China Is Finally Getting Tough On Smoking

In a striking case for country of 350 million smokers, a man in the southwestern Chinese metropolis of Chongqing was jailed for five days for smoking in a wholesale market, according to local newspaper the Chongqing Evening News.
The man, who was only identified by his surname, Zhao, was shipped off to the local police station by firefighters on Saturday after he was discovered puffing on a cigarette in an emergency stairwell at the wholesale market, one of the city’s biggest. Originally from Hubei province, Zhao had travelled to Chongqing a few days earlier to visit his son, who runs a shop at the market (report in Chinese here).
Chinese language media report that Zhao, 56, is the first person to be detained for smoking in public in Chongqing since China’s new fire-control regulations came into effect May 1. Under the regulations, anyone who smokes or lights an open flame in a hazardous situation can be subject to up to five days detention. But others have reportedly been detained elsewhere in China. On Aug. 2, two men in the northeast city of Anshan were detained for three days for smoking in a local supermarket and refusing to follow orders from fire officials to stop. In May, a man from Zhuzhou city in Hunan province was subject to 10 days detention for smoking and disorderly conduct towards police.
A local fire-department official quoted by Chinese media said Zhao’s detention was part of a broader fire-prevention campaign. Officials said the Public Security Bureau issued a plan of action for the run-up to the 60th anniversary of the Communist Party’s assumption of power on Oct. 1, stating that “all persons who smoke in places with risks of fire or explosion must be detained for five days.”
“There are no-smoking signs everywhere in the market, but he still chose to smoke,” said a fire official, “which makes it a serious case.”
Some, including Zhao’s son, believe the punishment was too harsh. Public opinion appears to be nearly split, according to an unscientific poll on Chinese Web portal Sina.com: of the 7,366 respondents who chose to respond, more than 50% so far agree with the statement that “the punishment is too harsh given that no serious damage was caused by the smoker,” while 46% said they supported the local fire department.
The incident appears to have already had a lasting impact on at least one person. “I will never smoke in markets again,” Zhao said, according to local media, adding that he planned to quit smoking altogether.
31 Aug, 2009 Wsj

Smoke-Free Laws Push Questionable Tobacco Alternatives

LANSING, Mich. – Not being able to light up legally in a public place in many Michigan communities doesn’t mean the tobacco companies and others have stopped trying to get people hooked on nicotine. A raft of new products are hitting the marketplace, designed to allow people to inhale or ingest nicotine without smoke – and that has the American Lung Association concerned.
The so-called e-cigarette is one such product. The battery-powered device looks like a real paper-and-tobacco cigarette but pumps a nicotine vapor into the lungs, without putting out smoke, according to the Kathy Drea of the Lung Association.
“They do contain carcinogens and toxic chemicals. They’re even saying that some of the toxic chemicals are very similar to the ones that are found in antifreeze.”
Drea says there is also a new push by the tobacco companies to market variations of dissolvable tobacco products. These tablets or strips are smokeless, spit-free, made from finely milled tobacco, and held together by food-grade binders similar to candy.
Drea says some of these are being packaged in containers that look like cell phones to appeal to younger users who may want to hide their tobacco use. These products are currently being test-marketed in various locations across the country, and Drea says big tobacco hasn’t given up trying to attract new customers just because many states and areas are now smoke-free.
“They look like they are in a package that is kind of in the shape of a cell phone, so kids can put it in their pocket and anybody would think that they have a cell phone in their pocket.”
Drea says these tobacco products are being marketed as an alternative to smoking when users are in situations where they cannot smoke.
“They’re clearly designed to appeal to children both through the packaging and through the taste, but it’s not a safe product either.”
The Lung Association is calling for FDA authority to regulate all tobacco products including these new hybrid tobacco “candy” products.
Tobacco companies claim the products are a safer alternative to smoking.
August 31, 2009 Glen Gardner, Public News Service

Gruesome cigarette warning labels are coming to the U.S.

