Let the poor smoke, says UK Health Secretary just before election day

UK health secretary angered health campaigners and anti-smoking groups when he recently said that smoking is one of the few pleasures left for the poor.

He believes that the middle classes were obsessed with giving instructions to people from lower socio-economic backgrounds and that there are worst smoking was not one of the worst problems facing poorer people. In response, the anti-smoking group Ash said: “The argument is that we should have smoke-free work environments.

John Reid has got this hang-up about the middle class imposing itself on the lower class, when it’s the least empowered, people like bar workers, who are having smoking imposed on them.”

F. Nelson, The Scotsman, June 10, 2004


Heart Test Found Safe For Pre-Transplant Kidney Patients

A screening test that measures whether a patient’s heart is healthy enough for a kidney transplant is not as dangerous as once thought, according to a study appearing in an upcoming issue of the Clinical Journal of the American Society Nephrology (CJASN). The findings indicate that the test, called coronary angiography, does not cause a decline in kidney function for patients with advanced chronic kidney disease (CKD) and can help determine when to schedule a patient for transplantation.

CKD may contribute to the development of heart disease, so physicians keep a close eye on CKD patients’ heart health. However, they are reluctant to perform coronary angiography-which uses dye and x-rays to show the inside of the heart’s arteries-in CKD patients, who are thought to have an increased risk of experiencing complications from the procedure. This is unfortunate because coronary angiography can help determine whether a patient is healthy enough to undergo a kidney transplant.

To determine the true risks of the test for patients with advanced CKD, Nicky Kumar, MBChB, MRCP (West London Renal and Transplant Centre, Imperial College Kidney and Transplant Institute, London), and her colleagues analyzed 76 patients with late stage CKD who were potential transplant recipients seen at their clinics from 2004 to 2007. Kidney function measurements were recorded 12 months before and 12 months after patients underwent coronary angiography.

The researchers found that patients’ kidney function was similar before and after coronary angiography, indicating that the procedure was not harmful to the kidneys. The screening technique detected coronary artery disease in 23 patients, making them unsuitable for transplantation until their heart complications were addressed. Twenty-two patients’ tests indicated that they were healthy enough to receive a transplant instead of going on dialysis. This kind of information is key to optimal patient care, since administering a kidney transplant before the patient needs dialysis is the most effective treatment for CKD.

The authors report no financial disclosures. Study co-authors include Lynn Dahri, RGN, Wendy Brown, RGN, MSc, Neill Duncan, MBBS, MRCP, Seema Singh MSc, Andrew Palmer, FRCP, Megan Griffith, FRCP, PhD, Tom Cairns, MBBS, and David Taube, FRCP (West London Renal and Transplant Centre, Imperial College Kidney and Transplant Institute, London); Christopher Baker, FRCP, PhD, and Iqbal Malik, MBBChir, MA, MRCP (Imperial College Healthcare NHS Trust, London).

The article, entitled “Effect of Elective Coronary Angiography on Glomerular Filtration Rate in Patients with Advanced Chronic Kidney Disease,” will appear online at cjasn.asnjournals/ on October 15, 2009, doi 10.2215/CJN.01480209.

American Society of Nephrology (ASN)

Builders Of Science Award

Robert W. Mahley, MD, PhD, president of The J. David Gladstone Institutes, will receive Research!America’s 2010 Builders of Science Award. The award recognizes his leadership as Gladstone’s founding director and president, guiding its growth to become one of the world’s foremost independent research institutions, known for its groundbreaking basic science and substantial impact on disease prevention.

Mahley will be honored March 16, 2010, at the 14th Annual Research!America Advocacy Awards event at the Andrew W. Mellon Auditorium in Washington, DC.

