Tobacco Info

From Tobacco Info No. 4 - February 2011
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Research update by OTRU

The Ontario Tobacco Research Unit (OTRU) is a 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 presents a review of the latest groundbreaking tobacco studies around the world. For more information, visit

Second and third-hand smoke

Ko and others in the Annals of Epidemiology offered data suggestive of new potential health effects of secondhand smoke.  Among a cohort of  4,442 never smokers in Korea, those exposed to second-hand smoke were 40% more likely to develop type 2 diabetes than those who were not exposed. Non-smokers who spent more than 4 hours a day exposed to smoking were nearly twice as likely to develop diabetes.

A group of Californian researchers lead by Georg Matt investigated whether third-hand smoke persists after smokers moved out and non-smokers moved in. Examining the homes of 100 smokers and 50 non-smokers, dust and nicotine levels decreased after the smokers moved out but the former smokers’ homes still had higher levels of contaminants.  The study as published in Tobacco Control also found that non-smokers who moved into the homes of smokers had higher levels of cotinine in their urine.

Colorectal cancer

In the American Journal of Epidemiology, Cleary and colleagues found that heavy smokers had greater risks of developing colorectal cancer.  Using the Ontario Familial Colorectal Cancer Registry, the study discovered that smoking interacted with a number of genes to further increase risk.

Quitting behaviours

Hannah Ross and colleagues in Addiction compared the effect of cigarette prices among smokers in Canada and the US. Higher cigarette prices predicted greater motivation to successfully quit smoking. This effect was not mitigated by cheaper cigarette sources. The paper supports the use of higher prices as a means of encouraging smoking cessation and motivation to quit.

Sarah Edwards and others, using data from the Ontario Tobacco Survey, followed 408 occasional smokers for a year. The study published in Nicotine and Tobacco Research found that occasional smokers are a diverse categorization differing by age, smoking experience and perceived addiction, which affects the likelihood of quitting.

In Tobacco Control, Lovato, along with other Canadian researchers, studied 82 schools across Canada to evaluate the effects of school and community characteristics. They found that the ideal school setting to support low student smoking levels was located in a neighborhood where the cost of cigarettes is high, provided tobacco prevention education and had a policy prohibiting smoking.

– by Michael Chaiton