Friday, March 25, 2011

Study Shows people are smoking less often and in smaller doses, leading to decreases in lung cancer!

A new study tested smoking rates in the United States and California separately to analyze smoking intensity patterns and found that both smoking and lung cancer rates have decreased!  California was tested separately because it has been the country’s leader in reducing cigarette smoking since the warning on smoking was given by the surgeon general in 1964.

The results showed that in 1965, 23.2 percent of adults in California and 22.9 percent of adults in the United States (excluding California) were heavy smokers.  These rates decreased dramatically by 2007 as only 2.6 percent of adults in California and 7.2 percent of adults in the rest of the United States were said to be heavy smokers.  This decline was also mirrored to a smaller extent in moderate smokers, showing Californians in 1965 to have a moderate smoking rate of 11.1 percent, while the remaining states had a 10.5 percent rate.  By 2007 these rates dropped to 3.4 percent and 5.4 percent, respectively.

John P. Pierce, PhD, of the University of California, San Diego, commented on this decrease, saying, “This decline in high-intensity smoking was not accompanied by a compensatory increase in the prevalence of less-intense smoking.”  This means that people are smoking smaller doses AND less often.

These results have been correlated to the decrease in lung cancer.  California’s lung cancer rate was at its peak in 1987 at 109 deaths per 100,000 and dropped in 2007 to 77 per 100,000.  The rest of the United States’ had its lung cancer death rate in 1993 with 117 deaths per 100,000 and declining in 2007 to 102 per 100,000.

This study shows just how important efforts, like those of SmokeFree Wisconsin and its partners, are to the health of our state. We must continue to work hard in Wisconsin to reduce tobacco use. Currently, 7,000 Wisconsin adults still die from their own smoking and 6,900 Wisconsin kids become new smokers each year. The burden of tobacco is one we all share, whether we use it or not. Tobacco costs Wisconsin $2.8 billion in health care costs every year, according to Burden of Tobacco in Wisconsin 2010, and for every cigarette pack sold, the expense to Wisconsin taxpayers is $9.53 in health care costs and lost productivity. We must continue working to bring down these costs, saving Wisconsin dollars and lives.To do that, we must continue funding for the state's Tobacco Prevention and Control Program as our work is far from finished. 

If you are a smoker who would like to quit, please call 1-800-QUIT-NOW.  
To learn more about this study, see the summary on WebMN here.

Friday, March 18, 2011

New Study Links Maternal Smoking During Pregnancy to Congenital Heart Defects in Infants

The journal Pediatrics published a new study titled, "Maternal Smoking and Congenital Heart Defects in the Baltimore-Washington Infant Study," which found maternal smoking during the first trimester of pregnancy increased the risk the baby would be born with congenital heart defects by 20 - 70 percent. A congenital heart defect is a condition some babies are born with which decreases the heart's ability to work well. These birth defects are the most common types of birth defects and make up for 30 percent of infant deaths as a result of birth defects every year. This new study shows how critical it is that a woman trying to get pregnant quit smoking. Quitting smoking before or very early into the pregnancy, the CDC says in a press release, "could prevent as many as 100 cases of right ventricular outflow tract obstructions and 700 cases of atrial septal defects each year in the US."

"Quitting [smoking] is the most important thing a woman can do to improve her health as well as the health of her baby," said CDC Director Thomas R. Frieden, M.D. M.P.H. in the CDC press release.

Today, nearly 40,000 infants are born with congenital heart defects in the US every year and in 2004, hospital costs for these defects were $1.4 billion, according to the CDC.

If you are pregnant or are thinking of becoming pregnant and need help to quit smoking, click here for the Wisconsin Women's Health Foundation's  First Breath program.

You can also call 1-800-QUIT-NOW or visit the Wisconsin's Quitline site by clicking here.

Monday, March 14, 2011

Smoke-free Law Improves Bartender Health in Wisconsin

New study shows bartenders exposed to less secondhand smoke are feeling the difference

Madison, Wis. – March 14, 2011 – A new study released by the University of Wisconsin – Milwaukee on Monday found that bartenders all around the state are feeling an improvement in their health since the smoke-free law was implemented on July 5th 2010 and began protecting them from the harmful effects of secondhand smoke in their workplace.

