Boletim ENSP nº 12 PDF Versão para impressão Enviar por E-mail
Domingo, 27 Março 2011 22:26



Issue 12, 18-25 March 2011


· Foreword from ENSP Secretary General

· BULGARIA: Bulgarian health ministry to increase smoking ban checks

· FINLAND: New targeted drug helps smokers stub it out

· IRELAND: Minister urged to clamp down on smoking

· SWEDEN: Public health body backs call for tobacco display ban

· TURKEY: Smoking ban followed by 13.3 % decline in tobacco consumption in 2010

· UK: Smoke in your eyes

· UK: Hubble bubble hookah as harmful as cigarettes

· UK SCOTLAND: Five years of the smoking ban

· UK SCOTLAND: Scottish kinds kicking unhealthy habits

· News Release: Healthcare professionals urge better education for doctors to help smokers quit

· UKRAINE: Want to save lives? Hike cigarette taxes

· SURVEY: Acceptability of testing children for tobacco-smoke exposure: a national parent survey

· STUDY: Kids born to smoking mums 'more likely to become smokers'

· RESEARCH: UK rise in age-related macular degeneration predicted

· REPORT: Increasing drug resistance threatens gains of world TB programs; smoking and diabetes are also fueling the global TB epidemic

· STUDY: Menthol may pose lower lung-cancer risk, Vanderbilt study finds

· Workshop announcement and invitation: Tobacco and heart health: taking action – Geneva, 13 April 2011

· STUDY: Smoking widespread among institutionalized schizophrenics

· Tobacco Control Scale 2010 in Europe

· UKRAINE: Kyiv to ban kiosk sales of alcohol, tobacco starting April 1

· STUDY: Smoke-Free environments linked to less breast cancer

· Call for support: Russia violates the FCTC: Industry representative promoted to Duma

· STUDY: For smokers, internet both promotes and undermines smoking cessation

Foreword from ENSP Secretary General

Dear Reader,

First of all, the ENSP Secretariat would like to express its thanks for the very positive comments we have received on the new format of the ENSP European News Bulletin and the new subscription procedure, which started on 1 March 2011.

The ENSP European News Bulletin features European tobacco control news, announcements, events, publications and other relevant topics. The ENSP Secretariat compiles the ENB for you on a weekly basis (whenever possible) and sends it directly to your mail box, thus saving you time for your direct tobacco control activism and keeping you informed about developments throughout Europe. The ENSP European News Bulletin is currently the only regular compilation of information specific to tobacco control in Europe.

We are eager to improve our services to tobacco control advocates and all your comments are welcome.

In return, as expressed in our motto Combining efforts for effective tobacco control in Europe, the ENSP Secretariat also needs your modest financial support to help maintain and develop our information services, for which we regrettably no longer receive co-funding from the European Commission.

Thus, should you wish to continue receiving the ENSP European News Bulletin, we invite you to consult our website ( without delay for more details and to renew your subscription by 1 April 2011.

Working together to save lives,

Francis Grogna

BULGARIA: Bulgarian health ministry to increase smoking ban checks

The Bulgarian Health Ministry has announced it will increase the checks for smoking in public places after 5 pm and on holidays.

The reason for the increased checks are signals from citizens that the rules for smoking in bars, restaurants and coffee shops are not followed strictly in the late hours of the day.

According to the restrictions, which entered into effect on December 19, 2010, owners of restaurants, bars and coffee shops have to provide walls, tight-closing doors and good ventilation equipment.

The requirements affect all smoking spaces inside commercial and administrative buildings, railroad stations and airports as well.

Source:, 18 March 2011

FINLAND: New targeted drug helps smokers stub it out

Researchers working in a research project within the Academy of Finland's Research Programme on Substance Use and Addictions have been developing a targeted drug that could aid in smoking reduction therapy. The new drug slows down the metabolism of nicotine, which would help smokers to cut down their smoking.

Nicotine is absorbed rapidly through the lining of the mouth but most readily through the lungs, from where it quickly passes through the body and into the brain. Once the nicotine reaches the liver, it is metabolised by an enzyme called CYP2A6. Preliminary studies by the Canadian partner of the research project have shown that inhibitors of the nicotine-metabolising CYP2A6 enzyme can help smokers curb the need to smoke. Unfortunately, current CYP2A6 inhibitors are not viable options for anti-smoking therapy, as they involve too many adverse effects.

"We're working on developing a CYP2A6 inhibitor, a targeted drug that would only be effective in specific parts of the body.

