Tag Archives: lung cancer

To ban or not to ban

By Edith Morgan

Is there anyone still left who does not know about the health risks of smoking cigarettes? The dangers of nicotine addiction? The danger to children breathing in second-hand smoke and the risk of fire from discarded cigarette butts?

I am assuming that, amid all the test-taking practice in our schools, our students are still yearly warned about, and informed of, the risks in smoking. So our young should be properly informed and hopefully convinced that smoking is not only not cool, but stupid, dangerous, and unhealthy.

It is always a temptation to ban things, to restrict their use, to try to keep the addicts away from their various fixes – and to make their use illegal, with stiff penalties , fines, and jail. And how well has that worked, and how well is it working. And how well will it work in the future?

If our children were getting a good dose of history, they would all know how disastrous our experiment with Prohibition turned out: Not only did it not reduce the amount of alcohol/drunkenness, but it made criminals of many people, and created powerful and rich crime syndicates. Ordinary citizens were making “hooch” in their bathtubs, and addicts were driven to crime and prostitution to pay for their illegal drinks.

We have had the same experience with other drugs – legal or illegal – and new ones are added to the list continuously. Our world is full of natural and artificial substances which are mind-altering and/or addictive , at least for some people. And addicts will always be driven to find more such substances – in the woods, the fields, from their doctors, from their friends – anywhere.

Every so often I ask, out of  the blue, of anyone I meet “If heroin (or whatever drug is in the news at the moment) were available everywhere at a nickel a bag, how much would you buy?” The answer is always NONE. We all can purchase so many things, and don’t do so. But most of us are not addicts, and are not attracted to drugs, no matter what the price.  But true addictive persons are a different story, and the price is irrelevant: they will pay whatever it costs, to get their hands on their fix of choice.

From so many years of experience as a school teacher, I have noticed that some children are at risk of becoming addicts: they form habits quickly, which may be an advantage in some areas, but which makes addiction much easier.

If we could identify those students, as early as first grade, or even Kindergarten, and warn them, watch them, and teach them how to resist, I believe we would be well on the way to reducing our number of active addicts.

We will never be fully free of addictive persons – but at least we can give them the weapons to resist and make better choices. It beats punitive measures, which have shown time and again that they do not reduce the number of addicts in the population, but are so very costly.

ALA Calls on MA to Renew Its Commitment to Eliminate Tobacco-Caused Death and Disease

American Lung Association’s State of Tobacco Control 2014 Report Calls on Massachusetts to Renew Its Commitment to Eliminate Tobacco-Caused Death and Disease

The Bay State stands out nationally as one of few states to make strides in preventing tobacco-caused disease and death

WALTHAM – The battle to reduce tobacco use has all but stalled in most states, but Massachusetts stands out as one of the few to make positive headway in preventing tobacco-caused illness and death. Massachusetts not only increased their cigarette tax by $1, making it the second highest in the nation and therefore earning an ‘A’ grade, but the state also added coverage of tobacco cessation counseling for state employees and standardized benefits across all state employee health plans. However, none of the increase in tax revenue will fund tobacco cessation. Those were the findings of the American Lung Association’s State of Tobacco Control 2014 report released today.

Less than a week after the release of the 50th anniversary U.S. Surgeon General’s report on smoking and health, State of Tobacco Control 2014 issues an urgent call to action to policymakers across the country to reverse their present course and commit to eliminating tobacco-caused death and disease. The latest Surgeon General’s report warns 5.6 million of today’s youth will die from tobacco use unless swift action is taken.

“Massachusetts has the distinction of being one of the few states to make progress in the fight against tobacco use in 2013, however, our report card on tobacco control is still not one any parent will be proudly hanging on their refrigerator,” said Ronald Dorris, M.D., board member for the American Lung Association in Massachusetts. “The Patrick administration is failing to invest in vital resources that help keep kids from starting to smoke and provide smokers with the tools they so desperately need to quit. Meanwhile, Big Tobacco continues to rob Massachusetts residents of their health and employ clever tactics to lure new youth smokers.”

Massachusetts received the following grades for 2013:

Tobacco Prevention Control and Spending
F
Smokefree Air
A
Cigarette Tax
A
Cessation
D

The failure of the federal and state governments to implement proven policies resulted in 20 million preventable deaths from tobacco use from 1964-2014, including 2.5 million from secondhand smoke. The 2014 Surgeon General’s report found that almost half a million lives are unnecessarily lost each year due to tobacco, as well as $280 billion in healthcare costs and lost productivity.

