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Archive for March, 2011

Synthetic Marijuana Banned in Texas

Thursday, March 31st, 2011

doina cigarettes onlineSeveral new forms of synthetic marijuana would be banned in Texas, with penalties for possessing, selling or making the drugs ranging from a misdemeanor to felony, under a bill passed Wednesday by the state Senate. The chemicals mimic the main ingredient in organic marijuana and are often sprayed on herbs sold to be burned as incense or smoked.

The drugs have become popular with teens, particularly in Texas, who can buy them under brand names such as K2, Spice, Genie and Fire & Ice.

But experts warn they also can be very dangerous, with side effects including hallucination, elevated heart rates and blood pressure, chest pains, blackouts and seizures. The Texas Poison Center Network reported receiving more than 550 calls related to the drugs in 2010.

“K2 is dangerous,” said Sen. Florence Shapiro, the Plano Republican who sponsored the bill. “There’s no beneficial or legitimate use of these products. We don’t know what it can do.”

The bill now goes to the House, where a similar measure in pending. If ultimately passed into law, Texas would join 16 other states with bans on synthetic marijuana. Shapiro has said the Texas measure would be among the toughest in the country.

The Senate bill would make the manufacture and sale of the drugs a felony. The penalty for possession would track current law covering marijuana, with a misdemeanor for having small amounts and larger amounts resulting in felony charges and a possible prison sentence.

Researchers developed synthetic cannabinoids, as scientists refer to the compounds, to test on mice as early as the 1970s. In recent years, though, producers have developed new compounds and sold them in tobacco shops, gas stations and online. Some web sites brag their form of K2 is not covered by any state bans and is “guaranteed to satisfy.”

Shapiro said she was shocked to learn middle and high school students could walk to stores near their schools to buy it.

“What we’re trying to do here is very simple: Get it out of the stores, get it out of their hands,” Shapiro said.

Antioxidants Good For Smokers Health

Thursday, March 31st, 2011

buy virginia cigarettes onlineAn antioxidant is any molecule that slows down or prevents oxidation reactions. Originally, oxidation reactions were defined as chemical reactions with oxygen. More recently, oxidation reactions have been described as reactions in which an atom or molecule loses an electron.

Oxidation is a natural part of life. Excessively high antioxidant levels are detrimental to health. Some people have suggested that oxidation reactions contribute to heart disease, declines in cognitive abilities, and cancer.

“Vitamin C, vitamin E, and beta-carotene have been shown to be antioxidants in a test tube, and it is often claimed that they and many other substances are able to function as antioxidants in the body. However, whether any molecule can act as an antioxidant depends on its environment, and it is not clear which of these can be counted on to work in your body. Further, even if they act as antioxidants in the body, it is not clear that they will have any effect on heart disease or cancer,” says Gerda Endemann, biochemist and author of Fat is Not the Enemy (Endemann, 2002).

In a five-year study, male smokers with angina (chest pain due to heart disease) were given vitamin E, beta-carotene, both, or a placebo. There was no benefit realized from any of these treatments in terms of severe angina or heart attacks. Beta-carotene and vitamin E were actually associated with increased death from heart disease. Male smokers who had previously suffered a heart attack and were taking beta-carotene in this study were 1.75 times as likely to die as were those taking a placebo (Endemann, 2002).

In another large study of 18,314 smokers, former smokers, and asbestos-exposed workers, the combination of beta-carotene and vitamin A was shown to be harmful rather than protective (Omenn, et al., 1996). The researchers concluded “the combination of beta carotene and vitamin A had no benefit and may have had an adverse effect on the incidence of lung cancer and on the risk of death from lung cancer, cardiovascular disease, and any cause in smokers and workers exposed to asbestos.”

In another study, beta-carotene (50 mg) or a placebo was given to 22,000 physicians on alternate days for an average of 12 years. There was no difference between the groups in the incidence of heart attacks or deaths from cardiovascular disease (Endemann, 2002).

Another study found vitamin E was probably effective in reducing the chances of restenosis–the rapid narrowing and hardening of the arteries that can happen immediately following surgical procedures carried out to open up clogged arteries (Endemann, 2002). Kang and colleagues (Kang, et al., 2006) concluded that the long-term use of vitamin E supplements did not provide cognitive benefits among generally healthy older women.

Grodstein and colleagues (Grodstein, et al., 2003) investigated the relation of high-dose antioxidant supplements on cognition. Information on the use of specific supplements containing vitamins E and C was collected biannually via mailed questionnaires beginning in 1980 from 14,968 community-dwelling women who participated in the Nurses’ Health Study. After looking at the data, the researchers concluded that the use of specific vitamin E supplements, but not specific vitamin C supplements, might be related to modest cognitive benefits in older women.