Author: Provided by Academy of Finland
Source:, 17 March 2011

IRELAND: Minister urged to clamp down on smoking

The government must put anti-smoking services under a central body and provide training for all healthcare professionals, anti-smoking campaigner Prof Luke Clancy said yesterday.

Prof Clancy, a leading advocate of the 2004 workplace smoking ban, said Ireland had underachieved in relation to tobacco addiction since the ban.

He accused the last government of a misplaced concern for exchequer revenue in not increasing the price of cigarettes.

He also criticised former minister for health Mary Harney, who he said had withdrawn funding which had been approved by her predecessor Brian Cowen and had "turned her back" on his Tobacco Free Research Institute Ireland.

He accused Ms Harney of restricting the work of the Office of Tobacco Control by merging it with the HSE and reducing its resources.

Speaking at the launch of international research on smoking sponsored by healthcare company Pfizer, Prof Clancy called on Minister for Health James Reilly to reinvigorate anti-smoking measures.

"I hope he will be persuaded this will be the most important thing he will do in his time as health minister," he said.

Prof Clancy told The Irish Times he believed former minister for finance Brian Lenihan had given in to the tobacco industry in not raising the price of cigarettes.

Source: Irish Times, 22 March 2011

SWEDEN: Public health body backs call for tobacco display ban

The Greens and the Left Party want to ban tobacco displays in Swedish shops, a proposal supported by the Swedish National Institute of Public Health (Folkhälsoinstitutet).

Government parties are however resisting the move due to lack of available data connecting a ban with a decrease in tobacco sales.

Eva Olofsson, of the Left Party, is one of the advocates for a ban.

"The aim is to get less people overall to smoke and less children and young people to start smoking. To achieve that, sales must decrease. This might be one way to tackle that," she said to Sveriges Radio (SR).

Source: The, 22 March 2011

TURKEY: Smoking ban followed by 13.3 % decline in tobacco consumption in 2010

Tobacco consumption in Turkey decreased by 13.2 percent in 2010 over the preceding year, according to data from the Tobacco and Alcohol Market Regulatory Agency (TAPDK) that indicates the law banning smoking in public venues, which was introduced in a partial ban in 2008, has yielded favorable results.

A law banning smoking in all public venues, including all educational, health, commercial, social, cultural, sports and entertainment facilities and their corridors, went into full effect on July 19, 2009. In 2008, the first year of the smoking ban, the number of cigarettes sold in Turkey stood at 107.89 billion. The number of cigarettes sold decreased by 405 million in 2009, when the law was expanded to all public venues, including all restaurants, coffeehouse, cafeterias and bars.

Source Zaman Daily Newspaper (tr), 15 March 2011

UK: Smoke in your eyes

Rory MacKinnon looks at the murky world of tobacco as it reacts to proposed regulation
Last fortnight's release of the government's tobacco control plan saw a flurry of press releases and talking heads - everyone from local shop owners to libertine smoking enthusiasts.

But behind the headlines lies a carefully co-ordinated and well-funded network of lobbyists and public relations experts who all draw their pay cheques at least in part from the same trio of multinational tobacco companies.

Never mind that advertising consumption is not a human right or that suppliers usually provide the displays free of charge - these groups have saturated the national media with their spirited defence of visible tobacco products as the foundation of a free and fair society.

Yet for all their public profile - on the BBC, Channel 4 and ITV, in the Daily Mail and Daily Express and countless drive-time radio bulletins - it's exceedingly rare that their links to the tobacco industry are raised on-air. 

So who are the main players?

The international pro-tobacco network is a very tangled web indeed, but it tends to replicate the same strategies from country to country.

While lobbyists at a legislative level focus on trade law and intellectual property, the friendly face presented to the public is typically an amalgam of local shopkeepers and civil liberties advocates to shift the debate away from public health.

In Britain these are the Tobacco Manufacters' Association, Forest (Freedom Organisation for the Right to Enjoy Smoking Tobacco), the Tobacco Retailers' Alliance and the National Federation of Retail Newsagents.

Source Morning Star (UK), 22 March 2011

UK: Hubble bubble hookah as harmful as cigarettes

Research from Britain’s Department of Health and the Tobacco Control Collaborating Center showed that people who regularly smoke shisha can suffer from dangerous levels of carbon monoxide — similar to sucking on a car exhaust or entering a room with a faulty boiler

Source: Reuters, 20 March 2011

UK SCOTLAND: Five years of the smoking ban

Five years on from its implementation on 26 March, 2006, the success or otherwise of the ban very much depends on who you ask. Research in Glasgow has suggested almost immediate health benefits. One study in 2007 concluded heart attacks among non-smokers had fallen by a fifth since the ban came in.
And last year more research found that the rate of hospitalizations for children with asthmatic symptoms had dropped by more than 18 per cent year-on-year since the ban, the assumption being smoker parents are also cutting down at home.

