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From the department of the obvious comes this advice.

If you smoke and you’re pregnant or planning to become pregnant, it’s especially important to kick the habit now. The toxic chemicals inhaled when you smoke are easily passed to the unborn baby.

The American Pregnancy Association offers these suggestions to help you stop smoking during pregnancy:

  • Make a list of all of the health benefits of quitting for yourself and your baby.
  • Replace smoking with healthier habits, such as having a snack or a cup of tea with your newspaper, instead of a cigarette.
  • Surround yourself with nonsmokers.
  • Have a friend or family member ready to call when you need support.
  • Ask your doctor for ways to help you quit, including tips on which smoking cessation aids are safe for you and baby.
  • Set a goal date for quitting.



Women who smoke have heart attacks nearly 14 years earlier than women who don’t smoke, Norwegian doctors reported in a study presented to the European Society of Cardiology. For men, the gap is not so dramatic; male smokers have heart attacks about six years earlier than men who don’t smoke.

“This is not a minor difference,” said Dr. Silvia Priori, a cardiologist at the Scientific Institute in Pavia, Italy. “Women need to realize they are losing much more than men when they smoke,” she said. Priori was not connected to the research.

Dr. Morten Grundtvig and colleagues from the Innlandet Hospital Trust in Lillehammer, Norway, based their study on data from 1,784 patients admitted for a first heart attack at a hospital in Lillehammer.

Their study found that the men on average had their first heart attack at age 72 if they didn’t smoke, and at 64 if they did.

Women in the study had their first heart attack at age 81 if they didn’t smoke, and at age 66 if they did.

After adjusting for other heart risk factors like blood pressure, cholesterol and diabetes, researchers found that the difference for women was about 14 years and for men, about six years.

Previous studies looking at a possible gender difference have been inconclusive.

Doctors have long suspected that female hormones protect women against heart disease. Estrogen is thought to raise the levels of good cholesterol as well as enabling blood vessel walls to relax more easily, thus lowering the chances of a blockage.

Grundtvig said that smoking might make women go through menopause earlier, leaving them less protected against a heart attack. With rising rates of smoking in women – compared with falling rates in men – Grundtvig said that doctors expect to see increased heart disease in women.

“Smoking might erase the natural advantage that women have,” said Dr. Robert Harrington, a professor of medicine at Duke University and spokesman for the American College of Cardiology.

Doctors aren’t yet sure if other cardiac risk factors like cholesterol and obesity also affect women differently.

“The difference in how smoking affects women and men is profound,” Harrington said. “Unless women don’t smoke or quit, they risk ending up with the same terrible diseases as men, only at a much earlier age.”

In an effort to try and cut down the amount of smoking related ilnesses emenating from firefighters, The International Association of Fire Fighters has announced the launch of a new initiative to help fire fighters, family members and friends to quit smoking cigarettes.

“Our goal is to help make the IAFF the first smoke-free union,” IAFF General President Harold Schaitberger said in his address to delegates at the IAFF 49th Convention.
The IAFF is collaborating with pharmaceutical company Pfizer Inc. to promote smoking cessation. Schaitberger and Pfizer CEO Jeff Kindler first announced the joint initiative at the IAFF Health and Safety Conference in Chicago, Illinois, in October 2007.
The campaign includes materials designed to help fire fighters understand the risks of smoking and provide information on how to quit. These and other resources are available on a new web site at In the coming weeks, the campaign will add new resources, including a DVD featuring stories from fire fighters about how they quit smoking. The web site and other materials are available to assist IAFF affiliates across North America in reaching out to members, families and communities to promote and encourage smoking cessation.
Smoking is a major health risk for fire fighters who are already at high risk for illnesses, including heart disease, respiratory disease and certain cancers. In addition, smoking is the leading cause of fires and a significant occupational risk for fire fighters.
“We congratulate the IAFF for its commitment to this campaign and look forward to working together toward the goal of a smoke-free union,” Kindler said. “Fire fighters are respected leaders in their communities, and this program on smoking cessation reaffirms that leadership.”
“Fire fighters place themselves in harm’s way, confront dangerous environments, high heat and flames, and exposure to burning materials,” Schaitberger said. “It’s stressful work and some respond to stress by smoking. Yet smoking increases the health risks fire fighters face. We want to help prevent that.”
The International Association of Fire Fighters, headquartered in Washington, DC, represents more than 288,000 full-time professional fire fighters and paramedics who protect 85 percent of the nation’s population. More information is available at
Pfizer discovers and develops innovative medicines to treat and help prevent disease for both people and animals. We also partner with healthcare providers, governments and local communities around the world to expand access to our medicines and to provide better quality healthcare and health system support.

How the ‘pariah effect’ is changing America’s smoking habits, and why nonsmokers should show more compassion for the addicted.

You’ve seen them: the huddled masses standing outside office doorways, in parking lots, on train platforms, cigarettes in hand, taking that last puff before going into one of the growing number of no-smoking zones in America. But dedicated smokers don’t just brave the elements; increasingly, they also have to face the scornful looks of passers-by. It’s no wonder they’re starting to feel like social pariahs. But it turns out that those disdainful glares may be motivating some smokers to quit

Tuesday, March 11, 2008

HARRISBURG — In his 27 years working in Atlantic City casinos, Vinnie Rennich developed lung cancer and a passion for protecting casino workers from the dangers of second-hand smoke, which was everywhere.

His cancer now seems to be arrested, but he had to have part of one lung removed, he told a House-Senate conference committee yesterday that is working on legislation to ban smoking in most public places in Pennsylvania.