Antioxidants in moderation are good for your health. If you’re following a balanced diet that includes fruits, vegetables, whole grains, nuts, and seeds, your antioxidant levels are probably fine. If your diet is lacking in antioxidants an antioxidant supplement will do.

Don’t go overboard with supplements; unnaturally high doses can be harmful to your health. Oxidation is a natural chemical process that occurs in the body and is required for life.

Shisha Smoking On The Rise

Thursday, March 31st, 2011

flavoured tobaccoIt is believed that shisha smoking may be becoming more popular in the UK. Shisha smoking is a practice that originates from Middle-Eastern cultures. It involves tobacco that is mixed with flavouring being inhaled through a pipe.

The BBC reported today that in Leicester, the Primary Care Trust says it is surprised with the increase in patients visiting GPs with shisha-related health problems. These patients are mainly in the 15 to 24 year old age group.

Waterpipes are often viewed as being more harmless than cigarettes. However, health professionals warn that this is a misconception. In a World Health Organisation report, entitled “Waterpipe Tobacco Smoking: Health Effects, Research Needs and Recommended Actions by Regulators” the authors state: “Contrary to ancient lore and popular belief, the smoke that emerges from a waterpipe contains numerous toxicants known to cause lung cancer, heart disease and other diseases.”

The report also mentions: “The waterpipe smoker may… inhale as much smoke during one session as a cigarette smoker would inhale consuming one hundred cigarettes or more.”

While the water does absorb some of the nicotine, the WHO says smokers can be exposed to enough nicotine to cause addiction. Furthermore, the smoke they inhale still contains cancer-causing chemicals such as carbon monoxide. This means it can still cause the same kinds of diseases that are caused by cigarette smoking, including cancer, heart disease and respiratory disease. The report concludes that: “Using a waterpipe is not a safe alternative to smoking.”

New Passage of the Tobacco Control Law

Thursday, March 31st, 2011

winston cigarettes onlineThe number of tobacco users in Ghana increases by the day, despite the health implications associated with it. Compared to the western countries, where most people smoke tobacco and Winston cigarettes due to the excessive cold weather, smokers in Ghana have other reasons for smoking – either for pleasure or to get rid of an excessive nasty smell – which they later get addicted to.

The number of tobacco smokers in Ghana, definitely, cannot be compared to smokers in the west, however, the adverse effects of smoking, unfortunately, does not affect users only, but people who find themselves present during the moment of smokers’ activity.

This, in the long run, increases drastically, the number of people in danger of tobacco-related diseases.

According to the World Health Organisation (WHO), passive or non-smokers are at a greater risk of getting lung cancer, coronary heart diseases, and even cardiac death.

Over 600 studies undertaken by experts link passive smoking to ill health, and conclude that passive smoking, or the inhalation of tobacco smoke by non smokers, increases the risk of lung cancer, heart diseases, and respiratory disease.

The International Labour Organisation (ILO) estimates also show that 200,000 workers die as a result of exposure to passive smoking in the workplace.

According to WHO, at least one person dies every eight seconds due to tobacco-related diseases. About 13,400 people die each day, and 560 people die each hour globally.

By the year 2030, tobacco is expected to be the leading cause of death in the whole world. According to the World Health Organisation, smoking is a greater cause of death and disability than any single disease, as it is responsible for approximately five million deaths worldwide, every year. Tobacco smoking is a known, or probable cause, of approximately 25 diseases.

The danger tobacco users are putting on non-tobacco users, makes it evident that the probability of the nation losing its labour force and future leaders in the future is high. On the other hand, if the government will think it through, and concentrate on passing the Tobacco Control Bill into a law, then the citizen’s fate of getting tobacco-related diseases would be minimised.

Provision of the WHO Framework Convention on Tobacco Control (FCTC) makes it mandatory for all signatory countries to formulate legislations that will protect the citizenry from the numerous health hazards associated with tobacco use. Ghana was the 39th country in the world to sign the convention, and the first country in West Africa sub-region to ratify it in 2004.

Despite this, all attempts since then to enact a law to regulate tobacco use in the country, has witnessed several challenges, causing many to doubt the government’s commitment to achieving the set the goals spelt out in the convention.

