Future of anti-smoking program unclear

Has Indiana been successful in cutting the rate of smoking in the past decade? It all depends on whom you ask.
Indiana Tobacco Prevention and Cessation staff point to data that suggest the smoking rate among adults is now 23.1 percent, the lowest it has been in a decade and just a tad higher than the goal of 22 percent.
“This is huge progress to see the rate go down to 23 percent for Indiana,” said ITPC Executive Director Karla Sneegas. “Our job is to help smokers quit and to keep young people from ever starting.”
But for some, these gains are not enough to justify the continued existence of the ITPC, which has an $11 million budget. It was created in 2001 with funds from states’ settlement agreement with tobacco companies.
As state lawmakers tried to craft a budget this past session, a plan was floated to collapse the stand-alone agency into the Indiana State Department of Health, which would run smoking cessation programs.
Supporters of that plan say such a measure makes sense in tight economic times, especially given the performance of the agency since its inception. Although the agency remained independent at the close of the legislative session, some still question whether it’s worth its price.
“It appeared we could produce the same or a better level of performance on those programs at a little less administrative cost,” said Sen. Luke Kenley, R-Noblesville. “We thought there might be a chance to get the program to be more effective.”
Kenley, who predicted the question will resurface in two years when budget negotiations start, said the agency spends $1.4 million on administrative costs for its 14 staff members. When the state cut the agency’s budget a few years ago, staff was not reduced, he said.
In addition, he cites federal data that suggest the adult smoking rate in Indiana did not budge from 1998 to 2008.
Bringing the agency under the roof of the Department of Health probably could save “several hundred thousand dollars,” Kenley said.
A few other states, such as Mississippi and Ohio, have made similar moves, said Kevin O’Flaherty, Indiana director of advocacy for the Campaign for Tobacco-Free Kids.
In Mississippi, funding plummeted to zero from $20 million before $10 million was restored. In Ohio, prevention money is about 15 percent of what it was.
Although O’Flaherty said there’s nothing “inherently wrong” with a health department running a tobacco control program — several states have done so successfully — disbanding an existing agency would hurt anti-smoking efforts.
“It’s nearly always a power grab and often a money grab,” he said. “In the end, the programs . . . don’t fare as well as do other departments that have been long-standing in departments of health.”
The Indiana program has already faced adversity. In 2004, the agency’s budget was cut from more than $30 million to $10 million.
Former Sen. Robert Meeks, R-LaGrange, said the plan then was not to merge the agency into the health department but to use its funds elsewhere.
“My mantra was there is no money, you have to cut where you have to cut. Those programs that didn’t have effective results, you had to take their money,” he said.
Instead of funding programs in all 92 Indiana counties, money is now budgeted for 65 counties to combat tobacco.
As the funding went down, so did the number of calls to the Indiana Tobacco Quitline, officials said.
Sneegas, who has worked in tobacco prevention since 1991, saw some signs that things might be turning. Youth smoking rates were dropping. Cigarette consumption was declining.
New preliminary data suggest that the adult smoking rate, which was 27 percent at the agency’s inception, dipped to its lowest rate this year. Now, the state has set a goal of an 18 percent smoking rate by 2015.
Even Sneegas said she would have predicted more progress when the agency began, assuming that its initial funding level remained intact.
“I think we’ve made huge progress,” she said. “It’s just when I started this job in 2001, I really believed . . . we could drop a percentage point a year.”
By Shari Rudavsky, Indystar
March 31, 2010

E-cigarettes: A true remedy to quit or teen marketing tool?

