Tuesday, September 22, 2009

FDA: No more luring kids with flavored cigarettes

Today the FDA announced that it is banning cigarettes with fruit, candy and clove flavors. In many cases, tobacco companies have created these flavored cigarettes with the expressed intention of attracting young people. FDA's newly created Center for Tobacco Products intends for this ban to help cut back on the droves of young people who are drawn to smoking cigarettes every day.

Smoking can exacerbate asthma and other respiratory conditions--not just for the smokers themselves, but for people around them who have these conditions. It is crucial to nip this problem in the bud, and to keep kids from thinking that smoking is enjoyable or "cool." The ban on these products is a step in the right direction.

During an FDA media briefing, which AANMA participated in today, officials shared a few pertinent facts:
  • Every day in the U.S., about 3,600 youths between the ages of 12 and 17 start smoking; about 1,100 go on to become daily smokers
  • 1 out of every 5 U.S. deaths can be traced to tobacco use
  • Smokers tend to die about 14 years earlier than non-smokers
Particularly troubling were memos from tobacco company officials that were quoted during the call. Lawrence R. Deyton, MSPH, MD, director of the FDA's Center for Tobacco Products, mentioned directives from tobacco company higher-ups to develop cigarette flavors such as cola, apple and honey--because teenagers are known to like sweet things.

Deyton referred to these flavored cigarettes as a "gateway," noting that many smokers take their first puffs during their teen years and that these flavors are designed to "attract and lure kids into addiction." Let's hope that the new ban will help steer young people away from the deadly path of cigarette addiction.

Thursday, September 17, 2009

Asthma: No Laughing Matter

Laughter may be the best medicine unless your airways are raw with inflammation - the kind associated with asthma. Researchers in Australia found that as many as one in three people with asthma start wheezing, coughing or feeling short of breath when laughing!

Laughing asthma is really just another form of exercise-induced asthma and both are signs that airway inflammation is out of control and I'm not joking. Need more convincing evidence?

Your allergist can measure various aspects of lung function using a machine called a spirometer. But to know if allergic asthma is causing airway inflammation, there is a new test now approved by Blue Cross Blue Shield that measures exhaled nitric oxide (eNO), a by-product found in your breath (no, it doesn't smell bad) if your airways are inflamed. The test is non-invasive, easy to do for kids and adults. 

This new technology takes us just one step closer to customizing asthma action plans to meet your specific needs...such as laughing until your sides hurt but without asthma symptoms!

To learn more about eNO, visit AANMA's website and search eNO. You can also visit Aerocrine or Aperion websites. And no, they didn't pay for these links but if I'd asked them to help sponsor this blog, I would tell you that, too.

Is Asthma Serious?

Seems like a silly question. But it isn't. That's why Allergy & Asthma Network Mothers of Asthmatics (AANMA) is conducting a short survey to see exactly what others think.

Personally, I hate taking surveys. I don't answer the automated phone calls - you know - the ones that come during dinner saying, "Help the country be a better place to live by taking our short...." Click. I'm so bad, I begrudgingly fill out the US Census survey every five years.

But this survey is different. Even I would take this survey because I care about asthma. I can't take the survey because I work for AANMA the nonprofit organization asking the questions. We're on a mission that we simply can't complete until we better understand how you answer the question: Is asthma serious?

By way of Honest Abe: There are no sponsors for this survey. No advertising. No links to other sites and no pop-ups. Take the survey and then watch for the results on September 25th, 2009. Thank you!!