In 1979, Mahley was recruited by the Gladstone Trustees to lead the new Gladstone Institute of Cardiovascular Disease, today renowned for its discoveries linking cholesterol to heart disease and leading to important new treatments, such as the statins. He was instrumental in the creation of the Gladstone Institute of Virology and Immunology in 1992, which has become one of the world’s most innovative and productive centers for research into HIV/AIDS, and the Gladstone Institute of Neurological Disease in 1998, which has helped change the course of research into the causes of Alzheimer’s disease and related conditions. In 2004 Mahley led the Institutes’ move to a new, state-of-the-art home at the University of California, San Francisco’s Mission Bay campus, enhancing Gladstone’s collaborative, entrepreneurial culture by bringing all three institutes into one building.

Mahley will step down as Gladstone’s president March 1 2010. He will continue his research at Gladstone on apolipoprotein (apo) E and its role in heart disease, Alzheimer’s disease, and neurodegeneration. Among the many outcomes of his studies has been an understanding of the mechanisms by which apoE4, the major genetic risk factor for Alzheimer’s disease, actually causes this disease and other neurodegenerative disorders. Mahley is a professor of pathology and medicine at UCSF and an elected member of the National Academy of Sciences, the Institute of Medicine, and the American Academy of Arts & Sciences.

The Builders of Science Award, supported by an anonymous benefactor, honors an individual’s achievements in building an outstanding scientific institution.

Other 2010 Research!America Advocacy Award winners are The March of Dimes; California Institute for Regenerative Medicine board chair Robert Klein, JD; and advocate-philanthropist Ann Lurie.

Valerie Tucker
Gladstone Institutes

Experts At 2008 American Geriatrics Society Annual Scientific Meeting Reveal How Popular Video Dance Game Helps Postmenopaual Women

A video dance game that’s wildly popular among the teen set can help older women lose weight, lower their blood pressure, improve their coordination, and sharpen their concentration — all while thoroughly enjoying themselves — according to a study that will be presented here, at the American Geriatrics Society’s Annual Scientific Meeting, on May 3. The meeting is the premier conference on aging research.

In the 6-week University of Pittsburgh pilot study, 31 sedentary, postmenopausal women – ages 48 to 70 – played the game, Dance Dance Revolution, or DDR, in individually coached sessions. The 30-minute sessions were scheduled twice a week, but two-thirds of the women enjoyed the game so much that they asked to play longer, or more often, notes lead researcher, Stephanie Studenski, MD, MPH, a professor in the university’s division of geriatric medicine. Of the 31 women, 25 completed all 12 exercise sessions, and 28 completed follow up tests at the end of the six weeks.

The women who completed the tests lost an average of about a pound over the six weeks, but some of those who were heavier lost significantly more — up to 20 pounds. Study participants with high blood pressure lowered their blood pressure by up to 20 points. The group as a whole boosted their scores on tests of coordination and concentration significantly.

All of the women in the study said they felt safe playing the video dance game without supervision, and more than 90% said they thought it was enjoyable, that they could play it on their own, and said they would recommend it to others. These women cited the fun of playing, the variety, and the option of playing at any time and in any weather as major advantages of the game as a fitness activity. Three-quarters of the women asked to continue the program on their own after the study ended.

“If we can engage people in mid-life in recreational health activities like this it will pay off as they continue to age,” says Dr. Studenski, who says she, too, is hooked on the game and has lost 50 pounds playing it. She and colleagues are about to begin a study aimed at determining whether the video dance game might benefit adults with early-stage Parkinson’s, and are planning a third study to see whether the game could help boost bone strength in women at high risk of osteoporosis.

Developed in Japan a decade ago, Dance Dance Revolution is extremely popular among younger adults, teenagers and kids. Several hundred schools in about a dozen states are already using the video dance game as a regular part of their physical education programs. Players stand on pressure-sensitive mats in front of a video console. As a song plays, arrows pointing in one of four directions — forward, back, left, or right — appear on the screen in various combinations. Players step on corresponding arrows on their mats to earn rewards and move up to higher and more challenging levels.

About AGS

Founded in 1942, the American Geriatrics Society is a nationwide, not-for-profit association of geriatrics health care professionals dedicated to improving the health, independence and quality of life of all older people. The Society supports this mission through activities in clinical practice, professional and public education, research and public policy. With an active membership of over 6,700 health care professionals, the Society has become a pivotal force in shaping attitudes, policies and practices in geriatric medicine.

