¿Por qué nosotros no? Acción Ciudadana por la Salud y el cambio de la Ley Española de Tabaco

World No Tobacco Day helps people consider quitting

31/05/2012 Mary MacVean - LA Times

May 31, 2012

Today is the 25th anniversary of World No Tobacco Day, one of many days set aside to focus awareness on an issue or a cause. But this one is more than just a publicity ploy, researchers say.

Researchers from the Informatics Program at Children's Hospital Boston and Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health monitored news promoting the stopping of smoking in seven Latin American countries. They also looked at Internet queries for cessation, and found they increased as much as 84% on that day, compared with other days.

Douglas Bettcher, director of the Tobacco Free Initiative of the World Health Organization, says that almost 6 million people die from tobacco each year. And a majority of those people live in low- and middle-income countries, says Joanna Cohen, who leads the Bloomberg School's Institute for Global Tobacco Control.

The study shows that the World No Tobacco Day promotes awareness and interest in quitting, Cohen says. In a statement, she called the day an “effective reminder and inspiration.”

Their findings ...

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... appear in the May/June issue of Journal of Medical Internet Research.

But more than desire plays a role, according to research published this week in the American Journal of Psychiatry that shows genetics can play a role in whether someone can quit on their own or needs medication to help.

The study adds to the knowledge about genetic vulnerability to nicotine dependence, and can provide information useful to creating quitting programs, says Nora Volkow, director of the National Institute of Drug Abuse, which is part of the federal National Institutes of Health.

The researchers focused on specific variations in a cluster of nicotinic receptor genes, and found that people with the high-risk form of that cluster took two more years to quit on average than those with the low-risk genes. They found that medications for quitting increased the likelihood of quitting in the higher-risk group.

"We found that the effects of smoking cessation medications depend on a person's genes," Dr. Li-Shiun Chen of the Washington University School of Medicine said in a statement.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention says smoking or exposure to others’ smoking leads to 440,000 preventable deaths a year. More than 46 million U.S. adults smoke, the agency says.

Are You Safe on That Sofa?

21/05/2012 Nicholas d.Kristof N Y TIMES

Tobacco companies were facing growing pressure to produce fire-safe cigarettes, because so many house fires started with smoldering cigarettes. So tobacco companies mounted a surreptitious campaign for flame retardant furniture, rather than safe cigarettes, as the best way to reduce house fires.

Chances are that if you’re sitting on a couch right now, it contains flame retardants. This will probably do no good if your house catches fire — although it may release toxic smoke. There is growing concern that the chemicals are hazardous, with evidence mounting of links to cancer, fetal impairment and reproductive problems.

For years, I’ve written about this type of chemical, endocrine disruptors, but The Chicago Tribune has just published a devastating investigative series called “Playing With Fire” that breaks vast new ground. It is superb journalism.

It turns out that our furniture first became full of flame retardants because of the tobacco industry, according to internal cigarette company documents examined by The Tribune. A generation ago, ...

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... tobacco companies were facing growing pressure to produce fire-safe cigarettes, because so many house fires started with smoldering cigarettes. So tobacco companies mounted a surreptitious campaign for flame retardant furniture, rather than safe cigarettes, as the best way to reduce house fires.

The documents show that cigarette lobbyists secretly organized the National Association of State Fire Marshals and then guided its agenda so that it pushed for flame retardants in furniture. The fire marshals seem to have been well intentioned, but utterly manipulated.

An advocacy group called Citizens for Fire Safety later pushed for laws requiring fire retardants in furniture. It describes itself as “a coalition of fire professionals, educators, community activists, burn centers, doctors, fire departments and industry leaders.”

But Citizens for Fire Safety has only three members, which also happen to be the three major companies that manufacture flame retardants: Albemarle Corporation, ICL Industrial Products and Chemtura Corporation.

Citizens for Fire Safety paid a prominent Seattle physician, Dr. David Heimbach, who testified in some states in favor of flame retardants. Dr. Heimbach, the former president of the American Burn Association, told lawmakers stories of children who had burned to death on cushioning that lacked flame retardants.

According to The Tribune, Dr. Heimbach made these stories up. Dr. Heimbach told me that the stories were real, with details changed to protect the survivors’ privacy. He said he testified for flame retardants because he believed in them, not because of money he received.

The problem with flame retardants is that they migrate into dust that is ingested, particularly by children playing on the floor. R. Thomas Zoeller, a biologist at the University of Massachusetts, told me that while there have been many studies on animals, there is still uncertainty about the impact of flame retardants on humans. But he said that some retardants were very similar to banned PCBs, which have been linked to everything from lower I.Q. to diabetes, and that it was reasonable to expect certain flame retardants to have similar consequences.

“Despite all that we have learned about PCBs, we are making the same mistakes with flame retardants,” he said.

Linda Birnbaum, the top toxicologist at the National Institutes of Health, put it to me this way: “If flame retardants really provided fire safety, there would be reason for them in certain circumstances, like on an airplane. But there’s growing evidence that they don’t provide safety and may increase harm.”

