Smoking

Dozens of Midwest teens who reported vaping hospitalized with ‘severe lung injury,’ breathing problems

More than a dozen teens in the Midwest who reported vaping have been hospitalized with lung issues, stumping doctors who are searching for what exactly is sickening them. The Minnesota Department of Health announced Tuesday four cases of young people at Children’s Minnesota with “severe lung injury” possibly tied to vaping. The cases were announced days after Illinois health officials reported six cases and at least 12 were confirmed in Wisconsin, state health officials said. There are more under investigation. “These cases are similar to lung disease cases recently reported in Wisconsin and Illinois, though it is too early to say whether they are connected,” the Minnesota Department of Health said. Patients are reporting similar symptoms – shortness of breath, chest pain, cough, and vomiting in some cases – and some have been admitted to the intensive care unit (ICU). Teens across states reported using vaping devices for both nicotine and THC, the psychoactive ingredient in marijuana that produces the “high” sensation, prior to their hospitalization. In Minnesota, specifically, doctors at first thought the teens had some sort of respiratory infection – possibly pneumonia – but ruled this out after they failed to improve with treatment. In fact, according to NBC News, many of the teens treated for a respiratory infection got worse, not better. “We are deeply concerned by the severe cases of lung injury associated with vaping that we are currently seeing,” Dr. Emily Chapman, chief medical officer at Children’s Minnesota, said in a news release. “These cases are extremely complex to diagnose, as symptoms can mimic a common infection yet can lead to severe complications and extended hospitalization. Medical attention is essential; respiratory conditions can continue to decline without proper treatment.” In Wisconsin, Dr. David D. Gummin, medical director of the Wisconsin Poison Center, and professor and chief of medical toxicology at the Medical College of Wisconsin, told The New York Times officials “have no leads” to a specific substance that’s causing respiratory issues “other than those that are associated with smoking or vaping,” he said. The negative health effects associated with cigarette and cigar use have long been documented, leading to a decline in both among teens in the U.S. in recent years. In 2018, for example, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) reported roughly 1 in 50 – about 1.8 percent – of middle school students said they smoked cigarettes in the past 30 days, down from 4.3 percent in 2011 and a drastic decrease from 36.4 percent in 1997 when rates “peaked after increasing throughout the first half of the 1990s,” according to the American Lung Association. But the same is not true for e-cigarette use. In 2018, nearly 1 of every 20 middle school students (4.9 percent) reported using electronic cigarettes in the past 30 days. That’s an increase from less than 1 percent in 2011. Last year, the Surgeon General of the United States, Jerome Adams, declared vaping among American teens an “epidemic.” “This is an unprecedented challenge,” Health and Human Services Secretary Alex Azar said in response at the time. The health issues – both short and long term – of e-cigarette use are not well understood, and the U.S. Food and Drug and Administration (FDA) does not require the manufacturers of e-cigarette devices to list all the ingredients in them. “The risk here is that if people are presenting to hospital emergency rooms or urgent cares, they either may not think of vaping as something that is threatening and may not include it in their history,” Chapman told The New York Times. “Or if asked directly, they may not be comfortable sharing that.” A recent study from Yale University and Duke University found the e-cigarette liquid in Juul devices contain chemicals known as acetals. Acetals, according to the researchers, could cause lung irritation. Separately, the FDA announced last week it’s investigating 127 reports of seizures occurring after vaping. “The truth of the matter is, we have so little experience with vaping, relative to the experience we have with cigarettes and cigars. Recall how long it took us to figure out that cigarettes were linked to lung cancer,” Chapman added. “There is so much we don’t know.”

Indeed..  Bottom line, vaping has many health risks; including ones that even the doctors aren’t sure about.  So, if you or anyone you know vapes, please share this article with them.  Clearly, it’s foolish to ASSume that vaping is safer than smoking cigarettes.  And, we know how risky that is.