SACRAMENTO, CA – Electronic cigarettes are offering smokers a cleaner, greener alternative. And for some, the alternative takes them one step closer to kicking the habit all together.
Ads for the “Smoking Everywhere” electronic cigarette claim the device “feels like a cigarette, looks like a cigarette, tastes like a cigarette.”
“It’s a lot cheaper than regular cigarettes, and it’s less dangerous,” said Aazi Sana with Natomas Cheaper Cigarettes.
Manufacturers claim that it’s a greener way to smoke with no tar, no ash, and no second-hand smoke. But there’s still plenty of nicotine.
Nicotine has kept Scott Whittlesey hooked for more than two decades. But, the idea of smoking less led him to switch to the e-cigarette last November.
“I do less and less puffing on this now,” Whittlesey said. “It’s healthier. It’s a healthier alternative.”
E-cigarettes run on a battery that could be charged in 30 minutes. Some even charge on your laptop. When the user inhales, the heating device converts the chemicals into a vapor that resembles smoke.
The e-cigarette comes in various nicotine levels– from zero to high and is offered in all sorts of flavors — from tobacco to chocolate to cherry.
“The place I go to has 100 flavors. They even have peanut butter,” said Whittlesey.
The flavors have reportedly been marketed to teens. While most stores strictly enforce the 18 and over rule, there are still questions about how a buyer’s age is verified when buying e-cigarettes online.
The California attorney general has filed suit against “Smoking Everywhere” for allegedly making misleading claims and for marketing to minors. They are one of the biggest e-cigarette retailers nationwide.
State Senator Ellen Corbett, D-San Leandro, is pushing a bill to prohibit the sale of electronic cigarettes to minors.
The Electronic Cigarette Association responded, “Electronic cigarettes represent a smoking alternative for adult committed smokers. We have no interest in marketing or selling our products to underage smokers and have taken numerous steps over the years to prevent youth access to our products.”
E-cigarettes can cost anywhere from $35 up to $200 for a starter kit. That includes a cigarette, nicotine cartridges, and a charger.
Electronic cigarettes have been popular in China. They’ve also been popular in Europe. But the FDA has not formally approved the devices in the U.S.
Even so, Whittlesey says e-cigarettes have brought him closer to kicking the smoking habit.
“If I smoke a regular cigarette now, I can’t handle it. I start coughing,” said Whittlesey.
By Suzanne Phan, 31 March, 2010

Commonwealth Brands Shocked by FDA Rules

The U.S tobacco giants barely managed to celebrate their victory against Native American online tobacco sellers, after the Prevent All Cigarette Trafficking (PACT) Act was approved by the Congress, when the US Food & Drug Administration spoiled the festivity by introducing new rules, rigorous and excessive.
Commonwealth Brands Inc., the fourth biggest tobacco company across the country was shocked to familiarize with the latest rules approved by Food & Drug Administration. The regulations published last week, are not the new ones, but a reissued copy of 1996 regulations, which explain and enforce restrictions on promotion, marketing and advertisements of cigarettes and other tobacco items.
Anthony Hemsley, Commonwealth Brands’ vice director of corporate affairs, declared Commonwealth Brands expressed its support for the regulations intended for reducing teenage smoking rates. Nevertheless, as regards other regulations, the Agency once again showed its ignorance and lack of respect for tobacco industry it is supposed to control. Although the tobacco companies closely collaborated with FDA experts, their opinion was completely sidelined, according to Hemsley.
He also mentioned that there is only one way to establish fair and meaningful rules is to cooperate with the industry. Implementing the regulations that are only needed to torture a legal industry, which generates billions in duties for the state and federal treasury, provides thousands of semi-qualified workers with well-paid jobs and works with thousands of small businesses across the nation, is an absolutely ridiculous practice.
Two provisions of the regulations issued by the FDA have recently been proven to violate constitution, while another provision, which features removal of many brands from the American tobacco market, is also definitely an offence to the commercial free speech rights, according to the company.
Commonwealth Brands’ vice director declared, “We have no idea why should a legal industry go to the court to prove its rights under the constitution? How much money paid by the simple people should be spent by this Federal Agency for the legal proceedings and when the Federal Food and Drug Administration finally understands the need to respect the legal rights of tobacco industry, and apply their efforts where they are indeed needed?
“It is absolutely incorrect for the Agency to have a different approach to the tobacco industry, comparing to other businesses it controls. Instead of establishing reliable relations and create reasonable policies, the FDA is only considering the opinion of ubiquitous and one-sided anti-smoking advocates, who are neither interested in respecting the rights of adult smokers that buy legal products, nor understand the dimensions of the economic consequences their excessive and draconian measures can lead to.”
Commonwealth Brands is the U.S. subdivision of Imperial Tobacco, the fourth largest tobacco company in the world. Among the most popular brands, there are Davidoff, USA Gold, Sonoma and Montclair. The company also markets tobacco products such as Premier, Bali Shag and Rave. It is headquartered in Bowling Green, Ky., with more than a thousand of employees across the USA.