Researchers surveyed 531 bartenders around the state two months before the smoke-free law went into effect and then, again, three to six months after implementation. Bartenders’ first and second responses were 
compared and researchers found upper-respiratory symptoms, including wheezing, shortness of breath, coughing first thing in the morning and sore throats, decreased by 36 percent after the statewide smoke-free law went into effect.

“The smoke-free law improves health and saves lives,” said Maureen Busalacchi, executive director of SmokeFree Wisconsin. “This data is further evidence that Wisconsin workers are healthier now that the air is cleared of the 70 known cancer-causing agents found in secondhand smoke. Wisconsin truly is better smoke-free.”

Researchers also found that bartender support for smoke-free establishments increased to an overall 72 percent during the course of this study. Support went up the most among bartenders who smoke and bartenders in rural areas.

 “Support for the law continues to grow as more and more people see the very real, immediate and positive health effects associated with this life-saving legislation,” said Busalacchi.

This study is one of many that have been released recently which show strong support for the smoke-free law and the incredible health benefits already occurring as a result of Wisconsin becoming smoke-free.

For more information on the study visit:

To view and share a video of taverns and restaurants in support of the law visit:

Friday, March 11, 2011

Study Associates Drop in Ear Infections with Decrease in Smoking Among Parents

For the last 15 years, pediatricians have been witnessing a continued drop in ear infections in their patients, now close to a 30 percent decrease. Today, a new study from Harvard University may have an explanation; a decline in smoking among parents.

JSOnline Reports: '"When people are smoking less around their kids, when homes are smoke-free, the rate of ear infections can and has decreased,' said Hillel Alpert, lead author of a study published recently by the journal Tobacco Control."

Researchers explain that secondhand smoke exposure in kids can trigger irritation and swelling in a child's nose and throat, causing ear infections.

The Harvard study points out the decline in ear infections in the last 13 years coincides with the what the Associated Press found to be a 40 percent decrease in the number of people exposed to secondhand smoke since 1990 (CDC).

Not everyone agrees the two are linked, as the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel points out, and the study's researchers say further research is necessary. But this study highlights the serious health impacts secondhand smoke can have on a child and why efforts must continue in order to protect a child's right to live and breathe tobacco-free.

Monday, March 7, 2011

Study Finds Smoking is Holding Back US Life Expectancy

Desire long life and quality in your years?  A recent report released by the National Research Council shows that smoking and obesity are shortening Americans potential life spans. Though life expectancy in the US is indeed increasing, it is increasing at much slower rates than other areas in the world. The study showed that within the last five years the average life expectancy of women is 80.4 years and 75.3 years for men in the United States, contrasting with the Japanese, whose women live for an average of 86 years and men live around 79.2 years.

These statistics are directly related to smoking, according to the report, as people who smoke, or used to smoke, have a decreased life expectancy.  While smoking isn't as prevalent now as it used to be, the damage of the past still leaves an impression on the present and future.  Each person’s smoking history makes a difference as every inhale leaves a lasting mark on their health.  This is why every day of choosing whether or not to quit smoking counts. 

Smoking can shorten your days, but obesity also plays a factor in future health, not just temporarily, but in the long term.  Generally speaking, the United States does not adequately prevent obesity, and many people who become obese gain chronic illnesses (such as hypertension and diabetes).  It is, too often, only after getting a disease that our health care system steps in to treat chronic illness. This is why the prevention work that Health First Wisconsin and other organizations around the state and country do, pursuing health before the onset of disease, is so important. Let's step in and promote health before we have to treat it. 

The results of this study also show how critical it is that we keep funding programs like the Tobacco Prevention and Control Program. Despite the great steps forward Wisconsin and the United States have made to curb tobacco use, there is much more work to be done.

The study goes on to remind us we need to remember that there are many different social contexts in which smoking and obesity are more likely, but if we try to promote prevention of smoking among youth as well as cessation, we can hope for longer lives which mirror our global counterparts.  If we look to prevent obesity through healthier eating and frequent exercise we can curb our likelihood of gaining chronic illnesses that hold us back and look to live longer and better quality lives.