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The following are extracts of recent cancer-related news items from local daily newspapers.
Do you see something you want to know more about? Would you like to be sent the whole article? Please contact us.

 

ANTI TOBACCO

Scientist Who Linked Smoking, Cancer Dies-(Yahoo News-24/07/2005)

Sir Richard Doll, the British scientist who first established a link between smoking and lung cancer, died Sunday at age 92, Oxford University said. The epidemiologist died at the John Radcliffe Hospital in Oxford after a short illness, said the university, where Doll worked at its Imperial Cancer Research Center. The exact cause of death was not immediately released.

Doll's seminal 1950 study, which he wrote with Austin Bradford Hill, showed that smoking was "a cause, and a major cause" of lung cancer. Doll remained active up to his death, releasing a follow-up study to the 1954 report in 2004 that showed at least half, and perhaps as many as two-thirds, of people who begin smoking in their youth are eventually killed by the habit.

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Health Alert: Chewing tobacco lozenge-(Yahoo News-05/07/2005)

Ask just about any of the 8 million people addicted to smokeless tobacco and they'll likely tell you it's harder to quit chewing than it is to quit smoking. Despite success with smokers, no medications have shown to help chewers quit for good. Doctors are studying a new product to see if it will help curb a chewer's need for that nicotine fix. Chewing tobacco was a fishing trip tradition for Ryan Head, "It's something with fishing that I like to chew more." Even so, Ryan wanted to quit. He wanted to be a good role model for his son Nathan, and Ryan was worried that smokeless tobacco was increasing his risk of oral cancer and dental disease.

But, every time he tried to quit, he hit a snag. For Ryan, nicotine gum just didn't cut it. So he decided to enroll in a study at Mayo Clinic. There, Dr. Jon Ebbert and his team are testing the effectiveness of a nicotine lozenge, "They can park it in there the same way that they park a chew and it slowly releases nicotine." Each person in the study starts with up to 20 lozenges a day. Then over the next three months they slowly taper down to zero. "The patients are reporting to us that it doesn't have the same kick as smokeless tobacco, but it really helps them with the craving for chew that they usually experienced when they tried to quit previously."

Ryan experienced success with the lozenges. He quit. He still might have the urge to take a pinch now and then, but it passes, and Ryan can turn his thought to nature, the fish and little Nathan.

You might wonder if nicotine lozenges pose any type of cancer risk. Dr. Ebbert says they don't. He says nicotine itself does not cause cancer, but tobacco products do. Chewers can reduce or eliminate their risk for cancer and dental disease by switching to the safer nicotine lozenge. Dr. Ebbert hopes to do more studies in the hopes of giving chewers an effective aid to help them kick the habit.

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Report shows many children don't think tobacco is addictive-(HealthDay-06/07/2005)

Although most children share a less-than-glowing opinion of smoking, a significant number -- about 25 percent -- believe cigarettes aren't addictive and kicking the habit is easy, a new study suggests. Such views were part of a range of mixed opinions about smoking that were expressed by a group of 10- to 14-year-old boys and girls before and after participating in a family smoking-prevention program for the better part of two years.

While researchers found that less than 10 percent of the kids entered the program thinking that cigarettes can help people keep off weight or relax, about a quarter said they didn't mind being around smokers and thought smokers could quit whenever they wanted. In the July/August edition of the American Journal of Health Promotion, the study authors report that the program produced some conflicting results. For example, they found the most common positive attitude among kids about cigarettes -- that smoking can help you feel more comfortable at parties or other social activities -- actually rose by the program's end, from just less than 20 percent to nearly 30 percent.

"Over the 20-month program, about half the children increased their positive attitudes about smoking," says Terry Bush, study lead author and research associate at the Center for Health Studies at Group Health Cooperative (GHC) in Seattle. "This information is coming from somewhere, so we need to think about teachable moments where we as health care providers, parents, youth leaders and teachers can talk about the risks involved." Positive views about cigarettes appeared to be more prevalent among children living in homes where communication was relatively poor and parents were less involved. A parent's specific opinion regarding cigarettes, however, did not seem to influence the opinions of the children, who were age 11 to 14 by the study's end.

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Tobacco treaty unratified in U.S. Pact signed in 2004, but never sent to Senate-(Yahoo News-05/07/2005)

More than 13 months ago, the United States signed an international tobacco treaty designed to tighten control of cigarette advertising and consumption worldwide, and President Bush said he wanted the Senate to ratify it. But the treaty, already in effect in 70 nations from Britain to India to Mexico, today remains unratified and little discussed in the United States. It was May 2004 when then-Health and Human Services Secretary Tommy G. Thompson signed the treaty for the United States and said, "I'm hopeful we can get this treaty to pass on a bipartisan basis -- this year." It then disappeared into the State Department and so far has not reappeared.

