Monday, November 18th, 2013
The number of teenagers who say they have tried smoking cigarettes has stabilized over the past year, but those who says they have tried nicotine by using electronic cigarettes–a habit known as “vaping”–has doubled in that same period of time, according to a study released by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. The study also revealed that an increasing number of teens are smoking flavored tobacco at hookah lounges, or smoking cigars–all before they are legally allowed to use tobacco products at age 18. More from Boston.com:
This bad news, reported Thursday by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, puts even more pressure on the government to strictly regulate e-cigarettes and other forms of tobacco as stringently as they regulate cigarettes….
….Unfortunately, e-cigarettes are cheaper, easier to access, and marketed more heavily to young people than traditional cigarettes, which fuels the teen vaping trend according to the CDC’s senior scientific adviser Brian King.
New rules are expected to be issued within the next few months by the US Food and Drug Administration, but no one knows how tough they will be.
About 90 percent of adult smokers become addicted to tobacco by the time they finish high school, so public health experts believe efforts to keep teens from lighting up could be the ultimate solution to solving the nation’s smoking problem once and for all.
The CDC report was based on a 2012 survey of nearly 25,000 middle and high school students in the United States and found that e-cigarette use increased among middle school students from 0.6 percent in 2011 to 1.1 percent in 2012. The percentage of high school students smoking e-cigarettes increased in one year from 1.5 percent to 2.8 percent, and those smoking hookahs increased to 5.4 percent from 4.1 percent.
“These percentages may seen low, but they account for nearly 2 million students,” King said, many of whom mistakenly believe that e-cigarettes are harmless and that hookah use is safer than cigarettes. King stressed that the tobacco burned and inhaled from hookahs may deliver even more harmful carcinogens, and e-cigarettes are like the “wild, wild west” with no one knowing exactly what they contain.
Image: Electronic cigarettes, via Shutterstock
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Child Health, Parenting News, Safety, Trends
Wednesday, October 23rd, 2013
“Little cigars” that resemble cigarettes and boast flavors like candy apple or chocolate are increasing in popularity among teenagers, many of whom might be deceived into thinking they are safer or less addictive than cigarettes, according to a new report from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Little cigar use is so popular, some forty percent of US middle schoolers say they have tried them, and they are boosting the overall rate of teens who smoke, alarming medical experts and public health officials alike. More from NBC News
Tom Frieden, director of the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, called the new data “disturbing.”
“Flavored little cigars are basically a deception,” Frieden says. “They’re marketed like cigarettes, they look like cigarettes, but they’re not taxed or regulated like cigarettes. And they’re increasing the number of kids who smoke.”
A little cigar looks almost exactly like a cigarette: It’s the same size and shape, but instead of being wrapped in white paper, it’s wrapped in brown paper that contains some tobacco leaf. Many little cigars have a filter, like a cigarette, according to the American Legacy Foundation, a nonprofit that seeks to prevent teen smoking.
“What makes a cigar a cigar is that it has some tobacco in the paper. Little cigars — there’s just enough tobacco in that paper to make them cigars,” says Erika Sward, assistant vice president for national advocacy at the American Lung Association. “They really are cigarettes in cigar clothing.”
Not that cigars are healthy. Little cigars – and large cigars and cigarillos (a longer, slimmer version of the classic large cigar) – contain the same harmful and addictive compounds as cigarettes. They can cause lung, oral, laryngeal and esophageal cancers and they increase the smoker’s risk of chronic obstructive pulmonary disease. The only upside of a cigar is the way they are usually smoked: Cigar smokers tend to take shallower puffs instead of deep inhales. But some research has shown people tend to smoke little cigars just like they’d smoke cigarettes, by inhaling deeply, which can exacerbate the tobacco’s health risks.
But because little cigars are technically not cigarettes, they are taxed far less than cigarettes, making them that much more appealing to teenagers, because “kids are especially price-sensitive,” Sward says. A pack of little cigars can cost less than half as much as a pack of cigarettes, experts say.
Image: Little cigars and cigarettes, via American Legacy Foundation
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Child Health, Must Read, New Research, Parenting News, Trends
Thursday, October 17th, 2013
In spite of repeated public health messages warning of the dangers of secondhand smoke, too many children with asthma are still exposed to it. Secondhand smoke is known to exacerbate their symptoms and raise their risk of serious complications, according to new research published in the journal Academic Pediatrics. Reuters has more:
According to national data from 2003 to 2010, half of all children ages 6 to 19, even those with asthma, have been exposed to secondhand smoke.
