An FDA panel recently released a report that menthol cigarettes are harmful and that their removal “from the marketplace would benefit public health in the United States,” the Los Angeles Times reports.
Menthol is the flavoring used in about 30% of U.S. cigarettes.
The National Latino Tobacco Control Network (NLTCN) welcomes this recommendation to the FDA and urges the FDA to ban the use of menthol in cigarettes and other tobacco products.
By withdrawing this product from the market, the FDA would be protecting the lives of people of color, NLTCN argues.
More than 82% of the African American smokers use mentholated cigarettes, as well as 45% of Native Hawaiians and Pacific Islanders, 35% of multiracial populations, 37% Latino women, and 32% of Asian Americans.
“For our network of 2,500 researchers, advocates and community based organizations working on tobacco control in Latino communities, the banning of menthol would give credence that the new Center for Tobacco Products at the FDA is concerned about protecting the lives of communities of color and is willing to stand up to the tobacco industry and make public health the unpinning of its work,” said Dr. Jeannette Noltenius, NLTCN director.
The University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center’s free Web-based teen smoking-cessation and prevention program, ASPIRE, now speaks Spanish.
ASPIRE (A Smoking Prevention Interactive Experience) aims to prevent middle-school and high-school teens from smoking or help them quit before it becomes a lifelong addiction.
The site integrates interactive media, customized messages, graphics, animations and streaming videos.
“We’ve found that participating students are more aware about the dangers of smoking, are making more informed decisions about smoking and are less tempted to start in the first place,” said developer Dr. Alexander V. Prokhorov, a professor at MD Anderson. “Removing the language barrier will help tremendously in reaching and educating Hispanic teens, especially those experiencing difficulties with English comprehension.”
Almost 20 percent of Hispanic high-school students smoke, according to the National Health Interview Survey. Research shows smoking and the use of tobacco products typically starts at a young age and contributes greatly to the risk of developing cancer.
The Spanish version of ASPIRE includes three portals designed for the student, administrator and the curious user interested in exploring the online interactive program. Each module contains testimonials from peers, doctors, smokers and non-smokers. Health information, tips and resources, and intervention methods for those wanting to quit are also available.
ASPIRE is a free resource to school districts, state health departments, teachers and parents nationwide.
Learn more here.
A few days ago a large group of minority health coalitions, doctors and elected officials celebrated the third anniversary of Houston’s successful smoking ban urging Houstonians “to see their doctors and put down their cigarettes for good.”
“Smoke Free for 3,” a campaign lead by the Hispanic Health Coalition, Asian American Health Coalition, African American Health Coalition, Native American Health Coalition, and Houston Communities for Safe Indoor Air (HCSIA), recognized the City of Houston’s leadership and success in creating more smoke free workplaces and public spaces effective Sept. 1, 2007.
However, despite the success in public policies, smoking continues to be a significant personal health issue for many Houstonians, particularly for minority communities.
According to the National Health Interview Survey (NHIS) of adults ages 18 and older 32.4% of American Indians currently smoke, compared to 22.0% of Whites, 21.3% of African-Americans, 15.8% of Hispanics, and 9.9% of Asian-Americans. About 3.2 million Texans are smokers.
Latinos who are interested in quitting smoking should call 1-877-YES-QUIT and check out the bilingual Buena Vida health magazine, developed by the Institute for Health Promotion Research (IHPR) at the UT Health Science Center at San Antonio, the team behind SaludToday. The magazine tells the stories of five Latinos and why and how they quit smoking.
The IHPR also conducted a needs assessment and GIS analysis of establishments that contributed to the adoption of San Antonio’s new smoke-free ordinance last month that goes into effect Aug. 19, 2011.
San Antonio had been considered the last major Texas city without a comprehensive smoke-free ordinance.
Get all the key facts on Latino smoking from the American Lung Association.
And if you’re a Latino who is thinking about quitting smoking, be sure to check out the Buena Vida health magazine in English or Spanish that tells the stories of five Latinos and how they kicked the habit and what it meant for their lives. The Institute for Health Promotion Research at the UT Health Science Center at San Antonio, the team behind Salud Today, produced the magazine and other tobacco prevention materials.
Cigarette Smoke Jolts Hundreds of Genes (from San Antonio Study of Mainly Mexican-American Population)0
A new study shows lighting up a cigarette changes a person’s gene activity across the body, a possible clue as to why smoking affects overall health—from heart disease to combating infections, LiveScience reports.
A research team from Australia and San Antonio, Texas, analyzed white blood cell samples of 1,240 mainly Mexican-American people, ages 16-94, who were participating in the San Antonio Family Heart Study.
They found that the 297 self-identified smokers in the group were more likely to have unusual patterns of “gene expression” related to tumor development, inflammation, virus elimination, cell death and more. A gene is expressed when it codes for a protein that then instructs, or kick-starts, a process in the body.
The study found cigarette smoke could alter the level of expression of 323 genes.
“On some levels, we were surprised by the extent of the influence exposure to cigarette smoke had on gene expression, especially considering we used such a simple measure of smoke exposure: smoker or non-smoker,” lead author Jac Charlesworth, a research fellow at the Menzies Research Institute Tasmania in Australia, told LiveScience.
On the other hand, doctors have long known that smoking worsens cancer risk overall, depresses immune systems and causes other problems.