American Geriatrics Society

Prostate Specific Antigen At Or Before Age 50 As A Predictor Of Advanced Prostate Cancer Diagnosed Up To 25 Years Later: A Case-Control Study

UroToday – Dr. Lilja and his group have previously shown that a single PSA measurement at or before age 50 is a strong predictor of prostate cancer (CaP) occurring up to 25 years later. In the online version of BMC Medicine, Dr. Ulmert leads an analysis from the group that supports that a single PSA measurement is also a very strong predictor of advanced CaP diagnosed up to 25 years later.

The study cohort was derived from the Malmö Preventive Medicine Study, a population-based study on cardiovascular risk factors that took place in Malmö, Sweden from 1974-1986. Men born between 1926 and 1949 participated in this study to primarily investigate risk factors for major cardiovascular and metabolic diseases. Blood plasma samples were archived at -20 and never thawed until this analysis. The Swedish Cancer Registry was to identify men diagnosed with CaP. A total of 21,277 men were in the Malmö Preventive Medicine database, and 498 (2.3%) were diagnosed with CaP. Blood samples were available for 462 of these men. Bone scan data was available on 370 of the 462 men (80%) and clinical stage was known for 398 (86%). A case-control nested design was used, with 2 to 3 controls without a diagnosis of CaP matched with cases for age and date of baseline venipuncture. The archived plasma was used to measure levels of total PSA, free PSA, and hK2. Complexed PSA was calculated.

Of the 161 men having advanced CaP, 62 had skeletal metastasis and 149 had at least T3 disease. Fifty patients had both. The median time from baseline venipuncture to diagnosis was 17 years and the median age at diagnosis was 64 years. WHO grade I, II, and III CaP was found in 18 men (11%), 73 men (45%), and 69 men (43%), respectively. Stage T3-4 was present in 93%, but most men did not have lymph nodes assessed. Patients with skeletal metastases or clinical stage T3 CaP had higher median levels of total PSA, complexed PSA, free PSA and hK2 and lower median free-to-total PSA ratios compared to men not diagnosed with CaP. An increase of 1ng/ml in total PSA was associated with an odds ratio for advanced cancer of 4.29. No additional markers added discriminative accuracy above that of total PSA alone. An increased total PSA level of 1.01-2ng/ml raised the odds more than 7-fold compared with a total PSA of 0.5ng/ml or less, and the odds increased 22-fold for a total PSA 2.01-3.0ng/ml. Patients with a total PSA of 2ng/ml had a risk of advanced CaP of 12%, more than 3-times the population mean. Forty-nine percent of the advanced cancers occurred among the 10% of subjects with the highest PSA levels, while 66% occurred among the top 20%.

Ulmert D, Cronin AM, Bjork T, O’Brien MF, Scardino PT, Eastham JA, Becker C, Berglund G, Vickers AJ, Lilja H

BMC Medicine 2008, 6(6) February 2008

Reported by UroToday Contributing Editor Christopher P. Evans, MD, FACS Professor & Chairman Department of Urology University of California, Davis, School of Medicine Sacramento, CA

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John Ritter Research Program Established At UTHealth

Actress, writer and aortic health advocate Amy Yasbeck has joined with The University of Texas Health Science Center at Houston (UTHealth) to establish the John Ritter Research Program in Aortic and Vascular Diseases (JRRP) to combat the devastating disease that took the life of her husband, legendary comic actor John Ritter.

Directing the new program is Dianna M. Milewicz, M.D., Ph.D., a recognized leader in aortic disease research, the President George H.W. Bush Chair in Cardiovascular Research and director of the Division of Medical Genetics at The University of Texas Medical School at Houston, part of UTHealth.

