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Archive for April, 2010|Monthly archive page

Military Marches Forward to Curb Tobacco Use

In National News on April 30, 2010 at 2:48 pm

The facts are: rates of smoking in the military are higher than in the civilian population; smoking rates are even higher among military personnel who have been deployed; and an increasing number of service members use smokeless tobacco products. In light of this, the Departments of Defense (DoD) and Veterans Affairs (VA) are working to increase cessation among their constituents.

A June 2009 Institute of Medicine (IOM) report commissioned by the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) and the DoD titled, “Combating Tobacco Use in Military and Veteran Populations,” includes recommendations for the DoD and VA to make progress toward a tobacco-free military.

The Department of Defense (DoD) has launched an online interactive tobacco cessation program — Quit Tobacco, Make Everyone Proud.   The program provides users the opportunity to submit questions to tobacco cessation counselors in real time; computer games to distract from tobacco cravings; and short videos and audio podcasts — quitcasts and spitcasts — in which service members share testimonials and advice.

A military-specific tobacco quitline is being tested in an NIH-sponsored clinical trial.  The principal investigator for the trial, Dr. Robert Klesges of the University of Tennessee Health Science Center, says, “A tobacco quitline or a tailored Internet program, military personnel can use anytime day or night. So a lot of what we are doing is tailoring these cessation tools to the intense job demands associated with the military,” He further noted, “We enforce weight standards, why wouldn’t we enforce tobacco-free standards?”

All VA medical centers have tobacco cessation specialty clinics that provide free counseling and FDA-approved smoking cessation medications, including over-the-counter medications.  Veterans seen in primary care and outpatient mental health clinics are screened for tobacco use at least once a year. Providers offer brief cessation counseling to current tobacco users, as well as prescriptions for FDA-approved medications and referrals to more intensive counseling to assist veterans with quitting.

Michigan Now Smoke-Free: Will Indiana Be Last?

In State News on April 30, 2010 at 2:45 pm

INDIANAPOLIS, Ind. – With Michigan’s smoke-free air law going into effect May 1, 2010, Indiana is among the last states that does not have a law that protects its workers from exposure to secondhand smoke. All of Indiana’s Midwest neighbors – Illinois, Wisconsin, Michigan, and Ohio – have passed laws to protect workers in all workplaces, including restaurants and bars.

Other states in the Midwest that have passed comprehensive smoke-free workplace laws include Nebraska, Kansas, Minnesota and Iowa.

“Indiana is once again falling behind. The need for protection from secondhand smoke in all workplaces has never been more clear,” said Melissa Lewis, Chair of Smoke Free Indy. “We can no longer afford the heavy burden brought on from the health and economic impacts of secondhand smoke. Now is the time to make our state capital smoke-free.”

Smoke Free Indy hopes that Marion County will soon pass a comprehensive smoke-free workplace ordinance that protects all of Marion County’s workers from the known health hazards of secondhand smoke.

Nine cities and two counties in Indiana have passed comprehensive smoke-free air laws. Indianapolis’ current ordinance, which went into effect March 1, 2006, prohibits smoking in some workplaces but exempts bars, bowling alleys, and private membership clubs with liquor licenses.

“Our policymakers must not continue to wait for another body to do the job.  Workers in Indianapolis need our city-county council to take action now, and we hope the state will follow suit,” Lewis said.  “We congratulate the Michigan state legislature for taking such an important step that will allow Michigan workers to earn their paychecks in a healthier environment.  We hope that it serves as a call to action for our local policymakers to do the same.

Smoke Free Indy is a coalition of state and local public health organizations, community based organizations, physicians, businesses, schools, the faith community, and Marion County residents dedicated to reducing secondhand smoke, tobacco usage and tobacco initiation through education, prevention and advocacy. For more information visit: www.smokefreeindy.com.

No Smoking Flash Mob

In National News on April 28, 2010 at 10:12 am

Help Mom Quit Smoking For Mother’s Day, Women’s Health Week

In Local News on April 27, 2010 at 7:59 am

National Women's Health Week - May 9-15, 2010 - It's Your Time!

Women’s Health Week is coming up the week of Mother’s Day on May 9, and May is also Clean Air Month. Perhaps the best Mother’s Day gift you could give your mom is resources to quit smoking. Tell her about the Indiana Tobacco Quitline, 1-800-QUIT-NOW, where she can get free coaching and put together a quit plan.