Gruesome pictorial cigarette-package warnings will be coming to the U.S. relatively soon, according to a recent article in The Atlanta Journal-Constitution.
The startlingly graphic labels — which are already required in many countries around the world – typically feature photos of people ravaged by diseases caused from smoking, in an effort to discourage tobacco use.
How intense are they? Many depict rotting teeth. Huge tumors. Festering sores …
Dramatic indeed, but are they enough to make people quit smoking? Apparently the Obama Administration is willing to try, as part of the Family Smoking Prevention and Tobacco Control Act signed into law on June 22.
The debate is likely to be fierce as the FDA and tobacco companies grapple with exactly how to implement the directive. But there is evidence that graphic warnings do make a difference in smoking rates. The Atlanta Journal-Constitution says that smoking rates have dropped five percent since graphic cigarette-pack warnings became mandatory in 2000.
The new U.S. law directs the FDA to come up with specifics on the required graphic warnings within two years. From that point, tobacco companies will then have 18 months to comply.
For examples of what the new warnings may look like, the Tobacco Labeling Resource Center has a photo gallery of graphic cigarette warnings from around the world
SOURCE: The Atlanta Journal-Constitution

Smoking in the military: An old habit dies hard

FORWARD OPERATING BASE FALCON, Iraq — Gen. Douglas MacArthur had his signature corncob pipe. Soldiers got cigarettes in their C-rations during World War II. Even today, America’s war on tobacco seems to have largely bypassed the military.
Now a proposal to make the forces smoke-free is drawing strong reactions from troops who have served in Iraq and Afghanistan, even though the Pentagon itself says any ban is a long way off.
The troops’ fears — and, in some cases, hopes — were triggered by a study commissioned by the Pentagon and the Veterans Affairs Department that recommends moving toward a tobacco-free military, perhaps in about 20 years.
“Your nerves get all rattled and you need something to calm you down,” said Staff Sgt. Jerry Benson of San Bernadino, California, with the 5th Stryker Brigade in southern Afghanistan.
Benson, a tall, thin redhead with a buzz cut, said his first attempt to quit smoking was foiled by stress from a roadside bombing in Iraq.
Defense Secretary Robert Gates seems to agree.
“He knows that the situation they are confronting is stressful enough as it is,” said his press secretary, Geoff Morrell. “I don’t think he is interested in adding to the stress levels by taking away one of the few outlets they may have to relieve stress.”
He said Gates is not planning any ban, but is reviewing the study by the Institute of Medicine, which provides independent advice to policymakers, health professionals and the public, to see if steps can be taken toward having a smoke-free force some day.
U.S. military personnel and veterans interviewed by The Associated Press had strong opinions about life in the military without cigarettes, cigars and chewing tobacco.
Some said it would cut medical costs and make the force healthier, while eliminating smoking breaks would increase productivity. Others said it would dampen morale and reduce recruitment to the all-volunteer military.
Nearly all, however, said it was impractical and probably would never happen.
“It’s an outrage,” said Staff Sgt. Joe Dunn, 32. “I’ve been smoking for about 15 years and being forced to stop — not on my own terms — is something I’d have a hard time dealing with.”
Dunn, of Gastonia, North Carolina, spoke during a cigarette break at the dusty Forward Operating Base Falcon south of Baghdad.
“I’m a fairly high-strung individual to start with,” Dunn said. “If I were forced to quit, I’d probably be unbearable.”
While smoking has declined in the U.S. civilian population, it remains high in the military despite various measures such as designating smoking areas.
In 2005, a third of the active-duty military smoked compared with a fifth of the adult U.S. population, the Institute of Medicine study said. Tobacco use in the military declined overall from 1980 to 2005, but is now reflecting the effects of the Iraq and Afghanistan wars.
Smoking rates among military personnel returning from both war zones may be 50 percent higher than among those not deployed, according to the study, which argues that the military has not tackled the problem as a priority.
To the troops who say smoking relaxes them, Ellen Hahn, an expert, explains that their stress is also a result of tobacco, because nicotine acts as both a stimulant and a depressant.
“For people who are in stressful situations much like the military, if you haven’t had a cigarette in two hours, you’re going to feel stressed out and irritable, and it’s mostly because of the withdrawal,” said Hahn, a professor who runs the University of Kentucky’s Tobacco Policy Research Program.