“We are honored and excited that Amy has allowed us to establish this very important research program at UTHealth in John Ritter’s name,” said Milewicz, who has discovered four of the genes involved in causing a predisposition for thoracic aortic aneurysms and dissections inherited in families. “This program will bring attention to this life-threatening disease and will allow us to accelerate our research to prevent premature deaths due to aortic dissection through identifying genes that predispose to the disease. In addition, identifying the genes that cause the disease is the first step to understanding why the disease occurs and how to stop it in patients through new therapies.”

John Ritter, 54, died from an undiagnosed aortic dissection on Sept. 11, 2003 after he experienced chest pain while taping his ABC hit comedy “8 Simple Rules for Dating My Teenage Daughter.” Yasbeck formed the John Ritter Foundation for Aortic Health that year. She contacted Milewicz, who encouraged Tom Ritter, John’s brother, to have his aorta scanned because of a suspected familial link (Tex Ritter, their father, also died suddenly at an early age due to an undiagnosed cardiovascular event). Tom’s aorta was already enlarged and he had life-saving surgery in 2007.

“This tremendous collaboration with Amy Yasbeck and her foundation to establish the John Ritter Research Program allows us to further UTHealth’s mission of creating a healthier future. We are grateful to them,” said UTHealth President Larry R. Kaiser, M.D. “We are proud of the work of Dr. Milewicz and her team, who have taken translational research from the laboratory to the very families who need the knowledge to fight this disease.”

The JRRP will build on the collaborative research already underway in the Specialized Center for Clinically Oriented Research in Thoracic Aortic Aneurysm and Dissections in the Texas Medical Center (SCCOR). The $11.6 million research program is funded by the National Heart, Lung and Blood Institute, part of the National Institutes of Health. There are collaborators at other institutions, including Memorial Hermann Heart & Vascular Institute, Baylor College of Medicine, the Texas Heart Institute and the University of Texas Medical Branch at Galveston.

“We will be expanding this collaborative research group to involve investigators throughout the United States and worldwide, including Europe, Japan, China and South America,” said Milewicz, principal investigator and director of SCCOR.

Thoracic aortic disease has ranked as high as the 15th leading cause of death in the United States, accounting for nearly 15,000 deaths annually. It is caused by a defect in the wall of the aorta, the largest artery in the body, which is responsible for pumping blood out of the heart.

The weakness in the wall leads to an aneurysm and ultimately an aortic dissection or tear in the wall of the aorta. Once the aorta begins to dissect, patients are at risk for sudden death unless emergency surgery is done.

If caught early, a surgical procedure pioneered in the Texas Medical Center by Michael DeBakey, M.D., Denton Cooley, M.D., and others can prevent the dissections and premature deaths associated with dissections.

Through their innovative genetic discoveries, Milewicz and her team have been able to test members of families with the familial form of the disease and encourage those with the gene defect to have their aortas scanned and monitored regularly, ultimately saving lives. UTHealth now has one of the largest registries in the world with 600 families who have a genetic link to the disease.

This past spring, the Thoracic Aortic Disease Coalition, which is chaired by Milewicz and includes Yasbeck, launched a campaign to increase public awareness of aortic dissections and released “Ritter Rules,” life-saving reminders to help recognize who is at risk for aortic disease so that aortic dissection deaths can be prevented.

Source: University of Texas Health Science Center at Houston

Artery disease triggers stroke

People with damaged arteries have long been considered to be at high risk of having a heart attack.

But now researchers in the United States have found they are also more likely to have a stroke.

The findings could lead to changes in the way patients with damaged arteries or coronary endothelial dysfunction (CED) are treated.

This condition occurs when arteries that supply blood to the heart do not dilate as they should.

Artery cells

The disorder affects the vascular endothelium – the smooth layer of cells lining the walls of arteries throughout the body.

A healthy vascular endothelium is supposed to expand and contract according to the body’s blood flow needs.

Failure of these cells to expand and contract properly can trigger chest pain in people with the condition.

It is regarded as an early indicator of heart disease.

But Dr Amir Lerman and colleagues at the Mayo Clinic in Minnesota believe it may also be an early warning sign for stroke.

