Tobacco Info

From Tobacco Info No. 1 - June 2010
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Research update by the Ontario Tobacco Research Unit

The Ontario Tobacco Research Unit (OTRU) is an Ontario-based research network that is recognized as a Canadian leader in tobacco control research, monitoring and evaluation, teaching and training and as a respected source of science-based information on tobacco control. In each issue of Tobacco Info, OTRU will write a review of the latest groundbreaking tobacco studies around the world.

Smoking and immigrants

Jones and colleagues in the International Journal of Public Health examined differences and similarities in tobacco use between Canada and the United States. The study found that non-immigrants were more likely to smoke (or use cigarettes) than immigrants. In both countries, young white males with low education were most likely to smoke. In the US, but not in Canada, younger people were more likely to smoke more cigarettes per day.

A study of immigrant children in Montreal led by Jennifer O’Loughlin published in the Journal of Adolescent Health found that the amount of time spent in Canada affected rates of smoking. In a cross-sectional survey of children aged 9-12 years old living in low socioeconomic status neighbourhoods in Montreal, the more years immigrant children had lived in Canada, the more likely they were to have tried smoking. The researchers suggest that interventions for immigrant children are needed to prevent adoption of unhealthy behaviours.

Breast cancer and smoking

Further evidence of the link between breast cancer and smoking was published in the Breast Journal by Croghan and other researchers at the Mayo clinic in Minnesota. The case-control study compared the smoking history of 1200 women who developed breast cancer with 6800 women who did not after their first visit to the clinic. Women who smoked more than 100 cigarettes in their lifetime were more likely to have breast cancer than women who had smoked fewer than 100 cigarettes in their lifetime.

A group of Canadian researchers led by Joan Bottorff reported results in Health Education Research from focus groups of young women, which suggest that raising awareness of the association between smoking, secondhand smoke and breast cancer, particularly the effects of secondhand smoke, could be an effective tobacco control message.

Secondhand smoke and children

The Royal College of Physicians in England released a report of the convincing evidence demonstrating that passive smoking was extremely harmful to children. Roberta Ferrence argued in an editorial in the British Medical Journal that exposing children to passive smoke will probably be unthinkable in the future.

Hitchman and colleagues reported in Nicotine and Tobacco Research of a random sample of adult smokers in Australia, the United Kingdom, Canada and the United States, and found significant differences in behaviour and attitudes regarding smoking in cars with children inside. Reports of smoking in cars with nonsmokers ranged from a low of 29% in Australia and the United Kingdom, to 34% in Canada, to a high of 44% in the United States.

Industry research affects results

A meta-analysis of studies performed by Cataldo and colleagues examining the association of cigarette smoking and Alzheimer’s disease found large differences in the results of the studies, depending on whether the authors were affiliated with the tobacco industry. The study, published in the Journal of Alzheimer’s Disease, found that tobacco industry affiliated research suggested that smoking protected against Alzheimer’s, while independent studies concluded that smoking was a significant risk factor for Alzheimer’s disease.

Smoking and advertising

In a randomized trial, Shmueli and other researchers from the University of California at San Francisco found that young adult smokers who watched films with smoking scenes were three times more likely to smoke a cigarette within 30 minutes of leaving the film. The results, published in the American Journal of Preventive Medicine, were the same when controlling for other factors, suggesting that smoking in films affects smoking behaviour and may undermine attempts to quit.

John Pierce and colleagues at the University of California, San Diego, in an article published in Pediatrics, found that an American campaign for Camel No. 9 cigarettes that included ads similar to fashion marketing, was associated with an increase in smoking among young female smokers. Those who had never smoked, but had a “favourite” cigarette ad were more likely to start smoking than those without a favourite advertisement. The proportion of girls reporting a favourite brand, primarily the Camel brand, increased to 44%.

– by Michael Chaiton, www.otru.org