Monday April 22, 2019

Researchers Probing if Tobacco’s Native Forms Less Harmful

“By working with the people who are disproportionately harmed by smoking, we can move on to co-design and testing of indigenous-centric solutions to reduce smoking harm.”

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hookah, cigarette, smoke
Hookah smoking is addictive and can lead to the use of other tobacco products such as cigarettes. Pixabay

Can indigenous ways of smoking counteract the harm being done by mass-produced cigarettes? Researching the roots of native Fijian tobacco plant ‘suki’ said to originated in Tamil Nadu and smoked in a “roll-up”, a renowned scientist from New Zealand is finding about the similar Indian cheroot.

On her visit to India, scientist Marewa Glover is accompanied by Fijian elder Setariki, who recalls learning that indentured labourers from India took tobacco plants with them to the South Pacific island country.

Looked at now, the Fijian suki appears to be processed similarly to cheroots found in Tamil Nadu’s Dindigul district.

Their visit was to see how similar the production process is for cheroot and ‘suki’ and to explore how people are using the cheroot today.

government information
FILE – Dr. Garen Wintemute, an emergency room physician at the University of California, Davis, Medical Center, poses at the hospital in Sacramento, Calif., March 9, 2017. Wintemute, who has researched gun violence and firearms industry, worked with colleagues to download public records from the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms and other federal agencies after the inauguration of President Donald Trump. He and others feared the information might disappear from federal websites. VOA

“In India, mass-produced cigarettes made by tobacco companies have largely displaced cheroot use which is now viewed as an old and fading practice, as is the experience in Fiji,” Glover said in a statement.

“But as taxes on tobacco have been raised, native and Indian Fijians are turning back to growing, chewing and smoking suki,” the researcher, who is seeking to understand indigenous people’s use of tobacco in order to inform the reduction of disease associated with tobacco use, added.

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“The epidemic of tobacco-related diseases that cause about 7 million deaths around the world each year are mainly due to smoking the mass-produced cigarettes. Whilst smoking anything is damaging, prior to mass marketed cigarettes of tobacco companies, tobacco was harder to get and smoke and its use was often restricted using cultural rules,” she notes.

“By working with the people who are disproportionately harmed by smoking, we can move on to co-design and testing of indigenous-centric solutions to reduce smoking harm.” (IANS)

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Experts Suggest Banning of Tobacco Sale For Below 21 To Prevent New Smokers

He stressed that besides helping existing smokers to quit, preventing young people from taking to smoking is imperative

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Smokers Lack Motivation, Get Tired Easily
Smokers Lack Motivation, Get Tired Easily. Pixabay

Raising the legal age for tobacco purchase from 18 to 21 years is likely to reduce smoking rates in young people and make the generation smoke-free, experts suggest.

Most smokers start smoking during childhood and two-thirds of those who try smoking early will become regular smokers later, said the study published in The BMJ.

Increasing the legal age to 21 would make it harder for children to obtain cigarettes and take the legal age beyond school age, said Nicholas Hopkinson, respiratory specialist from the Imperial College London.

FILE – A smoker exhales vapor from an e-cigarette at the Vapor Spot, in Sacramento, California, in this July 7, 2015, photo. VOA

“Smoking is a contagious habit transmitted within peer groups, and the age increase will protect younger children from exposure to older pupils in school who smoke. It will also remove a potential source of supply within schools,” said Hopkinson.

He stressed that besides helping existing smokers to quit, preventing young people from taking to smoking is imperative.

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Hopkinson also suggested that a “polluter pays” tax set to raise around $198 million per year from tobacco manufacturers will help to pay for a revitalised, evidence-based set of tobacco control policies.

“This could include the introduction of a retail licensing scheme for tobacco products, which could help limit underage sales. It would also make it easier to ban sales from those who break the law,” Hopkinson said. (IANS)