TAG: "Tobacco"

Smoking rates drop dramatically among nurses


Significant decline in smoking among RNs found from 2007 to 2011.

Linda Sarna, UCLA

Linda Sarna, UCLA

On the eve of the 50th anniversary of the U.S. surgeon general’s first report alerting the nation to the negative health consequences of lighting up, there is good news about registered nurses who smoke: There are a lot less of them.

A new UCLA study tracking changes in smoking prevalence among nurses and other health care professionals between 2003 and 2011 found that the proportion of registered nurses who smoke dropped by more than a third during that period.

The findings appear in the January issue of JAMA: The Journal of the American Medical Association, which commemorates the surgeon general’s landmark 1964 Report on Smoking and Health.

The study’s principal investigator, Linda Sarna, a professor at the UCLA School of Nursing and oncology nurse who has been committed to tobacco cessation for the past two decades, said she was energized by the results.

“This decline is so important, not just for the health status of nurses but because studies continue to show that smoking by health care professionals sends a mixed message to patients,” she said.

The study used data on health care professionals from the Tobacco Use Supplement for 2003, 2006–07 and 2010–11; the supplement is administered as part of the U.S. Census Bureau’s Current Population Survey.

While the researchers found no significant decline in smoking among registered nurses between 2003 and 2007, the years from 2007 to 2011 witnessed a big drop. The data show that the proportion of registered nurses who smoke dropped from 11 percent to 7 percent — an overall decrease of 36 percent and more than two times the 13 percent decline among the general U.S. population during the same time period.

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Total smoking ban works best


UC San Diego researchers say with no place to puff, smokers more likely to cut back or quit.

Wael Al-Delaimy, UC San Diego

Wael Al-Delaimy, UC San Diego

Completely banning tobacco use inside the home – or more broadly in the whole city – measurably boosts the odds of smokers either cutting back or quitting entirely, report UC San Diego School of Medicine researchers in the current online issue of Preventive Medicine.

“When there’s a total smoking ban in the home, we found that smokers are more likely to reduce tobacco consumption and attempt to quit than when they’re allowed to smoke in some parts of the house,” said Wael K. Al-Delaimy, M.D., Ph.D., professor and chief of the Division of Global Health in the UC San Diego Department of Family and Preventive Medicine.

“The same held true when smokers report a total smoking ban in their city or town. Having both home and city bans on smoking appears to be even more effective.”

Al-Delaimy said the findings underscore the public health importance of smoking bans inside and outside the home as a way to change smoking behaviors and reduce tobacco consumption at individual and societal levels.

“California was the first state in the world to ban smoking in public places in 1994 and we are still finding the positive impact of that ban by changing the social norm and having more homes and cities banning smoking,” he said.

“These results provide quantitative evidence that smoking bans that are mainly for the protection of non-smokers from risks of secondhand smoke actually encourage quitting behaviors among smokers in California. They highlight the potential value of increasing city-level smoking bans and creating a win-win outcome.”

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Statement on UC’s Smoke & Tobacco Free Policy


Effective Jan. 1, 2014, UC will be entirely smoke and tobacco free.

UC Smoke & Tobacco Free PolicyDr. John Stobo, University of California senior vice president for health sciences and services, today (Dec. 18) issued the following statement about UC’s Smoke & Tobacco Free Policy:

The University of California is committed to maintaining a healthy and clean working and learning environment for our employees, students, patients and visitors. As a leading education, research and service university, UC has taken a proactive role in addressing the impact of smoking and tobacco use. Tobacco is the No. 1 cause of preventable disease and death worldwide. The health risks of tobacco use for smokers and secondhand smoke for non-smokers are well established. In addition to serious health risks, there also are environmental concerns from chemicals in cigarette butts that can leach into the soil and waterways.

The University of California Smoke & Tobacco Free Policy is a new systemwide policy that provides an environment that is free of tobacco and smoke in an effort to create a clean, healthy working and learning atmosphere. This policy benefits everyone.