“Nicotine is one of those drugs that both stimulates you and calms you down when you need it,” she said.
So smoking does ease stress, but also creates it, she said.
Smokers are easy to find at the Falcon base, perched on railings in the designated smoking areas, using soft-drink cans for ashtrays.
“Smoking has been proven bad for your health, but it’s a choice. It’s not illegal. Drunk driving is illegal,” said Air Force Staff Sgt. Alexander Roehm, 23, of Cincinnati, Ohio, who smokes 10 to 20 cigarettes a day and also chews tobacco. “Look at the movies. Smoking is one of the things you always see with Vietnam and World War II films. In World War II, smoking was a big thing. My grandpa used to say that cigarettes were one of the big things that they were real happy to get. It was just something to do.”
Inside a smoke-free building at the base, however, Maj. Mathew Fitch, engineer for the 30th Heavy Brigade Combat Team, was cheering the prospect of a smoking ban.
The 40-year-old nonsmoker said cigarettes not only impair a soldier’s health, but burn up productivity because every hour or two, somebody goes out and rounds up buddies for a puff.
“A smoke break can be a 20-minute affair,” said Fitch, of Charlotte, North Carolina.
At Kandahar Air Field in southern Afghanistan, cigarette butts litter a courtyard.
Army Staff Sgt. Bob Flores, with the 5th Stryker Brigade from Fort Lewis, Washington, said he and his wife have agreed to quit together — pushed by their 8-year-old son — but only when he gets home.
“It’s not the best time now — the stress of being here, and her being home alone,” he said.
Tobacco costs the Defense Department more than $1.6 billion a year in medical care and lost work days, while the Veterans Administration has spent more than $5 billion to treat veterans for tobacco-related illnesses. Both have been working for years to reduce smoking among soldiers and vets.
The Pentagon laid out a plan in 1999 to reduce smoking rates by 5 percent a year by 2001 — and couldn’t achieve the goal. Meanwhile, military commissaries still sell cigarettes at heavily discounted prices.
The military has, however, imposed some restrictions.
Tobacco use is barred during basic training. Several service branches also prohibit indulging while walking in uniform. Indoor smoking areas must have air extractors.
Even some tobacco consumers think a complete ban would be good.
“I think it would help healthwise,” said Army Spc. Zack Lindsay, 24, of Raleigh, North Carolina, who serves in Headquarters Company of the 30th Heavy Brigade Combat Team in Iraq. He said he stopped smoking, but still chews tobacco. “I stopped one for the other.”
Army Spc. John Beall, 20, of Charlotte, N.C., who serves in Headquarters Company of the 30th Heavy Brigade Combat Team in Iraq, said he tends to light up when he’s bored and when others are smoking around him. He said he wouldn’t oppose a ban.
Ricky Wilkerson, 49, of Lebanon, Tennessee, is in a stop-smoking program at the Veterans Administration hospital in Nashville. His family farmed tobacco in Kentucky, but he didn’t start smoking until he was a 21-year-old Army infantryman stationed at the Panama Canal. He thinks the military should ban smoking, yet admits there were times when he was happy to have a smoke to relax.
“You’re in the maneuvers and you’ve worked hard all day and they said ‘Stop, light ’em if you got ’em.’ Everybody fired up a cigarette,” Wilkerson said.
During his deployment in Iraq in 2005, Spc. Will Pike, 25, of Boston said his 3rd Infantry Division combat engineer company tried to ban smoking. He quit for five months, then started puffing again.
“Everybody went completely crazy,” said Pike. “If you take it away from us entirely, you’re going to have some very angry soldiers.”
Jeanne O’Brien, 39, from Monterey, California, said smoking eased the stress of driving trucks in 16-hour convoys through Afghan terrain littered with roadside bombs.
Smoking helped her stay focused “instead of having my nerves take control,” she said.
Injured in Afghanistan and retired, the former paratrooper says smoking helps with her post-traumatic stress disorder. “A lot of times instead of hitting somebody, I sit down and have a cigarette.”
A nicotine hit may feel good, but scientists say its brain action probably makes post-traumatic stress worse in the long run.
A study last year by the RAND Corp. research organization estimated nearly 20 percent of military personnel returning from Iraq and Afghanistan, or about 300,000 people, have symptoms of post-traumatic stress disorder or major depression. Clinics treat both the disorder and addictions at the same time, but few do, it said.
However, getting the entire military to go cold turkey is wishful thinking, said John Fink, 43, of Dickson, Tennessee.
“They’ve been talking about this for over 10 years now. Nothing has ever happened,” said Fink, a Navy veteran and employee at the VA hospital in Nashville. A ban would drive people out of the military, he said, and “the military can’t afford to lose anyone.”