According to the First Vice Chairman of the Media Alliance in Tobacco Control (MATCO), Jorge Wilson Kingson, by signing on to the Framework Convention On Tobacco Control (FCTC), Ghana had committed itself to, among others, ‘adopt and implement effective legislative, executive, administration, and other measures, and cooperate, as appropriate, with other parties in developing appropriate policies for preventing and reducing tobacco consumption, nicotine addiction, and exposure to smoke.’

In doing so, the country would be achieving the overall objective of the convention, which is ‘to protect the present and future generations from the devastating health, social, environment, and economic consequences of tobacco consumption, and exposure to tobacco smoke.

Why the dalliance
Mr. Kingson noted that in the effort at meeting this demand, the National Tobacco Steering Committee (NTSC) started formulating a National Tobacco Bill in 2005 for the attention of the government.

It is almost six years now since the drafting of the bill was concluded, but, clearly, there is little indication that the bill is yet to get to Parliament for consideration.

He made it clear that a number of reasons had been deduced as the cause of the delay in the passage of the bill.

Among them, is the low level of awareness among stakeholders about tobacco control and FCTC issues, and the in adequate involvement of media, key law makers and public opinion to support the bill.

More importantly, is also the interference of the tobacco industry control policy issues in the country.

Then also, the issue of whether the bill should form part of the general public health bill or be made to stand alone. The public health bill is a consolidation of all existing legislations on the various issues concerning public health.

It includes existing legislation on mosquito control, quarantine, infectious diseases, vaccinations, and food and drugs law.

New Tobacco Store Lets Smokers Roll Their Own Cigs

Wednesday, March 30th, 2011

buy marlboro onlineThose who smoke now have another way to buy cigarettes — by rolling their own. U Roll Smokes, located at 1200 Macon Road, is a new business that opened in Perry in February and is also coming to Warner Robins in May. The store has a cigarette rolling machine that can roll a carton of cigarettes in about eight minutes, according to manufacturer RYO Filling Station.

Manager Gail Wilson said her uncle, owner Talmadge Long, came up with the idea to open up a few shops. “My uncle lives in Ohio, where they have a lot of tobacco stores that have these machines,” Wilson said. Customers buy the tobacco and the filtered tubes, and rent time on the machine to stuff the tobacco into the tubes.

A carton at U Roll Smokes costs $23.99. The machine has a touch screen that explains what to do, which makes it simple for the customer to operate. The shop also sells hand rollers, but Wilson said it takes a person about two hours to fill a carton, if they are skilled.

Wilson is not a smoker. She relies on her staff and customers to tell her about the quality of the product she sells. “My employees are guinea pigs,” she said.

The store sells several varieties of tobacco and tubes, from strong to mild. Customer Jason Jones said he tells his friends, “If you are gonna smoke, be cleaner and cheaper.”

Supporters say cigarettes they roll themselves do not contain chemicals that are required to make cigarettes fire safe.

Rick Swain, also a customer, said he can tell a difference in smoking his machine-rolled cigarettes as well. One of Wilson’s goals is to have the cheapest tobacco in town. She said she understands these are hard economic times, and rolling cigarettes is a cheaper alternative to buying best cigarettes brands.

Wilson said she just attended a tobacco trade show in Las Vegas where she ordered humidor cabinets for cigars. “We want to become a full-fledged tobacco shop” with pipes, high-end cigars and tobacco accessories, she said.

Smoking Tobacco Habit Never End in Korea

Tuesday, March 29th, 2011

pall mall cigarettesIt is an 8.5 centimeter-long and 0.8 centimeter-thick dried herb stick wrapped in white paper, slim enough to fit between your second and third fingers. But it contains at least 250 harmful chemicals, more than 50 of which cause cancers of the mouth, head, lung, breast, bladder, stomach and other parts of the body. It is also linked to coronary heart disease and many other fatal disorders. It is suspected of causing infertility in women and raises the risk of fetal deformity during pregnancy.

The World Health Organization said it killed 5 million people worldwide a year, equivalent to one person dying every six seconds. The organization warned that the death toll could rise to more than 8 million by 2030 unless urgent actions are taken.

One possible solution is that its distribution and manufacture would be banned. However, it is one of the best-selling items in Korea, still luring hundreds of thousands of people every day.

In Korea, about 90 billion Pall Mall cigarettes, or some 4.5 billion packs, were sold in 2010, giving more than 4 trillion won ($3.57 billion) in revenue to tobacco companies.

According to figures from the Ministry of Health and Welfare, 39.6 percent of adult males and 2.2 percent of adult females were smokers last year. This portion is one of the highest among OECD member states.

