Tobacco Info

From Tobacco Info No. 3 - November 2010
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Research update by OTRU

The Ontario Tobacco Research Unit (OTRU) is an Ontario-based research network that is recognized as a Canadian leader in tobacco control research, monitoring and evaluation, teaching and training and as a respected source of science-based information on tobacco control. In each issue of Tobacco Info, OTRU writes a review of the latest groundbreaking tobacco studies around the world. More information can be found at


In Nicotine and Tobacco Research, Trtchounian, Williams and Talbot of the University of California, Riverside, addressed one of the many unknowns of e-cigarettes, testing the vacuum required to produce the aerosol (vapour) in e-cigarettes using a smoking machine. The authors found that it took more suction to smoke e-cigarettes than conventional cigarettes. The amount of aerosol produced by e-cigarettes decreased during smoking. They concluded that the inconsistency of aerosol production limited the ability of an e-cigarette to be a smoking cessation device.

Blood donation

Researchers from the University of Crete, lead by Symvoulakis, examined levels of inflammation in the blood of 170 donors. Published in the journal Xenobiotica, levels of vascular endothelial growth factor, which can create a number of conditions in blood recipients, were higher among those who had smoked in the past 24 hours. They called for more research to determine if limits were needed on the time from last cigarette to blood donation.

Second-hand smoke

Mackay and others in the New England Journal of Medicine examined hospital admissions data before and after the passage of comprehensive smoke-free legislation in Scotland among children younger than 15 years of age. After implementation of the legislation in 2006, there was a mean reduction in the rate of admissions for asthma of 18.2% per year relative to the previous rate for both preschool and school aged children.

Similarly, Dove and others in the American Journal of Public Health examined the rate of acute myocardial infarction (AMI) deaths in Massachusetts before and after the implementation of a comprehensive smoke-free workplace law in July 2004.  They found that the mortality rate decreased by 7.4% after implementation of the state law, but not among towns that had previously enacted smoke-free laws. Overall, the authors estimated that there were 270 fewer deaths per year as a consequence of the law.

Smokeless tobacco

In Circulation, Piano, Benowitz and others released a policy statement from the American Heart Association on the impact of smokeless tobacco (ST) products on cardiovascular disease. They concluded that there is evidence that long term smokeless tobacco use may be associated with an increased risk of myocardial infarction (MI) and stroke. Furthermore, they stated that there is inadequate evidence to support the use of ST products as a smoking cessation strategy.

Tobacco research

Cohen and colleagues took a broad look at how tobacco research has changes over the last 30 years.  Taking a random sample of tobacco related articles, they coded each article according to the focus on ‘host’, ‘agent’, ‘environment’, or ‘vector.’ Since the 1980s, tobacco research has shifted away from health effects research to research on cessation and factors associated with smoking. Few papers had examined the ‘environment’ or the ‘vector’ and the authors concluded that more focus was required on these issues to address all of the dimensions of the tobacco problem.


Schwartz and Johnston from the Ontario Tobacco Research Unit compare the current  policy response to contraband to the policy response in the 1990s in Canada in the Journal of Public Health Policy. In the 1990s, they show how the government responded rapidly, but that the current response has been hesitant. The authors suggest that a lack of congruence between different stakeholder group perceptions of the problem and different sources of contraband has roadblocked the implementation of anti-contraband policy.


Richardson and other researchers in British Columbia analyzed data from a survey of 1,187 adolescent smokers. As reported in Addiction, the authors found that there were three separate dimensions related to initial smoking: a pleasant dimension defined by feeling good and relaxed; an unpleasant dimension defined by coughing, feeling sick and nervous; and a ‘buzz’ dimension defined by feeling high and dizzy. The three factors predicted transition to regular smoking.

- by Michael Chaiton