Tobacco Abuse

Psychiatric Patients Have Higher Rates Of Alcoholism, Smoking And Drug Use

A recent study has linked psychological disorders to a higher risk of engaging in vices.

brains scansResearchers from the University of Southern California and St. Louis’ Washington University School of Medicine jointly looked into the susceptibility of people diagnosed with psychotic disorders to a number of addictive activities such as drinking, smoking, and use of drugs.

Study co-author Dr. Sarah M. Hartz of Washington University said that contrary to popular belief, people suffering from severe mental disorders do not die because of suicide or drug overdose. “They die from heart disease and cancer, problems caused by chronic alcohol and tobacco use,” said Dr. Hartz in a news interview.

The study, published in the JAMA Psychiatry journal, monitored more than 9,000 patients with psychiatric illnesses such as bipolar disorder and schizophrenia. The cases were then compared with people without diagnosed brain disorders, and performed an assessment as to the degree of use of alcohol, drugs and nicotine.

Results showed the following findings:

  • Thirty percent of people with mental disorders were engaging in binge drinking, as compared to only 8 percent for normal-minded patients.
  • In terms of smoking, 33 percent of the people without psychotic issues were identified as smokers. In stark contrast, the figure for mental patients shot up to above 75 percent.
  • Marijuana use was also higher in psychiatric patients, registering 50% of the study population. Meanwhile, only 12 percent of the people without mental disorders used marijuana.


To top it off, Dr. Hartz added that “these patients tend to pass away much younger, with estimates ranging from 12 to 25 years earlier than individuals in the general population.”

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Study: Secondhand Smoke From Electronic Cigarettes Contains Nicotine

Contrary to the popular notion that electronic cigarettes are better and healthier alternatives to conventional sticks, a recent study revealed that secondhand smoke from e-cigarettes are also harmful to non-smokers.

electronic cigaretteThe study, published in the Nicotine and Tobacco Research journal, involved an investigation on the contents of e-cigarette smoke and vapors, as well as a look into the potential of exposing people to secondhand smoke when the electronic cigs are puffed indoors. Dr. Maciej Goniewicz of the Roswell Park Cancer Institute (RCPI) led the research team who spearheaded the project.

Dr. Goniewicz, who works under the Department of Health Behavior at RCPI, shared the group’s revelation from the breakthrough study. “This is one of the first studies to measure the air concentrations of nicotine and volatile organic compounds and compare the emissions from electronic and conventional tobacco cigarettes,” shared Dr. Goniewicz.

According to the study results, nicotine is present in the secondhand smoke produced by electronic cigars, although the amount is 10 times less than conventional tobacco cigarettes. However, the researchers recommended further studies especially on the effects of the secondhand vapors from e-cigs on the health of sensitive demographics (pregnant women, children, and cardiovascular patients).

In addition, the study includes recommendations on more research to focus on other potentially harmful components of e-cigarettes such as acrolein and acetaldehyde.

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New York City Council Plans E-Cigarette Ban

Despite claims of its manufacturers that their products are unlike the conventional predecessor, electronic cigarettes are set to be considered for restriction in New York City.

electronic cigaretteThis move by the City Council aims to categorize e-cigarettes just like normal cigarette sticks, and are also therefore subject to the same restrictions and prohibitions. Smoking is banned in most of the public places in New York City, most notably in offices, restaurants and even open areas like the beach.

Patrons have quickly picked up on the trend of using electronic cigars, claiming that these products are healthier because they help nicotine addicts kick the habit. However, recent studies have shown that e-cigs are not effective alternatives, because these can even fuel a deeper addiction to real cigarettes. Anti-smoking advocates are also adamant against the proliferation of these electronic variants, since these products still contain nicotine.

The bill, pushed by council speaker Christine Quinn (D-Manhattan) and fellow councilman James Gennaro (D-Queens), is being eyed for implementation within the year. “This is kind of a high-tech successor to the common-sense anti-smoking law we passed in 2002 that has yielded tremedous health benefits to the people of New York,” Gennaro said in a news statement.

Many government officials are supporting the bill, including New York City mayor Michael Bloomberg.