E-Cigarette Foes Hazardous To Health

BOSTON – Connecticut Attorney General Richard Blumenthal recently announced plans to seek a ban on the sale of electronic cigarettes in the state. This ill-advised decision follows a federal Food and Drug Administration report that put a scare into electronic cigarette users across the country, telling them that these battery-powered devices — which deliver nicotine without burning tobacco like conventional cigarettes — are dangerous because they contain carcinogens.
The agency also reported that of 18 cartridges tested, one contained diethylene glycol, an ingredient in antifreeze. The FDA threatened to remove electronic cigarettes from the market and to take enforcement action — including potential criminal sanctions — against product distributors.
Backed by the finding that e-cigarettes contain carcinogens and diethylene glycol, a number of anti-smoking groups and several other states in addition to Connecticut have jumped on the bandwagon, considering or enacting legislation to remove these “harmful” devices from the market.
However, the FDA failed to mention in its press conference that the levels of tobacco-specific nitrosamines (the carcinogens) detected in electronic cigarettes were extremely low, below the level allowed in nicotine replacement products, such as nicotine patches, inhalers and gum. The agency is not threatening to take nicotine patches or gum off the market, although they too contain detectable levels of carcinogens.
The nicotine in electronic cigarettes and FDA-approved nicotine replacement products is derived from tobacco, which makes traces of some tobacco carcinogens essentially inevitable.
The level of the same tobacco-specific nitrosamines in conventional cigarettes is at least 300 to 1,400 times higher than what has been detected in electronic cigarette cartridges. In other words, you would have to smoke as many as 1,400 electronic cigarettes to be potentially exposed to the same amount of these carcinogens as smoking one conventional cigarette.
In fact, the FDA failed to perform the laboratory test of most importance: a comparison of the presence of, and concentrations of, toxins and carcinogens in electronic cigarettes and conventional ones. Scientific studies have demonstrated that conventional cigarettes contain 57 identified carcinogens, while electronic cigarettes have not been found to contain any carcinogens at higher than trace levels.
The bottom line is this: Conventional cigarettes have been thoroughly tested. They are known to contain at least 10,000 chemicals, including about 57 carcinogens. Electronic cigarettes deliver nicotine without these 10,000 chemicals and 57 carcinogens. It doesn’t take a rocket toxicologist to figure out that electronic cigarettes are a much, much safer alternative to conventional ones.
Unfortunately, what the FDA and the anti-smoking groups are essentially telling smokers is that they would rather have them continue to smoke the most toxic cigarettes — the conventional ones — rather than switch to a product that is likely orders of magnitude safer.
The question the FDA and the anti-smoking groups are asking is: “Are electronic cigarettes safe?” That is not the right question. The right question is: “Are electronic cigarettes much safer than conventional ones?” The FDA and anti-smoking groups are comparing electronic cigarettes to a solution of spring-fresh Maine mountain stream water. What they need to compare electronic cigarettes to is a Marlboro cigarette.
This doesn’t mean that there aren’t problems with e-cigarettes that need to be addressed. This doesn’t mean e-cigarette manufacturers shouldn’t be asked to make certain changes, such as instituting tighter quality control procedures and making sure the propylene glycol is devoid of diethylene glycol. This doesn’t mean that there shouldn’t be restrictions on the sale of these devices to minors.
But it does mean that it is lunacy to ban the product, especially given that the very same FDA is now approving deadly Marlboros, Winstons, Kools, Newports, Camels and others.
The FDA and anti-smoking groups are on the verge of losing sight of the actual objective of public health regulation: to improve the overall population’s health. The combination of FDA approval of conventional cigarettes and FDA banning of the much safer electronic ones would be ludicrous, would have detrimental population health effects and would send exactly the wrong message to the public.
The real threat to our children’s health is not electronic cigarettes. It’s the real ones.

