Chemicals in E-cigs could hurt your heart

Valentine’s Day, the day of hearts, has passed but taking care of your own heart should be a year round priority because heart disease is a leading cause of death for both men and women in the United States.  Genetics may play a role in determining your risk, but not controlling your blood pressure or cholesterol can increase those risks.  Other factors include diabetes, overweight and obesity, poor diet, physical inactivity and excess alcohol use, according to the CDC.  One of the biggest lifestyle choices you can control is your choice to smoke, which by itself is a major factor in heart disease.  Many smokers, and even nonsmokers, are turning to electronic cigarettes because they were told they were safer, but a new study found they may be just as bad for your heart.

E-cigarettes may not have all the chemicals of cigarettes, but researchers found users had “increased levels of adrenaline in their hearts, and inflammation and oxidative stress (a process that can damage cells)” in their bodies, versus non-users.  They also contain some “heart-related toxins present in tobacco smoke, including formaldehyde and acetone.”  And let us not forget they also contain nicotine which affects blood pressure and heart rate.

A small study was conducted with 16 e-cigarette users who had been using e-cigarettes for at least one year and at the time did not smoke cigarettes.  A group of 18 nonusers were also involved in the study.  The age range of the men and women were between 21 to 45.  The researchers used blood tests to look “at markers of oxidative stress and inflammation” in the body.

The researchers did say the study was quite small and they “cannot confirm a cause-effect relationship between e-cigarette use and cardiovascular risk based on this single study.”  But they urge more research on this subject.  And their final conclusion?  “If you don’t already smoke tobacco cigarettes, don’t start using e-cigarettes –they are not harmless.”

Click HERE for the entire article.

 

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Spit it out and be Through With Chew

dip_ringWhen people think of smokeless tobacco, the image of a can of dip in the back pocket may come to mind.  So much attention is given to the risks of smoking, but smokeless tobacco users face many risks using their products.  That’s why the third week in February is dedicated to providing users health information on various forms of smokeless tobacco and encouraging them to be Through With Chew.  Smokeless tobacco comes in many forms and has changed over the years but in the end, users all become addicted to the nicotine.

Various varieties of smokeless tobacco include chewing tobacco, Snus, a highly sweetened tobacco in a tea-bag-like pouch (you don’t spit out the juices),and Snuff, a finely ground tobacco inhaled (snuffed) into the nose.  And then there are the dissolvable products, such as lozenges, orbs, strips, and sticks, which are finely ground tobacco held together with a binder to hold their shape.  These products are not popular with the public.

The most recognizable of the smokeless tobacco products is the dry snuff that evolved into dipping tobacco.  The tobacco in a can goes by names like dip, chew, snuff, rub and chaw.  It is placed between lip and gum or cheek and gum and the chemicals are absorbed through the tissues of the mouth.  The juices need to be spit.  This tobacco is typically flavored and comes in various cut sizes and length of tobacco strands.  It is the product that people associate with Major League ball players and the one that “almost half (46%) of new users under 18 try.”  In 2015, “6 out of every 100 high school student reported use of smokeless tobacco,” according the the CDC.  It is highly addictive and very habit forming.

Many teens believe that since the tobacco isn’t smoked, it is safe, but smokeless tobacco contains at least 28 cancer-causing chemicals which put users at a higher risk for oral cancer, as well as esophagus and pancreatic cancer, than non-users.  It stains the teeth, and can cause receding gums and gum disease.  A can of dip contains approximately 144 milligrams of nicotine, or the equivalent of about 80 cigarettes, or roughly four packs.  Nicotine affects you by increasing your blood pressure as well as your risk of heart disease and stroke.

According to the 2015 Florida Youth Tobacco Survey, the number of current youth smokeless tobacco users in our state had decreased in both middle school and high school by 73% and 29% respectively between 1998-2015.   But grade level numbers show an increase in use as students move through school.   Between middle school and high school, the number of male users more than triple with 2.4% and 7.9% respectively.  The number of middle school and high school students who reported ever trying it is higher at 3.1% and 8.8% respectively.   Smokeless tobacco use doubles alone between eighth grade (2.1%) and ninth grade (4.4%).