They examined the records of 503 people who had been tested for CED.

They found patients with the disorder were five times more likely to suffer a stroke compared to people without the condition.

They said the findings highlight the need to diagnose and treat patients with the condition early.

Writing in Circulation, the journal of the American Heart Association, they said the research may have ‘important implications in identifying people at risk for heart attack and stroke before they have significant symptoms’.

The problem, however, is that testing patients for CED is expensive and complex as it requires invasive surgery.

As a result, doctors are unable to routinely screen patients for the condition.

Simpler tests

Doctors at the Mayo Clinic are hoping to overcome this problem by developing a simple test for the condition.

Their test would screen for the condition by analysing vessels in fingertips.

‘Screening for endothelial dysfunction could potentially identify patients who would benefit from aggressive treatment,’ said Dr Lerman.

‘Now that we have associated this disorder with both heart attack and stroke, finding ways to identify it earlier in patients is even more important.’

Doctors in Britain are also working on alternative tests.

Researchers at the Cardiovascular Research Initiative at the University of Edinburgh are carrying out a study to see if the condition can be diagnosed using pulse wave analysis.

This involves measuring the stiffness of arteries by analysing the force with which blood is pumped around the body.

This can be done easily with a special type of machine.

They believe the test if proved to be effective could be widely used by doctors to diagnose the condition.

Meanwhile, in a second study doctors in Canada and the UK confirmed MRI scans can be used to identify patients at risk of an impending stroke or heart attack.

Their study found the scans, normally used to assess patients with a range of problems including cancer or fractures, can identify the build-up of fatty deposits in arteries that can trigger a heart attack or stroke.

Health Impact Assessment Uncovers Unexpected Benefits, Continues Growing Trend

A bill in Oregon that would provide incentives to deliver fresh local food to schools would improve the health of the state’s residents and, at the same time, create hundreds of new farm-industry jobs over a five- to 10-year period, according to a study released by Upstream Public Health in Portland.

The researchers received a grant from the Health Impact Project, a collaboration of the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation and The Pew Charitable Trusts, to conduct a health impact assessment (HIA) on the Farm to School and School Garden legislation, HB 2800.

An HIA is a study that explores the health impacts of a proposed project, plan or policy in areas that might not otherwise take full account of the health implications – like education, land use, agriculture or energy – and then makes recommendations to maximize the benefits and minimize any potential risks.

“This report is especially valuable because it shows how health impact assessment can help policy makers find unexpected ways to improve health and, at the same time, provide economic benefits – something that is more important now than ever given the current fiscal climate,” said Aaron Wernham, M.D., director of the Health Impact Project.

Farm to School and School Garden Legislation, Oregon HB 2800 , as introduced

The bill would reimburse schools – equivalent to 15 cents per lunch and seven cents per breakfast – for purchasing Oregon food products and provide competitive education grants to schools to support teaching gardens and cross-curricular nutrition education activities that could help kids learn about local food production and increase their preference for fruits and vegetables. The funding for the program would come from the Economic Development Fund, which is a portion of Oregon’s Lottery Fund.

The researchers conducted interviews with stakeholders, reviewed existing research on the health impacts of Farm to School programs and collaborated with an economist to analyze the bill’s impact on employment in the state.

The HIA concluded that HB 2800, if enacted as introduced, would:
Create at least 800 new agricultural jobs over the next five to 10 years in both urban and rural areas of the state. Research shows that employment improves health because it helps people afford safe places to live, buy adequate amounts of food, pay for health insurance and cover health care costs.
Have the potential to increase students’ satisfaction with school meal offerings, which research shows can increase student participation in the federal school meals program. This program provides nutritionally balanced, low-cost or free breakfasts and lunches to children each school day. In 2009, 14 percent of households in the state – nearly 500,000 people, including working families – had to cut back on food or even regularly skip meals because of economic hardships. The legislation could mean more children in these families would get nutritious meals at school. Hunger can affect health by causing chronic illness and developmental delays.
Have the potential for a small to moderate, long-term impact on childhood obesity by increasing fruit and vegetable consumption and increasing physical activity because more children are participating in school-based gardens.