Effective Jan. 1, 2014, the University of California will be entirely smoke and tobacco free. Smoking and the use of all tobacco products including cigarettes, e-cigarettes, cigars, snuff, water pipes, pipes, hookahs, chew and any other non-combustible tobacco product will be prohibited across all campuses and facilities, including inside buildings, outdoor areas and sidewalks, parking lots, and residential housing areas.

This is a major change for many people and will require all members of the university community to be ambassadors for this initiative. The university is wholly committed to helping faculty, staff and students who want to quit smoking by offering an extensive selection of cessation resources such as health plan benefit programs, one-on-one or group cessation and education, and referrals to cessation resources.

I would like to congratulate the University of California campuses for their successful implementation of this policy as part of their ongoing commitment to the health and well-being of the entire university community. Thank you for your contribution to maintaining the university’s culture of health and safety.

For more information on the Smoke & Tobacco Free Policy and a comprehensive guide to cessation resources for university staff and students, including mobile apps, links to multiple websites and other helpful resources, please visit ucal.us/tobaccofree.

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Clearing the air on electronic cigarettes


Long-term effects not known.

SmokeIf you haven’t seen someone puffing on an electronic cigarette yet, you probably will soon. Sales of the devices are soaring. And the debate about the safety of e-cigarettes is heating up, too.

Manufacturers of the battery-powered devices say their products carry far fewer health risks than regular cigarettes and can help smokers quit.

But critics say e-cigarettes are dangerous to the user and to people exposed to secondhand vapor.

Meanwhile, scientists are struggling to do the kind of research that could help clear the air on key health questions.

“Because it can take many years for the detrimental effects of inhaled substances to develop, the long-term effects of e-cigarette use or secondhand vapor exposure are not known,” says Dr. Matthew Brenner, professor in the UC Irvine Division of Pulmonary Diseases and Critical Care Medicine. “The rise in use of these devices is associated with many unanswered scientific questions regarding risks that will require long-term studies.”

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UC goes tobacco free starting January 2014


Sales, ads and use of cigarettes will go away throughout the UC system.

Ashtray full of cigarette butts (iStock photo)

All UC campuses will be tobacco-free in 2014 (iStock photo)

By Katherine Tam

University of California campuses across the state will be tobacco free come the New Year, demonstrating UC’s commitment to provide a healthy environment for faculty, staff, students and visitors.

A leader in strong health care practices, UC already bans smoking at its five medical centers. The new tobacco-free policy that begins in January 2014 goes a step further by extending the ban to all campuses and anywhere on campus, including residence halls and parking lots, and also by prohibiting the sale and advertising of tobacco products.

UCLA, UC San Diego and UCSF implemented the new policy earlier this year, with positive results.

“Tobacco use and secondhand smoke continue to be the leading causes of preventable death in the country,” said Cheryl Lloyd, interim director of Risk Services at UC’s Office of the President, which is leading the effort. “We can do our part to help change that by providing a smoke-free environment on our campuses so our employees, students and visitors aren’t exposed to something that damages their health.”

UC’s new tobacco-free policy bans a wide range of products, including cigarettes, chewing tobacco and electronic cigarettes.

Enforcement will rely primarily on educating smokers about the dangers of lighting up and other types of tobacco use, and promoting campus resources to help them quit.

Faculty and staff who want to quit smoking can access many resources through any UC-sponsored 2014 medical plan. All the 2014 plans will offer prescription nicotine replacement therapies, such as nicotine inhalers and sprays, at no cost when prescribed by a doctor. Over-the-counter nicotine replacement therapies, such as nicotine patches and gum, when prescribed by a doctor, will be available at the generic copay price for those enrolled in UC Care, Health Net Blue and Gold, and Western Health Advantage. Kaiser members have no copay. Under Core and the Blue Shield Health Savings Plan, these will be subject to the deductible and co-insurance.

UCLA was the first UC academic campus to go tobacco free, kicking off the new policy on Earth Day, April 22. Banners and signs declaring UCLA tobacco free pepper the campus. Wallet-size informational cards are given to smokers to remind them of the policy and available resources to help them quit.

