Study: Smokers Often Unaware of Chemical-Cocktail in Cigarettes

Do you have any idea what ‘ingredients’ go into making cigarettes? You would be surprised to hear what things people inhale with each puff of a cigarette – besides nicotine, I mean.

Source: ThinkProgress

There are about 4,800 chemicals in a cigarette, many of which are carcinogenic; but researchers from the University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill, found that the majority of smokers don’t know what they’re inhaling.

Marcella Boynton, lead author of the study, said in a press release:

“The majority of the [United States] public wants easy access to information about chemicals in cigarettes and other tobacco products. Surprisingly, our results reveal that groups one might presume to be the least psychologically motivated to look for this information, young adults and smokers, were more likely to say that they had previously looked for this information.”

For the study, data was analyzed from 5,014 American adults over age 18 who were contacted in a national telephone survey. The survey focused mainly on low-income areas, which are more likely to include people who use tobacco and suffer smoking-related health problems – the impoverished, the lesser educated, and sexual minorities.

Read: 7 Huge Detrimental Effects of Smoking

The team found that 27.5% of the respondents had sought information about the chemicals in tobacco smoke that can cause cancer and other adverse health effects.

Of the participants who had searched for information, 37.2% were between the ages of 18 and 25 – the largest percentage – and 34.3% of them were smokers. Some 26% of those who were non-smokers also said they had looked for information on cigarette smoke.

The biggest finding was that most of the participants didn’t know what’s contained in cigarette smoke, and half of them said they’d like to see that information printed on cigarette packages.

Cigarette smoke contains arsenic, ammonia, acetaldehyde, coumarin, and various other substances, most of which are known to be toxic when inhaled or ingested. The FDA lists the known toxins on the agency’s website.

However, none of this information is available to the average person who buys a pack of cigarettes. Instead, the Surgeon General provides rather vague warnings on cigarette packs about the dangers of smoking.

And since there’s such a vast number of chemicals in cigarette smoke, it’s impossible to gauge just how many health problems are caused by smoking, or how serious they are. [1]


Read: What are the Immediate and Long-Term Benefits of Quitting Smoking?

Boynton said:

“By making tobacco chemical information available to the public and tobacco industry practice more transparent, those seeking this information may be less likely to start smoking and more likely to quit…”

The researchers found a nugget of good news, however; more than 80% of smokers interviewed for the survey expressed a desire to kick the habit. [2]

The study was published in BMC Public Health.


[1] Medical Daily

[2] NHVoice


Smoking Really Does Speed up Aging – But by How Much?

If you’re a smoker, anti-aging creams and lemon skin treatments might not be enough to truly help you look younger. It’s generally accepted that smokers age more quickly than non-smokers, but by how much? According to a recent study, men and women who puff-puff for years on end are about twice as old as their chronological age. [1]

The findings were reported in January in Scientific Reports.

In a news release, study author Polina Mamoshina, a senior research scientist at artificial intelligence solutions company Insilico Medicine, said:

“Smoking is a real problem that destroys people’s health, causes premature deaths, and is often the cause of many serious diseases.”

No shock there.

Read: 7 Huge Detrimental Effects of Smoking

Smoking kills about 48,000 Americans each year, yet 38 million Americans continue to light up. Nicotine dependence is the most common form of chemical dependence in the United States. It’s a tough addiction to kick since a single puff almost immediately calms the user.

For the study, Mamoshina and colleagues used artificial intelligence to evaluate the impact of smoking using blood biochemistry. An age-prediction model developed by supervised deep learning techniques helped the authors analyze several biochemical markers, including measures based on glycated hemoglobin, urea, fasting glucose, and ferritin. [2]

The findings revealed that both male and female smokers were predicted to be twice as old as their chronological age, compared to non-smokers.

Read: Photographic Proof that Smoking Causes Premature Aging

Obviously, that’s bad news. But something positive did come from the findings. Studies of smokers typically rely on self-reporting, i.e., smokers tell researchers how often they light up. But the study shows that deep learning analysis of routine blood tests could replace that unreliable method and evaluate the influence that other lifestyle and environmental factors have on aging.