Jill Pell, professor of public health at Glasgow University, who was involved in the research, said: "We have seen improvements in many aspects of health, including reductions in heart disease and respiratory disease. The legislation has not only reduced exposure to tobacco smoke in public places, such as pubs, but has also resulted in an increase in voluntary restrictions in people's homes. "As a result exposure has fallen among children too young to frequent pubs.

"Hospital admissions for asthma in children have already fallen and further benefits will be realised as children grow older and fewer develop heart disease and cancer than would otherwise have done so."

Source: The Scotsman, 22 March 2011

UK SCOTLAND: Scottish kinds kicking unhealthy habits

Most youngsters are still failing to include enough fruit and vegetables in their diet
Drinking, drug use and smoking among schoolchildren have fallen to the lowest level in two decades, it has been revealed.

Professor Candace Currie, director of the child and adolescent research unit at Edinburgh University, said rates of drinking and smoking had been declining.

"Some people have suggested the ban on smoking in public places supported this decline, as there are fewer people visibly smoking.

"It is likely to be a downward trend resulting from health education messages in school during the last decade."

The survey of nearly 7,000 children found the rate of daily smoking among 15-year-olds has fallen from 16 per cent in 2002 to 11 per cent last year.

Source Scottish Daily and Sunday Express (UK), 22 March 2011

News Release: Healthcare professionals urge better education for doctors to help smokers quit

Over 78 million smokers in Europe want to quit, but half (50%) of those
surveyed who have tried to quit rate smoking cessation services as
inadequate, poor or unacceptable, according to new research released on 17 March.

Amongst healthcare professionals (HCPs) surveyed, 87% believe this support
for smokers should be provided by primary care physicians. However, over half
of physicians (55%) believe primary care HCPs lack the educational support to
deliver these services effectively.

A copy of the report can be downloaded at:

UKRAINE: Want to save lives? Hike cigarette taxes

When cigarette taxes are raised, smoking declines while tax revenues increases - a win-win situation.

In March 2009, parliament discussed proposals to increase tobacco excise tax from Hr 1 to Hr 2 per pack of 20 cigarettes.

Representatives of transnational tobacco companies were very critical about the proposals and alleged that Ukrainians would not smoke less, but would just switch to cheaper smuggled cigarettes while government revenues would decline.

Since that time, the excise tax rate was increased even more and, at present, the average excise tax is more than Hr 3 per pack. The figures show what eventually has happened.

In 2007, when the tax rate was just Hr 0.5 per pack, the government collected Hr 2.5 billion from excise tobacco taxes. Then the rate was raised several times and the revenues increased to Hr 3.5 billion in 2008, to Hr 9 billion in 2009, and to Hr 13 billion in 2010, more than five-fold in three years.

In neighboring Russia, tax rates were also raised in those years, but not so fast as in Ukraine, and the revenues also increased, but only twice: from 50 billion rubles in 2007 to 108 billion rubles in 2010.

Tobacco consumption trends are even more indicative. In the mid-2000s, daily smoking prevalence in Russia and Ukraine was very similar – about 35 percent. In 2009, the Global Adult Tobacco Survey was conducted in both countries and daily smoking prevalence was 33.8 percent in Russia and 25.5 percent in Ukraine.

Ukrainians smoke less, a main reason why cigarette production in Ukraine decreased from 129 billion in 2007 to 102 billion in 2010.

It is worth mentioning that, in 2001, only 70 billion cigarettes were produced in Ukraine and the sharp production increase was mainly pushed by the huge smuggling of Ukrainian cigarettes to the neighboring countries where cigarette prices were higher.

British member of parliament Charles Tannock stated that, out of 80 billion cigarettes illegally smuggled into the European Union in 2008, 30 billion came from Ukraine. The World Customs Organization issued a report on customs and tobacco with data on large (more than 100,000 cigarettes each) seizures.

The country of cigarette departure was identified for 2,688 such seizures, and in 1,020 cases it was Ukraine. However, in 2008, there were 573 seizures of Ukrainian cigarettes and only 447 in 2009, while seizures of Russian cigarettes increased from 48 to 84.