For kids ages 6 to 11, even low levels of second hand smoke were linked to more missed school days, trouble sleeping, less physical activity and more wheezing, the authors write in Academic Pediatrics.
The fact that kids with asthma are still inhaling others’ smoke is a real problem, said Dr. Karen M. Wilson, who studies children’s’ exposure to secondhand smoke at Children’s Hospital Colorado in Aurora.
“Secondhand smoke consists of particulate matter, and chemicals, both of which induce an inflammatory response in the airways, which can cause an asthma attack,” said Wilson, who was not involved in the study.
Limiting physical activity is also dangerous because it increases the chances a child will become obese, which worsens asthma, she told Reuters Health.
For older children, secondhand smoke was not linked to those negative symptoms.
Image: Asthmatic child with a smoker, via Shutterstock
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Friday, September 6th, 2013
Battery-powered e-cigarettes, which deliver nicotine through a vaporized mist rather than a lit cigarette, are gaining popularity among middle school and high school students, according to a new national survey by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. The survey showed that one in 10 high school students said they had tried the devices within the last year, which was double the number who said they had tried them in 2011. The New York Times has more:
In total, 1.8 million middle and high school students said they had tried e-cigarettes in 2012.
“This is really taking off among kids,” said Dr. Thomas Frieden, director of the C.D.C.
E-cigarettes are battery-powered devices that deliver nicotine that is vaporized to form an aerosol mist. Producers promote them as a healthy alternative to smoking, but researchers say their health effects are not yet clear, though most acknowledge that they are less harmful than traditional cigarettes. The Food and Drug Administration does not yet regulate them, though analysts expect that the agency will start soon.
Thomas Briant, executive director of the National Association of Tobacco Outlets, which represents 28,000 stores, said the study “raises too many unanswered questions,” for the data to be used for policy making. It was unclear, for example, whether students who tried e-cigarettes were using them regularly or only once. He pointed out that selling them to minors is now illegal in many states.
One of the biggest concerns among health officials is the potential for e-cigarettes to become a path to smoking among young people who otherwise would not have experimented. The survey found that most students who had tried e-cigarettes had also smoked cigarettes.
But one in five middle school students who said they had tried e-cigarettes reported never having smoked a conventional cigarette, raising fears that e-cigarettes, at least for some, could become a gateway. Among high school students, 7 percent who had tried an e-cigarette said they had never smoked a traditional cigarette.
Dr. Frieden said that the adolescent brain is more susceptible to nicotine, and that the trend of rising use could hook young people who might then move into more harmful products like conventional cigarettes.
Image: E-cigarette, via Shutterstock
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Wednesday, August 21st, 2013
A new study from Denmark suggests that moms who quit smoking right before or right after getting pregnant are more likely to give birth to normal-weight babies than women who continue to puff.
Of the nearly 1,800 women in the study, those who quit smoking did gain about six more pounds than those who continued to smoke, and they gained roughly the same amount in the year after delivery. But their babies weighed the same, on average, as the babies of moms who never smoked. Low-birth-weight babies face higher risk for infections, respiratory disorders, and learning disabilities.
Reuters has more details:
“The big thing to get out of this study is that quitting early in pregnancy is as helpful in respect to the birth weight of your baby as never having smoked while you were pregnant,” Dr. Amber Samuel, a maternal-fetal medicine expert at Emory University School of Medicine in Atlanta, said.
“I think that can be an inspiration to moms who are looking to make a change in their lives.”
According to the American Cancer Society, between 10 and 15 percent of women smoke during pregnancy. Studies have linked smoking to premature birth and other complications, such as birth defects, low birth weight, and stillbirth.
Infants have a three to four times higher risk of dying from sudden infant death syndrome, or “crib death,” if their mothers smoke during and after pregnancy. Children exposed to secondhand smoke also have more ear infections, pneumonia, bronchitis, asthma, and other health problems.
The new study included 1,774 women who were part of the “Smoke-free Newborn” study conducted in Copenhagen, Denmark, between 1996 and 1999.
Twice during pregnancy, researchers surveyed women about their smoking status. To double-check whether women who said they quit smoking really did, their saliva was checked for cotinine – created when nicotine is broken down in the body.
About 38 percent of women were smokers before becoming pregnant, and half of them quit right before or soon after, Dr. Line Rode of Copenhagen University Hospital and colleagues found.
During pregnancy, nonsmokers gained almost 30 pounds, on average, smokers gained 29 pounds and quitters gained 35 pounds.
Image: Pregnant belly with cigarette, via Shutterstock
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