News and Developments


COMMENTARY: Pass statewide smoke ban in Texas

(The Monitor – guest columnist Jessica Duncan Cance)  The Texas Legislature is again, for the fifth session in a row, considering a statewide ban on smoking in public places. One of the important concerns is whether this is yet another example of government intrusion. It is not, and Texans will be healthier if a statewide ban passes.

It’s been more than 50 years since the first surgeon general’s report on tobacco and health. Yet, tobacco use, primarily from cigarette smoking, is still the leading preventable cause of death in the United States.

Why is this? Are we not talking about the dangers of smoking anymore? You could ask almost anyone if it’s a good thing to smoke cigarettes, and they will say no. (I even asked my 6-year-old son, and he said no.)

Unfortunately, knowledge of the potential harm of cigarette smoking is not enough. Although the prevalence of cigarette smoking has declined dramatically during the past 20 years, the latest data show there were still at least 56 million Americans who were current cigarette smokers in 2013. The prevalence of smoking was highest among adults aged 21-34; about 1 in 3 had smoked a cigarette at least once in the past month.

More than 15 years ago, an expert in public health law established a series of criteria that should be met in order to consider public health regulation. If at any point the answer is no, there should be pause for debate.

Does the behavior demonstrate a significant risk? Absolutely. We have decades of studies supporting the link between cigarette smoking and negative health outcomes.

Is the regulation effective? Yes. Most of this information has focused on the impact of secondhand smoke. Studies have shown that when a ban is enacted, exposure to secondhand smoke decreases. In addition to decreasing the likelihood of nonsmokers being exposed to toxic cigarette smoke, my research has shown that comprehensive indoor smoking bans also decrease the overall prevalence of cigarette smoking. In other words, these bans may help smokers decrease their personal health risk as well.

Are there reasonable economic costs of the regulation compared with the benefits? This is an important concern for Texas. But do smoking bans reduce patronage? A study done in Austin in 2007 showed that revenue stayed stable after the passage of the city’s smoking ban, and the same was shown in El Paso. After Wisconsin passed its statewide indoor smoking ban, bars and restaurants actually showed an increase in revenue.

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Denton City Council votes to expand smoking ban, though clubs have grace period

(Denton Record-Chronicle – by A deeply divided City Council slogged through several amendments and procedural moves before voting 5-2 to expand Denton’s smoking ban to e-cigarettes and similar devices.

The ban also extends to all bars, with some getting until the end of 2017 to comply.

Council members Joey Hawkins and John Ryan opposed expanding the ban. Council member Greg Johnson said he was voting for the expanded ban only after negotiating for amendments that softened the blow to existing bar owners. He said he believed some bar owners made investments in their property thinking they had an exemption, since they brokered a compromise two years ago in the original ban on smoking in many public places.

Any bars that have patios will have about 120 days to put an end to indoor smoking. Bars that don’t have patios will have until the end of 2017 to comply, in order to give them a chance to rework their business plans. Those smoking bars will also have new signage requirements until they comply.

The council also reinstated a restriction prohibiting smoking within 30 feet of an entrance. The requirement addresses concerns that smokers might simply step outside a bar in dense area, such as downtown, and create a public nuisance.

No one will be allowed to use e-cigarettes or similar devices any place that smoking is banned. Nor will vapor shops and other retailers be allowed to sell e-cigarettes and similar devices to minors.

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Time to pass full smoking ban

(Denton Record-Chronicle editorial)  We urge Denton City Council members to stop stalling and do the right thing by expanding the city’s smoking ban to include bars.

The smoking ban is scheduled to return to the forefront today when the council deliberates changes it tabled during an April 7 meeting.

That session drew a large turnout of people who offered about three hours of passionate public testimony, some opposing and some supporting an expansion of the current ban.

Those supporting the measure included bartenders, musicians and others who work in bars and asked the council to expand the ban so they could have a smoke-free workplace.

Several health professionals also argued in favor of expanding the ban, saying that the known risks from smoking pose too great a public threat.

Those opposing the measure included bar owners who still allow smoking. They told the council that they fear they will lose their businesses if the current ban is expanded to include them.

Denton originally banned smoking in public places, including workplaces, in late 2012, giving restaurants until early 2013 to comply. But bar owners and the North Texas Fair and Rodeo, which operates a bingo parlor on the fairgrounds, pushed for an exception for their businesses, which the council granted.

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Teen Vaping Triples: E-Cigarettes, Hookahs Threaten Drop In Teen Tobacco Use

(Forbes – by Tara Haelle) Three times as many middle school and high school students used e-cigarettes in 2014 than in 2013, according to an annual survey on youth tobacco use conducted by the CDC and FDA and published yesterday. That’s right — the number of high school students who said they had vaped at least once in the past 30 days tripled in one year, from 4.3% to 13.4% for high school students and from 1.1% to 3.9% for middle school students.

