All posts by Pepe Lepew

Jesus Christ, this cigarette ad was actually in the Sunday comics

Doral comic

Got this from TobaccoFreeCa.

This made my head just explode. At first, I thought this was some old magazine ad for Doral cigarettes (looks very 1960s), but according to TobaccoFreeCA, this ad was actually placed in the Sunday comics section of newspapers.

Wow, just unbelievable to me. Not even trying to be remotely subtle about marketing to kids.

Los Angeles, San Francisco, Long Beach ban e-cigs indoors

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I think you’re going to see more and more of this, and I’m becoming more and more OK with it.

The cities of L.A., San Francisco and Long Beach last week all banned e-cigarette use indoors — that means mostly bars and restaurants and workplaces.

Now, e-cigs put out a vapour that has virtually no smell, and it does not irritate your eyes and nose like cigarette smoke. However, it is laced with nicotine, and people are not comfortable being in a room with nicotine-laced steam floating in the room.

It was apparently a very heated debate in L.A. as the city council heard impassioned pleas from e-cig users not to ban them.

According to the LA. Times:

“We have a right to … choose to breathe clean air,” Councilwoman Nury Martinez told her colleagues. “And if this device turns out to be safe, then we can always undo the ordinance. But if this device proves not to be safe, we cannot undo the harm this will create on the public health.”

and the other side of the argument:

Councilman Joe Buscaino led an unsuccessful attempt to exempt bars and nightclubs from the ban, a measure sought by lobbyists for the e-cigarette industry. He too invoked a family member while making his arguments.

E-cigarettes “are not tobacco,” he said. “I don’t think they should be regulated exactly the same way. And I’ve heard from so many people, including my cousin Anthony, that they’ve stopped smoking from the help of e-cigarettes.”

I guess I feel like if e-cigs have helped you quit smoking real cigarettes, then that somehow being banned from smoking them in bars or restaurants really isn’t going to change anything for you. More power to you if they’ve genuinely helped you quit smoking. You can continue not smoking cigarettes in spite of this ban.

Meanwhile, in nearby Long Beach, a similar ban was passed, and then San Francisco banned them indoors just yesterday. San Francisco is also requiring a special licence to sell e-cigs.

These major California cities join Washington, D.C., New York City and Chicago as cities banning e-cigs indoors. Again, a growing trend. People are just not comfortable breathing that steam despite the lack of odour.

 

A smoking ban in the Deep South — Georgia bans smoking on college campuses

georgia

Normally, a story like this wouldn’t really get on my radar, but then I remembered this is Georgia, buried well into the Deep South.

I haven’t written much about smoking bans in the last couple of years, mostly because not a lot has been happening on that front. Places that are going to ban indoor smoking have done it and places that haven’t done it — mostly Southern states — have if anything the last few years become more stubborn about passing regulations on private businesses.

Georgia has some city bans, but statewide, the only ban is on smoking in restaurants. This week, the state of Georgia banned all tobacco products on its state college campuses — Univ. of Georgia, Georgia Tech and 29 other campuses.  This even includes outdoor football stadiums. I have no idea if this also includes e-cigs, which aren’t mentioned in the article (debatable if e-cigs are a “tobacco product.”)

I think this is a fairly big deal because Georgia’s university system is huge, with more than 300,000 students, and like I said, it’s in the Deep South, where the laws are pretty lax about cigarette smoking. Few states in the Deep South even bother to ban smoking in restaurants, much less bars (though a number of major cities in the South do have smoking bans). And not coincidentally, partly because of low state cigarette taxes in many of these states, the Deep South has some of the highest smoking rates in the country.

 

Sen. Chuck Shumer calls for ban on e-cigarette advertising to minors

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This is interesting … and becoming a bigger and bigger thorn with e-cigs — e-cigarette advertising.

(thanks to Haruko for this link)

Sen. Chuck Shumer, D-N.Y., has called on the Federal Trade Commission to ban e-cig advertising to minors. Currently, unlike cigarettes, there are NO advertising guidelines in place for e-cigs and it shows with ads like billboards showing Santa Claus using an e-cig.

