Use big tobacco’s Nov 26 corrective statements to reduce smoking

The court-ordered publication of “corrective statements” by major U.S. tobacco companies later this month should serve as a reminder that tobacco addiction remains a major health problem in the country and that Big Tobacco has a long history of marketing practices aimed at hooking a new generation on a lethal product, according to an editorial published online in the Annals of the American Thoracic Society.

“Corrective Statements From the Tobacco Industry: More Evidence for Why We Need Effective Tobacco Control” recounts the legal history that led a federal court more than a decade ago to order major tobacco companies to take out advertisements in newspapers and on television that outline the scope of the health risk that cigarettes and second-hand smoke pose. After years of fighting the order in the courts, the tobacco industry will begin running these ads on Nov. 26.

Ruling in 2006 on a lawsuit brought by the U.S. Department of Justice against the tobacco industry under the Racketeering Influenced and Corrupt Organizations (RICO) Act, U.S. District Judge Gladys Kessler wrote, “Defendants have marketed and sold their lethal produce with zeal, with deception, with a single-minded focus on their financial success, and without regard for the human tragedy or social costs that success exacted.”

Full story at Science Daily

Gene that influences nicotine dependence identified

A DNA variant — located in the DNMT3B gene and commonly found in people of European and African descent — increases the likelihood of developing nicotine dependence, smoking heavily, and developing lung cancer, according to a new study led by RTI International.

Nearly 1 billion people smoke and 6 million premature deaths occur worldwide each year from cigarette smoking, according to the World Health Organization. Smoking is the leading cause of preventable death and one person dies approximately every 6 seconds from smoking-related causes, according to the WHO.

The new study, published in Molecular Psychiatry, is the largest genome-wide association study of nicotine dependence. Researchers studied more than 38,600 former and current smokers from the United States, Iceland, Finland, and the Netherlands.

Full story at Science Daily

Researchers warn of hazards of smoking and need for wider use of varenicline to quit

More than 35 million Americans are trying to quit smoking. Smoking cigarettes causes 480,000 premature deaths each year due mainly to a two-fold risk of cardiovascular disease and a 20-fold risk of lung cancer. In a commentary published in the current issue of the American Journal of Medicine, researchers from the Charles E. Schmidt College of Medicine at Florida Atlantic University reassure clinicians and their patients that varenicline, whose brand name is Chantix, is a safe and effective way to achieve smoking cessation and that failure to use this drug has caused preventable heart attacks and deaths from cardiovascular disease.

In 2006, varenicline was approved as a safe and effective means to quit smoking and achieved permanent quit rates of approximately 25 percent. In 2009, however, varenicline received a black box warning by the FDA based on their adverse event reports of neuropsychiatric symptoms like depression and thoughts of suicide.

Full story of varenicline as effective means of quitting smoking at Science Daily

Higher tobacco taxes needed to reduce smoking rates in South Asia, new analysis says

Higher taxes on tobacco could reduce consumption in South Asia by at least one-third and avoid 35-45 million premature deaths, concludes an analysis published in The British Medical Journal.

South Asia, with a population of 1.1 billion adults, has about 170 million adult smokers — mostly male and mostly from India — and very low rates of cessation.

The analysis, led by Dr. Prabhat Jha, calls on South Asian countries to implement the World Health Organization’s global tobacco control treaty and its requirements for high tobacco taxes, smoke-free public spaces, warning labels, comprehensive advertising bans and support for smoking cessation services.

Full story of higher tobacco taxes to reduce smoking rates at Science Daily

E-cigarettes a gateway to smoking? Not likely

Are e-cigarettes a gateway product that lead more people, especially teens, to smoke regular cigarettes?

No, according to public health researchers from the University at Buffalo and the University of Michigan writing in the journal Drug and Alcohol Dependence.

“The national trends in vaping and cigarette smoking do not support the argument that vaping is leading to smoking,” said Lynn Kozlowski, the paper’s lead author and a professor of community health and health behavior in UB’s School of Public Health and Health Professions.

Kozlowski, PhD, added that research in the U.S. shows that as use of e-cigarettes — the act of which is known as vaping — has increased, overall smoking rates have decreased.

Full story of e-cigarettes as a gateway to smoking at Science Daily