Because the medical center sits inside the academic campus boundaries, UCLA sees a large number of new visitors every day – a challenge when it comes to keeping people educated about the new policy.

Nevertheless, Michael Ong, co-chair of UCLA’s Tobacco-Free Task Force, said there’s been a noticeable decline in smoking around campus, and a survey of cigarette butts collected in hot-spot areas indicates that people are following the new policy. The Institute of the Environment and Sustainability, which conducted biweekly counts before and after the policy was implemented, found that the number of butts in hot-spot areas dropped from an average of 600 to 160.

While smoking has declined, Ong said that reaching 100 percent compliance with the new policy will take time. Tobacco users may struggle with stopping tobacco use on campus or quitting smoking due to nicotine’s addictive qualities. Ong said the task force is working on reinforcing for these continuing users how to comply with the new policy and resources that can help with cessation.

“Nicotine addiction makes quitting smoking very difficult,” said Linda Sarna, chair of UCLA’s task force and a professor of nursing who has studied nurses’ involvement in helping people quit. “There are still lots of misconceptions about quitting by going ‘cold turkey.’”

Studies find low success rates for those who try to quit smoking without support or the medications that relieve withdrawal symptoms, she said. Only three to five out of 100 people will still be smoke-free a year after going cold turkey, studies show, and it often takes five to six attempts before people are able to fully quit.

The campus has partnered with Los Angeles County Department of Public Health to offer a free two-week supply of nicotine patches to faculty, staff and students who want to quit. This is in addition to the resources available through UC-sponsored medical plans.

More than 1,100 other colleges and universities across the country have banned smoking on their campuses, including in residence halls.

More information
Read about UC’s Smoke and Tobacco Free Policy, including facts and frequently asked questions.

For those who want help quitting, resources include:

Katherine Tam is a communications coordinator in Internal Communications at UC’s Office of the President.

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HIV plus HPV leads to increased anal cancer risk in men


Researchers also report that smoking increases risk of infection with specific types of HPV.

Dorothy Wiley, UCLA

Dorothy Wiley, UCLA

Human papillomavirus, or HPV, which can cause cervical cancer in women, is also known to cause anal cancer in both women and men. Now, a study led by researchers at the UCLA School of Nursing has found that older HIV-positive men who have sex with men are at higher risk of becoming infected with the HPVs that most often cause anal cancer.

The researchers also report that smoking increases the risk of infection with specific types of HPV among both HIV-infected and uninfected older men by up to 20 percent. This is the first large U.S. study of a group of HIV-infected and uninfected men between the ages of 40 and 69 who have sex with men. Study participants were examined twice a year for up to 25 years.

“Invasive anal cancer is a health crisis for gay, bisexual and other men who have sex with men,” said Dorothy J. Wiley, associate professor at the UCLA School of Nursing and lead author of the study, which was published Nov. 20 in the journal PLOS ONE. “Right now, invasive anal cancer rates among HIV-infected men who have sex with men surpass rates for seven of the top 10 cancers in men.”

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E-cigarettes: New route to smoking addiction for adolescents


Study raises concern about effects of “Wild West marketing of e-cigarettes on youth.”

Electronic cigaretteE-cigarettes have been widely promoted as a way for people to quit smoking conventional cigarettes.

Now, in the first study of its kind, UC San Francisco researchers are reporting that, at the point in time they studied, youth using e-cigarettes were more likely to be trying to quit, but also were less likely to have stopped smoking and were smoking more, not less.

“We are witnessing the beginning of a new phase of the nicotine epidemic and a new route to nicotine addiction for kids,” according to senior author Stanton A. Glantz, Ph.D., UCSF professor of medicine and director of the Center for Tobacco Control Research and Education at UCSF.

E-cigarettes are battery-powered devices that look like cigarettes and deliver an aerosol of nicotine and other chemicals. Promoted as safer alternatives to cigarettes and smoking cessation aids, e-cigarettes are rapidly gaining popularity among adults and youth in the United States and around the world. The devices are largely unregulated, with no effective controls on marketing them to minors.

