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We spend an inordinate amount of time telling people, no, pleading with people to quit smoking either with the help of Smoke Away or without. The point being that is important for smokers to realize that quitting smoking is the name of the game because it kills you and it hurts others. With that in mind here are 11 thoughts and facts about second hand smoke you probably did not know,

  • Secondhand smoke has been classified by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) as a known cause of cancer in humans (Group A carcinogen).
  • Secondhand smoke exposure causes disease and premature death in children and adults who do not smoke. Secondhand smoke contains hundreds of chemicals known to be toxic or carcinogenic, including formaldehyde, benzene, vinyl chloride, arsenic ammonia and hydrogen cyanide.
  • Secondhand smoke causes approximately 3,400 lung cancer deaths and 22,700-69,600 heart disease deaths in adult nonsmokers in the United States each year.
  • Nonsmokers exposed to secondhand smoke at work are at increased risk for adverse health effects. Levels of secondhand smoke in restaurants and bars were found to be 2 to 5 times higher than in residences with smokers and 2 to 6 times higher than in office workplaces.
  • Since 1999, 70 percent of the U.S. workforce worked under a smoke-free policy, ranging from 83.9 percent in Utah to 48.7 percent in Nevada.  Workplace productivity was increased and absenteeism was decreased among former smokers compared with current smokers.
  • Eighteen states – Arizona, California, Colorado, Connecticut, Delaware, Hawaii, Illinois, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, Minnesota, New Jersey, New Mexico, New York, Ohio, Rhode Island, Washington and Vermont – as well as the District of Columbia prohibit smoking in almost all public places and workplaces, including restaurants and bars. Montana and Utah prohibit smoking in most public places and workplaces, including restaurants; bars will go smokefree in 2009. New Hampshire prohibits smoking in some public places, including all restaurants and bars. Four states – Florida, Idaho, Louisiana and Nevada – prohibit smoking in most public places and workplaces, including restaurants, but exempt stand-alone bars. Fifteen states partially or totally prevent (preempt) local communities from passing smokefree air ordinances stronger than the statewide law. Iowa, Nebraska and Oregon have passed legislation prohibiting smoking in almost all public places and workplaces, including restaurants and bars, but the laws have not taken effect yet.
  • Secondhand smoke is especially harmful to young children. Secondhand smoke is responsible for between 150,000 and 300,000 lower respiratory tract infections in infants and children under 18 months of age, resulting in between 7,500 and 15,000 hospitalizations each year, and causes 430 sudden infant death syndrome (SIDS) deaths in the United States annually.
  • Secondhand smoke exposure may cause buildup of fluid in the middle ear, resulting in 790,000 physician office visits per year.  Secondhand smoke can also aggravate symptoms in 400,000 to 1,000,000 children with asthma.
  • In the United States, 21 million, or 35 percent of, children live in homes where residents or visitors smoke in the home on a regular basis. Approximately 50-75 percent of children in the United States have detectable levels of cotinine, the breakdown product of nicotine in the blood.
  • Research indicates that private research conducted by cigarette company Philip Morris in the 1980s showed that secondhand smoke was highly toxic, yet the company suppressed the finding during the next two decades.
  • The current Surgeon General’s Report concluded that scientific evidence indicates that there is no risk-free level of exposure to secondhand smoke. Short exposures to secondhand smoke can cause blood platelets to become stickier, damage the lining of blood vessels, decrease coronary flow velocity reserves, and reduce heart rate variability, potentially increasing the risk of heart attack.
  • According to the Journal of the American Medical Association, Women who quit smoking cut the biggest risks of death from heart disease “significantly” within five years and have a 20 percent lower chance of dying from related cancers in that time.

    The study’s authors, led by Stacey A. Kenfield of Harvard University’s School of Public Health in Boston, analyzed post- 1980 data from the Nurses’ Health Study, a survey of almost 105,000 nurses conducted starting in 1976. The study will be published in the May 7th issue of JAMA

    Researchers found that the risk of death was reduced by 13 percent within the first five years after quitting smoking, mostly due to a lower chance of dying from coronary heart disease, and dropped to the level of a person who had never smoked after 20 years.

    “Our main message here is that the harms of smoking are reversible,” Kenfield said in a telephone interview from Boston yesterday. “For some causes of death, the reduction is much higher within the first five years. So it’s never too late to quit smoking. But we also saw a reduction in other diseases, so the message is that it’s never too late to stop even though you may have been smoking for many, many years.”

    Smoking is the leading preventable cause of death across the globe, with more than 5 million people dying from lung cancer, heart disease and other illnesses annually, according to the World Health Organization. That figure may rise to 10 million a year by 2030.

    Follow-Up Studies

    The chance of dying from lung cancer dropped 21 percent within five years after quitting when compared with people who continued to smoke, although additional risk didn’t disappear for 30 years, the study said.

    Former smokers who had quit 20 to 30 years earlier had an 87 percent lower chance of dying from lung cancer when compared with current smokers, the study said. The risk dropped to the same level as a person who had never smoked after 20 years for all smoking-related cancers, which include lip, mouth and stomach cancers.