You might have heard that “50 is the new 30.” Well, if you’re a smoker, it’s the other way around. Cigarettes just aren’t worth it. Quitting smoking not only extends your life but improves the quality of it.


[1] UPI

[2] Economic Times

U.S. Cigarette Smoking Rates Fall to Historically-Low Levels

The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) offered some good news on November 8 when it released data showing that smoking rates in the U.S. are the lowest they’ve ever been. Unfortunately, there was some bad news to go with it.


  • Smoking rates have fallen by 67% since 1965 when the U.S. government first began tracking smoking rates.
  • An estimated 14% of adults smoked in 2017, down from 15.5% in 2016.
  • The rates were even lower among adults 18-24: from 13% in 2016 to 10% in 2017.

In a press release, CDC Director Robert Redfield said:

“This new all-time low in cigarette smoking among U.S. adults is a tremendous public health accomplishment – and it demonstrates the importance of continued proven strategies to reduce smoking. Despite this progress, work remains to reduce the harmful health effects of tobacco use.”

While smoking rates fell, other forms of tobacco use remain prevalent, including e-cigarettes, hookahs, cigars, smokeless tobacco, and water pipes. About 47 million Americans use tobacco in some form.

When adding those other categories, 16.2% of adults, or 47 million people, used tobacco products of some kind in 2017, according to the CDC. The second-most used products behind cigarettes were cigars, cigarillos or filtered little cigars, with 3.8% of adults (9.3 million people) saying they used them. [2]

E-cigarettes have been touted as a smoking cessation method, and many people swear by it. However, overall, the nicotine delivery devices have proven to be more harmful than helpful.

Brian King, a deputy director in the CDC’s office on smoking and health, said:

“If e-cigarette use was responsible [for declines in cigarette use], you would expect to see a perfect correlation, but that’s not what we’re seeing. If anything, e-cigarettes have complicated the tobacco product landscape.”

A Pricey Coping Mechanism

The CDC says in the report that certain groups of people were more likely to use tobacco than others, including: [1]

  • People with incomes below $35,000
  • Those who had a GED
  • The uninsured
  • Those insured by Medicaid or who received public assistance

Among ethnic groups, non-Hispanic American Indian/Native Americans, multiracial Americans, and white or black adults were the most likely to use tobacco.

Adults who identified as lesbian, gay, or bisexual were also more likely to use, as well as those who were divorced, separated, widowed, single, never-married, or not living with a partner.

Adults living in the Midwest or the south tended to use tobacco the most.

Have you started to see a pattern yet? In many cases, tobacco users tended to be those facing hardship and stress. Indeed, the CDC mentioned in its report that psychological distress was associated with an increase in tobacco use, with 40.8% of adults who reported distress saying they used tobacco compared to 18.5% who reported not being severely distressed.

NCI Director Dr. Norman E. Sharpless said in the press release:

“For more than half a century, cigarette smoking has been the leading cause of cancer mortality in the United States. Eliminating smoking in America would, over time, eliminate about 1/3 of all cancer deaths. The persistent disparities in adult smoking prevalence described in this report emphasize the need for further research to accelerate reductions in tobacco use among all Americans.”

Government Crackdown

FDA Commissioner Scott Gottlieb said he was encouraged by the findings and said the FDA is committed to accelerating declines. [3]

“We’ve taken new steps to ultimately render combustible cigarettes minimally or non-addictive and to advance a framework to encourage innovation of potentially less harmful products such as e-cigarettes for adults who still seek access to nicotine, as well as support the development of novel nicotine replacement drug therapies. At the same time, we’re also working to protect kids from the dangers of tobacco product use, including e-cigarettes.”

In September, the agency warned 5 e-cigarette makers, including Juul, that they had 2 months to prove to the FDA that they’d taken steps to prevent the sale of their products to young people.

The companies were told that their failure to do so could result in the agency requiring them to change their sales and marketing practices, stop their distributing of products to retailers who sell to kids, and the removal of flavored e-cigarettes and nicotine products from the market.

Then, in early October, the FDA raided the Juul offices and confiscated thousands of documents as part of its effort to pressure the company into doing more to keep its products out of the hands of young people.

