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Archive for September, 2010|Monthly archive page

U.S. Needs To Learn From Scotland’s Smoke-Free Air Law

In National News on September 21, 2010 at 9:38 am

The New England Journal of Medicine recently published information from a study in Scotland showing the impact of that country’s smoke-free law on reducing hospital admissions for childhood asthma. This new study shows yet another benefit of smoke-free laws — reducing emergency hospitalizations for childhood asthma, thus saving lives and healthcare dollars. Here are a few of the key lessons we can learn from Scotland:

  • With more than half of American kids aged 3-11 still exposed to secondhand smoke, this added benefit of smoke-free laws is especially important.
  • Studies in the U.S. have shown similar effects, which are not surprising given the impact of secondhand smoke on asthma and the success of smoke-free laws in reducing exposure to secondhand smoke.
  • Aside from reducing kids’ exposure to secondhand smoke in public places, smoke-free laws appear to prompt more people, including smokers, to make their homes smoke-free — thereby even further reducing kids’ exposure to secondhand smoke.
  • Strong smoke-free laws protect everybody’s right to breathe clean air and protect workers and patrons from the 4,000 chemicals, including more than 60 carcinogens, in secondhand smoke. Secondhand smoke is a proven cause of cancer, heart disease, and other illnesses, including the exacerbation of childhood asthma. 

Here are links to AP and USA Today stories on this study:

http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2010/09/15/AR2010091505209.html

http://www.usatoday.com/yourlife/health/medical/pediatrics/2010-09-16-asthma16_st_N.htm

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Washington Carnegie Public Library Gets Tobacco-Free Grounds Signs

In Local News on September 20, 2010 at 9:39 am

Washington Carnegie Public Library recently enacted a tobacco-free policy for all library property and grounds. The Daviess County Tobacco Prevention and Cessation coalition purchased tobacco-free signage for the library, and coalition coordinator Sally Petty presented the signs to head librarian Teresa Heidenreich today.

New Study Finds That Smoking Costs Indiana $7.7 billion Annually

In State News on September 15, 2010 at 12:02 pm

 Here is a news release from the American Lung Association about recently-released study data.

New Study Finds That Smoking Costs Indiana $7.7 billion Annually

For every pack of cigerettes purchased at $5.13 it costs Indiana $15.90.

INDIANAPOLIS, IN — A new study released today by the American Lung Association, and conducted by researchers at Penn State University, finds that helping smokers quit not only saves lives but also offers favorable economic benefits to states.  The study, titled Smoking Cessation: the Economic Benefits, provides a nationwide cost-benefit analysis that compares the costs to society of smoking with the economic benefits of states providing cessation (quit-smoking) coverage.  The study comes at an important time, as important cessation benefit provisions are being implemented at the federal and state levels as a result of healthcare reform legislation.

Each year, tobacco use kills 9,700 people in Indiana, and this new study identifies significant and staggering costs directly attributable to death and disease caused by smoking.  For example, the study finds that smoking results in costs to the Indiana economy of more than $7.7 billion. This includes workplace productivity losses of $2 billion, costs of premature death at $3 billion, and direct medical expenditures of $2.6 billion.

The study also calculates the combined medical and premature death costs and workplace productivity losses per pack of cigarettes.  In Indiana, the retail pack of cigarettes is $5.13.  The costs and workplace productivity losses nationwide equal $15.90.

Smoking is the number one preventable cause of illness and death in Indiana and surveys show that 80 percent of tobacco users want to quit.  Quitting can often take several attempts before a smoker is successful.  Using evidence-based treatments increases smokers’ chances of quitting – but many smokers don’t have access to or don’t know about what kind of treatments are available to them.

“Given this demand, the ALA is redoubling its efforts to work closely with state leaders, health care organizations, educational institutions, and other partners in developing policies and programs to help smokers quit.” Says Bill Stephan, Chairman of the Board for The American Lung Association in Indiana.

In addition to identifying the staggering costs of smoking to the U.S. economy, this new study now provides state governments with compelling economic reasons to help smokers quit.  For example, the study finds that if Indiana were to invest in comprehensive smoking cessation benefits, each would receive, on average, a 19 percent return on investment.  In other words, for every dollar spent on helping smokers quit, states will see on average a return of $1.19. 

“The results of this study are staggering.  Smoking imposes a heavy financial burden on Indiana and in this time of economic crisis, we can no longer afford to supplement this dangerous habit. As a state we need to do better to help our citizens quit smoking,” State Representative Peggy Welch.  Welch is a member of the House Ways and Means Committee and the State Budget Committee.  She is also a practicing cancer nurse at Bloomington Hospital.

About the Study

Researchers at Penn State University with expertise in health economics and administration performed this cost-benefit analysis using government and other published data.  The analysis compares the costs of providing smoking cessation treatments (including price of medications and counseling and lost tax revenue) to the savings possible if smokers quit (including savings in health care expenditures, premature death costs, and productivity losses).

Funding for the study was provided through an unrestricted research grant from Pfizer Inc.

About the American Lung Association
Now in its second century, the American Lung Association is the leading organization working to save lives by improving lung health and preventing lung disease. With your generous support, the American Lung Association is “Fighting for Air” through research, education and advocacy. For more information about the American Lung Association or to support the work it does, call 1-800-LUNG-USA (1-800-586-4872) or visit www.LungUSA.org.

