Monday, November 30, 2009
Wednesday, November 25, 2009
This week will be a short week on blog posts. SmokeFree Wisconsin in closed on Thursday and Friday of this week to observe the Thanksgiving Holiday. We did want to share our many thanks to all those who have taken action this year to make Wisconsin a healthier place to live.
Dear Blog Readers,
- Raising the cigarette tax by $1.00
- Having over 300 people testify at the Joint Committee on Finance Hearings
- Winning smoke-free air for the Cities of Verona and Weston
- Making smoke-free air a reality in rural Dane County, Monona, Middleton, Verona, Fond du Lac, and Shorewood
- Winning smoke-free air for the entire state of Wisconsin for July 5th, 2010
Tuesday, November 24, 2009
The Green Bay Press Gazette got it right when they wrote the following editorial:
The statistics are encouraging: The number of Wisconsin stores caught selling tobacco to minors in an annual random screening dropped from 7.2 percent in 2008 to 5.7 percent this year.
It's the latest success story in a state tobacco control effort that has also seen a 36 percent drop in the number of high-school-age smokers and a 73 percent drop in middle-school smoking, according to SmokeFreeWisconsin.
So why did the state cut these effective antismoking programs, which also include cessation programs?
Educating young people about the dangers of smoking is an ongoing effort. That's why it remains baffling that the state Legislature cut tobacco control programs by 55 percent last summer, even while raising the tax on a pack of cigarettes another 75 cents.
Lawmakers must understand that money raised for a specific purpose has to be applied for that purpose. These are dollars raised, in part, to protect our kids' health, not a big pot of money to be spent as politicians please.
Monday, November 23, 2009
Cigarette trafficking has become a highly profitable revenue source for criminal and terrorist organizations like Hezbollah, al Qaeda and Hamas. Money is often raised in the United States, then funneled back to these international terrorist groups. Cigarette smuggling is a multibillion dollar phenomenon and getting worse. To counter this trend, I [Sen. Kohl] introduced the Prevent All Cigarette Trafficking (PACT) Act of 2009 which recently passed the Senate Judiciary Committee. It provides law enforcement essential resources to crack down on black market tobacco ventures.
- Strengthen reporting requirements for interstate cigarette sellers.
- Increase the criminal penalty from a misdemeanor to a felony and create a substantial civil penalty for violations, including violations of the reporting requirements and state tobacco tax laws.
- Grant federal and state law enforcement officials more power to investigate and prosecute violators.
- Prohibit the United States Postal Service from delivering tobacco products
Friday, November 20, 2009
- The charcoal used to heat tobacco in the hookah increases the health risks by producing high levels of carbon monoxide, metals, and cancer-causing chemicals.
- Even after it has passed through water, the smoke produced by a hookah contains high levels of toxic compounds, including carbon monoxide, heavy metals, and cancer-causing chemicals.
- Hookah tobacco and smoke contain numerous toxic substances known to cause lung,bladder, and oral cancers.
- Hookah tobacco and smoke contain numerous toxic substances known to cause clogged arteries and heart disease.
- Sharing a hookah may increase the risk of transmitting tuberculosis, viruses such as herpesor hepatitis, and other illnesses.
- Secondhand smoke from hookahs poses a serious risk for nonsmokers, particularly because it contains smoke from the tobacco and smoke from the heat source (e.g., charcoal) used in the hookah.
Wisconsin has dealt with its own issues about hookah smoking. Most recently in the debate about the statewide smoke-free air law, the issue of a hookah exemption was raised. The amendment did not garner the votes to pass either house. Dane County also considered an amendment during the process of making the unincorporated parts of the County smoke-free last year in August. The amendment did not pass the county board either. As we move towards a smoke-free future in this state, hookah smoking will only be permitted outside, like all other smoking. The only exceptions being if an establishment fits the criteria to be a tobacco bar or a tobacco retailer. These exemptions are not intended for hookah lounges necessarily, but are written in such a way that an establishment might be able to squeeze into the definition. For more details or questions about that don't hesitate to contact SmokeFree Wisconsin.
Thursday, November 19, 2009
ACS: American Cancer Society Marks 34th Great American Smokeout® Reminds public of need for state tobacco control and cessation programs
Released today to honor the Great American Smokeout:
“In Wisconsin, we are working hard to protect our kids from the scourge of tobacco,” Governor Doyle said. “Our state has a long history of preventing youth tobacco sales and I’m pleased our
Wednesday, November 18, 2009
Annouced on November 8th, 2009, Tobacco Giant R.J. Reynolds in talks to buy Sweden's Niconovum. That's right R.J. Reynolds is trying to buy the Swedish-maker of a product that helps stop people who smoke. Niconovum's own website says their mission is to develop leading nicotine replacement therapies (NRT). They were formed in 2000 by experts in tobacco control and health. Currently they market a spray, gum, and pouch.