Arlene Blum, a chemist at the University of California, Berkeley, told me, “For pregnant women, they can alter brain development in the fetus.” Her research decades ago led to the removal of a flame retardant, chlorinated Tris, from children’s pajamas. But chlorinated Tris is still used in couches and nursing pillows (without any warning labels).

The European Union has banned one common flame retardant, Deca BDE, and has generally been more willing to regulate endocrine disruptors than the United States. Why the difference?

“The money is jingling,” notes Senator Frank Lautenberg, a Democrat of New Jersey. Lautenberg has introduced legislation, the Safe Chemicals Act, that would tighten controls — but it has gotten nowhere.

It’s not easy for a democracy to regulate technical products like endocrine disruptors that may offer great benefits as well as complex risks, especially when the hazards remain uncertain. A generation ago, Big Tobacco played the system like a violin, and now Big Chem is doing the same thing.

This campaign season, you’ll hear fervent denunciations of “burdensome government regulation.” When you do, think of the other side of the story: your home is filled with toxic flame retardants that serve no higher purpose than enriching three companies. The lesson is that we need not only safer couches but also a political system less distorted by toxic money.

Tobacco war goes to Sharjah supermarkets

05/05/2012 Khaleej Times

Afkar Abdullah

3:40 a.m. CDT, May 4, 2012

The Sharjah Municipal Council on Thursday drafted a law banning the sale of tobacco in all groceries and supermarkets located in residential areas in the emirate.

The move is part of the council's efforts to ensure public health and fight the bad habit of smoking among students and children.

The meeting chaired by council chairman Salim Al Shamsi recommended referring the draft law to higher authorities for approval.

A top official at the municipality said the new law has been drafted following an increasing number of complaints from parents that groceries are not abiding by the instructions not to sell tobacco products to minors. A number of schools have also lodged complaints about shops encouraging smoking among teenagers.

The draft law includes tough penalties against violating shops, starting from issuing warning letters, followed by temporary or permanent shutdown.

Once the law is approved, the municipality would serve notices on all supermarkets and groceries and give them enough time ...

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... to implement the law. After that period, the municipality would intensify inspections and punish errant outlets.

A federal anti-tobacco law is also ready but awaits implementation. By August, tobacco products in the country will carry graphic images and warnings that will cover 50 per cent of the packet.

Health authorities in the country spend millions of dirhams on treating cardiovascular diseases (CVDs) caused by smoking, hypertension, physical inactivity and diabetes among other risk factors. These diseases are also the leading cause of death in the Emirates. One in every four deaths is due to CVDs while smoking causes one-tenth of such diseases worldwide. Tobacco-related deaths have nearly tripled in the past decade and big tobacco firms are undermining public efforts that could save millions, a report led by the health campaign group the World Lung Foundation said in March.

The report said if current trends continue, a billion people will die from tobacco use and exposure this century -- one person every six seconds. Tobacco has killed 50 million people in the last 10 years, and tobacco is responsible for more than 15 per cent of all male deaths and seven per cent of female deaths, the new Tobacco Atlas report found.

The world's six biggest tobacco firms made $35.1 billion in profits in 2010 -- equal to the combined earnings of Coca-Cola, Microsoft and McDonald's, the report said.

According to a survey, there has been a quantum leap in the number of student smokers over the past five years. Also, 82 per cent of youngsters have had their first cigarette by the age of 14.


Asthma Capitals: Ranking Reveals 10 Worst Cities For Asthma-Sufferers

02/05/2012 The Huffington Post

For people with asthma, some cities are harder to live in than others.

A new ranking from the Asthma and Allergy Foundation of America shows just which cities are the worst for people who have asthma, taking into account issues like pollen counts, ozone days and air quality, the prevalence of asthma medication use and public smoking bans.

For the ranking, the AAFA looked at 12 overall factors in 100 cities around the U.S., based on data from a number of sources including the U.S. Census, National Annual Pollen Measurements and Reports, the CDC's National Health Interview Survey and the EPA's Air Quality System Air Quality and Ozone Data.

"Many local community issues like air pollution, poverty or crowded emergency rooms are asthma-related issues that affect one patient at a time, one day at a time, right here in our own cities and towns," Bill McLin, President and CEO of the Asthma and Allergy Foundation of America (AAFA), said in a statement.

The ranking comes on the heels of a CDC report showing that asthma affected 8.4 percent of the U.S. ...

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... population, or 25.7 million people, in 2010 -- an increase from 7.3 percent in 2001, Everyday Health reported.

In addition, asthma seems to be slightly more prevalent among women than men, with 9.2 percent of women reporting having asthma compared with 7 percent of men, MSNBC reported.

There are multiple known asthma triggers, according to the Mayo Clinic, including allergens (like pollen or dander), air pollution, exercise, allergic reactions, stress, the cold, some medications and allergic food reactions. Genetics may also play a part.

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