The Lung Association’s State of Tobacco Control 2014, its 12th annual report, tracks yearly progress on key tobacco control policies at the federal and state level, assigning grades based on whether laws are adequately protecting citizens from the enormous toll tobacco use takes on lives and the economy. Tobacco-related diseases, such as lung cancer, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD), other cancers, heart disease and stroke kill almost half a million Americans each year.

“With Friday’s release of the 50th anniversary Surgeon General’s report on Smoking and Health, Acting U.S. Surgeon General Rear Admiral (RADM) Boris D. Lushniak, M.D., M.P.H declared “enough is enough” and that we must do more if we are going to protect Americans from the burden of tobacco use,” said Jeff Seyler, President & CEO of the American Lung Association of the Northeast. “Smoking is responsible for almost 500,000 deaths in this country annually and our state leaders must act now so that we may prevent more Americans from getting sick and dying from tobacco-related disease. The battle against the tobacco epidemic is not over.”

Tobacco causes an estimated 9,017 deaths in Massachusetts annually and costs the state’s economy $5 billion in healthcare costs and lost productivity, a tremendous burden that our state can ill afford.

While there was substantial progress to reduce tobacco caused death and disease in 2013 in Massachusetts, priorities that need to be addressed to improve Massachusetts’ State of Tobacco Control© grades in 2014 include:
restricting the sale of tobacco products at health care institutions such as pharmacies,
increasing funding to state tobacco prevention and cessation programs,
passing legislation that would prohibit smoking in vehicles with children in restraints,
and requiring minimum cigar packaging for cigars retailing for less than $2.50 per cigar.
“Smokers want to quit and Massachusetts has a responsibility to help, especially to help those who can least afford it. Helping smokers quit saves lives and money. Sadly, not a single state earned an ‘A’ grade for cessation in our State of Tobacco Control 2014 report,” explained Dr. Dorris. “Massachusetts policymakers must act now to ensure that as we transition to healthcare coverage under the Affordable Care Act, all residents have access to a comprehensive tobacco cessation benefit.”

Meanwhile, the tobacco industry continued its ruthless pursuit of addicting new users and keeping current users from quitting in 2013. This included efforts at the federal and state levels to exempt their products from meaningful public health protections.

The three largest cigarette manufacturers—Altria, Reynolds American, and Lorillard—continued their aggressive expansion into other tobacco products in 2013. As cigarette use continues to gradually decline, these companies continue to maintain their power over America’s youth and reap profits from smokeless tobacco, cigars and now e-cigarettes.

“We urge everyone in Massachusetts to join with the American Lung Association in renewing their commitment to preventing another 50 years of tobacco-caused death and disease,” continued Seyler.

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About the American Lung Association of the Northeast
The American Lung Association of the Northeast is part of the American Lung Association, the oldest voluntary health organization in the U.S. Established in 1904 to combat tuberculosis; our mission today is to save lives by improving lung health and preventing lung disease. The focus is on air quality, asthma, tobacco control, and all lung disease. The American Lung Association in the Northeast serves CT, MA, ME, NH, NY, RI and VT. www.LungNE.org

Safeguard your lungs! Test for radon!

November is Lung Cancer Awareness Month and while most are aware that smoking is the leading cause of lung cancer, not everyone recognizes that prolonged exposure to radon gas is the second leading cause of lung cancer. In fact, radon-related lung cancers are responsible for an estimated 21,000 deaths in the U.S. each year.
Radon is a colorless, tasteless, odorless gas found in rocks and soil. It is a natural gas emitted from the ground that forms radioactive byproducts.  When radon builds up to dangerous levels inside, it could be inhaled and eventually can damage tissue inside your lungs and cause lung cancer.  Radon enters your home, school or office building through cracks in the foundation or even through pipes and/or the water supply. People with private wells are more at risk than people with community water supply.  By sealing your home to keep radon outside, you can significantly reduce your home’s radon levels.
Testing your home is the best way to find out whether you are being exposed to high levels of radon. The Lung Association sells radon kits for only $12, available at www.LungNE.org/products or by calling 1-800-LUNG-USA.
As we work to raise awareness and find better treatments and cures for lung cancer, knowledge is power. The Lung Association’s website offers a wealth of information about radon, lung cancer, and lung disease so you are armed with the information you need to protect yourself and your loved ones.  Visit us at LungNE.org for more.
Jeff Seyler, President & CEO
American Lung Association of the Northeast

Veterans should speak to their doctors about their risk for lung cancer

As we salute the men and women who served our nation on Veterans Day, the American Lung Association wants veterans and their loved ones to know that those who served have a higher incidence of lung cancer than the general population.  November is also Lung Cancer Awareness Month, and the message that veterans have an increased risk for acquiring this dreaded disease is an important one that’s too often overlooked in the stories we typically read about both veterans and about lung cancer.