I agree with Shumer. E-cig advertising is out of control and needs to be regulated. Remember, e-cigs contain nicotine, an FDA-regulated drug.

e-cig ad

One of the very good things that came out of the 1998 Master Settlement Agreement is that cigarette companies can no longer market to teens — all cartoon based cigarette advertising was banned and all product placements of cigarettes in films were banned.

However, since e-cigs are not cigarettes, that ban doesn’t apply to e-cigs (even though a lot of e-cigs are now owned by tobacco companies, as Lorillard owns Blu E-cigs).

I’ve been pretty open about being on the fence about e-cigs. They are not as toxic as cigarettes and they might help some people quit smoking — though I’ve heard mixed anecdotes about how the effectiveness of e-cigs as a smoking cessation tool.

stephen-dorff-blu-e-cigs

However, I am VERY concerned about what I have seen with e-cig advertising so far — they are being marketed EXACTLY the same way cigarettes have always been marketed. Made to look cool, suave, sophisticated, etc., and there is no doubt in my mind that some e-cig ads have been directed at teens. (I’ve posted some examples here.).

 

Study: Large amount of secondhand smoke causes miscarriages, stillbirths in pregnant women

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A really eye-opening study done in Buffalo shows that pregnant women who inhale a lot of secondhand smoke have a higher incidence of stillbirths, ectopic pregnancies and miscarriages than women who do not.

It’s long been known that smoking is bad for pregnant women and their babies, but this is the first study I’ve seen showing how secondhand smoke is damaging to pregnant women and their babies. Really powerful study.

This story will sure to make the smokers’ rights’ crowd go nuts. I haven’t tangled with that crowd in a long time, but one of their loudest arguments — in complete defiance of absolute reams of studies stating otherwise — is that secondhand smoke is essentially harmless and all the studies stating otherwise were just “junk science.” A lot of people actually listened to these people 10-15 years ago, but they don’t have much of an audience anymore.

These people are just like global warming denialists and people who denied for decades that smoking causes lung cancer.  The study compared populations of women who were exposed to secondhand smoke before and during their pregnancies to women who were never exposed to secondhand smoke.

According to the conclusions:

For nonsmoking women exposed to the highest levels of secondhand smoke, the study reported a 17 percent higher risk of miscarriage, a 55 percent higher risk for stillbirth and a 61 percent higher risk of ectopic pregnancy, a complication when a fertilized egg implants outside the uterus.

Those risks approached the risks seen among women who smoked more than 100 cigarettes in their lifetime, the researchers said.

The highest level of lifetime secondhand smoke exposure was defined by childhood exposure for longer than 10 years, adult home exposure for more than 20 years and adult work exposure for more than 10 years.

Some of those numbers are pretty startling — a 55 percent increase in stillbirths. Christ, if you gotta smoke, go ahead and smoke, just don’t smoke around kids … or pregnant women. Please, just don’t.

“The significance of the study is that it shows that secondhand smoke is more harmful than previously thought, not just during pregnancy but over a woman’s lifetime,” said Vince Willmore, vice president for communications at the Campaign for Tobacco-Free Kids in Washington, D.C.

“Hopefully, information like this will encourage people who smoke to be more sensitive about smoking in the house,” said Gary Giovino, chairman of the University at Buffalo’s Department of Community Health and Health Behavior.

 

Weird … study: Cigarettes may alter teens’ brain structure, make them more prone to other addictions

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From Discover Magazine.

A study recently published in Neuropsychopharmacology shows that something called the “insula,” which is part of the cerebral cortex, is thinner in the brains of teens who smoke versus teens who don’t smoke.

The insula helps govern emotions and consciousness and it also contains a lot of nicotine receptors so is part of the brain where the craving for nicotine comes from.

According to the Discover article:

“It looks like, even in these very young kids, there is a link between the structure of the insula and the extent to which they smoke and become dependent,” London said in a Neuropsychopharmacology podcast. “It was shocking. We are beginning to get a story of the functional neuroanatomy of smoking.”