The FDA gets into the business of regulating tobacco today

The regulation of tobacco is now a reality. Today marks the first public meeting of the Food and Drug Administration’s advisory panel menthol cigarettesset up to deal with complex scientific issues involving tobacco. Last year, legislation was enacted that for the first time authorized the FDA to regulate cigarettes and other tobacco products. One of its first charges is to answer the question – does menthol make cigarettes more harmful?
The overwhelming weight of highly credible and reliable science suggests that the answer is no. The use of menthol in cigarettes is an area in which extensive scientific studies have actually taken place. At least a dozen epidemiology studies, as well as several large smoke exposure biomarker studies have been conducted. Menthol in cigarettes has no meaningful effect on public health.
Advocates of a ban on menthol focus on two main topics – initiation and cessation. They claim that youth start smoking with menthol over non-menthol cigarettes. And, they allege that quitting smoking is far more difficult for those who smoke menthols.
Let’s start with cessation. Quitting smoking can be difficult for all smokers. Several large national studies have shown no differences in dependence or cessation for menthol cigarettes. These studies are broadly representative of the total smoking population. Further, the overwhelming weight of epidemiology shows that menthol and non-menthol cigarettes are the same in terms of disease occurrence across races and sexes, and is strongly consistent with the conclusion that menthol cigarettes are no more difficult to quit.
No one wants kids to smoke. Through positive steps that public health advocates and tobacco companies like mine have made resulting from the tobacco Master Settlement Agreement, youth smoking is at an all time low.
The majority of underage smokers report that their usual brand is not menthol. In fact, when you take a close look at the impact of menthol cigarettes on youth smoking rates, the data show that the use of menthol cigarettes may actually have a slight inverse relationship to the rate of youth smoking. Twenty-one states have a menthol market share that is higher than the national average. Of these, twenty have a youth smoking rate lower than the national average.
Based on these measurable outcomes, menthol cigarettes are clearly not associated with higher youth smoking rates.
Lorillard is dedicated to doing everything within our power to follow the new rules and regulations. Implicit in our commitment is an expectation that the FDA will likewise follow its rules and regulations, providing a fair hearing and assuring its actions are based on legitimate and objective scientific data.
Legitimate, objective scientific data should be a critically important component in this regulatory proceeding, just as it should be in any other FDA proceeding that deals with drugs or medical devices. Our nation is built on the foundation that regulatory agencies must base their decisions on the best science available. Good science should not become “science that supports what we want to do.”
Good science should seek to apply rigorous empiricism to marshal relevant facts. That type of science should be paramount in the FDA’s process, not anecdotal or behavioral surveys that are subject to bias and cannot be replicated.
It is critically important that menthol be evaluated without emotion or invective. This can only be accomplished if the FDA and its scientific advisory committee follow a course of meticulous objectivity in examining the conclusions reached by various scientific studies and the design and integrity of these studies – and, importantly, the motivations of those authors.
The challenge to adhere to the science must be met successfully by the FDA. Doing otherwise would undermine the integrity of this important regulatory agency. And it could well lead to unfair and unnecessary regulation of other legal products or industries, depriving citizens of their right to choose products that may be controversial or unpopular.
By Mr. Orlowsky is Chairman, President and CEO of Lorillard Inc., which manufactures Newport, the nation’s best selling cigarette brand.