Smoking down, but tobacco use still a major cause of death, disease, WHO reports

Fewer people are smoking worldwide, especially women, but only one country in eight is on track to meet a target of reducing tobacco use significantly by 2025, the World Health Organization (WHO) said on Thursday. Three million people die prematurely each year due to tobacco use that causes cardiovascular diseases such as heart attacks and stroke, the world’s leading killers, it said, marking World No Tobacco Day. They include 890,000 deaths through second-hand smoke exposure. The WHO clinched a landmark treaty in 2005, now ratified by 180 countries, that calls for a ban on tobacco advertising and sponsorship, and taxes to discourage use. “The worldwide prevalence of tobacco smoking has decreased from 27 percent in 2000 to 20 percent in 2016, so progress has been made,” Douglas Bettcher, director of the WHO’s prevention of noncommunicable diseases department, told a news briefing. Launching the WHO’s global report on trends in prevalence of tobacco smoking, he said that industrialized countries are making faster progress than developing countries. “One of the major factors impeding low- and middle-income countries certainly is countries face resistance by a tobacco industry who wishes to replace clients who die by freely marketing their products and keeping prices affordable for young people,” he added. Progress in kicking the habit is uneven, with the Americas the only region set to meet the target of a 30 percent reduction in tobacco use by 2025 compared to 2010, for both men and women, the WHO said. However, the United States is currently not on track, bogged down by litigation over warnings on cigarette packaging and lags in taxation, said Vinayak Prasad of the WHO’s tobacco control unit. Parts of Western Europe have reached a “standstill”, particularly due to a failure to get women to stop smoking, African men are lagging, and tobacco use in the Middle East is actually set to increase, the WHO said. Overall, tobacco kills more than 7 million a year and many people know that it increases the risk of cancer, the WHO said. But many tobacco users in China and India are unaware of their increased risk of developing heart disease and stroke, making it urgent to step up awareness campaigns, it said. “The percentage of adults who do not believe smoking causes stroke are for example in China as high as 73 percent, for heart attacks 61 percent of adults in China are not aware that smoking increases the risk,” Bettcher said. “We aim to close this gap.” China and India have the highest numbers of smokers worldwide, accounting for 307 million and 106 million, respectively, of the world’s 1.1 billion adult smokers, followed by Indonesia with 74 million, WHO figures show. India also has 200 million of the world’s 367 million smokeless tobacco users.

Smoking is, of course, a stupid thing to do.  But, the WHO is a fascist bunch of busy-bodies.  And, if the people in China and India want to take up that obnoxious and disgusting habit, then hopefully American tobacco companies can do some business there, lol.   🙂

Are There Risks From Secondhand Marijuana Smoke? Early Science Says Yes.