Although the study illustrated a difference in brain structure of young smokers and nonsmokers, it did not establish whether smoking caused the variations. It could be that people with differently structured insulas are more likely to take up smoking for an unknown reason. However, the results pave the way for future studies to determine the actual cause and effect.

“Ideally one would start the study in 12-year-olds who haven’t begun to smoke; follow them out after they begin to smoke; and see if in fact the smaller insula thickness was a predictor of a predilection to become a smoker,” London explained in the podcast.

On the other hand, if London’s team finds proof that smoking causes thinning of the right insula, it would provide further evidence of the detrimental health effects of picking up the habit at a young age

And this is why this is important. It could be that kids prone to addictive behaviour already have this thinner insula, or that smoking creates more addictive behaviours later (I’ve long said that pot is not really a gateway drug, but cigarettes are. Almost all drug addicts started using cigarettes as their first drug).

According to the original article:

Cigarette dependence and the urge to smoke were negatively related to cortical thickness in the right ventral anterior insula. Although the results do not demonstrate causation, they do suggest that there are effects of cigarette exposure on brain structure in young smokers, with a relatively short smoking history. It is possible that changes in the brain due to prolonged exposure or to the progression of dependence lead to more extensive structural changes, manifested in the reported group differences between adult smokers and nonsmokers. Structural integrity of the insula may have implications for predicting long-term cigarette smoking and problems with other substance abuse in this population.

Europe to regulate e-cigarettes; FDA next?

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This came from an editorial from the New York Times supporting ecig regulation.

The European Parliament last week (honestly didn’t realize there was such a thing, but it’s the governing body of the European Union, apparently)  voted to regulated e-cigarettes, perhaps laying the groundwork for the FDA in the U.S. to someday regulate these things (yes, they appear to be wholly unregulated at this point).

In Europe, the advertising of ecigs will now be banned, and the amount of nicotine limited in the cartridges. I think I’ve mentioned repeatedly one of my concerns about ecigs is the way they are being marketed — sexy, suave, alluring — just the way cigarettes have been advertised (to teens) for many, many years.

Part of the big debate about ecigs was whether to classify them as a medicine or a tobacco product. Are they a medicine because they help some people quit like nicotine gum or patches, or a tobacco product, because they’re simply a nicotine delivery system that some people use when they’re in places they’re not allowed to smoke. It’s a good question. In the end, the European Parliament made some compromises, but ultimate will regulate ecigs as a tobacco product.

Some members of Parliament expect ecig companies to sue over the regulations.

“This was a very bad agreement,” said Martin Callanan, a British Conservative Party politician who said he opposed e-cigarette regulation on the ground that the products help people stop smoking. “It’s a massive loss for public health in Europe.”

Mr. Callanan, who backed most of Wednesday’s tobacco law reforms, said the details on e-cigarettes were “still very murky” and added, “I’m sure a lot of this will end up in the courts.”

I agree that advertising of ecigs needs to be reeled in. The use of ecigs is growing among teens because a) it’s cheaper than cigarettes, and I’m afraid b) those ecig ads are making it look cool, just like cigarettes.

The problem with this, is that while ecigs are not as toxic as cigarettes, they still contain nicotine, and are just as addictive as cigarettes. Ecigs might be effective for some people to quit smoking (maybe, the jury is out on this, I’ve heard and read anecdotes to support both sides), but they are not a good idea as a “substitute” for cigarettes, especially for kids. They are still getting addicted to nicotine and still inhaling toxic substances.

 

John Steinbeck’s birthday today — a life snuffed out too young

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Today, Google is celebrating John Steinbeck’s birthday with a special doodle.

Steinbeck was one of my favourite writers when I was younger. He only lived to be 66. He died of heart disease still a relatively young man, and still with much to give the world. John was reportedly a chain smoker, three packs a day minimum. Google John Steinbeck images and you will find plenty of images of him smoking.

Only 66, so many stories left to tell, snuffed out too quickly by a terrible habit.

google doodle
Google Doodle