Juul e-cigarettes, which look like USB drives, are extremely popular among high-schoolers. The devices come with pods filled with nicotine liquid that is available in 6 flavors. Each pod delivers as much nicotine as up to 2 packs of cigarettes. [4]


[1] ABC News

[2] CNBC

[3] CBS News

[4] Vox

Diabetics: STOP Doing This to Cut Risk of Premature Death

Having Type 2 diabetes doesn’t have to mean a life of disability or early death. A few lifestyle changes, such as quitting smoking, can reduce those risks, especially the risk of cardiovascular disease.

Kicking cigarettes to the curb and closely following treatment protocols can reduce the risk of cardiovascular disease “significantly,” according to a study published in The New England Journal of Medicine. In some cases, the risk can be completely eliminated.

Aidin Rawshani, medical intern and doctoral student at the Institute of Medicine, Sahlgrenska Academy, Sweden, and author of the report, said:

“This is definitely good news. The study shows that patients with Type 2 diabetes with all risk factors within therapeutic target range had an extremely low risk of premature death, heart attack, and stroke.”

For the study, researchers culled data from the Swedish National Diabetes Register of approximately 300,000 people with Type 2 diabetes in the period 1998-2015. The team compared the patients with up to 5 times as many gender- and age-matched individuals from the general population as a control group.

Type 2 diabetes patients were 10 times more likely than people without the disease to suffer a heart attack, heart failure, and stroke, the study found. In general, those individuals have a 45% greater risk of heart failure. [2]

These individuals also had 5 times the risk for premature death compared to the control group.

Read: Immediate and Long-Term Benefits of Quitting Smoking

Falling into the first category is dependent upon controlling a number of risk factors – blood pressure, long-term blood sugar, blood lipids, renal function, and smoking – and adherence to medication, the authors wrote. Out of all of these risk factors, smoking was found to be the most important for premature death. Elevated blood glucose was the 2nd most important risk factor for heart attack and stroke.

Read: 5 Blood Sugar-Regulating Foods for Diabetics

Rawshani said:

“By optimizing these 5 risk factors, all of which can be influenced, you can come a long way. We have shown that the risks can be greatly reduced, and in some cases may even be eliminated. [1]

The study also shows that the risk of complications, especially heart failure, is greatest among those under 55 years. This makes it extra important to check and treat risk factors if you are younger with Type 2 diabetes.”


[1] Science Daily

[2] UPI

Study: Dad’s Smoking Habit Could Affect Future Generations

Dads who smoke could be sentencing their offspring – and the offspring of generations to come – to cognitive problems, according to a new study of mice.

When male mice were exposed to nicotine, their offspring showed signs of a mouse version of attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD), as well as abnormal behavior and learning impairments. [1]

Study leader Pradeep Bhide, of Florida State University, said:

“Until now, much attention has been focused on the effects of maternal nicotine exposure on their children. Not much had been known about the effects of paternal smoking on their children and grandchildren. Our study shows that paternal nicotine exposure can be deleterious for the offspring in multiple generations.”

To investigate paternal nicotine exposure’s effects on offspring, Bhide and his colleagues added nicotine to the drinking water of male mice in the lab for a total of 12 weeks. They then bred those mice with unexposed females, and mated the offspring to produce a 3rd generation.

The researchers subjected the 2nd- and 3rd-generation mice to a series of cognitive and behavioral tests to see if their father’s or grandfather’s nicotine exposure had any effect.

What did they find?

Compared to the offspring born to unexposed fathers and grandfathers, these rodents struggled more with certain learning tasks. The 2nd-generation mice also showed signs of ADHD and had lower levels of certain neurotransmitters in the brain.

The findings suggest that a father’s tobacco use may prime the brains of his children and grandchildren not only for ADHD, but for autism as well.

The authors think that nicotine causes epigenetic changes in the key genes of sperm cells. They observed epigenetic changes to key genes in the exposed mice’s sperm, including 1 that is vital to brain development. [2]

What scientists need to figure out next is how many generations can be affected by a father’s nicotine use.

Bhide said:

“It is possible that some of the epigenetic changes caused by nicotine in the sperm DNA are temporary, and go away with time, which would mean that children conceived after a certain period of abstinence from nicotine use might not be affected.