Tuesday, November 17, 2009
Monday, November 16, 2009
Federal Judge Rejects Tobacco Companies’ Effort to Block Key Provisions of New Tobacco Regulation Law
Judge McKinley forcefully backed the government’s interest in protecting consumers from misleading claims about tobacco products with supposedly reduced health risks. The judge agreed with the key argument that “given the significant health risks associated with the use of tobacco products and the history of marketing ‘low tar’ and ‘light’ cigarettes,” the government “has a substantial interest in protecting consumers from misleading tobacco industry claims about allegedly reduced risk tobacco products.”
Campaign for Tobacco-Free Kids, American Cancer Society, American Heart Association, American Lung Association among others released the following statement about this land mark decision.
We applaud the federal court’s decision to quickly and decisively reject the latest attempt by Big Tobacco to frustrate the intent of the new FDA law and allow the agency to get on with its role in putting an end to deceptive and dangerous tobacco marketing.
Friday, November 13, 2009
With the passage of FDA Regulation of Tobacco, hopefully someday we too will have the types of warnings that will make people stop in their tracks and think about the risk they are taking with their health.
Thursday, November 12, 2009
While most states have some transparency laws which allow citizens access to campaign finance information, Wisconsin is far from perfect in terms of providing completely open and detailed receipts from lobbyists. Big Tobacco often uses front groups to lobby on their behalf further making it difficult to track the money that comes from Big Tobacco to individual legislators.
However much can be learned from investigating where legislators get their money. To look up your Wisconsin Legislator click here to examine the campaign finance information.
Wednesday, November 11, 2009
Before discussing the new study we will provide a little background on menthol, particularly in African American communities. As recent at 2005, it has been reported that nearly 75% of African American smokers use menthols (compared to 30% of white smokers). This is no coincidence- the tobacco industry manipulated the marketing of menthol cigarettes throughout the sixties and seventies. It has been well documented through industry documents that the Brand Kool was changed to appeal to a segregated, urban population of African Americans (See abstract of study) . Kool was viewed as new, hip, and healthy.This industry manipulation has lead to a disproportionately high incidence of tobacco-related death and disease within African American communities. It has been shown that targeted marketing is highly effective. With this background let's examine the study.
Drs. Gunderson, Delnevo, and Wackowski released a study that examined the issue of menthol, race, and cessation.Utilizing data from the 2005 US National Health Interview Survey they found a few key points:
- African American/Black and Lation menthol smokers were less likely to have quit smoking
- Supports the idea that menthol smoking can decrease success of cessation efforts, but only for Black and Latino menthol smokers.
Tuesday, November 10, 2009
USA Today has picked up the e-cig issue. It seems everyone is talking about e-cigs these days. The question they ask, and that public health and tobacco control is asking is clear; is this stuff safe? Is it reasonable to deduce that because the product doesn't contain "tobacco" it is safe?
Monday, November 9, 2009
Dr. Cathy L. Backinger of the National Cancer Institute (NCI)- Tobacco Control Research Branch wrote an important release about tobacco control research. She outlines some of the important areas that the FDA will regulate including candy flavored cigarettes and mild and light labels. She also highlights some important funded research initiatives: improving effectiveness of smoking cessation interventions among low-income adults and preventing and reducing smokeless tobacco use. In 2010 continued efforts to expand our knowledge through an ever expanding body of research about tobacco and how to help people quit. NCI intends to move into funding research that examines state and community tobacco control and exploring media relations.
Continued research that helps to improve the effectiveness of tobacco control is extremely important. Any new studies that are released will ultimately help Wisconsin better address the number one cause of preventable death and disease in our state. Wisconsin citizens are not as educated about new product innovations, like Camel Snus, as they are about the hazards of smoking. As the FDA's new regulation over tobacco continues, improved research will emerge. The overall effectiveness of Wisconsin's tobacco control efforts will improve and more research is released.
Friday, November 6, 2009
Recently The Journal Times of Racine published a question about fire safe cigarettes.
"What chemical are they putting in the fire-safe cigarettes to make them go out? Maybe it'll kill smokers faster than the tobacco does."
The answer is, "It would help if tobacco companies fully disclosed their ingredients, said Maureen Busalacchi, executive director of the nonprofit SmokeFree Wisconsin. Still, enough is known that thin bands of extra paper cause them to burn out, not a chemical.