“E-cigarettes are the hot new thing,” said Dr. Harold J. Farber, a pediatric pulmonologist at Texas Children’s Hospital. “They are hip, they are cool, they have candy flavors that appeal to young kids, and they are amazingly discreet.” They also contain one of the most addictive substances that exists, and e-cigarette manufacturers are doing a great job of marketing these products to kids, Farber said.

Yet there is almost no regulation to stop them. Most states ban e-cigarette sales to minors, but that’s clearly not stopping teens from getting them, especially from online orders. The FDA proposed regulations last year but has generally been dragging its feet for years, said Farber, who calls the agency’s sluggishness on the issue “unconscionable.” Further, the proposed regulations do not limit advertising or flavors such as bubblegum, cherry or chocolate that attract kids.

The good news in this CDC report, as highlighted in USA Today is the continuing drop in cigarette smoking among high school students, falling below 10% for the first time (9.4%). Middle school cigarette smoking remained steady at 2.5%. But the combination of e-cigarettes and increasing use of hookahs threaten to undo the progress made in reducing youth cigarette smoking.

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Use of E-Cigarettes Rises Sharply Among Teenagers, Report Says

(The New York Times – by Sabrina Tavernise)  Kenny, stuff a high school senior in Weston, hospital Fla., for sale likes to puff e-cigarettes during study sessions with friends after school. James, a senior in Fauquier County, Va., uses them outside at lunch with friends who do smoke tricks. Tom, a sophomore from Westchester County, uses them while hiking with friends.

E-cigarettes have arrived in the life of the American teenager.

Use of the devices among middle- and high school students tripled from 2013 to 2014, according to federal data released on Thursday, bringing the share of high school students who use them to 13 percent — more than smoke traditional cigarettes.

About a quarter of all high school students and 8 percent of middle school students — 4.6 million young people altogether — used tobacco in some form last year. The sharp rise of e-cigarettes, together with a substantial increase in the use of hookah pipes, led to 400,000 additional young people using a tobacco product in 2014, the first increase in years, though researchers pointed out the percentage of the rise fell within the report’s margin of error.

But the report also told another story. From 2011 to 2014, the share of high school students who smoked traditional cigarettes declined substantially, to 9 percent from 16 percent, and use of cigars and pipes ebbed too. The shift suggested that some teenage smokers may be using e-cigarettes to quit.

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The War Over Vaping’s Health Risks Is Getting Dirty

( – by Danielle Venton)  FOR NICOTINE ENTHUSIASTS, capsule 2015 will be remembered as part of a golden era. Less than 10 years after they were introduced in the United States, treat e-cigarettes have gone relatively unregulated by health agencies, drugstore with companies and users making their own rules in a nicotine-laced Wild West. E-cigarette companies have been advertising their products to adults and children alike, claiming to help smokers quit while simultaneously promoting lollipop-flavored liquids. But now health organizations, including the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and even city-based public health departments are starting to fight back—not in the form of regulations, but with their own media campaigns.

It’s a tough fight to pick. Nationwide, more than 20 million people—about one in 10 adults—have tried e-cigarettes, and plenty of those people have become vaping devotees. That’s due at least in part to the way e-cig companies have advertised their products, unhindered by the FDA’s ad regulations for tobacco products. “It’s totally out of control,” says Stanton Glantz, director of the Center for Tobacco Control Research and Education at the University of California San Francisco. “For the first time since 1972, we have recreational nicotine being advertised on television and radio.” Reminiscent of glamorous smoking ads of the last century, many of the ads feature celebrity endorsements; in a Blu ad, Jenny McCarthy flirts with the camera while rejoicing that she can now smoke without scaring guys away with her smell. And many of them seem shockingly child-centric. “The youth use is exploding in parallel to the marketing,” says Glantz.

What’s a concerned public health agency to do? Fight ads with ads.

Health advocates were relatively slow to react to the onslaught of e-cigarettes, but recently, national, state, and city-level public health organizations have launched their own campaigns against e-cigarettes and their promiscuous advertising. On March 30, the CDC began its first anti-smoking campaign featuring e-cigarette users. Last week, the California Department of Public Health launched a anti-vaping campaign called Still Blowing Smoke. And in January, the San Francisco Department of Health launched #CurbIt, pointing out the dangers of e-cigs and their brazen plays to hook kids while warning residents that vaping is only allowed in the same places as smoking.