"The treaty is still under interagency review," State Department spokesman Edgar Vasquez said, adding that it is unclear when the review will be completed. "No decision has been made." The treaty, negotiated in Geneva over three years, calls for reducing tobacco consumption through various measures, including substantially increasing the size of safety warnings on packaging, strictly limiting cigarette advertising, and moving toward smoke-free workplaces and public areas. It also works to reduce cigarette smuggling -- a priority for tobacco companies. The Bush administration has been slow to act on six other treaties that it has signed but not sent to the Senate for ratification, but inaction on the tobacco treaty poses unique problems.

Only a spectator?
Long the world leader in tobacco control, the United States now runs the risk of being a spectator when ratified treaty members meet early next year to establish a permanent operating structure and to set priorities for action. If the United States is not a voting treaty member, public health officials say, American views on issues including cigarette advertising, smuggling and secondhand smoke will inevitably be less persuasive.

The organizational meeting will be convened by the World Health Organization and will begin to implement the principles and directives of the Framework Convention on Tobacco Control. All 168 signatories will be able to attend, but only nations that have ratified the treaty will be able to vote. To qualify as a voting member, the United States would have to ratify the treaty by late October or early November, WHO officials said.

"Those who have not ratified can participate as observers, but they'll have no vote and it's unclear how much of a voice," said Heather Selin, tobacco control adviser for WHO's Americas office in Washington. "This will be an important meeting and will get the treaty machinery to start rolling." Public health advocates report that even without the United States, the invigorated tobacco-control movement has been surprisingly effective in motivating governments to implement potentially lifesaving initiatives.

The use of tobacco by smoking or chewing is the second-leading cause of preventable death worldwide -- after high blood pressure -- and kills almost 5 million people a year, WHO estimates. The Bush administration has not publicly voiced concerns about the treaty, but neither has it shown any enthusiasm since it was signed.

Objections by tobacco companies
Some congressional officials say the administration doubts the treaty can win the two-thirds Senate majority needed for ratification, in large part because the two largest U.S. tobacco companies have objected to some of its provisions. Others say the administration is unwilling to displease the tobacco industry, which has long been a generous source of campaign funding.

Seth Moskowitz, a spokesman for R.J. Reynolds Tobacco Co., said his company has not taken a formal position on ratification, but it objects to treaty provisions that, it says, would restrict cigarette advertising and centralize and expand government authority over other aspects of the industry. "Some of the restrictions are things that could prevent us from competing effectively for the business of adult smokers," Moskowitz said.

Dawn Schneider, a spokeswoman for Altria Group, the parent of Philip Morris USA, said her company also has some concerns about the treaty -- especially possible restrictions on the sale of cigarettes in duty-free stores and an advertising ban in nations with constitutions that allow it.

But Schneider said Altria, unlike R.J. Reynolds, favors having the Food and Drug Administration regulate tobacco products and is using its influence in Congress to get a bill passed. "We believe the best and most effective way to implement [the goals of the treaty] is through FDA legislation," Schneider said.

It remains unclear how much support the treaty has in the Senate. Some senators, such as Richard Burr (R-N.C.), have been outspoken opponents. "Tobacco is an important agricultural product in our state, and anything that threatens the viability of tobacco farmers, he's opposed to it," said spokesman Douglas Heye. But others have begun lobbying the administration to move the treaty forward.

‘Long delay’
"This long delay has been very discouraging to many senators," said Allison Dobson, spokeswoman for Sen. Tom Harkin (D-Iowa), who is drafting a letter to Bush calling for a prompt ratification vote. "Harkin believes the votes are there to ratify, but we're very concerned that the administration will end up siding with big tobacco again and not with public health," Dobson said.

Matthew Myers, president of the Campaign for Tobacco-Free Kids, said the administration is forfeiting the United States' long-standing leadership on tobacco-control issues and faces the prospect of having other nations make decisions that will have a significant impact on U.S. consumers and companies.

"Unlike some of the environmental treaties, nobody can point to any provision of this treaty that would infringe on American autonomy or otherwise adversely affect other American rights. The question then is 'Why haven't we even sent the treaty up for ratification?' " he asked. "The only answer I can come up with is this: that the administration is listening to our least progressive tobacco companies who oppose the treaty. At one point, the administration considered the treaty worth signing. What happened?"

