News and Research

News and Research

We have compiled both local and national news stories for your use.  Please feel free to use this information:

Maryland Tobacco News

Health legislators in Baltimore City report that roughly half of city schools are located within 500 feet of a tobacco store. By selling flavored products such as mint and bubble gum, underage children are much more tempted to use tobacco products. With every 1 in 6 children using tobacco products in high school and more than 20% of stores selling tobacco products to minors, the city feels that they need to take another measure to reduce the number of underage tobacco users. 

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Serious measures have been taken to limit tobacco use among employees and visitors at the University of Maryland Upper Chesapeake Health hospital In Harford County. An expanded tobacco ban took effect in January 2015 at both hospital campuses. Both visitors and employees will not be permitted to use tobacco products in vehicles on hospital grounds either. Also, beginning July 1, 2015, the hospital system will no longer hire tobacco users. Current hospital employees who use tobacco and who are covered under the hospital insurance plan can receive free pharmaceuticals and tobacco cessation classes to help them quit. 

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Recently, the Montgomery County Council unanimously voted to approve a 30% excise tax on e-cigarettes. Revenue wise, officials state that the tax could collect between $1.5 million and $2.5 million per year. Prominent groups including the American Cancer Society Cancer Action Network are supporting this tax to help create a “healthier” Maryland.

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According to the Maryland Department of Health and Mental Hygiene, tobacco use among youth in public high schools has decreased by 40% from 2000-2013, showing reduced cigarette use.  Despite this overall trend, use of smokeless tobacco products among this sample has actually increased by 5%. The data indicates that the use of smokeless tobacco by youth is three times greater than adult usage and cigar use is also 2.5 times greater among youth.  There is a strong correlation between the underage use of tobacco and other risky behaviors, such as substance abuse.  While no significant change is evident for youth cigar use overall, there was a notable decrease since cigar use peaked in 2008.  Noted declines are likely influenced by campaigns by the State and National campaigns, prevention programs supported at the local level, regulatory initiatives, and cessation intervention programs like the Maryland Tobacco Quitline.

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Beginning in August 2014, the Anne Arundel Medical Center implemented a screening process for new applicants. Applicants would undergo a urine test to check for nicotine levels in their system. The urine test would give the hospital the authority to not hire tobacco users. The center’s vice president, Julie McGovern, stated that the screening was implemented to help promote a healthy lifestyle to the community and their workers.

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National Tobacco News

Even though 1 million tobacco-related deaths have been prevented since 1990, tobacco use is still the leading preventable cause of cancer and cancer deaths in the United States. Medical advances and improvements in prevention have saved lives; however, not all states are seeing equal benefits. Tobacco smoke is linked to 12 types of cancer and causes 3 in 10 of all cancer deaths. To curb this, states and communities can put greater, longer efforts into prevention and treatment. Healthcare providers can screen all patients for tobacco use and provide cessation resources and secondhand smoke information. Everyone can also encourage others to quit using tobacco, teach children about the health risks, and make the home a tobacco free environment.

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Between 2005 and 2015 the proportion of cigarette smoking US adults declined from 20.9% to 15.1%; however, disparities among groups persisted. Some groups with higher rates of cigarette smoking included men, Native American/ Alaska Native, those below the federal poverty level, the uninsured or insured through Medicaid, disabled, members of the LGB community, and those with serious psychological distress.  Among current smokers, the number of daily smoker decreased, while the number of those who smoked some days increased.  Of daily smokers, the mean number of cigarettes smoked daily declined from 16.7 to 14.2. 

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In the first month of 2016, President Obama signed the Child Nicotine Poising Prevention Act into law increasing the safety standards on liquid nicotine containers. The act will create a national standard for child-proof packaging in order to prevent accidental ingestion of liquid nicotine, commonly used in electronic vaping systems. This act comes after the accidental death of a child exposed to liquid nicotine in 2014 and several other cases of liquid nicotine exposure in young children. The law will be fully enforced within 6 months of its enactment, requiring all liquid nicotine containers to have child-resistant packaging similar to those of poisonous household chemicals. 

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New research suggests that switching to cigarettes with very low levels of nicotine may support quitting among smokers. In a recent study funded by the NIH, 840 smokers at 10 different locations either smoked “regular” cigarettes or 1 of 6 types of cigarettes with various levels of lower nicotine content. Importantly, participants in this study had no intention of quitting smoking anytime soon. After six weeks, participants who smoked cigarettes with very low nicotine content smoked about 30% fewer cigarettes per day than those who smoked regular cigarettes. While these results are promising, additional research is needed to support these findings. 

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In a recent survey examining youth tobacco use, 70% of those who had used tobacco in the past month reported current (past month) use of at least one flavored product. Currently, over 7,000 flavors exist in various tobacco products, and serve to entice youth to try these harmful products. Evidence suggests that while youth are aware that cigarette smoking is harmful, attractive flavors in products like hookahs, e-cigarettes and cigars may make these products seem less harmful. Thus, banning use of flavoring in tobacco products may limit initiation and continued use among middle and high school youth. 

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