So while Ukraine keeps the position as a world leader in cigarette smuggling, smuggling became less profitable after the tobacco tax increases and it is on the decline. This is the second reason why cigarette production in Ukraine decreased in recent years. The tobacco industry tries to create the impression that cigarette smuggling into Ukraine is more important than smuggling out of Ukraine. Indeed, currently prices of cheap cigarette brands are higher in Ukraine than in Moldova and Russia (while Marlboro is still more expensive in Moscow compared to Kyiv).

To measure consumption of smuggled cigarettes in Ukraine during the Global Adult Tobacco Survey, smokers were asked to show the pack.

Only 1.5 percent of them smoked Moldavian or Russian cigarettes. It means that, in 2009, about 1 billion smuggled cigarettes were consumed in Ukraine, while more than 30 billion cigarettes were produced in Ukraine just to be smuggled out of it.

The recent tobacco taxation policy was really a success in Ukraine. Tax rates increased by six times and this caused a five-fold increase in revenues. Cigarette production declined by 21 percent due to the decrease of both tobacco consumption and smuggling out of the country.

However, currently the average price of Ukrainian cigarettes is just Hr 8 per pack, while in Poland it is 9 zlotys – three times higher.

In 2011, Russia increased the tobacco tax rate much higher than Ukraine. Since April 2011, cigarette tax rates in Moldova will be raised by 50 percent. These are all reasons that justify continuing with a successful policy and increasing tobacco taxes in Ukraine again.

Konstantin Krasovsky is head of the Tobacco Control Unit at the Ukrainian Institute of Strategic Research for the Ministry of Health in Ukraine.

Source: Kyivpost, 17 March 2011

SURVEY: Acceptability of testing children for tobacco-smoke exposure: a national parent survey

Results of 2070 eligible respondents contacted, 1803 (87.1%) completed the surveys. Among 477 parents in the sample, 60.1% thought that children should be tested for tobacco-smoke exposure at their child's doctor visit. Among the parental smokers sampled, 62.0% thought that children should be tested for tobacco-smoke exposure at the child's doctor visit. In bivariate analysis, lower parental education level, allowing smoking in the home, nonwhite race, and female gender were each associated (P < .05) with wanting the child tested for tobacco-smoke exposure.

Conclusions: The majority of nonsmoking and smoking parents want their children tested for tobacco-smoke exposure during the child's health care visit.

Published online March 21, 2011 PEDIATRICS (doi:10.1542/peds.2010-2462)

STUDY: Kids born to smoking mums 'more likely to become smokers'

Children of women who smoked during pregnancy are more likely to become smokers, according to a new study.

The research found that prenatal exposure to nicotine increased the vulnerability to nicotine self-administration in adolescent mice.

The results support the hypothesis that adolescents with prenatal nicotine exposure are more likely to start smoking earlier than their peers and that they are also more susceptible to the addictive effects of nicotine, especially as a result of stress and peer pressure.

The study performed with mice is part of a project researching the behavioural and molecular mechanisms of nicotine addiction. The research project was carried out under the Academy of Finland's Research Programme on Substance Abuse and Addictions.

The key observation made by the Finnish and Russian researchers in the project was that adding nicotine to the drinking water of pregnant mice led to differences between the control and nicotine-exposed offspring in terms of nicotine self-administration.

Source: ANI, 22 March 2011

RESEARCH: UK rise in age-related macular degeneration predicted

UK experts are predicting a steep rise in the rate of an eye condition that is already a leading cause of blindness.

Age-related macular degeneration (AMD) affects more than 600,000 Britons.

But an ageing population means this figure could rise by a quarter to nearly 756,000 by 2020, according to recent research in the British Journal of Ophthalmology.

Yet half of UK adults have never heard of AMD, a poll by the College of Optometrists suggests.

The survey of over 4,000 also found many people were unaware that a poor diet and smoking increases the risk of AMD.

AMD affects a tiny part of the retina at the back of the eye that controls central vision.

BBC News, 16 March 2011

REPORT: Increasing drug resistance threatens gains of world TB programs; smoking and diabetes are also fueling the global TB epidemic

Even modern drugs for rheumatoid arthritis trigger TB
As world TB day approaches on 24 March, The Lancet publishes a Seminar Online First that reports that, with increasing rates of drug-resistant TB, the progress being made for decades by world TB programmes is under threat. It also discusses the how other risk factors, such as smoking and diabetes, are increasingly important in fuelling the global burden of TB. The Seminar is by Professor Alimuddin Zumla, University College London Medical School, UK, and Dr Stephen Lawn, University of Cape Town, South Africa.