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Govt goes back on tobacco ban-(Times News Network-06/07/2005)

After so much song and dance over the need to ban smoking on screen, the government has backtracked on imposing such a fiat and insisted that self-regulation by the industry is the best way to fight tobacco.  After a high-profile meeting attended by major Bollywood personalities here on Tuesday, I&B minister Jaipal Reddy said the industry had agreed to deploy its stars to campaign against both liquor and smoking. "If the industry agrees to self-regulate, a formal ban becomes redundant," he said. His remarks underlined the acute reluctance within the government to go along with health minister Anbumani Ramadoss' proposal to ban smoking on television and in films as a way of weaning people away from such influences. The fate of the ban slated to come into effect from October 2, now appears uncertain.

Among those who attended the meeting were Manmohan Shetty, Subhash Ghai, Mahesh Bhat, Sharmila Tagore and Bobby Bedi. Significantly, Union health secretary PC Hota was also present.
The meeting acknowledged the role of the industry in raising the "level of awareness" against the evil effects of smoking and liquor. The industry representatives promised that from now, the tinsel stars would do promos to intensify the campaign against tobacco in particular. It was decided that a self-regulatory body on the lines of the Advertising Standards Council of India would be set up to vet films from the viewpoint of the industry before sending them to the censor board for certification. Reddy said it was agreed to institute a steering committee comprising representatives of the industry, government and civil society to pursue the matter. These steps appear to have been intended to remove the need for a formal ban to erase smoking scenes on screen altogether. Reddy in effect admitted that after these measures a ban would not be required. "I do not think after this government will be required to do any policing," he said.

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Study: Tobacco Firms Wooed Female Smokers-(Yahoo News-31/05/2005)

Tobacco companies did elaborate research on women to figure out how to hook them on smoking even toying with the idea of chocolate-flavored cigarettes that would curb appetite, according to a new analysis. Researchers at Harvard University's School of Public Health said they examined more than 7 million documents some dating back to 1969, others as recent as 2000 for new details about the industry's efforts to lure more women smokers.

Carrie Carpenter, the study's lead author, said companies' research went far beyond a marketing or advertising campaign. "They did so much research in such a sophisticated way," she said. "Women should know how far the tobacco industry went to exploit them." The report, published in the June issue of the journal Addiction, says tobacco companies looked for ways to modify their cigarettes to give women the illusion they could puff their way into a better life.

One of the documents, a 1987 internal report from Philip Morris, extolled the virtues of making a longer, slimmer cigarette that offered the false promise of a "healthier" product. "Most smokers have little notion of their brand's tar and nicotine levels," the report states. "Perception is more important than reality, and in this case the perception is of reduced tobacco consumption." A Philip Morris spokesman declined to comment on the report, saying the company hasn't had a chance to fully review it.

The Harvard researchers spent more than a year sifting through an online database of internal documents made public following the 1998 settlement between tobacco companies and 46 states. Carpenter said they found at least 320 documents that focused on women's smoking patterns, including a 1982 report from British-American Tobacco Co. that said women buy cigarettes to help them "cope with neuroticism." "We can safely conclude that the strength of cigarettes that are purchased by women is related to their degree of neuroticism," the report stated.

Other internal studies showed that companies explored adding appetite suppressants to cigarettes. In 1980, for instance, R.J. Reynolds Co. proposed creating a cigarette with a "unique flavor that decreases a smoker's appetite, including brandy, chocolate, chocolate mint, cinnamon, spearmint and honey." However, researchers didn't find any evidence they followed through with that idea. Officials at R.J. Reynolds didn't respond to requests for comment.

Paul Bloom, a marketing professor in the business school at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, noted that cigarettes aren't the only "sin product" marketed specifically to women. "For a long time, they just marketed beer to men. Then they discovered women would drink it, too," Bloom said. "Now binge drinking on campus is just as big a problem with women as it is with men."

Worldwide smoking rates among women are expected to increase 20 percent by 2025, "driven by the growth of female markets in developing countries," while men's smoking rates are steadily declining, the Harvard report says. Jack Henningfield, a professor of behavioral biology at the Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine, said he hopes the report serves as a "call to action" for government officials to focus their anti-smoking efforts on women, particularly in developing countries. "It's a time bomb," said Henningfield, director of the Innovators Combating Substance Abuse Program at Johns Hopkins. "They've got to act now to prevent the time bomb from exploding."

