territories. Payments to the American Legacy Foundation are made on behalf of the settling states.

In February 2005 the American Legacy Foundation released the results of an evaluation of the national truth® campaign that was published in the American Journal of Public Health. The study found that 22 percent of the overall decline in youth smoking during the first two years of the campaign (2000-2002) is directly attributable to truth®. This equates to 300,000 fewer youth smokers in 2002 as a result of the campaign.

The American Legacy Foundation, which provides strategic direction and funding for the truth® campaign, received in 2003 what is likely its final payment to the National Public Education Fund established by the Master Settlement Agreement. Despite its success, the truth® campaign now faces an unprecedented funding challenge.

Source: Black PR Wire Release

Tobacco May Kill 1 Billion in This Century, WHO Says

Tobacco use will kill 1 billion people in this century.

This is a 10-fold increase over the past 100 years, unless governments in poor nations raise taxes on consumption and mandate health warnings, the World Health Organization said.

No country fully implements these most important tobacco – control measures, according to a 330-page report released today by New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg and the Geneva-based UN agency.

Bloomberg, who helped fund the study, joined WHO Director-General Margaret Chan at a news conference in New York to discuss the findings. “This is a unique point in public health history as the forces of political will, policies and funding are aligned to create the momentum needed to dramatically reduce tobacco use and save millions of lives by the middle of this century,” Chan said in a foreword to the report.

The WHO said the tobacco “epidemic causes the deaths of 5.4 million people a year due to lung cancer, heart disease and other illnesses. That figure might rise to 8 million per year by 2030, including 80 percent in countries whose rapidly growing economies offer their citizens the hope of a better life,” the report said.

American States

The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, in its Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report, said states are falling short on U.S. recommendations to boost insurance coverage of proven anti-smoking treatments that fight nicotine addiction.

The Atlanta-based U.S. government agency said eight states’ Medicaid programs, which serve the poor, fail to reimburse for any tobacco-dependence programs, and only Oregon covered them all. About 35 percent of Medicaid patients are smokers, it said.

Tobacco is the “single most preventable cause of death” in the world, the WHO said. Yet governments in low-and middle- income countries that collect $66.5 billion in taxes from the sale of tobacco products spend only $14 million on anti-smoking measures, and 95 percent of the world’s population is unprotected by the type of anti-smoking laws Bloomberg has pushed in New York.

Commitment Sought

“Now for the first time ever we have reliable data, a system of analysis and clear standards to promote accountability,” Bloomberg said of the report, which examines tobacco use in 179 countries.  “What we are still missing is a strong commitment from government leaders, but we believe this report will empower more leaders to act.”

Bloomberg, 65, the billionaire founder and majority owner of Bloomberg News parent Bloomberg LP, announced in 2006 he intended to donate $125 million to worldwide smoking-cessation efforts.

Bloomberg’s Health Department has made fighting tobacco use its top priority, enforcing age limits on smoking, distributing free nicotine patches and chewing gum though the city’s 311 telephone information number and producing television ads featuring a former smoker who lost his voice to throat cancer at age 39.

The Health Department reported in January that teenage cigarette use has been cut by half — to one in six teenagers — since Bloomberg became New York City’s mayor in 2002. That year, he persuaded the state legislature to ban smoking in indoor workplaces including bars and restaurants. He also fought for and won a cigarette tax increase of $1.50 that lifted the average price to about $7 per pack.

Role of Taxes

Smoking Pink LipstickThe WHO said raising taxes was the most effective way to reduce tobacco use, noting that a 70 percent increase would prevent a quarter of all tobacco-related deaths.

The report cites a 2001 study titled “Critical Issues in Global Health,” by epidemiologists Richard Peto and A. D. Lopez, edited by former U.S. Surgeon General C. Everett Koop, as support for the assertion that population and smoking trends during the next several decades might lead to as many as 1 billion lives lost to smoking.

China, the world’s largest producer and consumer of tobacco, was highlighted by the UN agency. Almost 60 percent of men smoke cigarettes in China, compared with 21 percent in the U.S. At the same time, the report cited a survey that said most urban residents of China support a ban on tobacco advertising, higher tobacco taxes and smoke-free public places.

David Howard, a spokesman for R.J. Reynolds Tobacco Co., which reported $8.5 billion in U.S. sales of brands such as Camel, Kool and Pall Mall cigarettes, said his company has expressed “the very clear opinion that smoking causes serious diseases.”

The company, owned by Winston-Salem, North Carolina-based Reynolds American Inc., continues its sales efforts, Howard said, because “there are about 45 million adults who are aware of the risks and have made the conscious decision to use tobacco products, and it’s a legal product.”

Source: By Henry Goldman and Bill Varner, Bloomberg [02-07-08]

Sing Your Way to Good Health, Say Scientists

Sing Your Heart Out!

A song and a dance may be a prescription for improved health.

London: Singing can cure various ailments ranging from breathing problems and depression to memory disorders and nicotine addiction, suggest several researches done across the world.

According to a study by scientists at the Western Ontario University in Canada, singing study shows it tones muscles at the back of the throat and this helps long-suffering partners of snorers get a silent night of sleep.

“Surgical interventions to treat snoring include removing tissue from the upper throat or toughening it by creating scar tissue. Singing offers a harmless, healthy, non-invasive, inexpensive and enjoyable way to restore the throat’s tone,” study author Alise Ojay said.

Humming tunes can also help lift depression while singing in a choir can provide a cure for people with asthma and other serious breathing problems, reported the online edition of the British tabloid The Sun.

Citing the finding of a study by researchers at the University of Western Sydney, the tabloid said singing could also soothe desperately ill infants. The scientists found that songs help babies in intensive care cope with their life-saving treatment.

Another study by Canadian scientists found that patients with severe Alzheimer’s, a degenerative memory disorder, were able to recognise songs from their youth and join in.

SingingThe Sun report said researchers at Frankfurt University in Germany have found that singing lowers stress levels while American health campaigners have been using songs to help smokers stub out.

Neighbourhood choirs have been formed to promote the benefits of quitting and to encourage a support system where choir members help each other beat their nicotine addiction.

A two-year pilot project cut smoking rates from 34 to 27 percent across three mainly African American neighbourhoods, while smoking rates in comparable areas fell by just one percent over the same period.

Source: Sify News

Teens Anti-Smoking Group: Reality Check

Reality Check is a proactive group of New York Teens who refuse to allow the tobacco industry to continuously manipulate teens into smoking.

They expose the shady practices of the major companies that sell marlboro, newport, camel, kool, and every other brand of cigarettes that is advertised to teens.

At their website they state: “It would be easier to kick the habit if the tobacco industry didn’t add Ammonia to cigarettes to make the nicotine reach our brains quicker. Making us crave it even more.”

Reality Check is not against smokers.

realitycheck.jpg“We are against an industry that deliberately goes after us in their relentless effort to addict us to nicotine in order to replace their dying customers.

Check out their site today!
http://www.realitycheckny.org/