Here’s how you can help a friend or family member quit:

  • Express care. Skip the criticism.
  • Remember the smoker will need to make the decision.
  • Ask how you can help.
  • Be patient with mood swings.
  • Be “on call” to offer support during tough spots.
  • Offer encouragement regularly.
  • Encourage non-smoking activities.
  • If you smoke, don’t smoke around the person who is trying to quit, and consider quitting with them.
  • Be prepared for slips. It usually takes more than 5 tries for a smoker to quit for good.
  • Keep up the support.

Moms, what better gift could you give your kids than to quit smoking and extend your lifetime with them.

Some tips to quit smoking:

  • Call 1-800-QUIT NOW.
  • Make a list. Write down why you want to stop smoking.
  • Pick a good time to quit. Avoid times when you will be under a lot of stress, especially holidays.
  • Throw out all cigarettes, ashtrays and lighters from your home and car.
  • Consider changing your daily routine. For example, take a different route to work or school.
  • Drink lots of water, eat a balanced diet and get plenty of sleep and avoid alcohol.
  • Get support. Tell family, friends and coworkers that you are going to quit. Ask that they not smoke around you or leave cigarettes out where you can see them. Maybe even get one of them to quit with you.
  • Be aware that you may not quit on the first try. Most smokers need a few practice runs to quit for good. Be patient but persistent and try to learn something from each quit attempt that can make your next attempt successful.
  • Be prepared for difficult situations and side effects. Some may experience depression, irritability and headaches.
  • Talk with your health care provider. Consider getting help by attending cessation classes and using medications.
  • Keep busy! Exercise every day, even if it’s just going for a walk. Make a list of what you are going to do instead of smoke. Do something you enjoy.

New CDC Report Highlights Tobacco Control Progress In Indiana

In State News on April 26, 2010 at 10:10 am

INDIANAPOLIS – Following on the heels of a newly-released assessment by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) involving the progress made by state tobacco control programs, Indiana health officials today pointed to the “…promising trends” that have been made in the Hoosier state and pointed to a historic new low in adult smoking rates.

According to the Indiana State Department of Health, there has been a highly significant downward trend in adult smoking rates in Indiana between 2001-2009.

State health officials report newly finalized 2009 Behavior Risk Factor Surveillance Program (BRFSS) data show the smoking rate for Hoosier adults dropped from 26 percent in 2008 to 23.1 percent in 2009.

Although the change between 2008 and 2009 is not considered statistically significant, the new adult smoking prevalence is the lowest adult smoking rate since the BRFSS began gathering data on Hoosiers.

“Under the leadership of Gov. Daniels and his INShape Indiana health initiative, our state has become highly focused on the importance of improving the health of Hoosiers, with a greater emphasis on nutrition, physical activity, and tobacco use.  As a result, we have implemented some important strategies to reduce tobacco use in recent years, and the data is telling us it is working,” said Indiana State Health Commissioner Greg Larkin, M.D.

The report, entitled Tobacco Control State Highlights 2010, outlines several key measures of tobacco control programs, including smoking prevalence, cigarette excise tax rates, smoke-free air laws, and counter-marketing media campaigns. The report is based on 2008 data, so does not include the recently finalized 2009 BRFSS data. Studies show when states concentrate on a combination of high-impact, proven strategies — particularly smoke-free laws and higher cigarette prices — tobacco use can be cut substantially. The price of cigarettes in Indiana was increased in 2007.  Since then, cigarette consumption has dropped nearly 25 percent.

Karla Sneegas, executive director, Indiana Tobacco Prevention and Cessation (ITPC), said the new 2009 adult smoking rate validates the hard work of the state’s tobacco control program and the progress achieved by its local and state partners committed to ending tobacco use.

“Seeing this decrease in adult smoking, especially during a time of economic hardship, is very promising,” said Sneegas.  “ITPC’s community-based commitment to policy change in Hoosier communities, together with our outreach directly to smokers through the Indiana Tobacco Quitline, are high impact strategies that are delivering results.”

Nationally, smoking rates have stalled. In the 1990s, the nation experienced significant declines in smoking rates among adults and youth, but those declines have stalled since 2004. 

CDC’s State Highlights report uses consistent state-specific data to measure tobacco control progress in all 50 states and the District of Columbia (D.C.) and allows states to compare their efforts. The report is designed to address the public health impact of smoking and draw attention to the concentrated emphasis needed to end the tobacco use epidemic.

According to CDC Director Thomas R.  Frieden, M.D., M.P.H. “Smoke free laws, hard-hitting ads, and higher cigarette prices are among our strongest weapons in this fight against tobacco use.  We must redouble efforts to bring down smoking rates, prevent suffering and premature death, and cut health care costs by reducing smoking.”