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U.S. States Implement E-Cigarette Rules Pending FDA Decision

As the use of e-cigarettes by kids continues to rise, the U.S. is struggling to enact laws to regulate these products.

e-cigaretteElectronic cigarettes are considered by both pro and anti-tobacco activists as the primary alternative to regular tobacco cigarettes. While the latter contains nicotine within the solid particulates of the cigarette, the electronic counterparts offer nicotine in water vapor. It’s the form and function of this product that has kept the opposition and the government scratching their heads, because these sticks are not covered by existing federal restrictions.

This confounding dilemma is made more complex because of one basic question: “What exactly is an e-cigarette?” After all, manufacturers can always claim that it is not a tobacco product. As a result, electronic cigarettes are not taxed heavily, and are not yet restricted for indoor use.

U.S. states have pushed to implement their own laws to regulate e-cigs, according to the Washington Post. Arkansas, New Jersey, North Dakota and Utah have prohibited these products for use indoors. Meanwhile, nine states including Colorado and New York have considered them as tobacco products, and are thus regulated by law. Other states are planning to ban e-cigarettes indoors, such as Massachusetts and California, with the latter already restricting online advertising for these sticks.

On the other hand, Alabama considers these products as alternative sources of nicotine, while North Carolina has categorized them as vapor products. Seven states are expected to support the treatment of e-cigs as non-tobacco products.

Everyone is awaiting the decision of the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) on the matter. As of this writing, the proposal is being reviewed by Office of Information and Regulatory Affairs of the White House, as well as the Office of Management and Budget.

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Smokers Turn To Social Media To Avoid Tobacco Use

Amidst the negative publicity that has gone viral in social networking sites, here’s a glimmer of good news: Smokers are now using social media to help themselves kick the habit.

social networkingA recent study published in the Journal of Communication revealed that social media campaigns aimed at curbing the habit of smoking are actually reducing the likelihood of smokers to continue their vices, and instead forge relationships through online communication.

Researcher Joe Phua of the Grady College of Journalism and Mass Communication in the University of Georgia shared his discovery in a news release. “I found that people who join health-based social networking sites are able to quit smoking and abstain for longer periods of time because of the sense of community they build with other members,” Phua said.

Social networking sites have provided venues for smokers wanting to get rid of the bad habit to join groups that have a similar goal in life. Despite not meeting personally and just catching up online, the relationships formed through social media are real and strong enough to lead a person towards quitting smoking.

The study looked into the behavior of online users registered in a pre-selected list of health-based community websites. The chosen users were asked to fill out a survey about the user’s average time online, changes in behavior after joining the online community, and the probability of getting rid of cigarette smoking permanently. Survey results indicated that each user has about 43 friends online that help them avoid smoking.

Phua further added how social media and online sites have become a great help to smokers who want to quit. “Online sites are easy to access, cheap and a direct connection to a larger and credible community that offers strong social support for those wanting to quit,” Phua said.

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Teen Substance Abuse Linked To Early Maturity

Children cannot wait to become grownups, and parents usually find this adorable. Now, a brand new survey suggests that moms and dads should be concerned about the rapid development of their kids into teenagers because this can lead to substance abuse.

teen addictionAccording to a study by a team of researcher from Austin’s University of Texas links early puberty to a higher risk of deveoplng substance abuse. Team lead Jessica Cance, who works at the Department of Kinesiology and Health Education, cites how puberty can result not only to physical body changes but also the teen’s social and psychological health. “Our research has shown that pubertal development is a combination of biological, psychological and social processes that all likely interact to influence risk-taking behavior like substance use,” Cance shared in a news item.

The survey involved 6,500 teenagers between the ages of 11 and 17, monitored their puberty development based on physical changes, and assessed their susceptibility to abuse of cocaine, alcohol and drugs. Results of the study showed that those who enter puberty at an earlier stage in their life are more prone to engage in drug abuse.

Cance relates this to the individual’s biological development and links it to his or her perceived social maturity. She said the first student in class to experience biological maturity “prompts or exacerbates existing psychological and social aspects… that can, in turn, lead to substance use and other risky behaviors early in life.”

Earlier studies showed that society and marketing agencies lure teens into drug and alcohol use because these are “cool”. This breakthrough revelation from Cance’s team shows that the perceived feeling of maturity in children makes them more likely to drug abuse.

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