In the UCSF study, the researchers assessed e-cigarette use among youth in Korea, where the devices are marketed much the way they are in the U.S. The study analyzed smoking among some 75,000 Korean youth.

The study appears online in the current issue of the Journal of Adolescent Health.

“Our paper raises serious concern about the effects of the Wild West marketing of e-cigarettes on youth,” said Glantz.

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Costly cigarettes and smoke-free homes


Researchers find both effectively reduce tobacco consumption among low-income smokers.

John Pierce, UC San Diego

John Pierce, UC San Diego

Researchers at the UC San Diego School of Medicine say high-priced cigarettes and smoke-free homes effectively reduce smoking behaviors among low-income individuals – a demographic in which tobacco use has remained comparatively high.

Writing in today’s (Oct. 17) issue of the American Journal of Public Health, principal investigator John P. Pierce, Ph.D., professor at UC San Diego School of Medicine and director for population sciences at UC San Diego Moores Cancer Center, and colleagues found that expensive cigarettes – $4.50 or more per pack – were associated with lower consumption across all levels.

“Living in a state where the average price paid for cigarettes is low ($3.20 or less per pack) means that all smokers, regardless of income, will smoke a lot more than those who live in a state with higher prices,” said Pierce. “This is the case for those living below the federal poverty level as well as for the wealthy.”

When smokers agreed to a smoke-free home, not only were they more likely to reduce their smoking but, in addition, if they quit, they were less likely to relapse.

“Price is a deterrent to smoking,” said Pierce, “but successful quitting (90 or more days) was associated in this study only with a smoke-free home.”

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Cigarette alternatives may not be ‘safe’ tobacco


UC Davis researchers find increasing use of cigars, hookahs most dangerous trends.

Michael Schivo, UC Davis

Michael Schivo, UC Davis

Cigarette alternatives, widely perceived to be safe, are often addictive and can be stepping stones to cigarette smoking, according to a scientific review published online in the journal Clinical Reviews in Allergy and Immunology.

The evaluation — which focused on electronic cigarettes, cigars, smokeless tobacco and hookahs — was conducted by UC Davis pulmonary physicians hoping to guide health-care providers in helping patients reduce, or eliminate altogether, their nicotine consumption.

“I talk with patients all the time who want to quit cigarettes or who want the stimulant effects of nicotine while avoiding the harmful effects of cigarettes, and they think these alternatives can help,” said Michael Schivo, assistant professor of internal medicine at UC Davis and the lead author of the review. “No tobacco or nicotine product should ever be considered safe, but we wanted to know if four of the more popular cigarette alternatives were safer than cigarettes.”

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UCSF awarded $20M federal grant on tobacco regulatory sciences


New research will help regulate tobacco products to protect public health.

Stanton Glantz, UC San Francisco

Stanton Glantz, UC San Francisco

UC San Francisco will receive a five-year, $20 million grant as part of a first-of-its-kind tobacco science regulatory program by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) and the National Institutes of Health (NIH).

The overall aim is to conduct programs of multidisciplinary research that will inform the FDA’s regulation of the manufacture, distribution and marketing of tobacco products to protect public health.

UCSF is one of 14 institutions nationally to be awarded the new Tobacco Centers of Regulatory Science (TCORS) grants.

The UCSF principal investigator is Stanton A. Glantz, Ph.D., director of the UCSF Center for Tobacco Control Research and Education.

“We have identified serious problems in the way that the FDA has done cost-benefit analysis of major tobacco regulations, most notably warning labels on cigarette packages,” Glantz said. “In particular, the FDA underestimated the immediate benefits of smoking prevention and cessation, and based its behavioral assumptions on outmoded ideas.

“By combining cutting-edge economic research with modern behavior studies, and studies of the immediate effects of smoke exposure on the cardiovascular and pulmonary systems, we hope to help the FDA develop more realistic cost-benefit models that will better support sensible regulation.”

Altogether, the 14 new centers will receive $53 million in federal funding for tobacco-related research in fiscal year 2013, and potentially $273 million over the next five years.