“We found that this bill would offer the state of Oregon an economic benefit and, at the same time, provide a number of important health benefits – for example, shaping children’s preferences for healthy food,” says Tia Henderson, Ph.D., research coordinator at Upstream Public Health and co-author of the report.

The Upstream Public Health HIA is one of 13 demonstration grants funded by the Health Impact Project. The other HIAs address a range of decisions, including a light rail corridor connecting the Twin Cities in Minnesota and a plan to re-develop an old automobile factory site in Atlanta, which would result in over 6.5 million square feet of office space, hotels, shopping and parking facilities. The project is accepting proposals through June 1, 2011 for its next round of grants.

“This is a fast-growing field, with health impact assessments being conducted all across the country,” said Dr. Wernham. “We are witnessing a rapid increase in demand – and support – for this important policy-making tool, including funding at the local, state and national levels.”

For more information about health impact assessments, to submit a proposal or to see an interactive, searchable map of ongoing and completed HIAs in the United States, please click here.

Alex Dery Snider
Pew Health Group

Sleep Disturbances Frequently Suffered By Women Worrying About Cancer

A significant number of women worrying about cancer may be experiencing sleep disturbances, even without a breast cancer diagnosis, according to a research abstract presented by Amita Dharawat, MD, at SLEEP 2008, the 22nd Annual Meeting of the Associated Professional Sleep Societies (APSS).

This collaborative study, from the Brooklyn Health Disparities Center at SUNY Downstate Medical Center and Long Island University in Brooklyn, New York, focused on 1,038 community-based residents, between 50 and 70 years of age; none of whom had a history of a physician-diagnosed cancer. Sleep complaint was defined as a report of either difficulty initiating sleep, maintaining sleep, or early morning awakening.

According to the results, 65 percent of the women reported that they worried about developing breast cancer, and 49 percent reported a sleep complaint. Twenty-seven percent indicated that cancer worry affected their mood, while 25 percent indicated that it affected their daily activity. The odds of reporting sleep complaints for women who worry about cancer were nearly 50 percent greater than odds for women who reported no cancer worry, independent of several confounders.

“This is a unique and important finding because sleep-related complaints have never been studied in women who worry about cancer, without a diagnosis, and it provides practitioners with knowledge with regards to identifying and targeting women who report sleep-related complaints with cognitive behavioral therapy,” said Dr. Dharawat, who is a second year medical resident, working with Dr. Girardin Jean-Louis on an NIH funded ‘Women’s Health Project’.

Cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) helps eliminate negative images and thoughts that compromise one’s ability to sleep well. It helps develop habits that promote a healthy pattern of sleep. CBT is most often used for people who suffer from insomnia.

Sleep plays a vital role in promoting women’s health and well being. Getting the required amount of sleep is likely to enhance women’s overall quality of life. Yet, they face many potential barriers – such as life events, depression, illness, and medication use – that often disrupt their sleep patterns. Overcoming these challenges can help women enjoy the daily benefits of feeling alert and well rested.

It is recommended that women get between seven and eight hours of nightly sleep.

The American Academy of Sleep Medicine (AASM) offers the following tips for women on how to get a good night’s sleep:
Follow a consistent bedtime routine.

Establish a relaxing setting at bedtime.

Get a full night’s sleep every night.

Avoid foods or drinks that contain caffeine, as well as any medicine that has a stimulant, prior to bedtime.

Do not bring your worries to bed with you.

Do not go to bed hungry, but don’t eat a big meal before bedtime either.

Avoid any rigorous exercise within six hours of your bedtime.

Make your bedroom quiet, dark and a little bit cool.

Get up at the same time every morning.

Those who suspect that they might be suffering from a sleep disorder are encouraged to consult with their primary care physician or a sleep specialist.


Click here for more information about “women and sleep.”

The annual SLEEP meeting brings together an international body of 5,000 leading researchers and clinicians in the field of sleep medicine to present and discuss new findings and medical developments related to sleep and sleep disorders.

