Doctors are supposed to be the vanguards of health, but a recent study reveals that only a few of them intervene when it comes to teen smoking.
According to study author Gillian L. Schauer in her interview with Reuters Health, only 31 percent of adolescents in high school and middle school were advised by a healthcare professional to stop smoking. “Our results suggest that more than 6.6 million youth and adolescents who currently use tobacco or are at high risk for future smoking did not receive advice from their health care provider to quit or avoid tobacco,” Schauer said.
The study involved a survey of more than 18,000 teenagers all around the U.S. to ask them about tobacco usage and any discussions with health professionals about smoking. The results showed that while more than 70 percent of the kids have not tried smoking, 11 percent admitted to have smoked tobacco. Unfortunately, while majority of them were able to visit the doctor within the year, less than a third were given advice against smoking.
What’s more unfortunate is that only 32 percent of the kids surveyed said that a doctor or nurse asked them about smoking. “Young people often underestimate the addictive potential of nicotine, and 9 out of 10 adults who smoke started before age 18, making anti-smoking and anti-tobacco messages delivered by a health care provider an important intervention for youth,” Schauer stressed. “Given that tobacco is still the number one preventable cause of death and disease in the U.S., it is surprising that more clinicians are not intervening with adolescent patients to help them avoid or quit tobacco.”
The Manhattan Beach City Council has just approved a new ordinance that bans smoking in many public areas. The new law has been implemented starting July 18.
Branding itself as a smoke-free city, Manhattan Beach is now conducting the new ordinance, which broadens its existing laws to include electronic cigarettes. Scope of the smoking ban now includes many public places, including city streets and sidewalks, as well as public dining locations. Anyone inside the city may light a smoke in designated areas inside most hotels, and also residential areas and inside private moving vehicles.
Sona Coffee, who functions as the environmental program manager in Manhattan Beach, said that anyone walking through shops and other public areas can rest assured of their health. “The reason for that is we want to protect all of our visitors all of our residents from the impacts of second-hand smoke,” Coffee said in a news item.
Violators caught smoking in banned areas will be dealt with a $100 fine for the first offense. However, the city’s residents are given one month before the ordinance is set to full implementation and violators get slapped with the fine.
A recent study has linked psychological disorders to a higher risk of engaging in vices.
Researchers 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.”
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.
The 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.
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.
This 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.
As the use of e-cigarettes by kids continues to rise, the U.S. is struggling to enact laws to regulate these products.
Electronic 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.