EcoMeme: Non-Smoking Section Expands


We didn’t see a fire, but there’s smoke and ongoing chatter about it all over the Web this week. More taxes and stricter regulations of tobacco sales and use are being put into place all around the world. At the same time, a new scientific discovery could get us closer to curing lung cancer.

First the good news. Researchers found a cluster of genes that are “active” in lung cancer patients, even in their healthy tissue and especially in their wind pipes, that could help predict whether smokers are going to develop lung cancer and help them get early treatment which is more effective in fighting lung cancer.

But why smoke and chance it with cancer or other health problems, or risk exposing others?

California is playing it safe with a ban on smoking at public parks and beaches. The Chickasaw nation banned smoking on all its properties. And Utah planned new taxes on tobacco, too.

Next month, Michigan will become the latest state to ban smoking in public buildings and workplaces including pubs and restaurants.

The states may be following the fed’s lead; President Obama put stricter tax laws and regulations on the sales of cigarettes online effective as of April 1st.

We were happy that on April 7th, global political and thought leaders who spoke at a World Health Day conference, like New York’s Mayor Bloomberg, rallied to make urban living healthier through support of smoking cessation programs (along with greater focus on clean air, water and efficient transportation).

Two more studies that are galvanizing enough to make you quit cold turkey…

The American Lung Association disturbingly finds that “Blacks are hit the hardest when it comes to both developing and dying from lung cancer,” in part due to tobacco marketers’ seemingly biased efforts to push menthol cigarettes to African American consumers.

And the Royal College of Physicians in England calls for a ban on smoking in vehicles and public places where children frequently visit. Why? Because secondhand smoke, according to their report, causes middle ear diseases, lower respiratory infections, asthma and can even contribute to sudden infant death.

Australia is mulling more taxation and banning of cigarettes, too.

Indonesia, a country for which cigarettes are a key economic driver, seemed quite the loner, instead of part of this world clique, on Wednesday, when the nation’s trade minister refuted a U.S. ban on sales of clove cigarettes. She said the ban unfairly effects one of Indonesia’s biggest industries, and violates international rules set forth by the World Trade Organization.

Is anti-smoking sentiment going to sink economies? Or is banning smokers from public pollution a good green move? Read up with the links above and below, and give us your two cents in a comment or Tweet to @ecosalon.

Basic Reading:

“Blacks are hit the hardest when it comes to both developing and dying from lung cancer. A new report from the American Lung Association paints a grim picture of how environmental factors, biological factors, cultural attitudes and biases in the health-care system conspire to make this deadly disease even deadlier among members of this minority group.” – Medical news feature for Health Day by Amanda Gardner

“Cigarette smoke causes 90 percent of all cases of lung cancer, which kills 1.2 million people a year globally. But only about 10 percent of smokers ever develop lung cancer, although they often die of other causes such as heart disease, stroke or emphysema.” – John O’Callaghan, Reuters health writer’s story on a group of genes that can help doctors spot lung cancer early

“Surveys throughout Australia in recent years show an incremental increase in support for smoking bans in bars, restaurants and clubs to the point that it regularly tops 80 per cent”¦If the proposed ban was enough to make smokers feel unloved, a National Preventative Health Taskforce plan to hit them with a $6.50-a-packet tax increase must make them feel positive outcasts.” – An opinion editorial by Terry Sweetman for CourierMail

Further Resources:

A U.S. government website with hands-on advice to help you quit smoking, or help you cheer a smoker into dropping the habit

Phillip Morris cancels cigarette price hikes in Japan to avoid further fall in sales, there, reports Kyodo News / Japan Times

Farmer seeks review of anti-tobacco laws in Jakarta, Indonesia

Image: Jason Anfinsen