There is no proof that smokeless tobacco products can help you quit smoking, but it could get you hooked to another tobacco product.  If you need help quitting spit tobacco, there are several websites below to check out and find the one that works for you.  Good luck!

Tobacco Free Florida
NSTEP Resources for Quitting Spit Tobacco

Quit Tobacco: UCanQuit2.org – an educational campaign for the U.S. military, sponsored by the U.S. Dept of Defense.
Kill the Can – a site of former smokeless tobacco users helping users quit
Smokeless Tobacco: A Guide for Quitting – U.S. Department of Health and Human Services National Institutes of Health
Quit Smokeless

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Metals in your e-liquids

So what’s in your e-cigarette?  If you talk to many youth, they will tell you water vapor and flavoring, but beyond that, many do not have a clue.  A study on the liquids in first generation electronic cigarettes found users were puffing away on more than they thought, including “high levels of toxic metals in the liquid that creates the aerosol.”

e-cigaretteThe first generation e-cig models, which were referred to as “cigalikes,” looked like cigarettes, and consisted of three parts: a battery, an atomizer and a cartridge that holds the e-liquid.  While some cigalikes were a single unit that is discarded when the e-liquid was expended or the battery was depleted, others could be rechargeable with a replaceable e-liquid cartridge.  The batteries were small and the voltage could not be adjusted.

The study used five e-cigarette brands and checked for cadmium, chromium, lead, manganese and nickel.  Cadmium is been shown to reduce bone density, cause kidney issues, and has been linked to cancers of the breast, prostate, colon, rectum, kidney and lung.  Chromium causes DNA-damage, and can cause issues with the respiratory tract including ulceration, chronic rhinistis and pharyngitis, impaired lung function and emphysema.  Lead accumulation may be responsible for hypertension and peripheral arterial diseases and cataracts.  Manganese is a potent neurotoxin.  And nickel has been shown to cause a number of different forms of cancer, especially to the respiratory tract.

Although “levels varied by brand,” all five e-cigarette brands contained the heavy metals in different concentrations. Researchers believe the coil that heats the liquid is the “main source of the metals.”  It should  be noted the metals “can be toxic or carcinogenic (cancer-causing) when inhaled.”  Researchers suggest “regulators might want to look into an alternative materials for e-cigarette heating coils.”

While the study was focused on first-generation devices, newer devices allow the user to use larger coils and adjust the wattage and voltage to higher heat levels to produce massive vapor clouds.  Does this mean newer e-cigarette devices could be emitting greater levels of metals?  It will be interesting to learn of newer studies.

Clink HERE for the entire article on the study.  Click HERE for information on the metals listed in this study as well as other metals found in cigarettes.

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New teen trend of “dripping” for e-cigarettes

We have all read the articles about e-cigarettes, both good and bad.   The good news may include information how e-cigarettes have helped adults quit smoking combustible cigarettes.  Bad news that was trending just last week said e-cigarette smoking may be bad for your heart, among other things. Get ready to add another article to the bad side of e-cigarettes. A new study out Monday in Pediatrics shows one in four high school teens has tried “dripping” which involves putting e-liquid directly on the hot coils of the atomizer.

Normal e-cigarette use involves the liquid being slowly released “from a wick onto a hot atomizer” which produces a vapor that users inhale.  Dripping involves “dropping e-cigarette liquid directly onto the hot coils of the device to produce thicker, more flavorful smoke.” The problem is that it exposes “users to higher levels of nicotine” as well as higher levels of toxins that are known carcinogens.

dripping_resultsNot all e-cigarette liquids contain nicotine, but by using the dripping method it appears the users are using nicotine which produces a “stronger sensation” or “throat hit.”  Of those using the method, 64% said it was for the “thicker smoke, 39% for the better flavor, and 28% for the stronger throat hit or sensation.”  The report suggests that those using this method may be using “e-cigarettes for smoke tricks and vape competitions.” It also exposes the user to higher levels of nicotine then they would receive from a puff.

A study of almost 2,000 high school students in Connecticut found that half of the teens had used e-cigarettes and about “26% had also tried dripping.” Most were white, and male who “had tried more tobacco products or used an e-cigarette more in the past month.”  The students weren’t asked if their dripping was “habitual,” or what flavors were being used.