“The number has been fluctuating for the past couple of years. But one thing that is clear is that while adult males are ditching cigarettes, more underage people are starting to smoke them. The trend is eminent among girls,” said Kim Eun-ji, secretary general of the Korean Association of Smoking and Health.

“Every year, 50,000 people die of diseases related to their smoking habit (in Korea). Adding up the possible number of people who died of passive smoking (there is no exact data dedicated to the issue yet), the number of people dying from smoking-related diseases could go much higher,” she said.

According to the National Health Insurance Corporation, the amount of socioeconomic costs related to smoking reached 5.6 trillion won as of 2007. “It means nonsmokers, too, are paying for the treatments and other living costs caused by smokers. The amount must have gone up in 2010,” an institute spokesman said.

However, it isn’t easy to get away from: Many of those addicted say they cannot quit though they are aware of the threats.

The government and civic groups have held a series of antismoking campaigns but have failed to deter 7.1 percent of middle and high school students from taking up the habit.

On the exterior of the packaging, there is a warning on the damage caused by smoking. Cigarette companies are banned from advertising in newspapers and other media outlets.

A total of 340,638 spots nationwide, including Seoul, Gwanghwamun and Cheonggye plazas in central Seoul, are designated as smoke-free areas. Those who violate the rule are fined up to 300,000 won.

The Health Ministry provides consulting programs to the would-be quitters, with around-the-clock telephone counselors as well as local public health care center doctors checking their conditions on a daily basis.

More and more people have come to understand the damage of smoking. Furthermore, a recent slew of litigation filed against Korea’s dominant cigarette maker KT&G, as well as the government, which owned it until 2002, has served to enhance public awareness of the issue.

Easy access

Antismoking activists say that cigarettes are too accessible to underage students, who are allured by the “cool and sexy” image of smoking advertised by tobacco companies.

“When you go to supermarkets or convenience stores, cigarettes are displayed right next to the cashiers with billboards and other signs drawing their attention,” Kim said.

Park Jae-gahb, chief director of the National Medical Center, blamed the “sly” marketing strategies of cigarette companies, especially KT&G, which takes up 60 percent of tobacco sales in Korea.

“KT&G have brainwashed the customers, especially the youngsters, with cultural and sports events,” he said. The company sponsors a male basketball team, as well as female volleyball, male ping-pong and female badminton teams.

“Just imagine the little students shouting out, ‘KT&G!’ while cheering, vowing themselves to buy the product to support the teams they like. That’s a horrible indoctrination,” he said.

Park, who refers to cigarettes as “the drug,” or “the poison,” said KT&G and other tobacco firms bear responsibility.

“Instead of asking teenagers not to smoke or stop smoking, the firm has been advising the kids to smoke ‘later,’ when they become adults. This just delays the occurrence of all the problems instead of preventing them,” he said.

Civic activists have been requesting that tobacco firms disclose the list of additives in cigarettes, but the company remains silent.

They have disclosed about 150 additives to the court, which is far less than U.S. manufacturers’ disclosure of 599. The judges, however, showed leniency in sealing the rest of the list, citing business confidentiality.

Activists are now asking the U.S. Food and Drug Administration to show them KT&G’s report of additives. The tobacco company exports 40 percent of its products and the U.S. is one of its main export markets. In order to win the American authorities’ approval, the company has reportedly submitted the list to the USFDA.

Ambivalent attitude

The government, however, seems less than enthusiastic about eradicating smoking.

Currently, the Ministry of Strategy and Finance looks over cigarette companies. The ministry hasn’t suggested a single policy regulating cigarette products by far. The government collects about 7.5 trillion won from tobacco firms every year for health promotion, but in reality, the Health Ministry spends less than 25 billion won for the actual smoke-free campaigns and pertinent projects.

For this reason, the government’s attempt to raise cigarette prices by 500 won has been marred by public antipathy. “If they would use it to improve the health and welfare status of the smokers, we would understand. But the cigarette price hike seems to be an easy way to rake in more tax revenue at this point,” Kim said.

Moreover, the Health Ministry has taken a rather inconsistent stance toward cigarettes.

The administration joined the WHO Framework Convention on Tobacco Control, which requires all participating parties to consider taking legislative action or promoting their existing laws, where necessary, to deal with criminal and civil liability, including compensation where appropriate. It is also to restrain and regulate all promotional actions on cigarette consumption.

The Health Ministry will even host a meeting of the convention members next year to show off the progress in its anticigarette campaigns and policies.

On the other hand, the ministry has been promoting the industry. The National Pension Service, an affiliate of the ministry, managing 300 trillion won fund, has been investing a substantial amount of money in tobacco firms.

