Higher rates of surgical site infection (SSI) found in current smokers, decreased rates of SSI with short-term tobacco abstinence

[JAMA Surgery, February 2017] This study reveals that current smoking is associated with more frequent surgical site infection (SSI) in patients undergoing elective surgery and that smokers who abstain from smoking on the day of surgery are less likely to develop SSI. In effect, just as clinicians routinely request that patients consume nothing by mouth on the day of surgery, they should also recommend that patients abstain from smoking on the morning of surgery if they are not willing to make a more prolonged preoperative quit attempt.

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Quitting smoking at the time of cancer diagnosis increases overall survival, study finds

[International Journal of Cancer, Jan. 2017] Researchers in Japan examined the benefits of quitting smoking at the time of cancer diagnosis on all-cause mortality among cancer patients. 30,658 eligible cancer patients were followed up for up to 10 years, and risk of death was estimated to be reduced by 11% in recent quitters compared to current smokers.

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Evidence for harm reduction in COPD smokers who switch to electronic cigarettes

[Respiratory Research, Dec. 2016 A retrospective chart review of patients with COPD found that patients who used electronic cigarettes had a marked reduction in their cigarette consumption, fewer COPD exacerbations and an increased ability to perform physical activities compared to regularly smoking COPD patients. These findings suggest that electronic cigarettes may aid smokers with COPD to reduce their cigarette consumption or maintain abstinence, resulting in fewer health complications from their COPD and an improved quality of life. 

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Chantix can help even light smokers quit, study says

[Nicotine and Tobacco Research, Sept. 2016] Though the overall prevalence of cigarette smoking has declined, the proportion of smokers who smoke less than 10 cigarettes/day has increased. This study was a 12-week, randomized, placebo-controlled clinical trial looking at the use of Chantix in this population.

At end-of-treatment (3 months),  the prolonged smoking abstinence rate was 40.0% in the Chantix group and 8.3% in the placebo group. At end-of-study (6 months), the prolonged smoking abstinence rate was 31.1% and 8.3%, respectively, suggesting that Chantix might be a good option even for light smokers who are looking to quit smoking.

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Most fatal type of stroke declines along with smoking rates, Study finds

[Neurology, August 12th, 2016] A sharp decline in the incidence of subarachnoid hemorrhage, the most fatal type of stroke, coincided with the decline in cigarette smoking between 1998 and 2012 in Finland, a recent study found.

An examination of death records in Finland identified nearly 7,000 people with subarachnoid hemorrhage in this time range, with 26% of these events occurring away from hospitals or in emergency rooms. The 3 year average incidence decreased 24%, from 11.7 per 100,000 persons in 1998-2000 to 8.9 per 100,000 persons in 2010-2012. Daily smoking decreased 30% between 1998 and 2012. Smoking remains a strong risk factor for stroke, suggesting that the decrease in smoking rates may be coupled with this apparent decline in subarachnoid hemorrhage.

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Smoking Priority: First Stop, Then Lose Weight

[Wall Street Journal; July 25, 2016] Smokers who are also overweight face a dilemma in trying to take care of their hearts: Should they focus first on losing weight or kicking the smoking habit? 

A new study suggests stopping smoking should be the first step. All smokers had a higher risk of suffering a first heart attack than nonsmokers. But the risk didn’t significantly go up for smokers who were also obese, the study, published in the European Journal of Internal Medicine, found.

Among nonsmokers, heart-attack risk was significantly higher among obese people than those of normal weight. 

Smoking and obesity are major public health problems but it hasn’t been clear whether one is more harmful than the other, the researchers said.

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Social Smokers Face Real Risks, Too

[Time; July 22, 2016] Smoking, even socially, is linked to an increased risk of brain bleeding, according to a new study reported in the journal Stroke. That seems to be especially true for women, who are known to have a higher risk for brain bleeding than men.

The study involved data from 65,521 people in Finland who answered survey questions for an average of 45 years. Researchers found that men and women who smoked had nearly three times higher risk for brain bleeds—where blood seeps through the lining between the surface of the brain and the tissue underneath—than people who never smoked. The risk even applied to social smokers, and it increased steadily from light to heavy smoking. Women seemed to be especially affected. Women who smoked showed a nearly 3.5-times higher risk of such bleeding, while men had a 2.2-times greater risk. Even women smoking one to 10 cigarettes a day had a nearly three times higher risk of brain bleeding whereas men smoking a similar amount had a nearly two-times higher risk.

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Vaping Has Helped Millions of People Quit Smoking, Study Says

[Mic; June 29, 2016]

Ask someone who vapes if they're worried that it might be unsafe, and they'll often give you the same answer: Hey, at least it's better than smoking.

A study published in the journal Addiction looked at e-cigarette usage among over 27,000 people in 28 European countries. The study found that "an estimated 6.1 and 9.2 million EU citizens had quit and reduced smoking with the use of e-cigarettes respectively."

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Smoking Lowers Breast Cancer Survival, Study Finds

[HealthDay News; Jan 2016] Women diagnosed with breast cancer who continue to smoke cigarettes are less likely to survive than those who never smoked or those who quit, new research finds.

The study suggests that it's never too late to quit smoking to help boost cancer survival.

"Women who quit smoking at the time of their diagnosis do better, they have better outcomes than women who continue to smoke after the diagnosis," noted study leader Michael Passarelli, a cancer epidemiologist at the University of California, San Francisco.

The smokers also had a higher risk of dying from respiratory cancers or heart disease and strokes, the research team found.

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How to get Smokers to Quit? Enlist the World's Ugliest Color

[New York Times; June 20, 2016] Global health authorities are trying to get more countries to mandate the use of the “world’s ugliest color” on cigarette packaging to discourage smoking.

In 2012, GfK Bluemoon, a market research company under contract to the Australian government, announced that nearly 1,000 smokers had voted that a drab greenish brown known as opaque couché, number 448c in the Pantone color matching system, was the world’s most repulsive color.

It was described as looking like death, filth, lung tar or baby excrement. Color aficionados later noted that it was also similar to the hue of the dress worn by the Mona Lisa.

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Capitalizing on a Teachable Moment Motivates Parents of Kids with Asthma to Quit Smoking

[Boston University Medical Center] Parents who smoke are more likely to quit smoking after receiving motivational smoking cessation counseling following a “teachable moment” (TM) such as witnessing their child experience an asthma attack.

The study, which appears in the journal Addiction, also found that in-home counseling visits, including feedback on their child’s second hand smoke exposure (SHSe) and counseling phone calls improved the likelihood of smoking cessation and less SHSe...

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E-Cigarettes a Gateway to Smoking for Teens: Study

[The Sentinel; June 13, 2016] Teens in the United States who use electronic cigarettes are six times more likely to move on to traditional cigarettes compared to kids who never use the devices, a new study reports.

A survey of about 300 high school students found a troubling pattern, although some experts disagree with the conclusions.

"Adolescents who had never smoked, but who had used e-cigarettes, were substantially more likely to begin smoking combustible cigarettes over the next year," said study lead author Jessica Barrington-Trimis...

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