Cannabis breaks the age barrier

Its name might be its strongest asset: The Regulate, Control and Tax Cannabis Act, a marijuana legalization effort that goes out of cannabisits way not to say the word “marijuana.”
I suspect its organizers learned something from the failure of predecessors — like the Inalienable Rights Enforcement Initiative, a name that sounds like it was dreamed up by a bunch of guys passing around a bong.
The Cannabis Act, which qualified last week for the statewide November ballot, ran its first radio ad Sunday: a former Los Angeles deputy sheriff explaining “why cops support Tax Cannabis 2010, the initiative to control and tax cannabis.”
Never mind that the state’s law enforcement organizations are already lining up to oppose it.
Supporters, bankrolled so far by an Oakland marijuana dispensary owner, plan to spend as much as $20 million to convince California voters that legalizing marijuana will help solve the state’s budget woes and blunt the reach of drug cartels.
The initiative would move the battle over marijuana modestly forward by making it legal for anyone 21 and older to possess an ounce of marijuana and/or grow whatever can fit in a 5-by-5-foot plot. It would allow cities and counties to decide whether to allow sales and tax the proceeds.
That feels to me like a natural progression of California’s cannabis policy, which essentially decriminalized possession 35 years ago — an ounce gets you a $100 fine — and in 1996 deemed pot to be medication.
The premise of the proposed law: Marijuana has more in common with alcohol and tobacco than with heroin and cocaine.
Or: Is there much really much difference between going home and smoking a joint and going home to a glass of Merlot?
Polls suggest that mothers in their 30s and 40s — who are likely to have teenagers at home — might side with law enforcement against the proposal. I understand that reflexively. It’s hard to say yes at the ballot box when you’ve spent years telling your kids to “just say no” to marijuana.
But the reality is that any 18-year-old with a hankering for pot and $100 can head to Venice Beach and be legally smoking within an hour.
Acne, anxiety, an ankle sprain — virtually any ailment qualifies for treatment with medical marijuana.
“It’s easier now [for 18-year-olds] to get cannabis than booze,” said Dale Sky Clare, spokeswoman for the cannabis campaign. “Our current policies have failed to keep cannabis away from our kids or to educate them about the dangers of dependence.”
She’s confident that moms will come around once “we make sure they understand your next-door neighbor is not allowed to turn into a grow operation. . . . And no more back-alley deals. You’ll have a retail facility, someone who has a license — and can lose it if they sell to your underage child.”
What about all those studies that say pot is getting stronger and more dangerous? I asked.
That’s fear-mongering by opponents, Clare said.
“We’ve got science on our side. And our studies kick their studies’ ass.”
If moms are going to be the naysayers, I figured young people would be the initiative’s biggest supporters. So I spent this spring break weekend chatting with my daughters and their friends, from 19-year-olds to mid-20s.
They weren’t as enthused as I’d expected. Most everyone knows somebody with a cannabis card.
“The kids who want it can get it,” my 19-year-old daughter told me. On campus, it’s hard to avoid it.
It turns out that while pot smoking is dropping among teens, it’s rising among baby boomers. Ten years ago, one in 20 pot smokers was in my demographic — between 50 and 59 years old. Now the number is one in 10. And as we age — and kids move out — the number seems to grow.
Drug policy experts say baby boomers have more invested in legalization because they are less likely to embrace risky options. They don’t have a street connection or want to wind up listed on a dispensary’s log.
Still, they know that a little weed might make you feel young and giggle a lot, but it isn’t going to ruin your life.
Like it or not, their children know they know. A 20-year-old I spoke with was stunned when she went with her mother to an Eagles concert and saw “all the old people lighting up.” My daughter told me she and her friends were once approached by an elderly woman in a beach parking lot who implored: “Do you have a joint? . . . Please . . . my husband is making me crazy.”
And young people who confessed to pinching a bud from their parents’ stash years ago now worry the old man is raiding theirs.
Maybe it’s time we stopped pretending there’s nothing odd about the fact that every gas station and liquor store has a giant display of Zig-Zag papers for something we’re not allowed to roll, and “smoke shops” can sell water pipes if we all pretend that they’re for tobacco.
Come November, we’ll see if a state too strait-laced to let gay people marry is open-minded enough to let us all toke.
By Sandy Banks, Latimes
March 29, 2010