More than 1,000 research abstracts are presented at the SLEEP meeting (9-12 June 2008) , a joint venture of the AASM and the Sleep Research Society. The three-and-a-half-day scientific meeting will bring to light new findings that enhance the understanding of the processes of sleep and aid the diagnosis and treatment of sleep disorders such as insomnia, narcolepsy and sleep apnea.

SleepEducation, a patient education Web site created by the AASM, provides information about various sleep disorders, the forms of treatment available, recent news on the topic of sleep, sleep studies that have been conducted and a listing of sleep facilities.

Source: Kathleen McCann

American Academy of Sleep Medicine

Spit Tobacco Rates A Concern; Especially High In Rural Areas, USA

While smoking rates are going down in
Washington, the same can’t be said for spit tobacco. The use of spit tobacco,
commonly known as chew, dip or snuff, has hovered at about five percent for
tenth graders and about three percent for adults since 2000. However, current
usage rates for young men living outside of urban areas are dramatically
higher. The Great American Spit Out on February 16 provides an opportunity to
spotlight the persistence of spit tobacco use, educate the public about its
dangers and encourage users to quit.

“Many young people and adults think using spit tobacco is a safe
alternative to smoking, but that’s not true,” said Secretary of Health Mary
Selecky. “Spit tobacco contains 28 cancer-causing agents and can significantly
increase the risk of mouth cancer, which is extremely painful and difficult to

Most spit tobacco users are men. Statewide about seven percent of adult
men use spit tobacco compared to less than one percent of adult women. Rates
are significantly higher — about 16 percent — for younger men between the
ages of 18-29 living in suburban and rural areas. Young adults are often the
target of tobacco company promotions where free samples of spit tobacco
products are distributed. In 2004 spit tobacco companies distributed 18,473
samples at 174 events across Washington.

To mark the Great American Spit Out, the state Department of Health’s
Tobacco Prevention and Control Program is teaming up with the Washington State
Dental Hygienists’ Association, the Washington Oral Health Foundation and
local health contractors to educate the public about the health risks of
chewing tobacco. They will also be directing spit tobacco users to the state’s
Tobacco Quit Line for help quitting. Public service announcements are running
on radio stations statewide leading up to the Spit Out.

Health officials are concerned that spit tobacco use could increase as a
result of the expanded Clean Indoor Air Act, which prohibits smoking in all
indoor public spaces. For example, some tobacco shops in New York have seen an
increase in sales of spit tobacco since the state enacted a comprehensive
clean indoor air law. In some cases spit tobacco products are being marketed
as the “solution” for times when people can’t smoke in public places.

“Spit tobacco can cause gums to pull away from teeth, and can cause ugly
sores in the mouth, which can turn into cancer of the lip, tongue, cheeks,
gums, and roof and floor of the mouth,” said Robin Houg, president of the
dental hygienists association and a practicing dental hygienist in Bothell.
“I’ve seen the results of spit tobacco from very close range, and it’s not

Treatment for mouth cancer often involves painful and disfiguring surgery,
such as removal of the tongue or jaw bone. On average, just over half of those
diagnosed with mouth cancer survive more than five years.

People in Washington who want help quitting spit tobacco (or smoking) can
call the toll-free Washington State Tobacco Quit Line
(www.quitline) at 1-877-270-STOP (in Spanish, 1-877-2NO-FUME).

quit line offers free help from tobacco cessation specialists, referrals to
local cessation programs and quit kits.

The Great American Spit Out is part of Through with Chew Week (Feb. 12-
18), which started in 1989 to provide the public with information about spit
tobacco and decrease its use. The campaign was inspired by a high school
student from Oklahoma who chose to use spit tobacco over smoking because he
thought it was safer. He developed oral cancer and had to have part of his
tongue and his jaw bone removed. He died at the age of 19.

Visit the Washington Department of Health Web site at
www.doh.wa for a healthy dose of information.

Washington State Department of Health