ASH Daily News for 24 January 2017



  • Tobacco Control Plan is needed to fight the power of big tobacco
  • A merger is the latest sign of big tobacco’s resilience
  • Nicotine reverses hypofrontality in animal models of addiction and schizophrenia
  • Colourful compound in fruits, vegetables could lower smokers’ lung cancer risk
  • Shisha cafe boss fined £200 for letting customers smoke
  • USA: New Jersey set to hand over millions in tobacco cash
  • Israel: Smoking prevalence increases substantially during compulsory military service

Tobacco Control Plan is needed to fight the power of big tobacco

The Institute of Health Promotion and Education endorses the urgent need for a new Tobacco Control Plan. Smoking is still the largest single preventable cause of ill health and death, and it causes extensive harm to individuals and society.

Source: British Medical Journal – 23 January 2017
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A merger is the latest sign of big tobacco’s resilience

The tobacco industry has been quite resilient in spite of stricter regulations and alternatives to tobacco products. Despite the downward trend of global smoking rates, simple population growth has elevated the total number of smokers to about 950m, slightly more than in 2005. Combined with rising prices, this means that the value of retail tobacco sales jumped by 29% in the decade to 2015, according to Euromonitor. At the same time, tobacco remains responsible for more than one in nine of all adult deaths.

Source: The Economist – 21 January 2017
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Smoking and mental health: Nicotine reverses hypofrontality in animal models of addiction and schizophrenia

A study examined the effect of nicotine on the brain of people with schizophrenia. The prefrontal cortex spontaneous default activity is altered in neuropsychiatric disorders, including schizophrenia – a disorder that can be accompanied by heavy smoking. Research on mice showed that chronic nicotine administration reversed hypofrontality, suggesting that administration of nicotine may represent a therapeutic strategy for the treatment of schizophrenia, and a physiological basis for the tendency of patients with schizophrenia to self-medicate by smoking.

Source: Nature Medicine – 23 January 2017
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Colourful compound in fruits, vegetables could lower smokers’ lung cancer risk

According to a study published in Cancer Prevention Research, a pigment, called beta-cryptoxanthin (BCX) reduces the number of receptors required for nicotine to fuel lung tumour growth.

There are more than 7,000 compounds in tobacco smoke, many of which are carcinogens, or cancer-causing substances, that damage the cells lining the lungs upon inhalation. While nicotine is not considered a direct cause of lung cancer, studies have shown that the addictive compound can promote the growth of lung tumours.

Based on research on mice, the authors of the study believe that BCX could be effective for reducing the amount of α7-nAChR receptors on the lungs, which could decrease the growth of lung cancer cells. BCX is a type of carotenoid that is responsible for the yellow, orange, and red colours of numerous fruits and vegetables, including oranges, tangerines, butternut squash, and sweet red peppers.

Source: Medical News Today – 23 January 2017
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Shisha cafe boss fined £200 for letting customers smoke

Police and council officers raided Byblos Gardens Shisha Lounge in Barking, east London, following a tip-off from residents that its manager was allowing customers to smoke in an enclosed space.

Four customers were given £50 fixed penalty notices for smoking in an enclosed space in what cabinet member for enforcement and community safety Councillor Laila Butt said was an important measure in upholding the smoking ban and protecting residents’ health.

Source: Barking and Dagenham Post – 23 January 2017
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USA: New Jersey set to hand over millions in tobacco cash

Instead of spending millions from a landmark 1998 settlement with the tobacco industry on smoking cessation efforts, New Jersey this year will begin repaying hundreds of millions of dollars to bondholders after converting the settlement money into $90 million to fill a budget hole in 2014.

At the height of state funding for tobacco control in 2002, New Jersey funded 17 quit centres. However, since 2013, the administration has cancelled all state funding for quit centres including the 13 full-time positions at the Rutgers Tobacco Dependence Program that conduct outreach and education programmes.

In New Jersey, about 11,800 die from smoking-related diseases every year. Before public funding was abolished, the New Jersey smoking cessation programme had a success rate of 35%, which is 10% higher than the national average.

Source: Mail Online – 23 January 2017
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Israel: Smoking prevalence increases substantially during compulsory military service

A study published in Nicotine & Tobacco Research shows that cigarette smoking increased by almost 40% during compulsory military service in the Israel Defense Forces (IDF). In a systematic sample of nearly 30,000 soldiers from 1987 to 2011, the prevalence of smoking grew from 26.2% at recruitment to 36.5% at discharge, a 39.4% increase. Nearly a fifth of nonsmoking new recruits initiated smoking during service, and over half of former smokers relapsed to smoking. In light of this trend, the authors of the study call for a tobacco control plan in the army.

Source: AlphaGalileo – 23 January 2017
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