Smokeless tobacco more popular among young people than cigarettes

BOSTON — Some high school nurses say they have noticed fewer students smoking cigarettes, but they can’t be sure if more are switching to smokeless tobacco as a substitute.
“There is definitely less smoking that we can detect on their clothes,” said Marlborough High’s Virginia Gadbois, a school nurse since 1986, after the release earlier this month of a survey that indicates teens have switched from cigarettes to other tobacco products.
The report, conducted by the state health and education departments and funded by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control, surveyed middle and high school students about their tobacco habits. It concluded that for the first time, high school students are using more smokeless tobacco and cigars than regular cigarettes.
The study says 16 percent of high school students said they had used cigarettes in the past 30 days, whereas 17.6 percent said they had used other kinds of tobacco products.
High school nurses say they haven’t noticed any increase in such products, but don’t deny students are using them.
“I’m not saying it’s not here, I’m sure it is. I’m saying I’m not seeing it,” Gadbois said.
She said she no longer smells smoke wafting from the girl’s bathroom.
Nicole Marcinkiewicz, a nurse at Natick High School, said she hasn’t dealt with any complications due to smokeless tobacco, such as oral cancer.
Still, organizations like Tobacco Free Mass, a policy organization based in Framingham, say youth are drawn to products like flavored tobacco lozenges, small flavored cigars and dissolvable bags of flavored tobacco.
“It’s not surprising given the fact that the tobacco industry markets their products to young people,” Executive Director Russet Morrow Breslau said.
These products cost between $1 and $7, she said, whereas a pack of cigarettes costs as much as $9.
“That points to the fact that youth are price-sensitive. They are turning to these less expensive products that are marketed to them,” Morrow Breslau said.
The education department’s study follows a proposal in Gov. Deval Patrick’s fiscal 2011 budget to increase the sales tax on smokeless tobacco and cigars to the same level as regular cigarettes.
While these products are already taxed at rates varying from 30 to 90 percent, the governor’s budget would raise the taxes to about 110 to 120 percent of their cost – the same increase imposed on cigarettes in 2008.
“These things weren’t increased back then, and the idea is to sort of catch up,” said Robert Bliss, a spokesman for the Department of Revenue.
Some Massachusetts legislators say raising the tax is a good way to discourage young people from buying tobacco.
“This is a product that’s causing a lot of damage to people, hurting a lot of people, killing a lot of people. It makes no sense to me that a product like that wouldn’t be taxed,” said Sen. Jamie Eldridge, D-Acton, the Senate sponsor of a bill mirroring Patrick’s budget proposal. The bill was recently sent to a study committee.
Rep. Peter Koutoujian, D-Waltham, who led the 2008 effort to increase cigarette tax by $1 per pack, spoke Wednesday at an anti-smoking rally.
“I’m not interested in taxes for raising money. However, if you can reduce consumption of a product that’s going to be addictive, that’d be a tax I’d consider,” Koutoujian said yesterday.
Other legislators, including Rep. Danielle Gregoire, D-Marlborough, and Rep. Alice Peisch, D-Wellesley, are wary of any new taxes.
Peisch said she likes the idea of an increased tax to dissuade young people from using tobacco, but she is hesitant to support any new taxes this year.
Peisch said her stance “is less connected to the merits of the particular tax on smokeless tobacco and more connected to the lack of support for taxes at this point in general.”
Speaker Robert DeLeo has said the House budget will not include new taxes.
By Laura Krantz, Wickedlocal
March 29, 2010