According to Rep. Jeon Hyun-heui of the main opposition Democratic Party, the NPS has invested a total of $114 million in domestic and international tobacco firms. The NPS poured 2.43 trillion won in KT&G between 2006 and 2010, earning 106 billion won in profit.

“We are trying to reduce the amount in the near future. However, we will not cut it out, because it may pose a huge blow to the market and the company,” a ministry official said.

What are solutions?

Experts and industry insiders claim that the fastest and the most effective way to achieve a smoke-free society is to cease cigarette manufacturing completely.

Park, who has submitted a relevant bill to the National Assembly three times only to be rejected, said no politician will ever vote to destroy one of their largest sponsors. “Tobacco firms are among the largest and the most powerful lobbyists in Yeouido, the political hub of Korea. They have sponsored various events and occasions,” he said.

Park said the second-best idea would be for the administration to entrust cigarette-related policies to the Health Ministry and exclude the Finance Ministry. “The Korea Food and Drug Administration could take care of it since most components of cigarettes are carcinogens and toxins,” he said.

Park said he had suggested this plan last year to President Lee Myung-bak, who didn’t seem impressed with his idea. But later some officials expressed sympathy with his efforts. “Some ministers said I was speaking for them. It seems that many high-ranking officials understand that the socioeconomic costs of smoking exceed the tax income,” he said, adding that antismoking campaigns could be an effective way to bolster the drying up national health insurance fund.

Both Park and Kim stressed that the government needs to cover antismoking programs with the public health insurance. Currently, the program requires more than 200,000 won per 12-week session, which drives away many smokers.

“These days, varenicline-based smoke-addiction treatments such as Champix (Chantix in the U.S.) have proven quite effective ― about 25 percent of smokers have succeeded in maintaining smoke-free status for more than six weeks after finishing the medication,” Park said.

Inserting pictures of skeletons or photos of smokers’ lungs covered with various cancers and dirt on the cigarette packaging are recommended, too. The WHO also finds the method effective.

“We still have a lot to do,” Choi Seung-hee, a ministry official, admitted. “But we are moving toward becoming a smoke-free society,” she added.

Schools Prohibited Electronic Cigarettes Use By Adults

Tuesday, March 29th, 2011

buy camel cigarettes onlineEven though people younger than 18 can purchase electronic cigarettes, they are now prohibited from using them on some local school grounds. School boards in Battle Ground, Camas and Ridgefield all recently adopted revised tobacco policies that ban the use of electronic cigarettes on school grounds. Vancouver Public Schools has prohibited tobacco and “tobacco lookalikes” since at least 1998, district spokeswoman Kris Sork said.

The recent policy change came at the advice of the Washington State School Directors Association, said Gregg Herrington, spokesman for Battle Ground Public Schools.

Most school districts prohibit tobacco use on campuses. But because electronic cigarettes, or e-cigarettes, don’t contain tobacco, the policies don’t cover the devices. The state law that prohibits the sale of tobacco to minors also doesn’t apply to e-cigarettes.

E-cigarettes are battery-operated devices that look like cigarettes and pull vapors from nicotine-soaked replaceable cartridges. The vapors are then inhaled by the user.

The Battle Ground board revised its policy this month, after a student used an e-cigarette on campus this school year.

The student was disciplined and told he could not use the device on school grounds, Herrington said. The boy’s father came to his defense, pointing out that the official policy didn’t ban e-cigarettes.

The district’s new policy bans nicotine, nicotine-delivering substances, chemicals or devices that produce the same flavor or physical effect of nicotine substances, and any other “tobacco innovation.”

Policies in the Camas and Ridgefield districts have the same language.

Evergreen Public Schools board members haven’t revised their tobacco policy, said district spokeswoman Carol Fenstermacher. The board is currently reviewing all of the district’s policies, though, so it’s possible the tobacco policy will be modified, she said.

The La Center school board hasn’t taken action yet either. Superintendent Mark Mansell said the issue hasn’t come up in La Center schools.

“But our position on it would be, it’s unacceptable,” Mansell said. “Sort of like wearing a T-shirt with a tobacco ad on it, I just think those sort of things are unacceptable.”

While state law doesn’t prohibit the sale of e-cigarettes to minors, Clark County Commissioners may make it illegal.

On Wednesday, the commissioners — in their capacity as the county board of health — asked county staff to prepare an ordinance that would restrict the sale of e-cigarettes to only people legally able to purchase tobacco products.

The board will hold a workshop on the proposed ordinance, which will also go through the public hearing process before commissioners vote.