US Surgeon General to send a letter to all US Doctors about Opioid Epidemic

26 August, 2016

US Surgeon general Vivek Murthy will be sending a letter to all U.S. Physicians addressing the opioid epidemic facing the country. In it he explains what the issue is doing to communities across the country, how we got here, and what doctors can do now to help solve this issue. Dr. Murthy explains that in the past, doctors were told that opioids were safe to use and had virtually no addictive traits. This has caused a quadrupling of  prescriptions handed out by doctors, but virtually no increase in the amount of pain over time. Dr. Murthy ends the letter with a call to action to all doctors to help him “turn the tide” on the opioid epidemic this country faces, and asks doctors to pledge to do something about it.

This actually marks the first time in US history that the US Surgeon General has penned a letter to all physicians, a good indicator of the severity of the situation. According to the CDC in 2014, almost 2 million people either abused or depended on prescription drugs. Prescription opioids also go hand-in-hand with the heroin epidemic, so it is also very important to discuss this issue. If you or someone you know, is a physician, I encourage you to read this, or pass this along to the physician in your life, and take the pledge to turn the tide.

What do you think about the Surgeon General’s letter? Comment down below.


Link to the US Surgeon General’s letter can be found here.

Story can be found here.

Turn the Tide Rx website can be found here.

FDA finally bans E-cigarette sales to minors

19 August 2016

On May 6th, CASAP first wrote about how the FDA was seeking to regulate E-cigarettes. Early last week, the FDA finally began banning the sale of E-cigarettes to anyone under the age of 18. Under the new rules,  a photo ID is required in order to purchase them, retailers must stop handing out free samples, and e-cigarettes on the market since 2007 must undergo a federal review, all in addition to the rules barring those under 18 from purchasing.

Officials from the US Department of Health and Human Services and many other public health organizations lauded the FDA regulations as a prevention tool, citing many studies that claim that teens who vape are more likely to smoke regular cigarettes. Although, it is important to note that there are some studies that have found that adults who transition from regular cigarettes to e-cigarette, found e-cigarettes a transition tool to quit, the opposite seems to be true when it come to our youth.

The main reason behind the FDA regulation is the increase in e-cigarette marketing, that seems to be advertising directly at teens. E-cigarette companies spent $115 million on advertising in 2014 compared to $6.4 million in 2011 and feature the same images of e-cigarettes being cool, sexy, and fun as we saw in regular cigarette advertising many years ago.

More information about this story can be found here.

Click here for a story about the chemicals found in E-cigarettes.

Study: Disparities exist in Asian American Smoking Rates

12 August 2016

The CDC did an analysis study on the adult smoking rates across many different races and ethnic backgrounds by looking at National Survey of Drug Use and Health (NSDUH) from 2002-2005 to 2010-2013. Across racial boundaries they found that American Indian/ Alaska Natives had a huge prevalence of smoking (38.9%) compared to Asian Americans (10.9%). The researchers also found a wide disparity within  the Asian Subgroups, i.e. Chinese and Asian Indians at 7.6% and Koreans at 20%.

The study was a national study conducted by SAMHSA in partnership with RTI international and often involves and interviewer going to a participant’s homes to interview them. The survey was offered in English and in Spanish. You can find out more about the NSDUH here.

Discussion

The findings here are hardly surprising to those who study Asian American health. Those who do study Asian American health know that, while an average number from all Asian subgroups might give you a number that would appear that Asian Americans are healthy, if you look at the subgroup data, that is when you will notice the disparities for Asian Americans. This is certainly the case in this situation.

Another point of discussion that I would like to bring up, is the fact that the survey could only be administered in English or Spanish. With the Asian American population, this is an issue, and I would suggest that the researchers could receive much more accurate data, if they were able to survey in Asian languages. As CASAP, we know that if we walked around Chinatown right now we would find a lot of people smoking, and they often do not understand English. By only offering English and Spanish services the administrators could easily be offering inaccurate data for Asian Americans. As stated above, inaccurate data is already an issue for Asian Americans. Hopefully something is done to change this.

What do you think of all this? Comment down below.

Link to the CDC report can be found here.

Nice graph summarizing Asian American cigarette usage here.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Study: 2 Cancer Causing Chemicals Found in E-Cigarettes

 

Close up of mans hand holding cigarette and e-cigarette : Stock Photo

5 August 2016

In a study by the Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory, researchers discovered two previously undiscovered, potential cancer-causing chemicals that can be found in the vapors of an e-cigarette. Those chemicals are Propylene Oxide and Glycidol. Both chemicals have been listed in the “probable carcinogen” category which includes red meat and fireplace smoke, but is just a step below “known human carcinogen.” Regardless of whether or not you believe that these two chemicals are carcinogens, the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) does suggest that any exposure to these chemicals can cause irritation of the skin, eyes, and respiratory system, to name a few.