He also got fired by his casino after he filed a lawsuit last year alleging negligence toward workers and testified at the New Jersey capital of Trenton that 100 percent of a casino floor should be smoke-free.

Currently, 25 percent of a New Jersey casino floor may allow cigarette smoking, he said yesterday, but the smoke often drifts across onto the nonsmoking section, so the limit of 25 percent isn’t effective.

“Every worker,” in clubs, bars, restaurants, taverns and casinos, “has the right to be protected from second-hand smoke,” he said.

While casinos often say they will lose business if smoking is banned completely — because gamblers will find a casino in another state to gamble in — Mr. Rennich contended that smoke-free legislation “is not an economic issue. It’s a health issue.”

He testified at the first of two hearings being held this week by Sen. Stewart Greenleaf, R-Montgomery, one of the six House-Senate conferees trying to write a smoke-free bill that can win approval from both the House and the Senate.

After a second hearing is held on Thursday, the committee will meet privately for two weeks and then, Mr. Greenleaf hopes, adopt its version of a smoking ban bill on March 31.

He’s hoping for approval of Senate Bill 246 by the full Senate and House by the end of April, but other legislators, looking at the complexity and controversial nature of the issue, think it will take longer.

“As scientific evidence continues to demonstrate the harmful effects of secondhand smoke, and the public grows increasingly supportive, each year we see additional cities, states and nations move to limit smoking in public places,” he said.

State Health Secretary Calvin B. Johnson said 22 states have enacted smoke-free laws, including many bordering Pennsylvania, such as New Jersey, Delaware and Maryland. He said there are numerous studies linking secondhand smoke with illnesses such as cancer and heart disease.

Three major issues remain before a compromise bill can be reached, however:

• Should all public places be declared smoke-free, or should some smaller taverns, private clubs and casinos at least be allowed to have smoking sections?

• Will the Legislature allow towns and counties to enact their own tougher smoking bans, even after Senate Bill 246 becomes law, or will the state pre-empt localities from having their own bans? Currently, only the state can enact legislation, which is why Allegheny County’s ban got knocked out last year. Philadelphia is the only city by law now allowed to have its own smoking ban, and it does.

• Who will enforce the ban — counties, towns or the state? Only a few larger counties have health departments, said Lebanon County Commissioner Larry Stohler, and there will be an added cost for counties to crack down on bars that continue to allow smoking, if all smoking is banned.

If city or county health departments enforce the ban, they should be allowed to keep all the fines they impose, he argued.

If county health departments don’t enforce a ban, then some state agency, perhaps the Department of Health, should do it.

Even if a ban is enacted, it may not take effect for 180 days to give authorities time to decide who will enforce it.

Quit Smoking Card

1-800-Quit-Now is a national router number which accepts callers from throughout the nation, seamlessly directing them to the appropriate state quitline. In an effort to promote this valuable resource, the Smoking Cessation Leadership Center has developed a small, plastic card the size of a credit card to help promote the new national quitline, 1-800-Quit-Now. If there is no state-run quitline, the call goes to the National Cancer Institute (NCI) quitline. By the end of the year, every state will be able to offer smokers this valuable service.Quitlines are toll-free telephone centers staffed by trained smoking cessation experts. For clinicians, they can provide an easy, fast, and effective way to help smokers quit. By simply identifying smokers, advising them to quit, and sending them to a free telephone service, clinicians can save thousands of lives.

CHICAGO, — Motives for quitting smoking — and barriers to it — vary according to age, researchers have said.If they are motivated, patients older than 65 can stop smoking as easily as younger patients — and they are more likely to stay off tobacco, according to Virginia Reichert, a nurse practitioner at the North Shore-Long Island Jewish Health System in Great Neck, N.Y.

That was one of the big differences between age groups she and colleagues found when they analyzed records of 2,052 patients who went through an intensive six-week stop-smoking program at her institution last year.

“There’s a common misperception that if a person hasn’t quit by now, they aren’t going to,” she said, “and that isn’t true.”

At 30 days after the end of the program, the quit rate was virtually identical, at about 58%, Reichert said at the meeting of the American College of Chest Physicians.

But after a year of follow-up, 52% of the 143 participants older than 65 remained off cigarettes, compared with 35% of those younger, Reichert said.

The finding, she said, makes sense. “As you get older you’re able to fight your addictions a little bit better.” The message for clinicians, she said, is that it’s never too late for a patient to quit smoking.The investigators also found:

  • Among the younger group, 29% saw possible weight gain as a barrier to stopping, compared with 15% of the over-65s.
  • 81% of the younger smokers wanted to quit because of general health concerns, compared with 68% of the older cohort.
  • Only 19% of the younger smokers were quitting because of pressure from their doctors, compared with 32% of the older group. Interestingly, there was no significant difference in the proportions who gave pressure from family or friends as a reason to quit.
  • More younger smokers cited the expense of cigarettes, at 37% versus 22%

A major obstacle to successful quitting was the presence of another smoker at home, but that was significantly greater in the younger cohort (18% versus 9% ).

Again, that makes sense, Reichert said: “Many older people live alone.”

The study has a “tremendous amount of material,” commented Frank Leone, M.D., of the University of Pennsylvania Health System in Philadelphia, who moderated a press conference at which Reichert spoke.

Dr. Leone, who was not part of the study, said one implication of the findings is that smoking-cessation programs should take into account differing barriers and motivations.

The data are “another step toward individualizing, more finely tailoring the kinds of interventions used,” he said.

The bottom line here is that it is never too late to try to quit. The ramifications of quitting can be seen almost immediately.

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