Cigarette smoke contains more than 4,000 chemical compounds, some of them known carcinogens.
The researchers were able to find subjects by testing samples from people in an existing study of Mexican-American families. It’s likely that smoking would affect other ethnic groups the same way, the researchers wrote, but they could not be sure unless other ethnic groups were involved in the study.
If San Antonio ends up prohibiting smoking in indoor workplaces, its restaurants and bars are not likely to lose patrons to the few and geographically separated establishments outside the city limits that do allow smoking, according to a new analysis by the Institute for Health Promotion Research at The UT Health Science Center at San Antonio, the team behind SaludToday.
The analysis identified and mapped the 165 licensed-to-serve alcohol establishments in 30 incorporated towns outside San Antonio, but within Bexar County.
The vast majority (117) of those establishments already are smoke-free.
The remaining 48 that do allow smoking are fairly geographically separated from each other and, even if weighed as a whole, don’t have the capacity to sustain an influx of smoking customers if San Antonio prohibits smoking in its bars and restaurants, an action that polls show would be supported by two-thirds of registered voters.
“Our analysis and data show that a comprehensive smoking ordinance would not have a detrimental effect on the city of San Antonio’s bar and restaurant industry,” said lead author Courtney A. Denton, research associate with the Institute for Health Promotion Research (IHPR), whose researchers authored the report on behalf of the San Antonio Tobacco Prevention and Control Coalition. “We believe the ordinance would actually benefit the industry, help smokers kick the habit and improve air quality.”
The report comes on the heels of a press conference May 7 in which San Antonio Mayor Julián Castro said he would push for a strong anti-smoking ordinance.
For World No Tobacco Day, Dr. Amelie G. Ramirez reflected on the effects of smoking and the opportunities to quit smoking, especially among Latinos.
Dr. Ramirez, director of SaludToday and the Institute for Health Promotion Research at the UT Health Science Center at San Antonio. noted that for every one person that dies from a tobacco-related cause, there are 20 more people who are suffering with at least one serious illness from smoking, such as certain cancers, heart attacks, strokes, cataracts and skin wrinkling.
Smoking is the No. 1 cancer killer of Hispanics nationally.
Here is a little bit from Dr. Ramirez’ op-ed article in LatinaLista:
If you smoke, just imagine some of the benefits you’d immediately achieve by quitting.
You’d have more money to spend. You’d have whiter teeth, fresher breath and fewer coughs. You’d build pride in friends and family members, and be a role model for others. You’d get energized and feel healthier. And you’d stop exposing others to harmful secondhand smoke while lowering your own risk of cancer, heart attacks, strokes and early death.
Just ask Vicente Escobedo, who shared his story at a new web site for Latino health, SaludToday. Vicente, an early 20s father of two daughters, is a resource specialist for a local fatherhood campaign, where he helps mentor young fathers to make healthy, strong families. Yet he realized his smoking wasn’t setting a good example for young fathers, or his own daughters.
He quit smoking after his daughter told him, “Daddy, you smell ugly – you smell like smoke.” He said “I have to take care of my family. I have to worry about myself in the future. Am I gonna be healthy enough to take care of them?” Now he spends extra money on his family, and he has more energy to run with his girls.
You can be like Vicente and quit, too. And you don’t have to do it alone.
Help exists. Talk to your doctor. Call the American Cancer Society’s bilingual toll-free quit line, 1-877-YES-QUIT (1-877-937-7848).
Make this World No Tobacco Day a day to remember.
Rave reviews are coming in for a visually stunning booklet featuring minority teens’ anti-smoking photos from a project for which eight San Antonio high-school students took photos and wrote captions to visually describe tobacco problems in their neighborhoods to policy-makers.
“This is a wonderful example of how to invigorate public health messaging and make it ‘sing’ within one of your priority populations. The involvement of youth in the planning and execution of the project in a meaningful way is something that should be replicated throughout other areas of the State. Congratulations to…all the ‘gang’ at the UT Health Science Center for working with the San Antonio Tobacco Prevention and Control Coalition to carry it out!” said Gail Sneden, a project director of Applied Research Tobacco Prevention and Control in the Department of Kinesiology and Health Education at the University of Texas at Austin.
The project, sponsored by the San Antonio Tobacco Prevention and Control Coalition, paired tobacco prevention researchers at the Institute for Health Promotion Research at The UT Heath Science Center at San Antonio, the team behind SaludToday, with students in a youth program of the Family Service Association.
See the students’ photos and more about the project here.
SAN ANTONIO—Memorial High School student Victor Hernandez (at right) points to his photograph of a smoked cigarette butt lodged in the crack of a sidewalk.
The photo caption starts: “Cigarettes get between everything.”
“People might dream to be a doctor, lawyer – then cigarettes get introduced,” Victor said of the photo’s meaning. “With every cigarette it gets harder and harder to quit, you get closer to death. Your original dream goes away.”
Victor is one of eight students from Edgewood Independent School District’s Kennedy and Memorial high schools who recently partook in a “Photovoice Smoke-Free” project, where students took photos and wrote captions to visually describe the problem of tobacco to policy-makers. Researchers from the Institute for Health Promotion Research at The UT Health Science Center, the team behind SaludToday, were involved in the project.
See a commemorative book about the students and their photos here.