    The risk of death from respiratory disease dropped 18 percent within a decade after quitting, and approached the same level as a person who had never smoked after 20 years.

    Unlike previous studies, the authors followed up with the survey respondents every two years to ask about their smoking status, which Kenfield said made the findings more accurate.

    Other studies “did not see a drastic decrease in risk especially with people that had quit smoking for a long time,” Kenfield said. For chronic obstructive pulmonary disease and lung cancer, “we saw a very nice decline in risk down to the level of a non-smoker over time.”

    As a follow up to a previous article in which the makers of Smoke Away  preached the benefits of quitting smoking and living longer, this article certainly supports that assertion.

    The makers of Smoke Away would like to drive the point home visually for those of you out there who just don’t get it. So we start by saying, “What the hell is your problem?” Are you the type of person that reads something like this and says,”Hmmm, that’s not a bad idea!”

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    Or maybe this looks really sexy to you and makes your mouth water at the prospect of puttting another cancer stick in your mouth?

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    mmmm.. yummy isn’t it? or perhaps you are the type of person where one of these phrases makes sense to you? What is it going to take to get through to you?

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    Ohhhh ok we get it, you don’t think there’s really anything bad in a cigarette other than the nicotine…OK then don’t worry about the butane, the cadmium, the stearic acid, the industrial solvent, the insecticide and the toilet cleaner, the vinegar, the sewer gas, the arsenic, the carbon monoxide, and the rocket fuel that is in each and every cigarette.

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    But what are a couple of cigarettes going to do to me? Well lets look at the anatomy of your typical female. Now keep in mind, cigarettes are not choosy, they’ll poison and pounce on anyone who chooses to light up. But lets look shall we?

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    Starting from the head on down we have wrinkles, the inability to smell properly, bad breath, yellow teeth, the inability to taste correctly, gum disease,  a persistent hacking cough, a nice persistent back ache, more fat, the inability to go to the bathroom properly, lower chance of  having a child, and slower wound healing. Mmm.. makes you want to run right out and smoke doesn’t it?

    Lastly lets look at some quick statistics of just what cigarettes and second hand smoke and its ilk do to people. Choose to pick your poison?

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    Listen, we don’t care HOW you quit smoking. In fact, the makers of Smoke Away would love for you to use our product, but more importantly, we want you to quit smoking using ANY product. Just quit. Not for us, for you, your family and your friends. If you want to talk to some people that have stopped smoking using our product, or people that are still in the throws of quitting, or people who have just plain quit, Try the Smoke Away Support site. Good Luck.

    Just when you think you’re getting through to people a report comes along like this. Just when you start to see bars, restaurants, and public places banning cigarette smoking, a story such as this, with as attention grabbing of a headline as you will ever see, appears.

    I wish I could say that it must be a mistake but apparently not.  According to the World Health Organization, One billion people may die of tobacco-related illness this century, almost all of them in developing countries. Thats 1 BILLION!  A billion people in developing countries will DIE.

    There is not a more sobering statistic to me than when I read about a case where something is so totally preventable and yet people continuously and consciously make the wrong choice. Because of what? Boredom, a quest to be cool, poverty? Regardless of the circumstances, it’s obvious that not a lot of thought or care is going into the decision making process.

    It’s almost the athlete’s mentality. When an athlete is at the peak of their physical form, when they are at their very best, they have a feeling of invincibility. As if they can never be beaten, can never fail, and that they can conquer all. People have this same feeling when they smoke. They feel nothing but the smokers high and the addiction, but have utterly no clue as to what is going on inside their bodies. In fact they won’t until it is too late as this latest statistic bears out.

    To this end WHO has decided to roll out an unprecedented  global campaign to fight the spread of smoking and limit the reach that it currently has.

    The effort provides the first comprehensive look at tobacco use, as well as smoking control and taxation policies, in 179 countries. It also lays out six strategies to reduce tobacco use, many used by rich countries in recent decades, although far from fully deployed even there.

    Tobacco use is a risk factor for six of the world’s eight leading causes of death and causes about one in every 10 deaths of adults now. That toll is expected to rise steeply as tobacco companies target new customers, particularly women, in low-income countries, WHO officials said.

    My question to the tobacco companies would be, how could you, with a clear conscience, target women in low income countries? How in the hell is that a strategy? Do these people sit in their board rooms and decide that this is a viable path to profitability?

    “What we’re saying is that we don’t want to let that happen,” said Douglas Bettcher, director of the WHO Tobacco Free Initiative. “We want to see the operating environment of the tobacco companies become as difficult as possible in the near future.”

    While WHO cannot force countries to make stringent tobacco control a priority, it hopes to convince them such efforts are cheap, proven, and especially beneficial to their poorest citizens.

    “In many countries, money spent by the poor on cigarettes is taken away from what they could spend on health and education,” said Patrick Petit, a WHO economist who helped produce the 329-page report accompanying the initiative’s launch in New York.