Other epigenetic changes may be permanent, and may result in deleterious effects on the offspring. More studies are needed.”

Bhide and his team wonder how smoking might have affected generation after generation

“Cigarette smoking was more common and more readily accepted by the population in the 1940’s, 50’s, and 60’s, compared to today. Could that exposure be revealing itself as a marked rise in the diagnoses of neurodevelopmental disorders such as ADHD and autism?”

Source: Medical Daily

Autism was first described in a scientific journal in 1943 when Johns Hopkins researcher Leo Kanner described 11 children who had an apparently rare syndrome of “extreme autistic aloneness.” These children were so young that Kanner dubbed the disorder “infantile autism.” [3]

Late onset autism (starting in the 2nd year of life) was “almost unheard of” in the 1950’s, 60’s, and 70’s. It wasn’t until 1991 that autism was listed as a separate entity under the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act of 1975.

Today, 1 in 59 children have autism spectrum disorder (ASD), and the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) said in April 2018 that autism diagnoses are on the rise.

The study is published in the journal PLOS Biology.


[1] The Scientist

[2] Boston Globe

[3] Journal of the American Physicians and Surgeons

Medical Daily

FDA Takes “Historic Action” Against E-Cigarette Makers and Sellers

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) on September 12 warned 5 e-cigarette manufacturers, including Juul, that they have 2 months to figure out how they’ll prove to the agency that they’ve taken steps to prevent the sale of their products to young people. [1]

Experts say there has been an “epidemic” rise in teen use of e-cigarettes, which are typically sold with liquid nicotine that comes in a variety of tantalizing flavors that appeal to young people.

FDA Commissioner Scott Gottlieb warned the FDA could take the step of requiring companies to:

  • Change their sales and marketing practices
  • Stop distributing products to retailers who sell to kids
  • Remove flavored e-cigarettes – and nicotine products – from the market
Source: National Institute on Drug Abuse for Teens

Gottlieb said:

“I use the word epidemic with great care. E-cigs have become an almost ubiquitous – and dangerous – trend among teens. The disturbing and accelerating trajectory of use we’re seeing in youth, and the resulting path to addiction, must end. It’s simply not tolerable.”

Read: Nearly Half of U.S. Teens Will See an E-cigarette Ad This Year

About 97% of the e-cigarette market is dominated by Juul, MarkTen, Vuse, Blu, and Logic, according to the FDA. Over the next 60 days, the 5 companies’ marketing and sales practices will be under intense scrutiny by the health regulator, and they could face “boots on the ground inspections,” Gottlieb said.

The commissioner said the FDA will also increase federal enforcement actions on e-cigarette sales to minors in convenience stores and other retail sites.

A Historic Crackdown

On September 12, the FDA announced “historic action” against upwards of 1,300 retailers who illegally sold Juul and other e-cigarettes to kids over the summer months of 2018. According to Gottlieb, it was the largest coordinated enforcement effort in the agency’s history.

The agency will closely investigate “straw purchases” in which adults purchase e-cigarettes in bulk from online stores and resell them to minors. It is illegal to sell tobacco products to youths under 18.

Gottlieb said:

“If young adults go online and buy 100 units of a product to sell to teens, that activity ought to be easy for a product manufacturer to identify.”

Manufacturers who choose not to investigate these bulk purchases will face “appropriate consequences,” according to the FDA commissioner.

“Let me be clear: Everything is on the table. This includes the resources of our civil and criminal enforcement tools.”

He added: [2]

“Industry must step up to this challenge. They say they’ve changed from the days of Joe Camel. But look at what’s happening right now, on our watch and on their watch. They must demonstrate that they’re truly committed to keeping these new products out of the hands of kids and they must find a way to reverse this trend.”

Read: 30 Minutes of Vaping Equals 5 Minutes of Cigarette Smoking?

The e-cigarette manufacturers say they will comply with the new rules and that they are working with the FDA to ensure young people don’t get their hands on their products.