Mike Moore adds, "Advocates for laws requiring businesses to sell only the fire-safe kind - Wisconsin's law took effect last month - point to a Harvard University study. Researchers found that five of 19 toxic compounds were found in higher levels in fire-safe cigarettes, but the report states nothing suggests "these increases affect the already highly toxic nature of cigarette smoke."
Thursday, November 5, 2009
Wednesday, November 4, 2009
This study found that combining over-the-counter (OTC) nicotine replacement patches and nicotine replacement lozenges lead to more successful attempts to quit. Using any one of the methods was more effective than trying to quit with the placebo, the equivalent to cold turkey. This study is important in a number of ways. Most notably and especially timely is that many people who smoke do not have healthcare or have limited access to their doctor. People who make the choice to quit can take the money that would have gone to purchasing tobacco and pick up OTC smoking cessation methods.
While it is important to talk to a physician whenever making decisions about your health, for those who lack access to medical providers, there is some hope.
Tuesday, November 3, 2009
Its hard to be sympathetic to Big Tobacco, but that is exactly what they want- sympathy. Specifically, they want President Obama to challenge the Canadian ban on candy flavored cigarettes and small cigars. The argument is that Canada's ban on candy flavored tobacco violates WTO (World Trade Organization) obligations. What Big Tobacco fails to mention is that their interference in this matter violates the Framework Convention on Tobacco Control (FCTC). While the US is not signed on, as of yet, Canada is. The FCTC states that the tobacco industry must not interfere with the setting of health policy. Attempting to frame this as a trade issue misses the point entirely. Canada set forth this policy as part of their health agenda and while the ban restricts imports, the overall goal is to improve the health of the citizens of Canada.
They are trying to capitalize on a down economy and say that they provide jobs for growers of tobacco in the US. They have gone so far as to enlist a senator from a tobacco state to block the nomination of the deputy US Trade Representative.
This issue raises some important questions:
- While there might be jobs in growing tobacco, are these jobs that contribute to the health and well-being of the population?
- Would farmers in tobacco states be best served by growing vegetables for the communities, instead of tobacco?
Monday, November 2, 2009
New York is leading the way on prohibiting Tobacco Products like spit tobacco and flavored cigars
This legislation is an important step forward for public health. Data shows that the sale of little cigars, like the Captain Black cherry variety shown to the right has increased by 240% between 1997-2007. Little cigars are sold in singles or packs of twenty for very low prices compared to a pack of cigarettes.
During that same time cigarillo sales increased by almost 150%. Cigarillos are smaller cigars, sold as singles or packs of five like what is shown to the left. This particular product is sour apple flavor. Again a pack of Phillies or Swisher Sweets are $1 for a single and $3-4 per 5-pack. Of note is the fact that larger cigars shown below actually DECREASED in sales by 6%. These are not usually sold in flavors, but are typically pretty expensive costing $10 or more dollars per cigar. These are not sold in gas stations like some of the other products discussed earlier.
The other product affected by this legislation is flavored chew, like the peach Skoal seen below. Skoal, Wolf, and other spit tobacco products are sold in single cans, sometimes in pre-measured pouches, or sometimes loose leaf or long-cut varieties. They are also sold in five packs. These sell in the range of $3-4 a can and a 5 pack is under $20.
This legislation will open the door for other communities to move forward.
The penalties for violators of the new city law may be fined up to $2,000 or have their tobacco-vending license suspended.These are pretty significant charges and hardly worth the sale of these products. Will Wisconsin be next to address this gap in the FDA legislation?
What can you do?
- Get out there and look at these products!
- If you have not educated yourself on these products please do so. It is very enlightening to see the little cigars, cigarillos, and candy flavored spit tobacco. This is a new way Big Tobacco works around increased cigarette taxes and the lack of social acceptability of cigarette smoking.
- Let your elected officials know these products are out there and are dangerous.
- Elected officials need to know that the work of tobacco control is not done yet in Wisconsin. Big Tobacco is far from gone and we have a long way to go to reduce our burden of tobacco.
Best resource on Cigars, Cigarillos, and Little Cigars
Full post from the NY Times
The Wausau Daily Herald got it right this time. Tobacco Prevention and Control Advocates are extremely dismayed by the significant cuts in tobacco control dollars especially while the cigarette tax was increased in the last budget. For smokers who are ready to quit- the Wisconsin Quit Line is not going to have the capacity to offer the type of service they have offered in the past. The Tobacco Prevention and Control program will not be out educating folks about the dangers of tobacco and the deceptive practices of corporate tobacco.
To read the article click here