The inspiration arrived in a haze at a Paul McCartney concert a few years ago in San Francisco. “People in front of me started lighting up and then other people started lighting up,” said Matthew Springer, a biologist and professor in the division of cardiology at the University of California-San Francisco. “And for a few naive split seconds I was thinking to myself, ‘Hey, they can’t smoke in AT&T Park! I’m sure that’s not allowed.’ And then I realized that it was all marijuana.” Recreational pot was not legal yet in the state, but that stopped no one. “Paul McCartney actually stopped between numbers and sniffed the air and said, ‘There’s something in the air — must be San Francisco!’” Springer recalled. As the visible cloud of pot smoke took shape, so did Springer’s idea to study the effects of secondhand marijuana smoke. He started thinking: San Franciscans would never tolerate those levels of cigarette smoke in a public place anymore. So why were they OK with pot smoke? Did people just assume that cannabis smoke isn’t harmful the way tobacco smoke is? Springer was already researching the health effects of secondhand tobacco smoke on rats at his lab at UCSF. He decided to run the same tests using joints. “By the time I left the concert, I was resolved to at least try to make this happen,” he said. He knew it would be difficult. Marijuana is still an illegal drug under federal law, and Springer’s research uses federal funds; so he has to purchase specially approved government cannabis for study. He also can’t test it on humans; hence, the rats. In the lab, Springer puts a cigarette or a joint in a plexiglass box, lights it and lets the chamber fill with smoke. Then he vents out most of the smoke to the point that it is hardly visible, to simulate being around a smoker. Then an anesthetized rat is exposed to the smoke for one minute. So far, Springer and his colleagues have published research demonstrating that just this one minute of exposure to secondhand smoke makes it harder for the rats’ arteries to expand and allow a healthy flow of blood. With tobacco products, this effect lasts about 30 minutes, and then the arteries recover their normal function. But if it happens over and over, the arterial walls can become permanently damaged, and that damage can cause blood clots, heart attack or stroke. Springer demonstrated that, at least in rats, the same physiological effect occurs after inhaling secondhand smoke from marijuana. And, the arteries take 90 minutes to recover compared with the 30 minutes with cigarette smoke. Springer’s discovery about the effect on blood vessels describes just one harmful impact for nonsmokers who are exposed to marijuana. Statewide sampling surveys of cannabis products sold in marijuana dispensaries have shown that the items may contain dangerous bacteria or mold, or residue from pesticides and solvents. California law requires testing for these contaminants, and those regulations are being initiated in three phases over the course of 2018. Because much of the marijuana being sold now was harvested in 2017, consumers will have to wait until early 2019 before they can purchase products that have been fully tested according to state standards. “People think cannabis is fine because it’s ‘natural,’” Springer said. “I hear this a lot. I don’t know what it means.” He concedes that tightly regulated marijuana, which has been fully tested, would not have as many chemical additives as cigarettes. But even if the cannabis tests clean, Springer said, smoke itself is bad for the lungs, heart and blood vessels. Other researchers are exploring the possible relationship between marijuana smoke and long-term cancer risk. Certainly, living with a smoker is worse for your health than just going to a smoky concert hall. But, Springer said, the less you inhale any kind of smoke, the better. “People should think of this not as an anti-THC conclusion,” he said, referencing the active ingredient in marijuana, “but an anti-smoke conclusion.”

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Casual smoking as bad as regularly lighting up, study finds

Smoking is as harmful for casual smokers as it is for regular smokers, according to findings of a new study. The study, conducted by researchers at the Ohio State University, found minimal differences in health risks between regular smokers and casual smokers, with rates differing by 1 or 2 percentage points. Seventy-six percent of regular smokers have high blood pressure compared to 75 percent who smoke infrequently. Likewise, 55 percent of regular smokers have raised cholesterol compared with 53 percent of casual smokers. “These results provide strong evidence that smoking, regardless of amount, is an even stronger indicator of cardiovascular risk than previously thought,” lead author, Kate Gawlik, wrote to Reuters in an email. “Social smoking is still a major cardiovascular health risk, no amount of smoking is safe.” The 10 percent of participants that identified as social smokers were more likely to be between the ages of 21 and 40, male and Hispanic, the author’s wrote. They also had significantly higher risks of having hypertension and elevated cholesterol than non-smokers. The results were published in early May in the American Journal of Health Promotion.

Smoking is, of course, a very stupid thing to do.  That said, I guess the lesson learned here is that… If you’re gonna smoke, then smoke all ya like.  It doesn’t matter if its 1 cig or 100.

One-fourth of US cancer deaths linked with 1 thing: smoking

Cigarettes contribute to more than 1 in 4 cancer deaths in the U.S. The rate is highest among men in southern states where smoking is more common and tobacco control policies are less strict. The American Cancer Society study found the highest rate among men in Arkansas, where 40 percent of cancer deaths were linked to cigarette smoking. Kentucky had the highest rate among women – 29 percent. The lowest rates were in Utah, where 22 percent of cancer deaths in men and 11 percent in women were linked with smoking. “The human costs of cigarette smoking are high in all states, regardless of ranking,” the authors said. They analyzed 2014 health surveys and government data on smoking rates and deaths from about a dozen smoking-linked cancers. Lung, throat, stomach, liver, colon, pancreas and kidney cancers were among those included, along with leukemia. The researchers estimated how many cancer deaths were likely attributable to smoking, and compared that with deaths from all cancers. Results were published Monday in. JAMA Internal Medicine. While U.S. smoking rates have been falling, 40 million U.S. adults are cigarette smokers and smoking is the top cause of preventable deaths, according to the federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. The study found that at least 167,000 cancer deaths in 2014 – about 29 percent of all U.S. cancer deaths – were attributable to smoking.