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E-Cigarettes May Soon Be Regulated Like The Old School Kind

The New York Times reports today that electronic cigarettes moved a step closer to being regulated like mainstream tobacco products after a federal appellate court unanimously upheld an injunction against the FDA's attempt to ban them or more strictly regulate them. Meanwhile, what in blazes are Snus? Oh, "spit-free tobacco pouches". Blecccch.


EU Proposes An End To Branded Cigarettes

The European Union is proposing a full-scale ban on branded cigarettes, which would force tobacco companies across the continent to sell their products in generic, plain packaging. Under the new rules, packs would carry nothing more than a health warning and the name of the brand, both in a standardized format with a specified typeface. Cigarette advertising was outlawed across Europe in 2003. If enacted, the ban would kick another leg out from under tobacco companies' already wobbly brand visibility. Public health initiative or police state tactic?Hmm, that's a tough one. Free marketers would argue that as long as a product is legal, promotion is at the discretion of the corporation. Recovering smokers (and perhaps young people who have not yet fallen victim to the addictive powers of smoking) might counter: Out of sight, out of mind, thank you.

Walk A Mile For A Camel?

Or just be a scene-maker in Williamsburg, the presumed center of cool in Brooklyn? Well, in a deeply cynical move on the part of RJ Reynolds, the cigarette brand that sports a four-legged mammal with a hump on his back will come in a special, er, hipster package this December (slyly getting in under the wire of the new packaging regulations soon to be enforced by the federal government). Camel Blue will be customized with scenes of Williamsburg behind Joe himself and a curiously counter-intuitive "Be Free" online campaign. It's hard to say which stylish iconoclast is going to fall for this transparent marketing ploy, but who imagined that a mediocre cup of coffee, with a big green logo and a $4.00 price tag, would catch on either?


Study: CT scans reduce lung cancer deaths by 20% compared with X-rays

Screening former or current smokers with high-tech scans can significantly cut deaths from lung cancer, according to a long-awaited federal study released Thursday.

The study of more than 53,000 middle-aged and elderly people who either once smoked or currently smoke heavily found there were 20 percent fewer deaths among those who underwent annual screening with a scanning procedure known as a low-dose helical computed tomography (CT) compared with those who got standard chest X-rays.

The findings were so striking that the National Cancer Institute, which helped sponsor the study, halted the National Lung Screening Trial early after a panel of experts notified officials about the clear results of an interim analysis.

"Lung cancer is the leading cause of cancer mortality in the U.S. and throughout the world, so a validated approach that can reduce lung cancer mortality by even 20 percent has the potential to spare very significant numbers of people from the ravages of this disease," said NCI Director Harold Varmus.

Lung cancer strikes more than 196,000 Americans each year and kills more than 159,000, accounting for nearly one-third of all cancer deaths. Although significant advances have been made in reducing deaths from other leading cancers, such as breast and colon cancer, lung cancer has remain stubbornly resistent. The new finding marks the first good news about the disease in decades. There are an estimated 91.5 million current and former smokers in the United States, all of whom are at increased risk for lung cancer.

"This is the first time that we have seen clear evidence of a significant reduction in lung cancer mortality with a screening test in a randomized controlled trial," said Christine Berg, who led the study for the National Cancer Institute.

Read the full story in The Washington Post.


No, I Can't

What's harder to quit than heroin? Yes, the mantle of political power and, in some cases, cowboy love. But what else? Smoking. In February, President Obama had his annual physical and was given a clean bill of health, but for two blots on the chart. Obama, 48, continues to struggle to stop his 30-year smoking habit and needs to modify his diet to control his cholesterol, said Dr. Jeffrey Kuhlman, a Navy captain who led the medical team that performed Obama’s physical. Nobody knows how much Obama is smoking. But last June, at a White House news conference, he shed a little light on the subject. “Have I fallen off the wagon sometimes? Yes,” Obama said to reporters. “Am I a daily smoker, a constant smoker? No.” Of course, that was before the tumbling approval ratings, the tea parties, and the pressures of November 2nd bearing down on him. Stress is a trigger for relapse, after all. His campaign slogan, Yes, We Can, implied strength in numbers, but as any recovering smoker knows, the struggle to refrain from lighting up is a lonely one.