F.D.A. to Examine Menthol Cigarettes

For the cigarette industry, the menthol debate is about to flare up again.
The new federal advisory board for tobacco regulation plans to meet for the first time Tuesday in Washington. Topping the agenda is one of the most contentious, and racially charged, health issues that Congress deferred last year when it empowered the Food and Drug Administration to regulate tobacco for the first time.
The question: what to do about menthol flavorings in cigarettes, which account for almost a third of the nation’s $70 billion cigarette market?
Opponents of smoking, seven former secretaries of health and many members of Congress argued for an outright ban of menthol in the tobacco law last year. They said that the flavoring, which cools and masks the harsh taste of cigarettes, was used as a lure for young smokers while also being marketed to black smokers, who have the highest rates of smoking-related disease.
But when the issue threatened to split the bill’s coalition of backers — including the industry giant Altria, which owns Philip Morris — Congress passed the issue on to the F.D.A. and gave it a two-year deadline to propose new regulations.
So it is no coincidence that menthol will be the first matter taken up by the F.D.A.’s new Tobacco Products Scientific Advisory Committee when it begins a two-day meeting on Tuesday.
Nor was it surprising that the cigarette industry chose to fill its one, nonvoting seat on the committee with an executive from Lorillard Tobacco of Greensboro, N.C. That company’s Newport is the nation’s leading menthol brand, and mentholated accounted for 91.5 percent of Lorillard’s $5.2 billion in revenue last year.
Dr. Jonathan Samet, the chairman of the advisory panel and head of preventive medicine at the University of Southern California, declined to discuss the possibility of an outright ban on menthol.
The scientists’ job is first to review evidence before recommending what changes could be made to products, he said in an interview. Under the law, the F.D.A. is to issue a report on menthol next year and take action by 2012.
“We’ve spent a lot of time working on the dangers of smoking, but now we’re going to be taking a somewhat different approach,” said Dr. Samet. “We’ll be trying to understand what it is in the products that harm people and what changes can be made.”
Menthol brands are preferred by 75 percent of African-American smokers. And while studies indicate that blacks smoke fewer cigarettes a day than other categories of smokers, they have greater rates of lung cancer, heart disease and strokes. The Congressional Black Caucus, complaining of predatory marketing, was among the groups that had urged stronger action against menthol in the legislation.
Critics also say menthol levels have been manipulated to attract underage first-time smokers.
But the industry, which says menthol is just one of many flavor differences among legal products for adult consumers, denies it markets to young smokers. And it says there is no evidence that menthol causes more people to start smoking. Tobacco companies also say menthol does not pose any greater risk to public health than other types of cigarettes.
“Epidemiological studies suggest no effect of menthol on smoking-related diseases,” Brendan J. McCormick, a spokesman for Altria, said Monday.
The cigarette industry’s nonvoting representative on the panel is Dr. J. Daniel Heck, principal scientist at Lorillard. This year, Dr. Heck, who holds a doctorate in pharmacology and toxicology, published a review of menthol studies in the journal Food and Chemical Toxicology, saying menthol did not make cigarettes more toxic but that more study was needed on its effect on “complex human behaviors” of smoking initiation and addiction.
Half of long-term smokers eventually die of smoking-related causes, according to the World Health Organization. In passing the tobacco law last year, Congress told the F.D.A. to improve public health short of an outright prohibition on cigarettes.
Congress specifically banned some seldom-used flavorants like candy flavors, but left it up to the F.D.A. to resolve many far-more difficult issues, including so-called reduced harm products, alternatives to cigarettes — and menthol.
The advisory committee is expected to hold at least one more meeting on menthol, this summer. Later, the group is expected to consider dissolvable products like Camel Orbs, a tobacco and mint pellet now being test marketed by R. J. Reynolds, and nicotine levels in cigarettes, among other issues, an F.D.A. statement said.
Several leading public health experts were among the nine scientists the F.D.A. appointed to the committee, including Gregory N. Connolly, director of the Tobacco Control Research Program at the Harvard School of Public Health; Dr. Neal L. Benowitz, University of California, San Francisco, medical professor and nicotine expert; and Dr. Mark S. Clanton, chief medical officer of the American Cancer Society.
The panel includes “no extremists” against cigarettes and no one who has previously said menthol should be limited or banned, according to a recent investor note from David J. Adelman, industry analyst for Morgan Stanley.
Mr. Adelman said it was unlikely that the F.D.A. would ban menthol because of the lack of evidence it added harm to cigarettes and the prospect that a ban would set up a huge underground market. Mr. Adelman said the fact that millions of Americans smoke menthol cigarettes made it impractical to ban the additive.
“If it were 1 percent of the market, the implication to commerce and retail and consumers would be much more manageable,” he said in an interview.
Mr. Adelman says he expects the panel may eventually recommend added warnings on menthol products, perhaps saying they are no safer than regular cigarettes; additional marketing restrictions and possibly a reduction in menthol levels over time. A Credit Suisse report said the government could also set higher prices for menthol cigarettes.
March 29, 2010