FDA Warns E-Cigarette Makers, Moves To Regulate Products

In National News on September 10, 2010 at 10:18 am

Yesterday, the FDA sent warning letters to five electronic cigarette distributors for various violations of the FDCA, including unsubstantiated health claims and poor manufacturing practices.  The FDA also stated that it has determined that electronic cigarette products are subject to FDA regulation as drugs, which means they would have to comply with the FDA’s drug approval process and meet the same safety, efficacy and manufacturing standards as other drugs.

Here is a statement that was released by the Campaign for Tobacco-Free Kids.

FDA Takes Appropriate Action to Regulate Electronic Cigarettes And Protect Public Health

WASHINGTON, DC (September 9, 2010) – We applaud the U.S. Food and Drug Administration for taking appropriate enforcement action today against five distributors of electronic cigarettes for various violations of the Federal Food, Drug and Cosmetic Act (FDCA), including unsubstantiated claims and poor manufacturing practices.

The FDA appropriately has asserted authority under the FDCA to regulate electronic cigarettes, which deliver the powerfully addictive drug nicotine and have been marketed with unsubstantiated claims that they can help smokers quit or are less harmful than regular cigarettes. The FDA also issued warnings about shoddy and dangerous manufacturing practices and the use of electronic cigarettes as delivery devices for an erectile dysfunction drug and a weight loss drug that has not been approved for use in the United States.

As the FDA noted today, for a drug product to gain FDA approval, a company must demonstrate to the agency that the product is safe and effective for its intended use and adheres to good manufacturing practices. To protect public health, the FDA must hold electronic cigarettes to the same safety, efficacy and manufacturing standards as other drugs, including nicotine replacement products.

No one is suggesting that these products should never be allowed on the market if they meet appropriate safety and efficacy standards. Rather, like other drugs and delivery devices, electronic cigarettes should be regulated to protect public health before they are permitted to be sold to consumers.

More information on the FDA’s enforcement action can be found at: http://www.fda.gov/NewsEvents/PublicHealthFocus/ucm172906.htm.

Decline In US Adult Smoking Rate Stalled

In National News on September 8, 2010 at 8:53 am

Despite the known dangers of tobacco use, 1 in 5 American adults continues to smoke cigarettes, and 4 in 10 nonsmokers were exposed to cigarette smoke during 2007-2008, according to reports from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

Among children between the ages of 3 and 11 years old, 54 percent were exposed to secondhand smoke. Nearly all (98 percent) children who live with a smoker are exposed and have measureable levels of toxic chemicals from cigarette smoke.

According to the report, the number of adult smokers dropped between 2000 and 2005, but smoking has remained at about 20-21 percent since 2005. In 2009, more men (nearly 24 percent) than women (about 18 percent) smoked and about 31 percent of those living below poverty level smoked. Less than 6 percent of adults with a graduate degree smoke compared to more than 25 percent of adults with no high school diploma.

Further, nearly 90 million non-smoking Americans are exposed to secondhand smoke and have measurable levels of toxic chemicals from cigarette smoke. Black non-smokers are one-third more likely than white smokers, and twice as likely as Mexican-American smokers, to have measurable exposure to tobacco.

“Smoking is still the leading preventable cause of death in this country,” said CDC Director Thomas R. Frieden, M.D., M.P.H. “But progress is possible. Strong state laws that protect nonsmokers from secondhand smoke, higher cigarette prices, aggressive ad campaigns that show the human impact of smoking and well-funded tobacco control programs decrease the number of adult smokers and save lives.”

In 2009, smoking among adults was lowest in Utah, followed by California. California has had a long-running comprehensive tobacco control program. Adult smoking in California declined by about 40 percent during 1998–2006, and as a result lung cancer in California has been declining four times faster than in the rest of the nation. Maine, New York, and Washington have seen 45–60 percent reductions in youth smoking with sustained statewide efforts. If each state supported comprehensive tobacco control programs for 5 years with CDC recommended levels of funding, an estimated 5 million fewer persons in the country would smoke, resulting in prevention of premature tobacco-related deaths.

The federal government is intensifying its efforts to reduce tobacco use in order to achieve the tobacco use targets in Healthy People 2010 and Healthy People 2020. The 2009 Family Smoking Prevention and Tobacco Control Act gives the Food and Drug Administration authority to regulate the manufacturing, marketing, and distribution of tobacco products and has provided new opportunities to reduce tobacco use.

In addition, the Communities Putting Prevention to Work program provides guidance and funding for states and communities to change policies to prevent tobacco use and protect nonsmokers from secondhand smoke. The latter is especially important given that more than half of young children are exposed to secondhand smoke. Children whose parents smoke are twice as likely to smoke themselves, but children who grow up in communities with comprehensive smoke-free laws are much less likely to become smokers.

Smoking cases cancers of the lung, mouth, stomach, pancreas, kidney, colon, cervix, bladder and leukemia, as well as heart attacks, stroke, blindness, pneumonia, emphysema and other lung diseases, and many other health problems. Exposure to secondhand smoke causes sudden infant death syndrome and low birth weight, acute respiratory infections, middle ear disease, exacerbated asthma, respiratory symptoms, and decreased lung function in children. It also causes heart disease and lung cancer in nonsmoking adults.

For more information on tobacco control, visit www.cdc.gov/vitalsigns or www.cdc.gov/tobacco. Call 1-800-QUIT-NOW (1-800-784-8669) or visit www.smokefree.gov for quitting assistance. For state-specific tobacco data, visit CDC’s State Tobacco Activities Tracking and Evaluation System at http://www.cdc.gov/tobacco/statesystem.