“For the first time … the federal government … is able to bring science-based regulation to the manufacturing, marketing and distribution of tobacco products,” said FDA Commissioner Margaret A. Hamburg, MD, in a statement. “The FDA is committed to a science-based approach that addresses the complex public health issues raised by tobacco product regulation.”

Representing a significant investment in federal tobacco regulatory science, the new centers will be comprised of scientists with expertise in fields including epidemiology, behavior, biology, medicine, economics, chemistry, toxicology, addictions, public health, communications and marketing. The UCSF TCORS spans all these areas.

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Varenicline helps smokers with depression to quit


Smoking-cessation drug helps some patients quit without worsening depressive symptoms.

Robert Anthenelli, UC San Diego

Robert Anthenelli, UC San Diego

About half of smokers seeking treatment for smoking cessation have a history of depression. Compared with smokers who are not depressed, those who suffer from a major depressive disorder (MDD) have greater difficulty quitting.

In a Pfizer-sponsored clinical trial to assess the effect of varenicline (Chantix) on smoking cessation, as well as mood and anxiety levels in smokers with current or a history of depression, researchers concluded that the drug does help some of these patients to quit smoking without worsening symptoms of depression or anxiety.

The study was led by Robert Anthenelli, M.D., associate chief of staff for mental health at VA San Diego Healthcare System and professor of psychiatry at UC San Diego School of Medicine, where he directs the Pacific Treatment and Research Center.  It will be published Sept. 17 in the journal Annals of Internal Medicine.

“Depression and smoking are among the leading causes of disability and death in the world, yet studies testing smoking cessation drugs generally exclude participants who are taking antidepressants, and relapse rates are high among those who do manage to quit,” said Anthenelli. “To our knowledge, this was the first randomized, controlled study of the prescription smoking-cessation drug, varenicline, which we found to help patients with depression quit smoking, without worsening their depressive symptoms.”

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Ban cigarette filters, urge researchers


“The problem is not just the toxicity but the sheer volume of the things.”

Ashtray full of cigarette butts (Photo by iStock)The French don’t mind if you smoke, but, s’il vous plaît, do not throw your cigarette butts on the charmingly cobblestoned streets of Montmartre.

The city of Paris is installing thousands of ashtrays on the streets, hoping to clean up what one official called a carpet of cigarette butts that has appeared in the five years since smoking was banned inside bars and cafes. But according to studies by UC researchers, neither outdoor ashtrays nor recycling programs will solve the problem of cigarette butts, which contain toxic chemicals and stack up at the rate of 5.6 trillion a year.

What’s needed is an outright ban on filtered cigarettes, said Richard Barnes, a policy researcher at the UCSF Center for Tobacco Control Research and Education.

“The problem is not just the toxicity but the sheer volume of the things. It’s not like a McDonald’s wrapper you see blowing down the street,” Barnes said.

If a ban on filtered cigarettes sounds radical, consider this: Filters don’t make cigarettes less toxic and, in fact, may make them more dangerous. Filters concentrate cigarette toxins and contain several of their own. They’re made of plastic, which isn’t biodegradable; and these toxic pellets travel long distances, including along waterways, joining the gyre of floating plastic in the ocean.

Even the cigarette industry tacitly acknowledges that cigarette butts are a problem. In November 2012, New Mexico-based Santa Fe Natural Tobacco Co. the maker of American Spirit cigarettes and a subsidiary of R.J. Reynolds, announced a national recycling program to turn cigarette butts into pellets to make items such as plastic shipping pallets, railroad ties and park benches.

But solutions offered by cigarette manufacturers tend to be PR ploys, not real answers, say Barnes and other researchers. Funding beach cleanups by groups like the Ocean Conservancy instills an image of cigarette butts as simple litter rather than toxic waste. Funding from the cigarette industry also puts pressure on environmental groups to take it easy on cigarette manufacturers, whose product is linked to a number of environmental concerns, including not only cigarette butt waste, but also large-scale deforestation in tobacco-producing countries like Brazil and Malawi.

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Related link:
Study documents cigarette environmental hazards

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