Key Issues of the Healthcare Reform Effort

Congress returns next week to address three key interrelated issues related to healthcare reform-accessibility, affordability and sustainability. How do we best expand coverage so that all Americans have financial access to needed care? How do we make sure such coverage is affordable? Finally, how do we control the greater than inflation rate of health care spending over time so that coverage can be sustained? These questions pose monumental challenges.
There are many areas of agreement on expanding health insurance coverage. These include eliminating pre-existing conditions that prevent people from obtaining coverage; insuring portability across states; mandating the purchase of insurance coverage; standardizing insurance claims to reduce paperwork and establishing health insurance exchanges that would provide relevant benefits and cost information for people to choose the plan that best serves their needs. Employers could continue to pay for their employees’ insurance coverage or pay into a pool of funds to be used by their employees for coverage.
Uninsured and low-income individuals would have their premiums subsidized up to potentially as high as 400 percent of the poverty level. The most controversial part of the health insurance dimension of reform is the idea of establishing a public option intended to provide competition to the private plans. The concern is that the public plan would have an “unfair” advantage in using its clout over suppliers and providers in negotiating lower prices than private carriers. Over time, more people would select the public plan resulting in a de facto single payer system. In response to this concern, consideration is being given to establishing not-for-profit cooperatives that could provide an alternative to private-for-profit carriers but without the formal government sponsorship and attendant concerns.
It is estimated that extending health insurance coverage to all Americans will cost at least $1 trillion over the next ten years and contribute over $200 billion to the deficit. Some of the leading ideas for raising revenues to cover these costs include: 1) taxing individuals making more than $250,000 a year and families making more than $350,000 a year; 2) increasing taxes on tobacco, alcohol and sugary soft drinks; and 3) capping the tax credit on employers’ health insurance premiums. However, even if all three of these were enacted, they would be insufficient to cover the entire cost.
This leaves the third issue of how can the country reduce the rate of increase in health spending over time? This perhaps is the most challenging aspect of health care reform because it involves addressing the fundamental underlying determinants of health care spending; namely, patient, hospital and physician behavior as they use available technologies and treatments. Evidence suggests that the largest impact on costs will come from lifestyle-related disease prevention and behavioral changes involving nutrition, exercise and tobacco cessation. These have the largest impact on the burden of disease particularly in regards to diabetes, cardiovascular disease and cancer. The federal government is proposing a $10 billion fund for disease prevention and health promotion to address these underlying issues.
Changing hospital and physician behavior to eliminate errors, duplicate testing and care that provides no patient benefit will primarily involve changes in payment combined with performance measurement and public reporting of cost and quality data. One idea is to pay bonuses to physicians to serve as care coordinators to reduce unnecessary hospital admissions and emergency room visits. Policy makers are considering means by which hospitals and physicians can create Accountable Care Organizations (ACOs) and Patient Centered Medical Homes (PCMHs) that would serve as the building blocks for responding to these new incentives.
Reforming our nation’s health care system is complex and touches on every human emotion. Compromise is necessary and, hopefully, this time inevitable. To maintain the status quo means that nearly 50 million Americans will remain without insurance coverage at the same time that we spend far more than any other developed country in the world and, yet, rank in the bottom quartile on almost any measure of health status available. To continue on this course will further weaken this country’s most important resource; its human capital. We must prevent its continued erosion and step up to the undeniably difficult and complex choices that must be made.

