Friday, November 30, 2012

One Small Victory

Thanks to Audrey Silk for posting this on Facebook via NYC CLASH-

SPRINGFIELD — Lawmakers Wednesday declined to override Gov. Pat Quinn’s veto of a plan that would allow Cancer Treatment Centers of America to discriminate against hiring smokers.

The plan by state Sen. Dan Duffy, a Lake Barrington Republican, was approved by lawmakers earlier in the year. 

We smokers can count this as one small victory against the constant onslaught of anti-smoker venom and vitriol that is spewed at us on a daily basis. There appears to exist at least a few lawmakers with a conscience in my home state of Illinois.

In reading this article another thought comes to mind: This is not only a victory for us smokers, this is also a victory for every cancer patient that will ever (unfortunately) have to be at the mercy of this horrible disease, for at the very least they will be (hopefully) receiving the best treatment from the most accomplished doctors, some of whom may smoke or use tobacco on occasion. I know that if I, or any of my loved ones should ever need treatment for ANY disease, I'd want those with the highest level of expertise; I couldn't care less if they smoke or not.

If you or any of your loved ones should ever need medical treatment, which would you prefer in such an unfortunate situation? An incompetent doctor that doesn't smoke or the doctor with the highest accolades in his/her field of study?

Lawmakers: Cancer center can’t discriminate against smokers in hiring -

Friday, November 16, 2012

Imprisoning tobacco users in the U.S. on the horizon?

I accidentally stumbled upon this tobacco law blog today and was quite surprised to hear about a bill being proposed in the state of Massachusetts by Rep. George Peterson Jr. (R-MA 9th Worcester District):

The Massachusetts legislature is considering a bill (House Bill 1512) that would ban all tobacco products in the state.  Specifically, the bill would ban the distribution, possession or use of “any tobacco in any of its forms.”  Violations are punishable by fines, and ultimately, imprisonment

Now how is it that this story is seemingly being ignored by the mainstream media? Hello 60 Minutes, are you out there?

But, but.....: "All that we are really desire is the proliferation of non-smoking sections."

The slippery slope has done gone and slided into the dark halls of madness.

Oh, but rest assured, the government still needs our money:

Given the state’s reliance on tobacco tax revenues, the bill is not expected to progress.

"Not expected to progress." ..for now....

Massachusetts Bill Would Ban Tobacco Products — Troutman Sanders Tobacco Team

Nicotine is a controlled substance?

Names are being gathered on an on-line petition calling for the Obama administration to inform the public that nicotine is a dangerous drug with no medical value, and to re-classify it as a controlled substance.

The petition, created on November 11 and aiming for 25,000 signatures, had 13 signatures by November 16.

Who are the 13 signatories I wonder?

Some of the reasons given are quite preposterous, so much so that the whole idea is somewhat funny:

1. ‘Nicotine is a powerfully addicting drug with no medical or mental health benefit.

Um, about a billion and a half people would take issue with this statement.

Here's a good one:

3. ‘Nicotine causes irreversible brain damage in the majority of users.

Surely this statement was meant to be satirical?

5. ‘The CDC advises that the vast majority of nicotine addicts want to stop using nicotine, and cannot.

Clearly not true, for if this were the case then there wouldn't be so many people who continue to enjoy tobacco and e-cigarettes. People want to "quit" the carcinogens (nicotine is about as carcinogenic as a cup of coffee), not the pleasure that is gained from the act of smoking .  People smoke because the enjoy it, it's that simple. How common is it for people want to give up anything that they enjoy?

6. ‘There is no cure for nicotine addiction, and no treatment with a reasonable combination of safety and effectiveness.


There is no cure for the want of joy and pleasure in this life and that bothers those of us who are perpetually miserable.  Everyone must be miserable like us.

Proposed petition aims to have nicotine re-classified as controlled substance : Tobacco Reporter

Friday, November 9, 2012

The future is here

This latest review on MicroRNAs points out how they may serve as early detectors of disease; this in turn suggests that when used as biomarkers, MicroNRAs may help eradicate many forms of cancer via early (and non-invasive) detection, and not just in smokers. It's a good thing that we have tobacco scientists. While everyone else seems to be pushing evermore towards the failed ideas of prohibition and scientific McCarthyism, there appear to be some brilliant minds that have chosen to push ahead into the future instead:

A research review by scientists at British American Tobacco suggests that the regulatory functions and inherent stability of microRNAs make them suitable biomarker candidates for early detection of the molecular and genetic changes associated with smoking-related diseases (Biomarkers Med. (2012) 6(5), 671–684).

‘MicroRNAs (miRNAs) are non-coding RNA molecules that play key roles in regulating gene expression,’ according to a BAT press note issued yesterday. ‘They are involved in a wide range of biological processes such as cell cycle control, apoptosis and several developmental and physiological processes.

This in particular caught my attention:

‘Research shows that cigarette smoke impairs the regulatory function of a variety of miRNAs in all stages of lung cancer formation, but that resulting changes in miRNA expression only become irreversible after exposure to high doses of smoke for some time.’

I take this to mean that if caught early enough, the onset of lung cancer can be REVERSED!

I even harbor the radical notion that someday (hopefully sooner, rather than later) we  smokers will have the option of choosing between several reduced risk (with risk reductions upwards of 70-90%) cigarettes. Early detection, coupled with the proliferation and marketing of reduced risk products may well serve to save millions of lives in the near future.

Of course, there will be the usual detractors who have been shouting from the mountain tops for the last 40+ years about how total abstinence provides the only one way ticket to health. Those same people also predicted a smoke-free world by the year 2000.

It's time to start behaving like we're in the 21st century, one that is rooted in real solutions for a real world devoid of unicorns and fairies.  There will be no room for plain packaging in such a scenario, for we smokers will need to become more informed (rather than less) if we are to make better choices for our health.

BAT identifies promising biomarkers of smoking-related disease and prognosis : Tobacco Reporter