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Analysis and Comment (44)

A World Health Organisation report says e-cigarettes should be regulated, but they are banned in Australia. A World Health Organisation report says e-cigarettes should be regulated, but they are banned in Australia. Lucas Hayas/Flickr

Viewpoints: should Australia lift its ban on e-cigarettes?

The World Health Organisation has just released a report on electronic nicotine delivery systems that calls for their global regulation in the interests of public health. The most well-known such devices…
It might stop young people seeing smoking on the big screen but it won’t stop them downloading and sharing these movies. It might stop young people seeing smoking on the big screen but it won’t stop them downloading and sharing these movies. Leo Hidalgo/Flickr

Why smoking shouldn’t give movies an automatic R rating

In an era when cinema attendance is in continual decline, the United States Surgeon General’s proposal that all movies depicting smoking should be rated R is a particular form of silliness. The Surgeon…
Discrimination affects your mind and body, not just your spirit. Discrimination affects your mind and body, not just your spirit. Larry W Smith/EPA

The world watches Ferguson, but racial discrimination is also a health issue across the US

The killing of Michael Brown, an unarmed black teenager by a police officer in Ferguson, Missouri, and the city’s handling of the case and subsequent protests has once again focused minds on race discrimination…
About 42% of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander (TSI) people are daily smokers, compared to 16% in the non-Indigenous population. About 42% of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander (TSI) people are daily smokers, compared to 16% in the non-Indigenous population. Dave Hunt/AAP

Indigenous smoking program cuts risk widening the gap

Tobacco use is the leading cause of preventable disease and early death among Indigenous Australians, with smoking responsible for about one in every five deaths. Among Indigenous Australians, tobacco…
Rates of co-occurring substance use and mental disorders are particularly high among marginalised groups such as homeless people. Rates of co-occurring substance use and mental disorders are particularly high among marginalised groups such as homeless people. glowcake Berlin/Flickr

The perfect storm: alcohol, drugs, and depression

Robin Williams’ death earlier this week has unleashed an outpouring of grief. It’s undeniable that Williams brought much joy and laughter to the world, but he also talked openly about his depression and…
Just 12.8% of Australians over the age of 14 are now smoking on a daily basis. Just 12.8% of Australians over the age of 14 are now smoking on a daily basis. Flickr: noahvoelker

Plain packs help deter young smokers as uptake drops to new low

Evidence is mounting that plain cigarette packaging is helping prevent young people from becoming addicted, life-long customers of big tobacco. From January 2012, all tobacco products have been sold in…
Not with children. Not with children. Smoking by Shutterstock

Smoking in cars with children isn’t a private matter

Ask a parent to lock a child in an enclosed smoke-filled space, exposing them to arsenic, tar and formaldehyde, and they’ll inevitably say “no”. Yet one in ten parents continues to do just that. For libertarians…
The toxic effects of cigarette smoke reach far into the lungs. The toxic effects of cigarette smoke reach far into the lungs. Flickr/SOCIALisBETTER

Explainer: what is chronic obstructive pulmonary disease?

Almost everyone will know someone with chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD): an incurable disease of the lungs that makes breathing difficult. Never heard of it? Well, chances are you’ve heard…
It’s highly likely many vapers who continue to smoke do so because they’ve convinced themselves that cutting down on cigarettes has significantly reduced their risk. It’s highly likely many vapers who continue to smoke do so because they’ve convinced themselves that cutting down on cigarettes has significantly reduced their risk. A. Currell/Flickr

Electronic cigarettes: hope from the hype may harm your health

A UK study published online in the journal Addiction has generated headlines proclaiming electronic cigarettes as an established new way to reduce the harms of smoking or quit altogether. But such claims…
Roll up! Roll up! Cigarette marketeers playing the long game. Roll up! Roll up! Cigarette marketeers playing the long game. Kelly Rowland

Britain’s efforts to reduce smoking are becoming a cash cow for big tobacco

It all began so well. A decade ago a heartfelt concern about the addictiveness of nicotine, and the enormous difficulties this presented for would-be quitters, led to an unprecedented investment in intensive…
Low birth weight is associated with smoking. Low birth weight is associated with smoking. Ariel Schalit/AP