Carpenter said there is no evidence in the trove of documents that suggests tobacco companies have stopped targeting women. "Without regulation from government agencies, we don't know what they're doing today," she added. The Harvard research project was funded in part by the National Cancer Institute.

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Anti-Tobacco Advertising Associated With Reduced Smoking-(Yahoo News-29/01/2005)

Reduced cigarette smoking and more favorable anti-smoking attitudes were found among youth exposed to state-sponsored anti-tobacco advertising, according to a study in the July issue of Archives of Pediatrics & Adolescent Medicine, one of the JAMA/Archives journals. The U.S. population has been exposed to an increasing number and variety of televised anti-tobacco advertisements since the early 1990s, according to background information in the article. However, given recent state budget crises and other political influences, many states have severely cut their anti-tobacco campaigns. Despite early evidence suggesting that state-sponsored anti-tobacco media campaigns may reduce adult smoking, few studies have explored their effect on youth.

Sherry Emery, Ph.D., from the University of Illinois at Chicago, and colleagues examined the association between exposure to state anti-tobacco advertising and youth smoking-related beliefs and behaviors. The researchers used targeted ratings point (TRPs) to assess the ratings of an advertisement among U.S. teen audiences. An ad with 80 TRPs per month is estimated to have been seen an average of one time by 80 percent of this age group. This information was combined with survey data from school-based samples of 51,085 students in the contiguous 48 states.

The researchers found that among survey respondents, 14 percent had an average of zero exposures to state-sponsored advertisements in the last four months, 65 percent of the students had an average exposure greater than zero, but less than one, and 21 percent had an average exposure of one or more state-sponsored anti-tobacco advertisements. Students in states with a TRP measure of one or higher were significantly less likely to report having smoked in the past 30 days (18.6 percent) compared with those in markets with no exposure to anti-tobacco advertisements (26.7 percent). Those with one or more state TRPs were more likely to perceive great harm from smoking one or more packs of cigarettes per day (72.1 percent vs. 65.1 percent). Also, students living in areas with an average exposure of at least one state-sponsored anti-tobacco advertisement were more likely to say that they believed they would definitely not be smoking in five years (64 percent vs. 55.3 percent).

“Our analyses suggest that state-sponsored anti-tobacco media campaigns were associated with more favorable antismoking attitudes and beliefs among youth and reduced youth smoking,” the authors write. “The strong associations between antismoking attitudes and beliefs, as well as reduced smoking, among students with a state TRP measure of at least one suggest that it is important to maintain a minimal mean exposure level of at least one cumulative state-sponsored anti-tobacco ad per four-month period for the general teen viewing audience.”

In an accompanying editorial, David E. Nelson, M.D., M.P.H., from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Atlanta, writes about state-sponsored anti-tobacco advertising, “Despite tremendous strides in reducing youth tobacco use, and substantial research demonstrating that counteradvertising and other components of comprehensive programs are effective in reducing prevalence, as well as being cost-effective, it is obvious that tobacco prevention activities are not institutionalized and that state program expenditures in this area are viewed by many as discretionary.”

“Given the magnitude of the tobacco problem, and the fact that most regular smokers begin by age 18 years, preventing tobacco use among children and adolescents is one of the most important pediatric successes imaginable,” he writes. “Pediatricians and other health care providers, either individually or collectively through professional or other organizations, need to actively support sustaining state comprehensive tobacco control and prevention activities that include counteradvertising. Failing to do so could mean losing the hard-won gains achieved in tobacco prevention over the past several years, and unfortunately, that would be deadly for many people.”

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Passive smoking triples children's cancer risk-(Yahoo News-24/06/2005)

A study on passive smoking has found children who are exposed to tobacco smoke every day are three-and-a-half times more likely to develop lung cancer than children who are not exposed. The study involved more than 300,000 people throughout Europe, and is one of the largest ever undertaken on passive smoking. Professor Paolo Vineis, from the Imperial College of London, says the study confirms previous research. "There is a large amount of evidence about the association between environmental tobacco smoke and lung cancer," he said. "In fact in 2002 there was a working group from the International Agency for Research on Cancer, which established that there is sufficient evidence concerning this association. "There are more than 50 case control studies and a few prospective studies, so the association is well established."