Sneegas said that the key to making further progress is tied to Indiana’s need to implement these strategies, as outlined by the CDC, including protecting all workers from secondhand smoke and providing the free services of the Indiana Tobacco Quitline services to every smoker who is ready to quit.

For tobacco users who are ready to quit, call 1-800-QUIT-NOW. For an online version of the Tobacco Control State Highlights 2010, visit CDC’s Office and Smoking and Health at www.cdc.gov/tobacco.

Closing The Gateway To Alcohol And Drug Use

In State News on April 21, 2010 at 11:41 am

Smoking is not just a bad habit that can lead to premature death, but it also can lead to an increased use of certain drugs. An Indiana University study has found that increased smoking is strongly associated with increased use of alcohol, smokeless tobacco and other illicit drugs.

“The empirical data provides evidence that tobacco still serves as a gateway drug. Furthermore, there is a dose response relationship with regard to monthly use of cigarettes and other substances across all grades surveyed,” said Mohammad Torabi, Chancellor’s Professor in the School of Health, Physical Education and Recreation and study co-author. “Tobacco is everyone’s common enemy.”

The study, published in the American Journal of Health Education, reiterates the findings of Torabi’s 1993 study that tobacco is a significant gateway drug.

“In our current study, increased smoking was strongly associated with increased use of alcohol, smokeless tobacco, and five other drugs. This is a significant public health problem,” Torabi said. “Probably one way to prevent other drug use is concentrating on tobacco prevention and cessation. That is not to say there is cause and effect relationship between tobacco use and other drugs.”

Every year tobacco is responsible for nearly 450,000 deaths in the United States. Its use affects the health and well-being of smokers and nonsmokers alike and it contributes significantly to skyrocketing health care costs. According to the study, tobacco has not only impacted the health but also the wealth of every member of our society.

“As is known, a great majority of smokers start prior to the age of 25. That is why most of the marketing of tobacco is targeted toward younger people. If they are ‘hooked’ to this deadly product, they are almost always ‘hooked’ for life,” Torabi said.

The younger a person begins smoking, the greater the likelihood of addiction and disease. This study reveals that Indiana eighth graders used cigarettes, alcohol and marijuana at a much higher rate than the national average. Similar results were also found in other grade levels. According to the study, “the heavier the level of smoking, the greater the predicted probability of alcohol use.”

Parents constitute the most important ingredient in preventing youth tobacco use. The study makes the following recommendations:

  • School involvement. Schools need to employ smoking bans, to adopt evidence-based tobacco prevention curricula and to offer and promote smoking cessation programs.
  • Community involvement. Evidence-based community strategies include increasing taxes on cigarettes, interventions to reduce youth access to tobacco in combination with mobilization efforts, and counter-marketing campaigns. Communities as well as schools should increase stigmatization of smoking.
  • Adult involvement. Every parent, teacher and person who works with youth should recognize the powerful predictive relationship between cigarette smoking and the use of alcohol and other drugs and be able to have an open dialogue with the said youth.

“Obviously, this study demonstrated that tobacco use is one of the most critical public health problems,” Torabi said. “If we make an investment in prevention and cessation, it not only saves premature death and suffering, but it saves taxpayers’ resources in the long term and will reduce our skyrocketing health care costs.”

Torabi, chair of the School of HPER’s Department of Applied Health Science, can be reached at 812-855-4808 or torabi@indiana.edu.

Pike County School Board Considering Tobacco-Free Policy

In Local News on April 15, 2010 at 9:57 am

The Pike County Tobacco Prevention and Cessation Coalition would like to thank the Pike County School Board for writing and considering a comprehensive tobacco-free grounds policy. This policy clarifies that tobacco of any kind will not be used by anyone at any time on any school property, refers students who use tobacco into an effective intervention program, and provides cessation support for corporation employees who do use tobacco. The board heard a first reading of this policy at their meeting April 12.

The tobacco prevention coalition has offered to fund the student intervention program, called Tobacco Education Group, and to purchase tobacco-free grounds signage for the school corporation.

We feel this tobacco-free policy sets a good example for students and reinforces what health teachers are teaching in the classrooms. As we all know, actions speak louder than words, especially when it comes to teens, and now is the time to take action.

Ninety percent of all adult smokers started in their teens, and roughly 30 percent of all teen smokers will eventually die from tobacco-related diseases. Also, we know that if teens don’t start using tobacco before they turn 18, chances are high that they will never start. Therefore, it is imperative for us to do everything we can to keep kids from starting now, while they are in school.

The Pike County Tobacco Prevention and Cessation Coalition has already collected more than 100 signatures on petitions in favor of this comprehensive tobacco-free grounds policy, and 82 other counties around the state already have tobacco-free school grounds, so there is strong support in our community and around the state for this policy. If you agree that Pike County schools need a comprehensive tobacco-free policy, we urge you to contact your school board members to express your support.