An incontrovertible truth: smoking harms foetuses

Tobacco smoke contains thousands of compounds, many of them toxic and capable of causing injury throughout the body. Because of this high toxicity of tobacco smoke, many diseases have long been causally…
Sorry mate, you got a charger? Sorry mate, you got a charger? Tim Ireland/PA

E-cigs let Big Tobacco get creative with advertising

The world’s biggest tobacco companies are spending millions of dollars advertising e-cigarettes on UK television, as they seek to cash in on the growing trend. Analysts at US investment bank Canaccord…
Smoking with children in the car could get the red light. Smoking with children in the car could get the red light. Len Matthews

Smoking ban in cars with children difficult to enforce

More than 500 health care professionals have signed an open letter to MPs urging their support for a ban on smoking in vehicles with children in. The ban forms part of the Children and Families Bill, which…
The clock is ticking for Coles and Woolworths to announce they’ll stop selling cigarettes. The clock is ticking for Coles and Woolworths to announce they’ll stop selling cigarettes. Image from shutterstock.com

US chain CVS stops tobacco sales: over to you, Coles and Woolworths

The announcement by CVS, one of the largest drug store chains in the United States, that it will cease selling tobacco by October this year will have Coles' and Woolworths' public relations in a spin…
Pop up e-cig bar. Pop up e-cig bar. Lefteris Pitarakis/AP

Explainer: what do we know about e-cigarettes?

E-cigarettes are increasingly popular in a number of countries including the UK, while in others such as Norway and Brazil they are banned altogether. So amid all these differences in policy, what do we…
Statistics on tobacco deaths have become banal for many. Statistics on tobacco deaths have become banal for many. Image from shutterstock.com

Beyond statistics: the hidden face of smoking-related cancer

The Russian dictator Joseph Stalin infamously said that a single death is a tragedy, a million deaths a statistic. And in tobacco control, there are statistics to die for. Tobacco caused about 100 million…
Just over 15% of Australians smoke daily and a further 1.5% smoke each week. Just over 15% of Australians smoke daily and a further 1.5% smoke each week. Flickr/benessere

Health Check: how harmful is social smoking?

If you only light up when you’re drinking or out with friends, you probably don’t identify as a smoker or consider the health impact of the occasional fag. Social smokers don’t usually smoke every day…
Not so appetising when you think about it. Not so appetising when you think about it. GS+

There’s no such thing as a free lunch from tobacco companies

Almost all companies contribute money to charity and many would argue that corporate donations make a positive difference in the world. But this hopeful take on corporate philanthropy sits uneasily with…
Tobacco, like other substances, are likely to become part of the prison contraband trade. Tobacco, like other substances, are likely to become part of the prison contraband trade. Image from shutterstock.com

Total smoking bans aren’t the answer to better prisoner health

From May next year, Queensland prisoners will no longer be able to smoke cigarettes. Smoking in cells was prohibited in Queensland facilities in 2008, but as of next year the prohibition will extend to…
‘Hug a hoodie’ as David Cameron would say. ‘Hug a hoodie’ as David Cameron would say. ssoosay

Hard Evidence: has life got worse for young people?

Smoking, drinking and hanging around street corners is a common characterisation of a bored, unhealthy, unemployed youth. Life is getting worse for young people, we’re often led to believe, but what do…
Tobacco kills at least half of users - lobbyists are smaller fry. Tobacco kills at least half of users - lobbyists are smaller fry. Brittany Perry

I have more faith in people than tobacco lobbyists

I recently interviewed Nicola Roxon, the former minister responsible for cleaning up Australia’s public health policy through legislation on standardised tobacco packaging. It shed some light on how public…
Not just a party trick. Not just a party trick. roderickrussell

Hypnosis gives insight into psychiatric disorders

Despite long standing associations with mysticism and stage hypnotism, hypnosis has also been used for medical and scientific purposes. For well over a century, hypnosis has been used to treat a wide range…
If you treat smoking as a purely personal choice you’re not giving enough weight to the impact of dying young. If you treat smoking as a purely personal choice you’re not giving enough weight to the impact of dying young. stolenscript/Flickr

Fuming with outrage: Nazis, nannies and smoking

A few years ago I saw a poster stuck to the wall of a train station in Copenhagen. The poster was a protest paid for by a prominent Danish musician against new regulations against smoking in public. At…
Chuffing away while drinking heavily slows your brain down. Chuffing away while drinking heavily slows your brain down. PA/Jonathan Brady