Professor Vineis says the duration for which children are exposed to smoke is the biggest factor in their risk of developing lung cancer. "The information we collected about childhood exposure tells us that these people were exposed for a very long time, and that's the main issue," he said. "They started being exposed in childhood and that's what really counts in terms of cumulative risk of lung cancer." Professor Vineis says it is not clear if children are more vulnerable to the effects of smoke or if the risk of developing cancer is related just to the length of time children are exposed to smoke. "However, I must say that there is experimental evidence in animals showing that animals at a young age are in fact more susceptible to carcinogens," he said. Professor Vineis hopes that the study will make some difference.

"People might be more worried about the presence of environmental tobacco smoke in the environment where they work and live," he said. "In fact, the knowledge of that long-term exposure is important, probably more than the concentration of smoke is quite important." The study, which has been published in the British Medical Journal has also found that reformed smokers are more susceptible to the effects of passive smoking.

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Smokeless Tobacco Presents Heart Risk-(HealthDay News-27/06/2005)

Some people chew tobacco thinking it is less unhealthy than smoking, but new research shows that snuff and chewing tobacco appear to increase the risk of heart disease. Male smokeless-tobacco users were 20 percent more likely to die of heart disease than nonusers, according to researchers from the American Cancer Society who examined health surveys of more than 1 million American men, including about 10,000 smokeless-tobacco users.

Previous research had shown that smokeless-tobacco users were less likely than smokers to have cardiovascular problems. Lead researcher Jane Henley said that while more research may be needed, it is possible that smokeless tobacco increases the heart rate and stimulates clotting, which can block blood flow. Henley said that the study should discourage people from using smokeless tobacco as a bridge between smoking and quitting. "We should be encouraging smokers who want to quit to use nicotine-replacement and other safe therapies," she said.

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India to require pictures of smoking-related diseases on cigarette packs-(AFP-26/06/2005)

India's health ministry will introduce a law forcing tobacco companies to carry pictures of smoking-related diseases on cigarette packs as a health warning, according to a news report. The law is likely to be introduced in parliament within three months, Health Minister Anbumani Ramadoss was quoted as saying by the Hindu newspaper. "We are going through the models, pictures and images that the tobacco companies will have to put on their packs. I have no hesitation in adding that we are going to chose some of the most horrific, gory images," he said. Singapore and Thailand currently carry pictures showing oral cancer and other smoking-related diseases on cigarette packs.

Earlier this month Ramadoss called for a ban on smoking scenes in movies and television. The ban provoked widespread criticism from India's movie industry, Bollywood, which said it would have to edit thousands of films to comply with the ban. But the minister has refused to back down. India, which accounts for one-sixth of tobacco illnesses worldwide, signed a a global anti-smoking treaty which took effect in March. At least 2,200 people die daily from tobacco-related diseases in the country of more than one billion people.

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Therapies to help tobacco addicts kick the habit-(Yahoo News-24/05/2005)

Tobacco addiction is the leading preventable cause of death in India, accounting for over 800,000 deaths each year. A tobacco addict can improve his health and lengthen his life more, by quitting tobacco addiction along with other lifestyle changes like diet, exercise or stress management. Given the disastrous health hazards caused due to tobacco, anyone who's ever tried quitting knows it's easier said than done. This is because quitting can produce unpleasant withdrawal symptoms like depression, insomnia, irritability, difficulty concentrating, restlessness, anxiety, decreased heart rate, increased appetite, weight gain, and craving for nicotine.

Studies have shown that taking help of various therapies can help a tobacco addict avoid relapse of the addiction, and results in some of the highest long-term abstinence rates from tobacco. Quitting smoking or chewing of tobacco can be achieved successfully, provided the determination to quit is strong along with the involvement of different therapies.

Let us look at the various therapies for quitting tobacco addiction available today:

1. Nicotine Replacement Therapy (NRT)

Nicotine replacement therapy is a successful and an approved form of medication that can help quit smoking or chewing of tobacco. Nicotine gum is a popular form of NRT available as an FDA approved tobacco cessation aid. NRT gum (NuLife) —now in India, is available on doctor’s prescription. NRT gum delivers small but sustained levels of nicotine in the blood. Nicotine per se is not harmful. Sustained levels of nicotine are useful in quitting as nicotine levels are maintained in the blood and the craving for tobacco is reduced. Here, nicotine is provided but the uptake of nicotine by the body is not as quick as nicotine uptake observed in cigarettes or other forms of tobacco. Hence it’s easier to give up a NRT gum than it is to give up cigarettes and gutka. It is documented that tobacco cessation rates are increased three to four folds if NRT is used along with counseling and behavioral therapy and a strong determination to stop tobacco usage. NRT is also endorsed by leading medical organizations in the world, like the American Cancer Society.