The CEO of Tobacco Vapor Electronic Cigarette Association believes those who are dripping are a small segment of users, the ‘do-it-yourself’ guys who are “manufacturing their own hardware,” and going for the monster clouds.  Although the CEO called e-cigarettes an “adult product,” he said he would rather see a teenager use an e-cigarette than a traditional cigarette.  The problem is two-fold: it addicts a teen to nicotine who otherwise would not smoke and creates a higher nicotine hit which may be more addicting, and many who start with e-cigarettes become tobacco users.

Although this survey was conducted in Connecticut, the researchers “cannot speak to the generalizability of these findings to youth from other states in the U.S.”  However, they did mention the information was found online so the method can easily be accessed by anyone.  The researchers admit there are a lot of questions that weren’t asked, and the results may be limited because the results were self-reported, but they feel larger, national surveys are needed to collect “alternative e-cigarette use behaviors.

Click HERE for the article in USA Today and HERE for the actual study that was reported in Pediatrics

 

 

 

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Kudos to our SWAT students in Florida

swatWe love hearing stories about the work our SWAT clubs are doing throughout Florida. In July, the SWAT club from Washington County  became one of 16 teams nationwide to attend the National Truth Initiative’s Youth Advocacy Summit.  The goal of Truth is to achieve “a culture where all youth and young adults reject tobacco.”  The SWAT students came up with a project to decrease “exposure to secondhand smoke by building examples of smoke-free business entrances.”

Studies show that certain areas in the community, such as entrances to buildings, parks and bus stops, provide more secondhand smoke exposure to the public.  So the SWAT students identified business willing to support their Clean Air Zones at their entrances.  By removing the smoking containers at these entrances, it improves the health of both employees and patrons by reducing “the number of cigarettes smoked per day.”  It also increases the “success rate for smokers who are trying to quit,” and decreases the amount of secondhand smoke.

The SWAT students worked with local businesses to establish a 25-foot clean air zone around each entrance.  “Several local business, such as McDonald’s restaurant, Burger King, Morris Industries, Hobbs Heating and Air Conditioning, King’s Drugs, Javier’s Mexican Restaurant, and Skins and Bubbas restaurant,” have established their Clean Air Zones.  The SWAT students and the Washington Country Department of Health encourage other businesses to take part in this plan to protect the health of everyone.

Kudos to the work of the SWAT students and the local businesses for taking steps to make the air smoke-free for everyone to breathe.

Click HERE for the entire story.  You can see some of the local businesses featured in the story.

 

 

 

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Finland has a plan to be tobacco-free

finland1The Finnish government is taking steps to make their country tobacco-free by 2040 or in other words, less than 2% of the adults will be consuming tobacco by then.  Like other countries, they have banned advertising and created smoke-free public areas.  While their neighbor Sweden has promoted snus, a smokeless tobacco product which is considered a “milder product that does less harm,” Finland wants to phase out all products.  Their newest approach is being called “innovative and creative” to get everyone to end tobacco.

The first step is to raise taxes.  Those who can’t afford to smoke will quit while those who can afford it will be paying for the anti-smoking campaigns.  This is considered “the single most effective way to reduce demand.” But Finland is taking it another step and is increasing “the costs for vendors selling tobacco products,” as well as adding a “surveillance fee” which can be as high as $536/year per cashier or checkout and will go to cover costs of surveillance officers who will check on the retailers.

Another creative approach is to ban smoking in private areas if the smoke is affecting neighbors, such as smoking on your private balcony.  And forget about smoking in your car if someone under the age of 15 is present.

The government knows to achieve their goal, the number of teens picking up the habit needs to be reduced.  Products that imitate smoking, such as candy cigarettes and chocolate pipes will face restrictions.  E-cigarettes will continue to be sold and must follow the rules and restrictions as regular cigarettes, but “are no longer allowed to have any flavors.”  While some believe the devices can help smokers quit, they support the ban on flavors which are appealing to youth.

Finland is not the only country reducing tobacco use, but they are being called “a pioneer” for setting “a goal to end the problem in its entirety.”