© Copyright: Dailycal

Tobacco Plant Helps Sprout Norovirus Vaccine

Scientists modified a tobacco plant to produce a vaccine for norovirus, the viral infection sometimes called the “cruise ship virus.” Researchers led by Charles Arntzen, PhD, a biologist and codirector of the Center for Infectious Diseases and Vaccinology at Arizona State University, believe the novel plant biotechnology methods may someday facilitate rapid development of vaccines for other viruses such as H1N1 influenza, especially when the virus has mutated beyond the effectiveness of established vaccines.
The norovirus is well-known to mutate constantly, a condition, says Arntzen, that makes it a moving target for vaccine developers. “With plant-based vaccines, we can generate the first gram quantities of the drug and do clinical tests within eight to 10 weeks. We could easily scale that up for commercial use in a two to four month period,” said Arntzen in a press release.
The plants were engineered to produce high levels of viruslike nanoparticles in the plants. These nanoparticles are approximately the same size as the norovirus (25 nm), but do not contain the infectious material of the virus. They are made up of only the outer surface of the protein that is recognized by the human immune system, and thereby stimulate an immune response to fight an infection should it occur.
Production costs related to the purification and formulation of plant-based vaccines are also generally lower than those for cell-based vaccines because of the absence of infectious agents. “There are no viruses in plants that can infect humans, so you don’t have to worry about viral removal,” explains Arntzen. “Mammalian and insect-based vaccines are tried and true—some have barely changed in nearly 60 years,” says Arntzen. But that doesn’t necessarily mean they are the best in terms of manufacturing costs or flexibility. It simply means that the industry is not accustomed to using plant biotechnology.

FDA Opens Center for Tobacco Products

On Aug. 19, 2009, the US Food and Drug Administration opened a new Center for Tobacco Products on the agency’s White Oak Campus in Silver Spring, Maryland. The Center will set performance standards, review premarket applications, and establish and enforce advertising and promotion restrictions for tobacco products. Its goal will be to reduce the number of deaths that the products cause each year.
Lawrence Deyton was appointed director of the Center. Deyton is an expert on veterans’ health issues, public health, and tobacco use, and a clinical professor of medicine and health policy at George Washington University School of Medicine and Health Sciences. He previously served as chief public-health and environmental-hazards officer for the US Department of Veterans Affairs (VA). Deyton helped reduce current smoking among veterans enrolled in VA’s smoking-cessation program by 11% from 1999 to 2007.
“We are thrilled to announce Dr. Deyton’s appointment as director of the Center for Tobacco Products and look forward to him joining the agency,” said Margaret A. Hamburg, FDA commissioner, in a press release. “He is the rare combination of public-health expert, administrative leader, scientist, and clinician.”
FDA will use $5 million from the fiscal year 2009 budget to establish the necessary administrative functions for the Center. User fees paid by manufacturers and importers of tobacco products will fund the Center and other activities related to the regulation of tobacco.
“I am eager for the challenge of leading the tobacco team at FDA,” Deyton said in the press release. “This is a tremendous opportunity for us at FDA to work hand-in-hand with the CDC, researchers at the National Institutes of Health, and public-health leaders in the states to make progress in combating tobacco use—the leading cause of preventable death in the United States.”
On Aug. 25, 2009, FDA established the Tobacco Products Scientific Advisory Committee (TPSAC), which will provide advice, information, and recommendations to the Commissioner of Food and Drugs about health and other issues relating to tobacco products. TPSAC will consist of 12 members, including a chair to be appointed by the Commissioner of Food and Drugs. Nine voting members will include healthcare professionals, an officer or employee of a state or local government or the federal government, and a representative of the general public. Three nonvoting members will represent the tobacco-manufacturing industry, tobacco growers, and the small-business manufacturing industry.
On June 22, 2009, President Obama signed the Family Smoking Prevention and Tobacco Control Act, which gave FDA the authority to regulate tobacco products. The agency will cooperate with federal and state agencies and seek public input as it develops public-health strategies to reduce the number of deaths and illnesses caused by tobacco products, according to the FDA website.