2. Counseling and Behavioural Therapy

Counseling therapy involves the use of continued motivational techniques and support. Here, the doctor helps the tobacco addict move to the preparation stage to quit tobacco addiction, where plans are made for the initiation of therapies like NRT. The doctor or the counselor also helps him change his routine or behavior to avoid situations that increase the chances of failure. For example, if the morning ritual of a tobacco addict is drinking a cup of tea and smoking a cigarette, then that cup of tea can be had later or avoided during those first few weeks. Other means are finding alternative ways to reduce stress caused by quitting tobacco such as exercise, dancing or hot baths. Combined use of counseling, behavioural and drug therapies can dramatically improve the patient's chance of quitting smoking.

3. Yoga and meditation

Yoga is a form of relaxation and exercise that incorporates stretching, meditation, and knowledge of the body's full potential. Yoga helps relieve tension and stress and helps increase the strength and vitality of

physical and mental health. This helps a tobacco addict deal with the difficulty experienced during quitting tobacco.

Meditation calms nerves and allows one to think more clearly. Using the healing power of yoga along with involvement of other therapies helps quit tobacco addiction through an assertive behavior.

4. Support Therapy

Studies have shown that there is a better chance of being successful in quitting tobacco addiction if help is taken in the form of social support along with drug therapies like NRT. One can get support from family, friends, and co-workers. One way is to ask them not to smoke around a tobacco addict or leave cigarettes out and to stop him from smoking or chewing gutka, incase of a relapse.

5. Hypnosis/ other alternative therapies

Hypnosis is a psychological technique that helps reframe thoughts and reshape the world of a person. Though hypnosis is not known to be of considerable benefit, psychiatrists consider this technique helpful as long as one is ready to take multiple tries and many sessions to succeed and finally quit smoking. One must of course, find a reputable skilled practitioner. Other therapies which work well with hypnosis include drug therapy like NRT, Reiki and acupuncture.

Health Benefits of quitting tobacco

  •  

  • Within 8 hours, carbon monoxide levels drop in the body and oxygen levels in blood return to normal

  • Within 48 hours, the risk of heart attack decreases and sense of smell and taste improve

  • Within 72 hours, lung capacity increases and breathing becomes easier

  • Within 2 weeks to 3 months, blood circulation improves and lung function improves up to 30 percent

  • Within 6 months, coughing, sinus congestion, fatigue and shortness of breath improve

  • Within 1 year, the risk of a smoking-related heart attack is cut in half

  • Within 10 years, the risk of lung cancer is cut in half

  • Within 15 years, the risk of dying from a heart attack is equal to a person who never smoked

  • Reduction in complications of pregnancy and improvement in chances of conceiving

Source: British Columbia Cancer Agency Care and Research.

A holistic method doesn't rely on one or two techniques; rather, it combines as many as possible and addresses the life of the entire person -body, mind, and spirit. Along with the involvement of different therapies, getting plenty of exercise, eating a vegetarian diet, trying a therapeutic fast and taking vitamins during the period when one is trying to quit tobacco also helps. While choosing potentially effective therapies helps achieve the goal of quitting tobacco addiction, the key is to find the right combination of treatments that will help boost the chance of success.

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Salman Khan supports ''No Tobacco'' campaign-(Yahoo News-20/05/2005)

Supporting the "No Tobacco" campaign, actor Salman Khan, has urged the Government to curb sale of tobocco and alcohol. "If these are so bad why does not the Government put an end to it. They have done it with drugs they can do it with these as well", he said while announcing a friendly cricket match between actors and doctors to be played on May 21, observed as "The World No Tobacco Day". "Though it appears stylish and cool to smoke on the screen and glossy magazine it is uncool to do so", the actor said while reiterating that he makes special efforts not to project himself as an actor who smokes on the screen. "I have just smoked in one film "Tere Naam", he said.

Speaking on the occasion, Mr. Y K Sapru of the Cancer Patients Aid Association, revealed that Salman had always supported the cause of cancer patients. The actor has also offered his bone marrow to treat an ailing patient, he said. On other occasions, the actor has participated in Rose Day programmes in aid of cancer patients. He has also organised donation worth lakhs of rupees from various celebrities in the film world. Among those present at the function were actors Ritesh Deshmukh, Sohail Khan, cricketer Vinod Kambli, and TV star Yash Tonk. Salman, later, distributed voice boxes to cancer patients.