Junk food is as addictive as heroin and cigarettes

American researchers found burgers, chips and sausages programmed a human brain into craving even more sugar, salt and fat laden Junk foodfood.
Scientists at the Scripps Research Institute in Florida found laboratory rats became addicted on a bad diet just like people who became dependent on cocaine and heroin.
While the findings cannot be directly transferred to human obesity, it found that overconsumption of high-calorie food triggered addiction-like responses in the brain.
But the study, published online in Nature Neuroscience, suggests for the first time that our brains may react in the same way to junk food as it does to drugs.
Dr Paul Kenny, a neuroscientist who led the research, said the study, which took nearly three years to complete, confirmed the “addictive” properties of junk food.
The findings could partly explain the soaring obesity rates in Britain and the success of fast food outlets.
Experts studied rats fed on cheesecake, bacon and sausages. Soon after the experiments began the animals began to bulk up and show signs of addiction.
‘It presents the most thorough and compelling evidence that drug addiction and obesity are based on the same underlying neurobiological mechanisms,’ Professor Paul Kenny said.
‘In the study, the animals completely lost control over their eating behaviour and continued to over-eat even when they anticipated receiving electric shocks, highlighting just how motivated they were to consume the palatable food.’
During the trial the animals were rewarded with a pleasurable electrical stimulation.
The rats could control how much of the stimulation they got by running on a wheel. Animals living on junk food ran far more – suggesting they needed more brain stimulation to feel good, the researchers found.
The scientists at the Scripps Research Institute in Jupiter, Florida, also gave rats electric shocks on their feet when they ate high-fat food.
Rats on a normal diet quickly learned to avoid the unhealthy food. But those used to junk food refused to let the shock get in their way of their high calorie food.
‘They always went for the worst types of food,’ said Professor Kenny, who published his findings in the journal Nature Neuroscience.
‘When we removed the junk food and tried to put them on a nutritious diet they simply refused to eat.’
The researchers found junk food altered the chemical balance in the brain’s ‘reward circuits’ – the parts of the brain that handle the feel-good chemical dopamine.
Identical changes happen in the brains of rats given cocaine or heroin and are thought to play a key role in drug addiction.
The scientists fed the rats a diet modelled after the type that contributes to human obesity easy to obtain high-calorie, high-fat foods. Soon after the experiments began, the animals began to bloat.
Latest figures show that one in four people in Britain are obese with married people twice as likely to become obese than their single counterparts.
Eight in 10 men and almost 7 in 10 women will be overweight or obese by 2020.
Cases of devastating health conditions like heart disease, diabetes and stroke will increase with the nation’s waistlines, the recent Government-commissioned Foresight report warned.