JUUL CEO Kevin Burns said in a statement:

“We are committed to preventing underage use of our product, and we want to be part of the solution in keeping e-cigarettes out of the hands of young people. Our mission is to improve the lives of adult smokers by providing them a true alternative to combustible cigarettes.”

Risky Business

A report released in January by the National Academy of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine suggests that e-cigarettes pose health risks, though they may be less risky than traditional cigarettes. Health experts are more concerned that e-cigarette use could lead to the use of traditional tobacco cigarettes, however.

Source: Daily Mail

Read: Vaping May be Overriding Efforts to Get Kids to Quit Smoking

In the report, a national panel of public health experts state that e-cigarette use may prompt teens and young adults to try regular cigarettes, thus increasing their risk for addiction. There is no scientific proof that vaping is a gateway to smoking tobacco cigarettes, however, and the authors were unable to determine whether young people were simply trying cigarettes or becoming regular smokers. [3]


[1] CNN

[2] NPR

[3] The New York Times

National Institute on Drug Abuse for Teens

Daily Mail

Tobacco Doesn’t Just Kill Smokers; It Kills the Environment

About 90% of all lung cancers are caused by cigarette smoking. Smoking kills 7 million people a year, speeds aging, destroys the heart and cardiovascular system, and leads to asthma and COPD. But cigarettes don’t just wreak havoc on the human body; they also wreak havoc on the environment through deforestation, pollution, and littering. [1] [2]

In May, the World Health Organization (WHO) released a study detailing the environmental costs of tobacco, adding to the mind-blowing $1.4 trillion in healthcare costs and lost productivity. The report looks at the immediate environmental damage caused by tobacco consumption, as well as “the post-consumption waste and health implications that continue to play out long after the tobacco has been smoked.” [3]

WHO Director-General Dr. Margaret Chan said:

“Tobacco threatens us all. Tobacco exacerbates poverty, reduces economic productivity, contributes to poor household food choices, and pollutes indoor air.” [2]


A few of the main take-aways from the report:

  • There are more than 7,000 toxic chemicals in tobacco waste – some of them cancer-causing – and these substances also pollute the environment.
  • Tobacco smoke has created thousands of tons of human carcinogens, toxicants, and greenhouse gases.
  • Cigarette butts and other tobacco waste account for a huge amount of trash. According to a 2014 study, tobacco waste constitutes more than a third of the refuse collected during coastal cleanups. Additionally, nearly two-thirds of all cigarettes purchased every day wind up tossed in the streets, grass, and water. Too few people “flick their butts” into a trash receptacle. [3]

Tobacco-leaf curing requires burning enormous quantities of wood, which contributes to deforestation. Larger tobacco growers also use coal, which emits carbon dioxide, the main greenhouse gas implicated in global warning. [4]

Read: The True Cost of Smoking Revealed

As if that’s not disgusting enough, the planet is littered with millions of kilograms of non-biodegradable cigarette butts.

Pollution aside, tobacco is a drain on the world’s resources, including energy and water, and requires the extensive use of harmful chemicals. [2]

The report states:

“From start to finish, the tobacco life cycle is an overwhelmingly polluting and damaging process.” [4]

Mammoth amounts of insecticides, herbicides, GMOs, fungicides, and fumigants are applied to tobacco plants. Many of these products are so harmful to health and the environment that they’ve been banned in some countries.

The WHO is calling on world governments to work toward controlling tobacco pollution by enacting measures such as banning tobacco marketing and advertising, promoting plain product packaging, and making all public spaces and workplaces smoke-free. [3]

World health experts are also urging governments to implement tobacco taxes. It is one of the least-used tobacco control methods, but raising tobacco taxes and prices is remarkably effective, according to Dr. Oleg Chestnov, the WHO’s Assistant Director-General for NCDs and Mental Health.

At the moment, governments rake in about $270 billion in yearly tobacco excise tax revenues. But the WHO says this could increase by more than 50% to bring in an additional $141 billion by simply increasing taxes on packs of cigarettes by $0.80 a pack.