Click HERE for the entire story from CNN.
Map from Wikitravel.org/en/Finland

 

 

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Posted in Cigarettes, E-Cigarettes, Smokeless tobacco, Smoking, Tobacco, Tobacco market | Tagged , , , , , , | Leave a comment

What is your “real cost” of smoking?

Every year “The Real Cost of Smoking By State” is shared by WalletHub’s analysts for all 50 states and the District of Columbia.   The states are given an overall rank as well as ranked in five other categories which when added together make up the total cost.  It is easy for smokers to see the price of cigarettes when they walk into the store, and they understand it ruins your health, but many do not understand the great “economic and societal costs,” mostly due to smoking-related health care and lost productivity due to smoking and secondhand smoke.

cost_of_smoking_mapIt is estimated there are 36.5 million U.S. tobacco users and nearly half a million lose their lives each year due to tobacco use.  The “total economics cost from smoking is more than $300 billion a year.”  So what exactly are these costs?  Besides the price of that pack of cigarettes, smokers pay for higher health care insurance, home, life, and auto insurance.  Smokers take more sick days, and if they smoke around their families, the family also suffer more health issues.   Early death from smoking-related health issues means the family suffers from lost income.  There is quite a difference in the total cost per smoker between New York (ranked 51 – $2,313,205) where the cost of living is the highest and cigarette taxes are at $4.35/pack, and Kentucky (ranked 1 – $1,136,524) where cigarette taxes are $.60/pack and overall costs are lower.

The formula used to determine the out-of-pocket cost over a lifetime is “the average cost of a pack of cigarettes in each state, multiplied by the total number of days in 51 years.”  To obtain the the costs per year, they “multiplied the average cost by 365 days,” assuming a pack a day was purchased.  Since a smoker cannot legally purchase tobacco until they are 18, that is the starting age.  On average smokers also die earlier than nonsmokers so 69 was “the average age at which a smoker dies.”

Florida ranks in the middle at 24 with $1,426,171 spent over a smoker’s lifetime or about $27,337 a year.  Health care costs in Florida appear to be higher than other states, ranking us at 35 out of 51.  And “Other costs” have us ranked at 51, the highest of any states. Other costs include insurance credits and secondhand-smoke exposure.

There are two easy ways to protect public health in Florida, both of which would decrease youth tobacco use in our state, and ultimately adult smoking.  First, raise the age to purchase tobacco to 21 which would decrease the ability of those 18 year olds to purchase tobacco for younger peers.   Second, raise the tobacco tax on cigarettes, which hasn’t been raised in Florida since 2009, to at least $2/pack.  Federal taxes also need to be increased. We can no longer use the excuse that the higher prices would hurt those most vulnerable because they are already being hurt by using tobacco in the first place.

Click here for the “Financial Cost of Smoking By State” article.

 

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Study finds toxic chemicals in e-cigarette flavorings

One study in 2016 found about two-thirds of teens were using e-cigarettes for the “sweet and fruity flavors,” rather then the nicotine.   We are barely into the new year and the latest study has found that the toxic chemicals in the flavorings are damaging to male fertility, even when nicotine is not present.

Two of the popular flavors, cinnamon and bubblegum, are raising fertility health concerns.  Bubblegum flavoring  has been found to kill “off cells in the testis which helps to produce sperm,” while cinnamon flavoring causes sperm to make “slower swimmers.”  The lead author of the study said the study results were “shocking” and there was clearly a “detrimental effect” to the sperm.

The experiments were two-part, using healthy sperm of men undergoing IVF treatment and then using mice to see how they reacted to the flavorings.  In the first part, samples were take from 30 men and the flavorings were  “inserted into the sperm in concentrations” the men would be exposed to if they used the devices directly.   In the second experiment, the mice were “exposed to the flavorings” and researchers found “cells in the testes were killed off by the chemicals in them.”

Male fertility is not the only health concern from using the e-cigarette flavorings.  Another study, due to be published soon, found that certain flavorings increased the risk of lung damage.  The nine flavorings – cherry, strawberry, ice-mint, menthol, tobacco, blueberry, vanilla, bubble-gum and butterscotch – were all found to be toxic on human bronchial cells.  On a scale of bad to worse, the fruit flavors are at the lower end while “coffee, butterscotch and tobacco are the worst offenders.”  “Cells did not recover after being exposed for more than 72 hours.”