Source: Eurekalert, 17 March 2011

The Lancet, Early Online Publication, 18 March 2011

STUDY: Menthol may pose lower lung-cancer risk, Vanderbilt study finds

Menthol cigarettes may pose a lower risk for lung cancer than unflavored versions, according to researchers at Vanderbilt University.

A seven-year study of almost 86,000 adults in 12 southern states found that menthol smokers also use fewer cigarettes a day than non-menthol smokers, said a report published online today in the Journal of the National Cancer Institute.

The researchers urged the Food and Drug Administration to include their findings in its analysis as the agency weighs whether to restrict U.S. menthol sales. A yearlong review by an FDA advisory panel concluded on March 18 that removing menthol cigarettes from the U.S. market would benefit public health. The advisers’ non-binding report must be submitted to the agency today. The FDA has no deadline for deciding whether to issue menthol rules.

An “undue emphasis on reduction of menthol relative to other cigarettes may distract from the ultimate health- prevention message that smoking of any cigarettes is injurious to health,” the researchers said in the report

Source: Bloomberg News, 23 March 2011

Workshop announcement and invitation: Tobacco and heart health: taking action – Geneva, 13 April 2011

Workshop concept and content:

A full-day pre-Congress workshop on tobacco and heart health, the workshop highlights the impact of tobacco on heart health. Aiming to enhance participants’ capacity to address the threat of tobacco through both clinical practice and shaping public policy, the workshop will include plenary discussions and small workshops on topics including secondhand smoke and CVD risk, the role of different health professionals in cessation intervention, smoke-free hospitals and advocacy for tobacco control. Speakers will include cardiologists, other health professionals and health advocates from around Europe. Held prior to the EuroPrevent 2011 conference (at the conference venue), the workshop will complement and highlight conference content on tobacco. The workshop is organized jointly by the World Heart Federation, Global Smokefree Partnership and National Stop-Tobacco Programme, Switzerland.

Language: English

Target audience: EuroPrevent 2011 participants, local health professionals and students.

Time: 9:00-17:30, 13 April 2011 (day before EuroPrevent begins)

Location: Level 3, Rooms 5 and 6

Centre International des Conférences de Genève (CICG)

17 rue de Varembé, Geneva

Cost : Workshop free; lunch at conference center not included

Registration: Preregistration required by 12 April.

All interested persons are welcome to attend this workshop. Please note that the number of places in limited and registrations will be treated on a ‘first come first serve’ basis.

Contact: Kelly Worden Este endereço de e-mail está protegido de spam bots, pelo que necessita do Javascript activado para o visualizar

More information: Este endereço de e-mail está protegido de spam bots, pelo que necessita do Javascript activado para o visualizar +41 22 807 0333

Also see:

STUDY: Smoking widespread among institutionalized schizophrenics

Findings Highlight the Need for In-House Smoking Cessation Programs
The overwhelming majority of institutionalized schizophrenic patients smoke, supporting the need for in-house smoking cessation programs, new study suggests.

Presented here at EPA 2011: 19th European Congress of Psychiatry, the study showed that 96 of 100 institutionalized patients with schizophrenia smoked and slightly more than 20% of these individuals smoked more than 30 cigarettes a day.

"Smoking cessation programs need to be implemented in order to help institutionalized schizophrenics kick the habit," Shashi K. Agarwal, MD, an internist in private practice in East Orange, New Jersey, told Medscape Medical News.

"Smoking is frequently ignored and even encouraged by the institution staff who maintain that smoking keeps the residents occupied and thereby less disruptive.

Dr. Agarwal and coauthor Neil K. Agarwal, a biomedical engineering student at Rutgers University in Piscataway, New Jersey, interviewed 100 consecutive schizophrenic patients who resided in a community-based boarding home about their smoking history.

Overall, 96 of 100 patients reported that they were current smokers. Thirty-two active smokers (33%) said they smoked up to 10 cigarettes per day, 42 (44%) said they smoked up to 20 cigarettes per day, whereas 22 (23%) said they smoked 30 or more cigarettes per day.

Dr. Agarwal called on psychiatrists to actively encourage institutionalized schizophrenics to curb their smoking.

"Studies suggest that reduction or even cessation of smoking in schizophrenia patients can be achieved in noninstitutionalized schizophrenics, and we believe that positive results can be achieved in the institutionalized population as well," he said.