British American Tobacco predicts global cigarette consumption to stay stable

British American Tobacco (BAT) on Friday forecast that the world’s consumption of cigarettes was likely to remain fairly stable at 6 British American Tobaccotrillion cigarettes a year, one-third of which are sold in China.
The cigarette company, responsible for the Dunhill, cigs4us.biz/kent-cigarette and cigs4us.biz/lucky-strike-cigarette, plans to ensure it is well-placed to meet the needs of consumers, whether they are down-trading in times of recession or up-trading as the economic situation improves.
Six years ago, the UN conducted a study of the world’s tobacco consumption and found that the number of smokers in the world was expected to grow from 1.1 billion in 1998 to about 1.3 billion this year, an increase of about 1.5 percent annually.
This is in direct contrast to BAT’s estimations in its latest annual report, which states that the global legal market had shown a decline in consumption by 1.5 percent annually over the long term.
BAT chief executive Paul Adams said trends indicated that individual smokers would consume fewer cigarettes each and smaller percentages of populations would smoke.
“However, offsetting these trends, the number of adults in the world over the age of 20 continues to grow,” he said.
He said volume declines had been evident in a number of markets last year and BAT expected global volumes to remain under pressure this year.
“We estimate that the global legal market, excluding China, fell by 3 percent last year compared with its long-term trend of declining 1.5 percent,” he said.
But pricing had remained positive, and the global profit pool was expected to continue to grow.
“In many key markets, legal volumes have been affected as consumers move to illicit products,” Adams said.
He said illicit trade in tobacco products – smuggled, counterfeit or tax evaded – was in effect one of the company’s major global competitors and represented nearly 12 percent of world consumption.
BAT reported a gross turnover of £40.7 billion (R447bn) for last year. Adams reported that acquisitions continued to play a part in its growth strategy and explained that its latest acquisition – Bentoel in Indonesia – gave the group a strong position in the fourth-largest cigarette market.
The UN in its report predicted that more tobacco would be smoked in developing countries, where tobacco consumption was expected to grow to 5.09 million tons this year from 4.2 million in 1998.

Tobacco Control Act

The Tobacco Control Act 2009 (Act) criminalises the act of smoking in specified areas. The act of smoking is not, in itself, illegal. The aim of this article is to identify the areas where smoking is not allowed; identify the potential consequences of breaking the law, and clarify some of the provisions in the act.
Persons selling cigarettes
The act provides that:
1. No person can sell any tobacco product to any person under 18 years;
2. No person can sell any tobacco product where the purchaser can handle the product without assistance of a sales clerk;
3. No person can publicly display tobacco products;
4. No person can sell tobacco products in healthcare services, sporting facilities, government buildings, educational facilities;
5. No person can sell products which resemble any form of tobacco products, including sweets, snacks, toys, or objects in the form of tobacco products. A person may not engage in tobacco advertising, promotion or sponsorship.
Persons who purchase/smoke cigarettes
No person may smoke, hold a lighted tobacco product in any enclosed public place, enclosed workplace, public conveyance/public transportation terminals; retail establishments, including bars, restaurants and shopping malls, clubs, cinemas, concert halls, sports facilities, pool and bingo halls, publicly-owned facilities rented out for events, any other facilities that are accessible. It also must be noted that this list of places where smoking is not allowed is not a complete list. Apart from the places set out above, “any enclosed public place” and “any other facilities that are accessible” allow for additional places to be included as prohibited locations for smoking. An “enclosed public place” is any place which the public has access to, and which is completely covered by a roof or which is at least 50 per cent closed to the outside air. This means that the word “public” does not refer to whether a place is owned by the government. Instead, it refers to the persons who have access to it. Therefore, a covered balcony in a restaurant may be an “enclosed public place” if it is completely covered by a roof or if it is at least 50 per cent closed to the outside air.
It is very important for both smokers and property owners to identify the areas where smoking is not permitted, as a violation may result in a fine of $10,000 and to imprisonment for six months. For certain offences, there may be a fine of $500,000 and imprisonment for one year. The offences for which these larger penalties apply include:
1. the failure to affix a list of constituents and additives on tobacco product packages; and
2. selling, displaying, distributing or supplying any sweet, snack, toy or other non-tobacco item which imitate tobacco products.
Therefore, smokers need to be aware of where they are before they smoke. It may be necessary to ask management before smoking. Also, smokers may have to make a determination of whether they are in one of the specified prohibited places identified in the act, or whether they are in an “enclosed public place.” The act details the legal action that may be brought against a person who may have violated the provisions of the act. It also protects employees who have given evidence against their employers of breaches under the act. This article sets out general guidelines; all legal rules have exceptions and variations. How the law applies to you depends on the facts of your case.