Previous studies have shown that e-cigarettes release other harmful chemicals such as diethylene glycol, an ingredient in antifreeze, and formaldehyde. Altogether, the researchers found 31 harmful chemicals in the e-cigarettes they studied.

The study looked at e-cigarettes with two different types of heating coils, which creates the vapors for the user to inhale. They found that devices that only had one heating coil were linked to an increase of chemicals that were released, as compared to those with a double coil. Researchers also found that stronger voltage for the battery, meant hotter coils, which meant more chemicals being released. How long an e-cigarette has been used will also determine how much harmful chemicals are being emitted, with longer used devices increasing in chemicals released.

For more information about how an e-cigarette works go here.

Sources for our story can be found below:

http://www.theverge.com/2016/7/27/12299784/electronic-cigarettes-e-cigs-chemicals-cancer-fda

http://www.wbur.org/commonhealth/2016/07/27/chemicals-e-cigarettes-study

 

Phillip Morris: A Brand Still Strong in Asia

29 July 2016

In economic news, Phillip Morris International (makers of such brands as Marlboro, Virginia Slims, and Parliament) released their second quarter earnings report and stated that their shipments have dropped globally.But due to increasing price hikes and a growing demand in Asia, Phillip Morris saw net revenue increase by 1.4 percent.  This did not appease investors as stock of Phillip Morris International (PM) has fallen 5% since July 15.

In an article by Bloomberg Gadfly, a commentary website about economic news, the author shows a graph of growth of smoking prevalence over time among different continents of the world. From December of 2014 to December of 2015 we see a decline of smoking rates across the globe, except for Asia Pacific which does not include the Middle East. In Asia, we see a rise in smoking prevalence, and that seems to be where we see most of Phillip Morris’ profits lie. It would be safe to say that Phillip Morris, most definitely has a large number of Asians hooked on their products because of the market share of brands such as Marlboro and Parliament have.

The graph is certainly troubling, as Chicago still manages to get a large number of immigrants from Asia/China who come here and settle in Chinatown and the surrounding area. This is most certainly something that CASAP does not want to see, and we hope to decrease the risk of having immigrants continuing to smoke when they come here. More importantly, CASAP will continue to monitor smoking trends in Asia as they develop.

A link to the full article and the graph can be found here.

Updated stock prices for Phillip Morris can be found here.

 

 

Chicago White Sox Chris Sale Talks about Quitting Tobacco

During an interview with the media on 11 July 2016 for the All-Star game in San Diego, White Sox Pitcher Chris Sale (who was the AL starting pitcher for the All-Star game) talked about how Tony Gywnn’s death (former San Diego Padres player) influenced him to quit chewing tobacco.

Chris Sale talked about idolizing Tony Gwynn as a young man. Tony Gywnn died of salivary gland cancer in 2014. Gwynn believed strongly that the cause of his salivary gland cancer was his years of chewing tobacco products. Chris Sale hopes this not only honors the legacy of Tony Gywnn in some small way, but makes sure that other kids do not get hooked on chewing tobacco products.

CASAP applauds the message that Chris Sale is promoting and we love the fact that it is someone from our own baseball team that is saying it. Chewing Tobacco has had a long standing tradition in America’s baseball fields, with players chewing and spitting them out since the 1900s. Because of this tradition, we often see young children, like Chris Sale was, try to emulate some of their favorite baseball players and pick up the habit of chewing tobacco. The effects of smokeless tobacco products, although different from smoking tobacco, are no less safe. Cancers of the mouth, gum, and throats are often the side-effects of using these products. On 16 March, the city of Chicago approved a ban on all smokeless tobacco products inside the city’s baseball fields, including U.S. Cellular and Wrigley Field. The ordinance took effect on 12 July.

Link to a full story and video can be found here.

Sale tabbed to start All-Star Game for AL

Photo Credit: White Sox Official Site

 

 

Comprehensive Addiction and Recovery Act to go to the President

15 July 2016

In a rare act of bipartisanship, Congress has voted overwhelmingly to pass the Comprehensive Addiction and Recovery Act (CARA). The bill now goes to the president where it is expected to be signed and approved.

In a response to the deadly opioid epidemic that is ravaging this country, CARA is one of the most comprehensive bills to come out of Congress aimed at tackling the issues of substance abuse. The bill encompasses elements of prevention, treatment, recovery, law enforcement, criminal justice reform, and overdose reversal. Some highlights of the bill include the expansion of the availability of Naloxone, used to treat those who overdose on heroin and other opioids, to paramedics and first-responders, improve prescription drug monitoring programs, and treating incarcerated people who are suffering from drug addiction instead of just punishing them. This is a first-of-its-kind bill by  Congress and shows just how far we have come in treating addiction like a disease that we know it is.

Senator Mark Kirk , along with other members of Congress, applauded passage of CARA. He says, “Naloxone is saving lives across Illinois and should be readily available to help combat the opioid and heroin epidemic.” CADCA, the Community Anti-Drug Coalitions of America, also tweeting support of this bill as well.