Monitoring the Future – Overview of findings
The results of the National Institutes on Drug Abuse’s Monitoring the Future (MTF) survey have been released. This year’s survey measured past and recent drug, alcohol, and tobacco use as well as attitudes about use in over 46,000 adolescents in the U.S. The survey data demonstrate a drop in the use of cigarettes, alcohol, methamphetamines, and hallucinogens, but the use of smokeless tobacco, marijuana, and prescription drugs has increased. Click here to read an overview of the findings or here for a video discussing the MTF survey. Click here for the press release from the University of Michigan, which designed and conducted the study.

SAHMHSA report: Use of Menthol Cigarettes
A report by the Substance Abuse & Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) indicates that menthol cigarette use is more common in new smokers than in long-term smokers. The percentage of current smokers using menthol cigarettes increased from 31.0% in 2004 to 33.9% in 2008; this increase was most prominent in adolescents aged 12-17 and young adults aged 18-25. Additionally, use of menthol cigarettes was highest among black smokers compared to white or Hispanic smokers (82.6%, 23.8%, and 32.3%, respectively). The report was based on 2004-2008 data from the National Survey on Drug Use and Health (NSDUH). Read the full report, Use of Menthol Cigarettes, here, or the press release from SAHMHSA here.

Research topics: Menthol and tobacco
The National Cancer Institute has launched a website that provides information about menthol and its use as an additive in tobacco products. The website includes basic information regarding what menthol is and how it is used, the harm of menthol cigarettes, how they have been marketed, updated demographic statistics regarding who smokes menthol cigarettes, and links to government reports and other resources to learn more about menthol cigarettes. Click here to view the website.

Health gains from lowered smoking rates in jeopardy: Study finds rising incidence of obesity could counter recent increases in longevity
A new study published in the New England Journal of Medicine indicates that if current trends in smoking and obesity do not change, the average life expectancy in America will drop by about nine months by 2020. Based on trends from 1971 to 2006, the researchers project that smoking rates will continue to drop, while obesity rates will continue to increase over time in the United States. The overall effect of these trends will be that the overall detrimental health consequences of obesity will outweigh the gains from the  decrease in smoking. If all Americans were nonsmokers of normal weight, the researchers estimate that the average life expectancy would increase by almost four years. Read more here, or read the abstract of the study here.

Cancer Epidemiology, Biomarkers & Prevention: A special issue on tobacco
The December 2009 special issue of Cancer Epidemiology, Biomarkers & Prevention is dedicated to tobacco research, with one section reviewing the newest in tobacco research, and a second section including original research articles on topics such as secondhand smoke, tobacco cessation interventions, nicotine withdrawal, susceptibility to smoking and promotion of smoking imagery in films. Many of the individual research articles are included in this month’s Tobacco Free Press newsletter. Click here to view the table of contents of this special issue.



Most of world exposed to deadly tobacco smoke: WHO
The World Health Organization’s (WHO) Global Tobacco Epidemic report shows that over 94% of the world’s population is not protected by smoke-free laws, and progress on implementing bans and increasing tobacco taxes has stalled. A total of 17 countries have comprehensive laws against smoking, an important factor in decreasing secondhand smoke exposure, yet tobacco control is severely underfunded worldwide, according to the report. The WHO encourages governments to adopt tobacco control measures such as cessation support, smoking bans, prohibition of tobacco advertising, and raising tobacco taxes. Click here to read more about the report, or here for the key findings. The Executive Summary of the report can be found here.

Cambodian moms-to-be chew tobacco for nausea (Cambodia)
A survey conducted by the World Health organization (WHO) has found that about half of Cambodian women over age 48 regularly chew tobacco, with about one in five initiating the habit during pregnancy to quell morning sickness. Additionally, 68% of midwives and half of female traditional healers use smokeless tobacco; the behavior appears to be influenced by older relatives and seen as a rite of passage. Chewing tobacco while pregnant puts babies at risk for the same problems as smoking while pregnant, including low birth weight, decreased lung function, and stillbirth. Click here to read more. The full text of the study is available online here in the Bulletin of the World Health Organization.

Chinese ‘herbal’ cigarettes no healthier than regular cigarettes (China)
Research published in Cancer Epidemiology, Biomarkers & Prevention shows that Chinese herbal cigarettes are just as addictive and dangerous as regular cigarettes. Urine analysis was conducted and questionnaires were administered to 135 Chinese people who smoked herbal cigarettes and 143 Chinese people who smoked "regular" tobacco cigarettes to determine if there was a difference between herbal and regular cigarette smokers in four key biomarkers. The results showed no significant differences between the groups in the levels of any of the four markers tested, two of which indicated nicotine intake and two that indicated carcinogen exposure. The researchers hope the findings will help dispel the notion that the herbal cigarettes are healthier than regular cigarettes, a belief that 24% of herbal cigarette users hold. Click here to read more about the findings or here for the study abstract.

Drop in smoking cuts cancer deaths in Europe (Europe)
An analysis of data shows that declining smoking rates in 34 European countries have contributed to a 9% decrease in deaths from cancer  among men from 1990-1994 to 2000-2004. A similar 8% decrease was observed among women. However, there was wide variation between different EU countries, with cancer mortality rates in some countries being almost twice those of countries with the lowest rates. Countries where alcohol and tobacco usage had increased experienced a rise in deaths from cancers of the lung, mouth, pharynx, and esophagus. Click here to read more, or click here to read the abstract of the article in Annals of Oncology.

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