Congrats To Daviess Co. Fair For Tobacco-Free Day

In Local News on April 15, 2010 at 9:56 am

The Daviess County Tobacco Prevention and Cessation Coalition would like to commend the Daviess County Fair board for voting for a tobacco-free day at the county fair this year. The tobacco-free day will be Sunday, June 20.

Daviess County is in good company. In 2009, fairs in 20 of Indiana’s 92 counties had at least one tobacco-free day, and 16 counties had 100 percent tobacco-free fairs.

We hope the new tobacco-free day at the Daviess County Fair will remind fairgoers of the dangers of tobacco use and help set a good example for the youth who participate in the fair. Ninety percent of all adult smokers started in their teens, and roughly one-third of all youth smokers will eventually die from tobacco-related diseases. Additionally, children exposed to secondhand smoke are more likely to have respiratory infections, asthma, bronchitis, and other health problems.

We are glad to see leaders in our county taking a serious stance on tobacco use since Daviess County recently ranked middle-of-the-pack for healthiness compared to other Hoosier counties and has a higher than average tobacco-use rate.

Improving the health of our residents can only improve the development of our county as a whole. The average smoker spends $2,000 per year on cigarettes, not to mention the costs of additional healthcare for the smoker and children exposed to secondhand smoke. And, one of the most significant indicators that a child will use tobacco is that his parents use tobacco.

For free help to quit smoking or chewing tobacco, call the Indiana Tobacco Quitline at 1-800-QUIT-NOW. There’s never been a better time to quit.

E-Cigarette Imports Banned Indefinitely

In National News on April 8, 2010 at 8:38 am

The importation of e-cigarettes will be banned indefinitely as the result of a unanimous ruling by the U.S. Court of Appeals.  The court agreed to permit their continued import ban while it considered an appeal from a lower court ruling which had prohibited the Food and Drug Administration [FDA] from stopping the imports of this new product, reports public interest law professor John Banzhaf of Action on Smoking and Health (ASH), who participated in the legal proceeding.

The court went out of its way in its brief ruling to suggest that the FDA was correct in declaring the product illegal, noting that “appellants [FDA] have satisfied the stringent standards required for a stay pending appeal.”  These standards require that the party seeking the stay show that it has made a “strong showing that it is likely to prevail on the merits of its appeal”  — in other words, that it is likely correct on the law, and will be the victor when a final decision is announced.

The FDA had warned that e-cig use poses “acute health risks,” that “the dangers posed by their toxic chemicals . . . cannot seriously be questioned,” and that they have caused a wide variety of potentially serious symptoms “including racing pulse, dizziness, slurred speech, mouth ulcers, heartburn, coughing, diarrhea, and sore throat.”

The FDA had found that samples it tested contained detectable levels of known carcinogens and toxic chemicals to which users could be exposed. The FDA said the toxic chemicals included diethylene glycol, “an ingredient used in antifreeze, [which] is toxic to humans”; “certain tobacco-specific nitrosamines which are human carcinogens”; and that “tobacco-specific impurities suspected of being harmful to humans — anabasine, myosmine, and B-nicotyrine — were detected in a majority of the samples tested.” The FDA does not currently monitor or license e-cigs, and indeed considers them “illegal.”

E-cigarette use is banned in no-smoking areas in New Jersey, Virginia, and Suffolk County, NY, and several states — as well as a few attorneys general — are pushing to ban their sale to children or otherwise restrict them. E-cigarettes have already been banned in Australia, Brazil, Canada, Israel, Mexico, Panama, and Singapore, and restricted in Denmark, Finland, Malaysia, Netherlands, and New Zealand, and the UK is poised to begin regulating them as drugs. 

At least two attorneys general have filed law suits to stop the sale of e-cigarettes until they are approved by the FDA, they are being challenged in a class action law suit, and a number of states are also considering restrictions on the sale or use of the novel and unregulated products.

Daviess Co. Fair Adds Tobacco-Free Day

In Local News on April 1, 2010 at 12:24 pm

Great news! The Daviess Co. Fair Board has voted to approve a tobacco-free day for Sunday, June 20. This day is to encourage all fair goers not to use tobacco on the fair grounds and to help raise awareness about the dangers of tobacco use and secondhand smoke.

The Daviess Co. tobacco prevention coalition will be posting signs Sunday afternoon before the goat exhibitors start checking in, and the signs will come down around 10 p.m. when the carnival closes.

Many kudos to the county fair board!