Additionally, the WHO wants to make it mandatory for tobacco companies to supply information on the amount of environmental damage their operations contribute to. At the moment, some large manufacturers do report on their use of environmental resources and waste streams, but ‘the data is limited and opaque.” [4]

The authors wrote:

“All producers should be required to compensate for the environmental harms caused by deforestation, water use, waste, etc. through offsets in order to ultimately reduce the long-term ecological harm their business causes.” [4]

Read: Tobacco Industry Forced to List Ingredients in their Products

Chan said:

“By taking robust tobacco control measures, governments can safeguard their countries’ futures by protecting tobacco users and non-users from these deadly products, generating revenues to fund health and other social services, and saving their environments from the ravages tobacco causes.” [3]


[1] Web MD

[2] CNN

[3] Consumerist

[4] RTT News

Storable Food

Opioid Use Now Tops Tobacco Use in the U.S.

A survey released by the federal Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) shows that more people in the U.S. use opioid painkillers than tobacco, highlighting the tragic opioid crisis gripping the country. [1]

A federal review published in the spring showed that opioid prescriptions in the U.S. decreased for the 1st time in 2 decades, which suggests that doctors are finally starting to heed warnings about the drugs’ addictive properties. However, that decrease has not translated into fewer deaths. The SAMHSA report illustrates just how widespread the problem remains.

The problem is especially severe in Tennessee, where there are more opioid prescriptions written than people actually living in the state. There are 1.18 opioid prescriptions per every resident of Tennessee. More people died from overdoses in the state in 2014 than from car crashes or shootings. [2]

Source: CDC

Nationally, 37.8% of American adults are using some type of opioid painkiller, while 31.1% of U.S. adults use tobacco problems.

According to the 2015 National Survey on Drug Use and Health (NSDUH), a division of the Department of Health and Human Services (DHHS), more than 91.8 million Americans 18 and older used prescription painkillers last year. By comparison, 75.4 million U.S. adults used tobacco products. [1]

Those numbers creep even higher when children 12 and older are included; to 97.5 million and 78.3 million, respectively. And more than 12.5% of those users admitted to misusing the painkillers.

Danny Winder, director of the Vanderbilt Center for Addiction Research in Nashville, said:

“You’d like to think that is good news and reflects a reduction of tobacco use, but unfortunately that’s not the case. It’s a particularly pernicious problem because of its prevalence…Anytime you have a substance that is legally available and has addictive properties, that’s setting up the problem.” [2]

Actually, smoking rates have declined significantly in the U.S. in the last 50 years. From 2005 to 2015, smoking among adults declined from 20.9% to, or 45.1 million, to 15.1%, or 36.5 million. In the last year alone, the overall smoking rate fell 1.7 percentage points, resulting in the lowest prevalence since the CDC began collecting data in 1965.

However, you don’t generally associate tobacco use with hard drugs, yet many people who die from heroin overdoses begin with a dependence on prescription opioids. Even in those who don’t overdose or graduate to heroin, painkiller addiction can be devastating. In 2015, approximately 40% of unemployed people in the U.S. used a prescription opioid. [2]

Another disturbing finding from the survey is that in 2014, 27.0 million people aged 12 and older had reported using an illicit drug (10.2%). This percentage in 2014 was higher than those in every year from 2002 to 2013. [1]

The 2nd most common type of illicit drug use remained nonmedical painkiller use, but the percentage of people aged 12 or older in 2014 who were current nonmedical users of pain relievers (1.6%) was lower than the percentages in most years from 2002 to 2012.

The 2014 NSDUH estimated 66.9 million people aged 12 or older were tobacco users.

Dr. Richard Soper, chief at the Center for Behavioral Wellness in Nashville, said:

“We require tobacco companies to put warning labels on tobacco products; you don’t really see that in opioid products. As long as the FDA is continuing to approve opioids, there will still be access to it. There will still be doctors writing prescriptions.” [3]

In early 2016, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) published draft guidelines outlining testing standards for generic drugs that have been produced to be harder to crush and dissolve or snort. The agency requires that generic drug makers be able to prove that their product is bioequivalent to the name brand drug. But under the new guidelines, manufacturers will also have to prove that their generic drug has the same anti-abuse properties as its name brand equivalent.

However, this is the same agency that approved OxyContin for use in children in August 2015.


[1] Newsmax

[2] The Tennessean

[3] The Daily Caller


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