Changing the course of cancer history

More than 500 world leaders, non-governmental organisations, corporation representatives and individual advocates gathered this week at the Livestrong Global Cancer Summit at the RDS in Dublin.
The three-day event aimed to ‘change the course of cancer in history’ by providing a platform for world leaders to create a sustained movement to fight cancer.
The summit is an initiative of the Lance Armstrong Foundation (LAF), designed to address the global cancer burden. Founded and chaired by world-famous cyclist and cancer survivor Lance Armstrong, the LAF is aimed at raising awareness, funding research and ending the stigma of cancer that many survivors face.
“Cancer will be the leading cause of death next year unless we act on a global level,” said Mr Armstrong. “Our goal is to be the catalyst that brings everyone together to fight cancer – from survivors, like me, to advocates from the farthest reaches of the globe, to world leaders and policy makers who must commit completely to the effort to avoid a public health catastrophe.”
On Monday, the summit saw the launch of the first report detailing the global burden of cancer in economic terms. Breakaway: The global burden of cancer – challenges and opportunities estimates that the total economic burden of new cancer cases cost the global economy $305 billion in 2009. The report calls for world leaders to make new investments in cancer control.
Cancer is the second largest cause of death around the world, and the report points out that it could move to the top spot next year. It is believed that there will be 12.9 million new cancer cases this year, and the number is on the increase. By 2020, the figure will be 16.8 million.
Cancer rates all over the world are on the increase, especially in developing countries. More than half of new cancer cases and nearly two-thirds of cancer deaths occur in the developing world. Most cancer cases in the developing world are caught too late, with as many as 80% described as incurable. In spite of this, the vast majority of money spent on cancer services are invested in developed countries.
The report stresses that in spite of the challenges, there is room for optimism. Cancer is the most preventable of all chronic diseases and the quality of life of cancer patients has vastly improved in the last decade, it says.
The report concludes that every government should develop and adopt a national cancer plan, that funding for cancer research and prevention should be prioritised as a public health investment, and that efforts to reduce stigma of cancer patients and survivors should be made.
Lance Armstrong’s return to cycling was credited by LAF President and CEO Doug Ulman as the reason behind the foundation’s ability to maintain its funding and create the opportunities it has made.
Lance Armstrong returned to cycling earlier this year after a four-year absence. Mr Armstrong previously battled testicular cancer, which spread to his brain, abdomen and lungs, before coming back to win the Tour de France a record seven years in a row.
The Lance Armstrong Foundation was set up in 1997 to make cancer a national priority in the US. To date, it has raised US $310 million. More than 85% of the money raised goes into programmes to support survivors.
Last year, with the support of former US President Bill Clinton, the foundation decided to make its Livestrong cancer awareness campaign a global event.
Mr Armstrong said that the burden of cancer has always been a personal one. It affects everyone, whether it is their mothers, fathers, grandparents or children, he said.
The Tobacco Atlas
On Tuesday the summit unveiled the 2009 edition of The Tobacco Atlas, revealing that tobacco use kills an estimated six million people a year and costs the global economy $500 billion annually.
The Atlas gives a complete overview of the global effects of tobacco. It reveals the prevalence and consumption of tobacco, the health risks and mortality associated with it, the economic costs of tobacco, gives health and quitting information, and advises on the future of the epidemic.
The Atlas describes Ireland as among the world leaders in tobacco control, confirming that Ireland and the UK are among the countries with the strongest tobacco control policies, delivering both economic and health benefits.
Ireland has ratified the Framework Convention on Tobacco Control (FCTC), banned smoking in workplaces, increased tobacco tax, implemented effective mass media campaigns and advertising restrictions. Irish people who want to quit smoking receive subsidised access to nicotine replacement therapy (NRT) and certain clinical cessation services. Furthermore, one year after the implementation of the 2004 smoking ban, cigarette sales declined by 18%.
However, the Atlas also revealed that the Irish economy lost US$980 million (€686 million) in 2007 because of tobacco use. The economic costs emerged as a result of lost productivity, misused resources, missed opportunities for taxation, and premature death. Because one in four smokers die and many more become ill during their most productive years, income loss devastates families and communities, according to the Atlas.
According to the Tobacco Atlas, more than two million cancer deaths per year will be attributable to tobacco by 2015. Most people who die from tobacco-related illnesses are now in low and middle-income countries, because of major increases in tobacco production in the developing world.
At the launch of the Atlas, Mr Armstrong was asked what one thing he would choose to focus on to reduce cancer rates if he had to. Mr Armstrong wrote his response in an article in USA Today: “That’s easy: tobacco. It’s the only product that, if used as directed, will kill you. One third of all cancer deaths are attributed to this drug.”
“One hundred million people were killed by tobacco in the 20th century and if we do nothing, another billion lives will be lost in the 21st,” he continued. “We know that tobacco kills. We need to bridge this gap by educating people around the globe about the dangers of tobacco and do all we can to stop the use of the products.”