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Short-term Effects Of Spit Tobacco Suggest Long-term Health Risks-(Yahoo News-18/05/2005)

The study of 16 young men who were habitual spit tobacco users measured their responses 30 minutes after dipping snuff. These readings were compared with measurements from another session involving the same participants after they had used a placebo product that was similar in taste, color and texture but did not contain tobacco or nicotine. The study was randomized and double-blinded; neither the researchers nor the subjects were told when they were taking the placebo and when they were using the tobacco product. After snuff use, heart rate increased by about 15 beats per minute (25 percent), systolic blood pressure went up by 12 mmHg (10 percent), and measurements of adrenalin in the bloodstream increased by more than 50 percent.

"These results suggest a very significant excitatory effect of substances contained in spit tobacco on the part of the nervous system regulating the heart and blood vessels," says Virend Somers, M.D., Ph.D., the Mayo Clinic cardiologist who led the study. "Although we did anticipate some increase in blood pressure, we were surprised at the magnitude of the increase, as well as the very striking increases in heart rate and plasma epinephrine, or adrenalin. We anticipated that since these individuals were young and healthy and were accustomed to using spit tobacco, that any responses that we measured would be blunted. This makes the degree of increases even more noteworthy."

Robert Wolk, M.D., Ph.D., lead author on this study, noted that these results have implications both for long-term users and for individuals with established heart disease. "The degree of speeding up of heart rate and increase in blood pressure, as well the increase in adrenalin (epinephrine) levels, suggest that if similar changes occur in people with established heart disease, who use spit tobacco, there may be reason to expect adverse consequences," Dr. Wolk says.

"Dipping" is Rising

More than five million adults – and more than 750,000 adolescents – use smokeless tobacco in the United States. Snuff use is increasing, especially in young males who participate in athletics. Its cardiovascular effects are not as clear or well understood as those of cigarettes, partly because fewer studies have been done, and partly because many spit tobacco users are relatively young and the bad effects may not be apparent unless use continues for prolonged periods.

Blunting a Protective Mechanism

By placing electrodes into the sympathetic nerves of the participants, the researchers also obtained a window on the message from the brain to the blood vessels on a moment-by-moment basis. Normally, when blood pressure is increased by an external substance, the body seeks to protect the cardiovascular system by decreasing heart rate and dilating the blood vessels. It does this by "shutting down" the sympathetic nervous system, so that heart rate is slower, and the widening of blood vessels starts to bring blood pressure down.

The researchers demonstrated this by giving another group of subjects an intravenous medication, phenylephrine, to raise blood pressure about as much as they saw when spit tobacco was used. In response, those subjects' heart rates decreased by more than 10 beats a minute and the activity of the sympathetic nervous system went down to very low levels. "This is an example of how the body tries to protect itself from the higher blood pressures," Dr. Somers explains. "However, when the blood pressure is raised by spit tobacco, the heart rate actually speeds up dramatically and there is no decrease in the sympathetic nervous system activity. This tells us that the normal protective mechanisms which help dampen down spikes in blood pressure are blunted when using spit tobacco.

"Spit tobacco is a very potent cause of acute increases in blood pressure, heart rate, and adrenalin levels," Dr. Somers concludes. "Since many athletes, who are already under a fair amount of stress in competitive situations, also use spit tobacco, the blood pressure and heart rate increases need to be recognized and understood. And since spit tobacco not only raises blood pressure but also blunts the body's normal defense response to blood pressure increases, long-term dipping would seem likely to increase the risk of cardiovascular disease."

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FDA suspends sale of gutka, paan masala-(Times of India-30/01/2005)

The Maharashtra FDA has oredered a stop to the production, distribution and sale of gutka and paan masala by all ten manufacturing companies after laboratory tests revealed that their samples contained a prohibited substance, magnesium carbonate whose prolonged use is reported to cause oral cancer and fibrosis.

Ten brands were tested-Tulsi, 1000Sanket, RMD (belonging to the Rasiklal Dhariwal group against whose promoter there is a pending non-bailable warrant), Goa (whose promoter also has a pending non-bailable warrant), Pan Parag, Shimla, Rajnigandha, Parivar and Supari. Along with magnesium carbonate, the FDA found other objectionable heavy metals, added to induce colour and perfume to the products.

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Smoking can damage IQ, say researchers-(Times of India-11/01/2005)

Smoking has long been known to cause cancer, heart disease, impotence and so on-now, damage to your IQ can be added to the list. Researchers in Scotland assessed the mental abilities of 465 people who had been enrolled in an IQ test at the age of 11 in 1947. The volunteers were again tested between 2000 and 2002 when they were 64 years old. Roughly half were smokers.