It’s no secret that tobacco use in the military was once encouraged and that many who served developed a lifelong addiction.  Yet despite all that we now know about tobacco’s dangers, members of our military still smoke at rates that exceed the general population.  Add in the exposure to chemicals like asbestos, depleted uranium, smoke from burn pits and other harmful emissions, and this risk becomes even greater.

The Lung Association urges veterans to talk with their doctors about their risk for lung cancer.  We also encourage veterans who smoke or did smoke to visit lungcancerscreeningsaveslives.org, to see if lung cancer screening might be appropriate for them.
We are here for veterans, and all Americans, who need help quitting smoking.  It’s the most important thing a person can do to reduce his or her risk for lung cancer.  Learn more about how we can help you quit at quitterinyou.org.

Our Lung HelpLine, at 1-800-LUNG-USA (586-4872) is available 7 days a week to answer questions about lung health and provide reliable information about quitting smoking.  To learn even more about lung cancer, lung disease and how to best protect your lung health, visit our website at LungNE.org.  Working together, we can raise awareness about lung cancer, reduce its incidence and increase the number of survivors.

Jeff Seyler
President & CEO
American Lung Association of the Northeast

 

“Tips from Former Smokers” continues its success

NEW YORK – A report released today by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) shows the tremendous impact the second “Tips from Former Smokers” media campaign had on helping smokers quit and on saving lives. The report in CDC’s Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report shows that the media campaign increased calls by more than 150,000, a 75 percent increase to 1-800-QUITNOW. The campaign’s website, www.cdc.gov/tips, also received 2.8 million additional visits during the campaign.

Television ads made the biggest difference in prompting tobacco users to seek help in quitting. The report shows the efficacy of television advertising reaching smokers and points to the need for increased and sustained levels of funding for paid media campaigns. The “Tips” campaign was funded by the Affordable Care Act’s Prevention and Public Health Fund.

“The “Tips from Former Smokers” campaign is a true success story and proves that these types of hard-hitting media campaigns create change,” said Jeff Seyler, President & CEO of the American Lung Association of the Northeast. “This campaign was particularly effective because it featured real, relatable people. These former smokers could be a family member, co-worker, or any number of loved ones. What we have seen in the Northeast mirrors what the rest of the country has seen; more smokers have made successful quit attempts. The CDC’s latest weekly report shows that when funds are invested in promoting the quit smoking resources people need, they pay attention and more will make quit attempts.”

The latest “Tips” campaign ran for 16 weeks in the spring of 2013. The “Tips” ads featured several people whose lives have been changed forever by their smoking or exposure to secondhand smoke. One of the most well-known and emotional ads featured Terrie Hall, who was diagnosed with smoking-caused oral and throat cancers at age 40. Sadly, Ms. Hall passed away this week from a recurrence of her cancer. The compassionate reaction to this news on social media on Tuesday showed that Terrie’s message resonated.

This report comes on the heels of news last week from The Lancet that the first “Tips from Former Smokers” campaign that ran in 2012 reduced the number of smokers in the U.S. by 100,000, with 1.6 million more smokers attempting to quit.  Together these studies show that the investment of the Prevention and Public Health Fund in this media campaign is driving down tobacco use.

Following on the CDC’s “Tips” campaign, the American Lung Association launched the “Quitter in You” campaign to empower people trying to quit smoking by acknowledging that past quit attempts are not failures, but are normal and necessary steps along the way to quitting for good. The campaign features a web site at www.quitterinyou.org, radio in English and Spanish and Out-of-Home public service announcements, and a wealth of personalized tools and support from the American Lung Association.  These include the Lung Association’s Lung Helpline (1-800-LUNG-USA), Freedom From Smoking® Online and Freedom From Smoking® in-person clinic.

“The majority of smokers are only successful in their quit attempts after several tries,” said Seyler. ”The American Lung Association is available every step of the way to support smokers with all they need to quit for good.”