Commentary: Why Does One of the Hottest Teen Video Games Feature a Character Who Smokes?

Summer’s here and school is out, giving young people everywhere newfound freedom for their favorite pastimes. At the top of the list for many youth? Video games.

What these young people see when playing their favorite video games might surprise you: characters smoking tobacco.

Enter Overwatch, a multi-player game from Blizzard Entertainment that is being called “one of the hottest video game releases of the summer[1]” and in less than a month hit 10 million players[2]. While the game is being lauded in reviews for its refreshing approach and a diverse cast of heroes, tobacco use is front and center in the form of a lit cigar in the mouth of one of those heroes: bounty hunter and outlaw Jesse McCree. With a rating that says play is suitable for teenagers, the game’s tobacco-use imagery sends an influential and potentially harmful message to the young people who play the game.

Full story of teen video games and characters who smoke at

NIDA Will Award Money to Researchers Who Build Apps for Addiction Research

The National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA) will award $100,000 to researchers who develop apps for addiction research, according to Fortune. The apps must be built using Apple’s medical research framework.

NIDA’s challenge, called “Addiction Research: There’s an App for that,” is requiring that app developers use Apple’s ResearchKit, an open-source software kit designed for biomedical and health research that is accessed through an iPhone. In a news release, NIDA says the goal of the challenge is to “create an app to be used by addiction researchers in future studies which will help to improve the scientific understanding of drug use and addiction.”

NIDA hopes the challenge will create apps that help advance scientific research in areas of nicotine, opioids, cannabinoids (including marijuana), methamphetamines and prescription drug use, the article notes.

Full story of researchers who build apps for addiction research at

Kids’ Teeth Affected by Secondhand Smoke

In a study published in The BMJ today, researchers found that exposure to secondhand smoke as an infant as young as 4 months is associated with increased risk of tooth decay at age 3, according to Medical News Today.

Preventing tooth decay in young children tends to focus on restricting sugar, supplementing with oral fluoride and fluoride varnish. However, studies suggest that secondhand smoke plays a part in the development of cavities, which can result from a number of factors that include physical, biological, and environmental and lifestyle.

A big part of oral health is the acquisition of Streptococcus mutans (S. mutans), that produce acids from the sugar one consumes, dissolving the hard enamel coating on teeth. The age of highest risk for these bacteria is at 19-31 months.

Full story of kids teeth health and secondhand smoke at

FDA Tells R.J. Reynolds to Stop Selling Four Cigarette Products

The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) on Tuesday ordered tobacco company R.J. Reynolds to stop selling four cigarette products. It is the first time the agency has ordered a major tobacco company to stop selling products, according to NPR.

The four products are Camel Bold Crush, Vantage Tech 13 and the regular and menthol versions of Pall Mall Deep Set Recessed Filter cigarettes. The FDA has ordered companies to stop selling products before, but they involved much smaller companies with much less popular products, the article notes.

According to the FDA, R.J. Reynolds failed to prove the four products were no more dangerous than brands that have been on the market for a longer time.

Full story of FDA and R.J. Reynolds at

Teens’ Perception of E-Cigarettes Influenced by Friends and Family: Study

Teens’ perceptions of e-cigarettes are influenced by friends and family, a new study concludes. If friends and family view the devices as cool or acceptable, a teen is more likely to use them.

Forty-one percent of the more than 2,000 teens included in the study who said they had recently used e-cigarettes had never tried traditional cigarettes, Reuters reports.

“There is a lot of concern by the public health community that e-cigarettes may be recruiting a whole new group of people who never smoked cigarettes,” said lead author Jessica Barrington-Trimis of the University of Southern California in Los Angeles.

Full story of e-cigarettes influenced by friends and family at