    Margaret Chan, WHO’s director-general, said the compilation of data is itself a powerful tool for change. “I truly believe that what gets measured gets done,” she said.

    WHO is using marketing techniques reminiscent of the tobacco companies’. It has branded the campaign MPOWER — each letter represents one of six strategies — and is eschewing scare tactics in favor of the theme “fresh and alive.” Press materials came with a box that looks like a pack of cigarettes and contains a pad and pens describing the elements of the campaign.

    The six strategies are: 1) Monitoring tobacco use and control policy 2)Protecting people by enforcing “smoke-free” laws 3)Offering smokers nicotine replacement and counseling programs 4)Warning on cigarette packs about smoking’s hazards 5)Enforcing bans on tobacco advertising and promotion and 6)Raising the price of tobacco through taxes.

    Numerous studies have shown that raising the price of cigarettes is by far the most powerful strategy. For every 10 percent increase in price, cigarette consumption drops about 4 percent overall and about 8 percent in young people.

    While some cities, states and provinces employ the strategies in a coordinated fashion, no countries do so, the WHO report said. Uruguay employs the most of any nation — three: graphic pack warnings, a ban on smoking in public buildings and free smoking-cessation help. The United States employs two, at least to a degree: national monitoring and a national ban on many forms of tobacco advertising.

    Only 5 percent of the global population is protected by laws to curb smoking; only 5 percent live in countries that completely ban tobacco advertising and event sponsorship; and only 6 percent live in places where cigarette packs carry pictorial warnings of smoking’s hazards. (In Brazil, some packs feature a man with a tracheotomy, a breathing hole created in the front of the neck after treatment for throat cancer).

    The report sketches a picture of huge diversity between countries and regions in current tobacco use.

    In Greece, 59% of men smoke cigarettes every day; in Sweden, 15% do. 38% of Serbian women smoke, but only 1% of women in Kyrgyzstan do. In Indonesia, 65% of men are smokers, but only 4% of women.

    Nearly 2/3 of the world’s smokers live in 10 countries, with China accounting for nearly 30%. About 100 million Chinese men now under 30 will die from tobacco use unless they quit, the report said.

    In India, which is second to China in the number of smokers, tobacco control is complicated by the fact there are two types of cigarettes that are priced and taxed differently.

    In 2006, Indians smoked about 106 billion conventional cigarettes and 1 trillion “biris.” The latter are loosely packed combinations of tobacco and flavorings such as chocolate or clove, wrapped in a leaf of the tendu tree.

    Biris are made in thousands of small factories and home workshops and cost about 10 cents for a pack of 25. They are taxed at a lower rate than normal cigarettes, ostensibly to protect the poor, who are their main consumers.

    WHO’s campaign was put together with financial help from a philanthropy run by New York Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg, a billionaire businessman. He is giving $125 million over two years for global tobacco control and helped pay for the country-by-country survey that provided baseline data for the campaign.

    In New York, he created one of the most comprehensive anti-smoking programs in the country. His advocacy of higher tobacco taxes has pushed the average price of a pack of cigarettes there to $6.20, and he is seeking another 50-cent increase.

    The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reported in June that the percentage of adult New Yorkers who smoke fell from 22 to 18 from 2002 to 2006, with the steepest drop in people 18 to 24 years old.

    The campaign organizers held two news conferences in New York yesterday, one at the United Nations, WHO’s parent organization. U.N. headquarters is about the only place in the city where a smoking ban is not enforced, because the U.N. campus is autonomous territory. The Vienna Cafe there is packed with smokers all day long. It used to have signs saying “Smoking Discouraged,” but they haven’t been in evidence recently.

    Clearly things need to be done quickly. Who needs to worry about global warming this century when a billion people will be gone? The makers of Smoke Away want you to quit, we don’t care what method you use, though we would love for you to use our product. The bottom line, just quit for the sake of you and your family and friends.

    In the United States, an estimated 25.1 million men (23.4 percent) and 20.9 million women (18.5 percent) are smokers. These people are at higher risk of heart attack and stroke. The latest estimates for persons age 18 and older show…*

    • Among non-Hispanic whites, 24.1 percent of men and 20.4 percent of women smoke (2004). 
    • Among non-Hispanic blacks, 23.9 percent of men and 17.2 percent of women smoke.
    • Among Hispanics, 18.9 percent of men and 10.9 percent of women smoke.
    • Among Asians (only), 17.8 percent of men and 4.8 percent of women smoke.
    • Among American Indians/Alaska Natives, 37.3 percent of men and 28.5 percent of women smoke.
    • Studies show that smoking prevalence is higher among those who had earned a GED diploma (39.6 percent) and among those with 9-11 years of education (34.0 percent) compared with those with more than 16 years of education (8.0 percent). It’s highest among persons living below the poverty level (29.1 percent).

    * National Health Interview Survey (NHIS), 2004, National Center for Health Statistics and NHLBI

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