Heavy drinking and smoking in middle age accelerates cognitive decline

The combination of both heavy drinking and smoking in midlife can accelerate cognitive decline. Problems with cognitive function affects mental abilities such as thinking, knowing, judging and remembering…
We don’t know if anti-smoking campaigns have worked, or if they’re causing more harm than good. We don’t know if anti-smoking campaigns have worked, or if they’re causing more harm than good. Rusty Stewart

Anti-smoking campaigns failing Indigenous youth

How can anti-smoking campaigns be targeted more effectively at Australia’s Indigenous youth? It’s a good question, and one that, as yet, has proven difficult to answer. Almost half of all Aboriginal and…
Smokers find it difficult to quit because the environment is full of signals associated with smoking cigarettes. Smokers find it difficult to quit because the environment is full of signals associated with smoking cigarettes. Sarah Horrigan

Breaking bad habits: classical conditioning and smoking

Addictions are difficult to break as we usually surround ourselves with people, paraphernalia or situations that trigger the behaviour that led to the addiction in the first place. But psychological conditioning…
Big Tobacco’s planners eye their world maps and salivate over large, poorly educated populations. Big Tobacco’s planners eye their world maps and salivate over large, poorly educated populations. Image from shutterstock.com

Big Tobacco losing ground on plain packs but homing in on world’s poor

Plain packing has been a reality for Big Tobacco in Australia for three months now; New Zealand announced last week it will follow suit; and at least four other nations, including India, are also considering…
New concerns have been raised over the effectiveness of nicotine replacement therapy. New concerns have been raised over the effectiveness of nicotine replacement therapy. Image from shutterstock.com

Nicotine replacement therapy isn’t all it’s cracked up to be

A study published in the latest edition of the journal Tobacco Control confirms what we’ve long suspected about nicotine replacement therapy (NRT): smokers don’t need to resort to these pharmaceuticals…
Chrissie Swan and her management have attracted massive media attention in the aftermath of photos of her smoking being published. Chrissie Swan and her management have attracted massive media attention in the aftermath of photos of her smoking being published. AAP/Tracey Nearmy

Tears, shame, smoking and PR

The past week has seen a torrent of news coverage about Chrissie Swan, who “confessed” to smoking while pregnant with her third child. The confession was followed by myriad commentators and op-eds criticising…
Why do we feel the need to judge Swan for having a few sneaky cigs while pregnant? Why do we feel the need to judge Swan for having a few sneaky cigs while pregnant? AAP/Tracey Nearmy

Lay off Chrissie Swan for smoking while pregnant

Broadcaster and commentator Chrissie Swan certainly opened her own can of worms yesterday with her admission she has been smoking while pregnant with her third child. Swan’s “confession” came to light…
There’s little evidence to support a ban based on the health harms of cigarette smoke in wide, open spaces. There’s little evidence to support a ban based on the health harms of cigarette smoke in wide, open spaces. AAP/April Fonti

Blanket bans on outdoor smoking no panacea for tobacco control

Support for smoke-free laws is near universal in Australia. In the late 1980s and 90s, these laws were primarily advocated and adopted on the premise that employees shouldn’t be continuously exposed to…
No-smoking signs may actually prompt smokers to smoke. No-smoking signs may actually prompt smokers to smoke. Mykl Roventine/Flickr

Anti-smoking signs may cause people to reach for cigarettes

In 1863, Fyodor Dostoevsky wrote, “Try to pose for yourself this task: not to think of a polar bear – and you will see that the cursed thing will come to mind every minute.” According to a recent experiment…
Tobacco advertising laws must be adapted to keep up with new media. Tobacco advertising laws must be adapted to keep up with new media. jfin.ch

No more cigarette advertising? Never mind, there’s an app for that

“Every time a door closes a window opens.” This clichéd greeting card sentiment must be the catch-cry of tobacco marketers globally. Every since tobacco advertising was first forced off our television…
New Zealand wants to largely be tobacco free by 2025; Finland has set 2040 as its target date. New Zealand wants to largely be tobacco free by 2025; Finland has set 2040 as its target date. Iago A R

Should we set a date for a tobacco-free Australia?