Author: EPA 2011: 19th European Congress of Psychiatry
Source; Medscape, 16 March 2011

Tobacco Control Scale 2010 in Europe

23 March 2011

This report by Luk Joossens and Martin Raw describes the results of a survey of tobacco control activity in 31 European countries in 2010, using the Tobacco Control Scale (TCS).

The report presents the results of a survey of tobacco control activity in 31 European countries in 2010 using the Tobacco Control Scale. Countries were judged according to a scale of measures considered to be essential components of a comprehensive tobacco control programme. The following six measures were described by the World Bank, which should be prioritised in a comprehensive tobacco control programme:

  • price increases through higher taxes on cigarettes and other tobacco products;
  • bans/restrictions on smoking in public and work places;
  • better consumer information, including public information campaigns, media coverage, and publicising research findings;
  • comprehensive bans on the advertising and promotion of all tobacco products, logos and brand names;
  • large, direct health warning labels on cigarette boxes and other tobacco products;
  • treatment to help dependent smokers stop, including increased access to medications.

The Tobacco Control Scale 2010 was launched at a press conference in The Hague, Netherlands, on 23 March 2011 and is available for download below.

UKRAINE: Kyiv to ban kiosk sales of alcohol, tobacco starting April 1

Despite resistance from affected businesses, Kyiv on April 1 is banning alcohol and tobacco sales from small street kiosks. While many praise the initiative as helpful in improving public health, businesses appear set to challenge the legality of the move.

The decision, adopted by the Kyiv city council on Dec. 23, specifically bans alcohol and tobacco sales in street kiosks less than 40 square meters - covering most of more than 10,000 such small business establishments operating in the city. The measure also forbids the sale of alcohol (except beer in plastic bottles) and tobacco during mass gatherings.

However, entrepreneurs who run kiosks call the decision unlawful and protested outside the Presidential Administration on March 11, demanding that Viktor Yanukovych ask the prosecutor to review the legality of the decision.

Source: Kyiv Post, 16 March 2011

STUDY: Smoke-Free environments linked to less breast cancer

Women in smoke-free homes and workplaces are less likely to develop or die from breast cancer, new research shows.

U.S. researchers compared rates of non-smoking homes and workplaces with state-specific rates of breast cancer incidence and death. States with higher numbers of smoke-free homes and workplaces had significantly fewer breast cancer deaths, particularly among younger premenopausal women.

Researchers estimate that about 20 percent of the change in breast-cancer death rates is due to changes in smoke-free home and workplace policies.

The study by researchers in the department of health behavior at Roswell Park Cancer Institute in Buffalo, N.Y., was released online March 12 in advance of publication in an upcoming print issue of the journal Tobacco Control.

Source: HealthDay News, 18 March 2011

Call for support: Russia violates the FCTC: Industry representative promoted to Duma

We hereby relay an important call for support to all parties to voice your concerns with respect to the negative developments of tobacco control in Russia, and to the new violation of the FCTC, on behalf of Dr Andrey Demin, co-ordinator of the Russian Coalition for a Tobacco-free Russia.

Help Russia prevent penetration of the tobacco industry into the legislative power, in violation of the FCTC!

Read the overview at:

and please contact Andrey Demin to co-ordinate your actions at : Este endereço de e-mail está protegido de spam bots, pelo que necessita do Javascript activado para o visualizar

With many thanks for your support.

ENSP Secretariat

STUDY: For smokers, internet both promotes and undermines smoking cessation

A new study led by researchers at the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health shows both the intended and unintended consequences of cigarette taxes. According to an analysis of internet search data, the 2009 U.S. federal cigarette excise tax increase successfully drove many smokers online to find ways to quit smoking, but more often smokers responded by shopping online for tax-free or cheap cigarettes in an apparent effort to evade the tax hike. The study is the first evaluation of smokers’ responses to the federal cigarette excise tax, which increased from $0.39 to $1.01 per pack under the State Children's Health Insurance Program (SCHIP) reforms. The findings are published in the March 16 edition of PLoS One.

“Smokers can use the web to continue or kick their habit but, until now, we haven’t been able to observe these behaviors in real-time,” said John Ayers, lead author of the study and doctoral candidate at the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health. “This study shows how the internet is a double-edged sword both promoting and undermining smoking, which remains the leading cause of premature death in the U.S. Online vendors sell reduced or tax-free cigarettes using policy loopholes or by illegally evading the taxes all together, while health advocates use the web to promote cessation.”

Source:John Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health, 17 March 2011