© Copyright: Irishhealth

Graphic images of diseased body parts

Would a gruesome picture of a cancer-ravaged mouth with rotting teeth make you think twice about buying a pack of cigarettes?
That’s the goal of new federal regulations expected to go into effect within three years. The rules will require tobacco companies to cover at least half of the front and back of packages with graphic – and possibly gruesome — images illustrating the dangers of smoking.
If U.S. regulations are modeled after those already in place in Canada and other countries, the warnings will be shocking: blackened lungs, gangrenous feet, bleeding brains and people breathing through tracheotomies.
Though hard to look at, the more graphic the image, the more effective in discouraging smoking, said Stanton Glantz, a professor of medicine at the University of California, San Francisco and director of the university’s Center for Tobacco Control, Research and Education.
“The graphic warnings really work,” Glantz said. “They substantially increase the likelihood someone will quit smoking. They substantially decrease the chances a kid will smoke. And they really screw up the ability of the tobacco industry to use the packaging as a marketing tool.”
Over the last decade, countries as varied as Canada, Australia, Chile, Brazil, Iran and Singapore, among others, have adopted graphic warnings on tobacco products. Some are downright disturbing: in Brazil, cigarette packages come with pictures of dead babies and a gangrened foot with blackened toes.
In the United States, the authority to force packaging changes was granted on June 22, when President Barack Obama, who has struggled with cigarette addiction since he was a teen, signed into law the Family Smoking Prevention and Tobacco Control Act. The landmark legislation gives the U.S. Food and Drug Administration broad new authority to regulate the marketing of tobacco products.
Under the law, the FDA has two years to issue specifics about the new graphic warnings tobacco products will be required to carry. Tobacco companies then have 18 months to get them onto packages.
Currently, the United States has some of the weakest requirements for cigarette package warnings in the world, said David Hammond, an assistant professor in the department of health studies at the University of Waterloo in Ontario, Canada. The text-only warnings on packages have changed little since 1984.
“Consumers in many Third World countries are getting more and better information about the risks of cigarettes off their packs,” Hammond said.
With much at stake for tobacco companies, there will be much wrangling over the details, Glantz said.
Yet research shows the FDA shouldn’t compromise, Glantz said. The more frightening the image, the greater the anti-smoking effect, he said.
Despite some research that has suggested images that are too stomach-turning may backfire because people eventually ignore them, new research is showing the most graphic images pack the most punch, said Jeremy Kees, an assistant professor of marketing at Villanova University.
In a yet-to-be published study, Kees had 541 adult smokers in the United States and Canada view a mild image of a smoker’s mouth with yellowed teeth; a moderately graphic image of a diseased mouth; and a third photo of a grotesque, disfigured mouth.
The most disturbing photo evoked the most fear, prompting more smokers to say they intended to quit, Kees said.
While the new regulations may also include no-nonsense, text warnings such as “Smoking Makes You Impotent” and “Smoking Kills,” the images will have the broadest reach, Hammond said.
Non-English speakers can understand the picture of a diseased mouth, as can people who are illiterate. Smokers tend to have lower literacy levels, Hammond noted.
And kids will get the message too, potentially stopping them from ever lighting up. “You have 4-year-olds and 5-year-olds who can understand that picture,” Hammond said.
Elsewhere, graphic warnings seem to be helping to drive down smoking rates. In Canada, about 13 percent of the population smokes daily, a 5 percent drop since the graphic warnings were adopted in 2000, Hammond said.
About 21 percent of the U.S. population smokes daily, according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
While powerful, the gruesome warnings won’t get everyone to quit.
“Nicotine is highly addictive,” Hammond said. “Health warnings are not a magic bullet, but they help move people closer to quitting and provide a constant reminder of why many people want to change.”

© Copyright: Aug. 27, 2009 Healthday