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The CDC’s Anti-Smoking Ads Now Include E-Cigarettes

(Bloomberg Business – by John Tozzi)  The Centers for Disease Control (CDC) is launching the latest strike in a long-running media battle between public health authorities and the tobacco industry to sway Americans’ feelings about cigarettes. Starting March 30, shop the CDC will roll out a $68 million ad campaign designed to help smokers quit. The campaign expands on the CDC’s three-year-old “Tips From Former Smokers” series, recipe which enlists real people who’ve been ravaged by smoking. And for the first time, treat the new ads will also include former e-cigarette users.

The message wars between the CDC and Big Tobacco have intensified since the rise of electronic cigarettes, which face none of the advertising restrictions that have kept cigarette ads off television since 1971. Before Richard Nixon signed a ban on broadcast advertising, tobacco companies spent 60 percent of their marketing dollars on TV and radio, even using cartoon characters such as Fred Flintstone to market cigarettes to kids.

The industry’s legal settlement with states in 1998 imposed further marketing limits, including a ban on cartoons and billboards. But now that the big tobacco companies all own e-cigarette brands, anti-smoking advocates fear unfettered e-cigarette advertising will encourage puffing on both nicotine vaporizers and old-fashioned burning tobacco.

“This is really an industry, the larger tobacco industry with e-cigarettes, that threatens to get another generation addicted to nicotine,” said Erika Sward, the American Lung Association’s assistant vice president for national advocacy. Seventeen percent of American high school seniors reported using e-cigarettes in the past month, compared with 14 percent who smoked tobacco cigarettes, according to a national survey published by the University of Michigan in December.

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Fetuses reacting to moms’ smoking

(USA Today – by Mary Bowerman) The harmful effects of smoking while pregnant are displayed on the faces of fetuses, pilule according to new research.

Using high definition images of fetuses in the womb researchers think they can see differences in prenatal developmental behavior in smokers vs. non-smokers.

During a small pilot study, there 20 pregnant women — 16 non-smokers and four smokers — were given ultrasounds to observe fetal activities at 24, viagra 28, 32 and 36 weeks.

The four fetuses of smoking mothers touched their faces and moved their mouths more than those of non-smoking mothers, says the study published in journal Acta Paediatrica.

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FDA Must Act on Federal Tobacco Rule

(Huffington Post – The Blog – by Nancy Brown, ambulance CEO of the American Heart Association) Last Dec. 9, search a tragedy took place in upstate New York.

Around 4 p.m., sickness emergency personnel were called to a home in the village of Fort Plain because a child was “unresponsive.” The 18-month old boy was rushed to the hospital. A little before 6 p.m., he was pronounced dead. The cause of death? The toddler did what toddlers do; he opened a bottle of liquid — one without a childproof cap — and swallowed the contents, which happened to be the highly toxic liquid nicotine made for electronic cigarettes.

The American Academy of Pediatrics says this boy was the first child in the country to die from such an exposure. While that makes this incident a bit of an outlier, it’s also fits the skyrocketing number of incidents involving youngsters ingesting liquid nicotine, one that mirrors the rising popularity of e-cigarettes.

Consider this growth in the number of calls to local poison centers for exposure to e-cigarettes and liquid nicotine. According to the American Association of Poison Centers:

  • In 2011, there were 271 cases.
  • In 2014, there were 3,831 cases; more than half involved children under age 6.
  • In January, 387 cases, an early indication that 2015 could see yet another rise.

About three weeks after the death of the toddler in Fort Plain, New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo signed legislation requiring child-resistant packaging on liquid nicotine products sold in the state and banned their sale to anyone under 18. While this new law will help prevent future tragedies in New York, we urgently need national regulations for e-cigarettes, cigars and other tobacco products.

The frustrating part is that the federal government has yet to follow up on action it began taking last April.

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Smoking in front of your kids may increase their risk of heart disease as adults

(American Heart Association News) Kids exposed to their parents’ smoking may have a higher risk of developing heart disease in adulthood than those whose parents didn’t smoke, doctor according to research in the American Heart Association journal Circulation.

The study’s results add to the growing evidence that exposure to smoking from parents has a lasting effect on children’s cardiovascular health in adulthood.

Researchers tracked participants in the Cardiovascular Risk in Young Finns Study, cialis which included childhood exposure to parental smoking in 1980 and 1983. They collected carotid ultrasound data in adulthood in 2001 and 2007.

In 2014, researchers measured participant’s childhood blood cotinine levels from samples collected and frozen in 1980. Cotinine is a biomarker of passive smoke exposure.

The percent of children with non-detectable cotinine levels were highest among households where neither parent smoked (84 percent), decreased in households where one parent smoked (62 percent) and were lowest among households where both parents smoked (43 percent).

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