Many of the flavors are considered food-grade, hence the ability of the industry to get around regulation.  They are normally ingested into the stomach which is an acidic environment and the tissue is much different rather than inhaled into the sensitive membranes of the lungs.   The researchers found that prolonged exposure to some of the flavors killed bronchial cells completely “especially the ingredients of the e-liquid which can change in structure after the process of heating.”

E-cigarettes have not been on the market long enough for researchers to determine all the hazards, and with 7,000 different flavors it may be years before all tests are conducted.  The e-cigarette industry is promoting the devices as a healthy alternative to cigarettes, but they are not without their own harmful effects.  It took decades for the public to learn the truth about smoking and cigarettes, it should not have to take that long for consumers to heed the warnings about e-cigarettes.

Click HERE to read the entire article

 

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Attitudes on e-cigarette use are changing

As more information becomes available regarding electronic cigarettes, more Americans are perceiving them “to be as harmful as regular cigarettes,” according to a survey on health attitudes.

Information was taken from the National Cancer Institute’s Health Information National Trends Survey (HINTS) and showed changes in attitudes regarding e-cigarettes between 2012 and 2014.  In the earlier surveys about three-fourths of participants knew about e-cigarettes, compared to about 95% in 2014.  In 2012 50.7% of the participants considered them “to be less harmful than regular cigarettes,” while in 2014 that number had dropped to 43.1%.

The authors of the survey noted that e-cigarettes were introduced in the U.S. market in 2007 and while smoking rates were in a decline, e-cigarette use “increased dramatically.”  From 2009 to 2014 “e-cigarette market share for all tobacco products more than doubled each year.”  As the major tobacco companies introduced their own e-cigarette products, the marketing increased, often with the message that “e-cigarettes are safer than combustible cigarettes.”

From each year between 2012 and 2014, the “awareness of e-cigarettes increased from 77.1% in 2012 to 85.4% in 2013 to 94.3% in 2014.”  Respondents with a higher income level or a college education were “more likely to believe” that e-cigarettes were less harmful.

The FDA has recently begun regulations of e-cigarettes believing they “represent a risk to the public.”  It will be interesting to see if the public sides with the FDA or whether they see the devices as less harmful compared to combustible cigarettes.

Click HERE for the entire article.

 

 

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Stop selling flavored cigarettes labeled as cigars

In 2009 the Family Smoking Prevention and Tobacco Control Act was signed into law giving the Food and Drug Administration the power to regulate the tobacco industry.  Flavored cigarettes, “including cloves, cinnamon, candy and fruit flavors,with a special exception of menthol,” were banned as part of this act.  But it didn’t stop the tobacco industry from selling these same products labeled as “little cigars.”  Fast forward to 2016 and the FDA is issuing warnings to stop selling the flavored products that are “misleadingly labeled as cigars or “little cigars.”  Upon receiving the letters, the tobacco companies have 15 days to respond.

cigars_and_cigarettesIf you put a little cigar and a cigarette next to each other, you may think they look alike as they are the same size, shape and “both can have filters.”  According to the cigar industry, “cigars are wrapped in tobacco leaf or brown paper that must contain at least two-thirds tobacco by weight,” while cigarettes are wrapped in paper.   Little cigars are also cheaper and can be sold individually, while cigarettes must be sold in packs of 20 here in the U.S.   The reason for the warning letters is that the FDA “argued ‘their overall presentation, appearance, and packing and labeling’ mean they are likely to be ‘offered to or purchased by’ consumers as cigarettes.”

While many people know the hazards of cigarettes, they may perceive cigars as less harmful, especially youth who use the products because of flavors and cost.  In fact, in a 2013-2014 study “nearly 80 percent of current youth tobacco users reported using a flavored tobacco product in the past 30 days.”   If it wasn’t for the flavors, the number of youth users would be lower.

 

Click HERE for the entire article via Twitter @TobaccoFreeSC

 

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