Smokers performed significantly worse in 5 different cognitive tests than did both former smokers and those who had never smoked. When social factors such as education, occupation and alcohol consumption were taken into account, smoking still appeared to contribute to a drop in cognitive function of just under 1%. The study published in full in a specialist journal, addictive behaviours, was led by Lawrence Whally of the University of Aberdeen.

Why smoking should affect cognitive ability is unclear. One possible reason is that in later life, brain cells are more susceptible to damage by rogue atoms called free radicals which could be unleashed by the chemicals in tobacco smoke.

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Gutka stalls still too close for comfort-(Times of India-25/12/2004)

3 weeks after the ban on sale of tobacco products within 100 yards of educational institutions, action remains suspended as debate rages over who will bell the cat. The ban had come into force on December 1 as part of the Cigarettes and other Tobacco products (Prohibition of advertisements and regulation of trade and commerce, production, supply and distribution) Act 2003.

Figures from the recently released "Tobacco Control in India" by the Ministry of Health and Family Welfare, states that the average of students who smoked cigarettes in India before the age of 10 years was 54%.

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Asian countries fail to reduce new smokers-(Times of India-25/09/2004)

Asian countries have failed to reduce the number of youngsters taking up smoking. Governments need to change their strategies and focus on parents and family in their efforts to reduce smoking, researchers at the 7th Asia Pacific Conference on Tobacco said. Hundreds of activists representing 40 countries expressed concern over the increasing number of teenage smokers across Asia.

Taiwan found that youngsters from families where the parents smoked had a very high tendancy to take up the habit too.

Thailand found that there were more than one smoker in every two homes. About 40% of fathers were smokers while in more than 5% homes, both parents smoked. One out of every two children surveyed was living with more than one smoker. As second hand smokers they could develop asthma and othe respiratory problems. 90% of young Thais were addicted to methamphetamines. Smoking increased thechances of them trying other types of addictive substances.

US policy aimed at opening up the Asian markets to its tobacco products by implementing the 301 Trade Bill has reduced the price of US cigarettes in these countries and made them more attractive to teenagers, participants felt.

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A smoke ring? That'll cost you $280 billion-(Times of India-20/09/2004)

In hearings beginning on 21st September, the US federal government charged Philip Morris, RJ Reynolds, Brown & Williamson (an arm of British American Tobacco, BAT, that is now merging with Reynolds), Lorrilard and Liggett Group plus a british arm of BAT with lying to the public about the hazards of smoking, of trying to fiddle or hide the scientific evidence, of deliberately getting people addicted to nicotine, of selling knowingly to people below the smoking age, of pushing low tar cigarettes as safer than others while knowing they were not and more. All untrue say the companies.

The governments says they made $280 billion in ill-gotten profits and wants it disgorged. In 1998, the four biggest companies reached a deal, the master settlement agreement (MSA) with 46 states that accused them of pushing up the states' health care costs. They agreed to pay $206 billion over the first 25 years via a levy that is by now almost 50 cents a pack. Four other states had already settled for $40 billion over 25 years.

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Smoking stars encourage teens to light up-(Times of India-15/09/2004)

A study published in the American Journal of Public Health says teenagers are influenced by watching their favourite movie starts smoke in reel life. The scene in India is no different. Actors like Vivek Oberoi, Sharukh Khan and Aay Devgan have often been shown smoking in films. In fact WHO put Oberoi on the list of actors who were cast in the maximum number of scenes where they were shown smoking.

Research shows that it is common for teens to ape their favourite starts clothing, hairstyle and jewellery. And habits such as smoking were no exception. Dressing habits, etc are easy to alter because styles evolev but once a teen gets hooked on to smoking, giving it up is difficult.

In the original research, 3,104 non smokers between the age 12-15 to name their two favourite stars from both sexes. The stars were categorised as smokers if they puffed in at least two films. They then reinterviewed the teens three years later and found that more than 40% of the girls and 30% of the boys who had listed their smokers as their favourite stars had started smoking.

Film maker Mahesh Bhatt feels that tobacco companies and not film stars are to blame. But Vivek Oberoi accepts that the youth emulate stars and it is his social responsibility to send across the right message. Following the report, Oberoi, a non-smoker, kick started an anti-tobacco campaign with Cancer Patients Aid Association and managed to convince his directors not to show him smoking on screen.

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