It’s been 100 years since the first medical textbook identified a link between smoking tobacco and lung cancer. So how strange is it that in 2012 we can walk into Coles and Woolworths and buy cigarettes…
Smoking is an independent risk factor for breast cancer. Smoking is an independent risk factor for breast cancer. Tonino Donato/flickr

Breast cancer and smoking: it’s always a good time to stop

The number of people within our community who have survived cancer is increasing. But a recent Victorian study has shown that not all survivors are embracing good health. In the last 20 years, the incidence…
The risk of cancer from air pollution is a fraction of the hazard posed by smoking. The risk of cancer from air pollution is a fraction of the hazard posed by smoking. EPA/Alex Hofford

Unproven cancer risks diverting focus from real cause: lifestyle

The fixation on potentially cancer-causing chemicals in the air, food and consumer products is diverting attention from the real risks, according to a review of global evidence by an Australian cancer…
New South Wales' smoke-free outdoors legislation will be one of the most comprehensive in Australia. New South Wales' smoke-free outdoors legislation will be one of the most comprehensive in Australia. Jess J/Flickr

Smoke-free outdoor laws herald better community health

The NSW government will introduce a smoke-free outdoors law this year, making it the sixth state or territory to have some variation of this kind of legislation. The announcement shows that community health…
Patches, gums and sprays don’t increase your chances of quitting. Patches, gums and sprays don’t increase your chances of quitting. Alexa Graham

Chew on this, smokers: nicotine replacement therapies rarely work

Pharmaceutical companies have aggressively promoted nicotine replacement patches, chewing gums, inhalers and nasal sprays as effective tools to improve smokers' chances of quitting for more than 20 years…
It appears as though Philip Morris Asia only acquired the Australian companies in order to be able to launch this claim under the Hong Kong BIT. It appears as though Philip Morris Asia only acquired the Australian companies in order to be able to launch this claim under the Hong Kong BIT. AAP

Big Tobacco vs Australia: Philip Morris scores an own goal

You may have missed it, but the stoush between Big Tobacco and the Australian government over the plain packaging legislation took an odd turn late last year. The government’s response to Philip Morris…
You can use all kinds of iPhone apps to track and improve your health. You can use all kinds of iPhone apps to track and improve your health. chunghow33

Reviewing the top medical iPhone apps … what’s the diagnosis?

Want to quit smoking, lose weight, manage your diabetes or get a good night’s sleep? No worries. There’s an app for all of that. But it’s not always clear which medical apps are based on solid evidence…
The legacy of the US Master Settlement Agreement holds significant lessons for policy makers in Australia. The legacy of the US Master Settlement Agreement holds significant lessons for policy makers in Australia. Razvan Caliman

Making Big Tobacco pay smokers' health bills: lessons from the United States

Reports that Nicola Roxon plans to encourage state governments to consider legal action to recover around A$31 billion in smoking-related health-care costs from the tobacco industry highlight the incoming…
The reality of smoking cessation is that between two-thirds and three-quarters of former smokers quit without using any external aids. The reality of smoking cessation is that between two-thirds and three-quarters of former smokers quit without using any external aids. weegeebored/Flickr

Smokers don’t need a broken crutch to quit

Quitting smoking is clearly beneficial but a growing push by the pharmaceutical industry to encourage drugs for the purpose should be strongly resisted. Not only do most smokers successfully quit by other…
Over time, smokers gain as much weight as the rest of the population. Over time, smokers gain as much weight as the rest of the population. Flickr/Difei Li

Monday’s medical myth: smoking helps control your weight

One of the few positives put forward by smokers to justify their habit is that it helps keep their weight in check. And while smoking may be harmful to their health, so is obesity. So how does this claim…

Research and News (10)

Research Briefs (22)

Trends in house fire fatalities

More than 400 people in Australia’s eastern states have died due to house fires in the last five years. Research lead by…

Tobacco production increases by 300% in India

A report has found that tobacco production has increased by more than 300% in India. It was also found that up to 35% of…

Eating veggies may help smokers quit

In a recent study, smokers who consumed the most fruits and vegetables were three times more likely to be tobacco-free for…

Brain changes make quitters moody

Findings from a brain imaging study may provide clues for why some individuals with heavy cigarette-smoking habits experience…