Author Interviews, Tobacco Research / 21.09.2016 Interview with: Maciej L. Goniewicz, PhD PharmD Assistant Professor of Oncology Department of Health Behavior Division of Cancer Prevention and Population Sciences Roswell Park Cancer Institute Elm & Carlton Streets / Carlton House A320 Buffalo, New York 14263, USA What is the background for this study? What are the main findings? Response: We have previously identified several ingredients in e-cigarettes that may be potentially dangerous to users. The long-health effects of inhaling aerosol from e-cigarettes is currently unknown and we are looking for alternative ways to test the products safety. We have noticed previously that various brands and types of e-cigarettes differ in the toxicant levels and their potential toxic effects. So we systematically evaluated various product features and we were able to identify device power and flavoring additives as key components that significantly affect the potential toxicity of e-cigarettes. Interestingly, it was not nicotine or nicotine solvents but other additives in e-cigarettes that affected respiratory cells used in our study. (more…)
Author Interviews, Dermatology, Pediatrics, Tobacco Research / 19.08.2016 Interview with: Dr. Jonathan L. Silverberg MD PhD MPH Assistant Professor in Dermatology Medical Social Sciences and Preventive Medicine Northwestern University, Chicago, Illinois What is the background for this study? Response: Some children with atopic dermatitis may have disease activity persist into adolescence and adulthood, although most children are thought to “grow out of it.” There have been a number of studies with varied results about how commonly atopic dermatitis actually persists later in life. Moreover, the risk factors for persistence of atopic dermatitis are unclear. We sought to systematically analyze the extant literature of research studies to determine the rates and predictors of atopic dermatitis persistence over time. (more…)
Author Interviews, NYU, Smoking, Tobacco / 05.08.2016 Interview with: Judith T. Zelikoff, PhD, Professor Department of Environmental Medicine NYU Langone Medical Center. Would you tell us a little about yourself? Response: I am a tenured full professor in the Department of Environmental Medicine at the NYU School of Medicine with >25 years of experience studying the toxicology of inhaled single contaminants and complex mixtures including metals, nanoparticles, gaseous and particulate (PM) air pollutants, e-cigarettes and combustible products from cigarettes, biomass burning, and diesel exhaust. Over the last decade, studies in my laboratory has focused on the effects of maternal inhalation of environmental toxicants, including fine-sized ambient particulate matter during pregnancy (and/or during neonatal development) on fetal cardiovascular structure, obstetric consequences, and later life disorders including obesity, immune dysfunction, and decreased sociability and reproductive success in adult male and female offspring. Other early life studies associated with inhaled nicotine/tobacco products have demonstrated that maternal and neonatal exposure of mice to aerosols from e-cigarettes (with and without nicotine) alters neurodevelopment and produces hyperactivity in adult male offspring. Our studies with smokeless tobacco products demonstrate dyslipidemia and non-alcoholic steatohepatitis in prenatally exposed adult offspring. One of my major scientific accomplishments are my early life inhalation exposure studies demonstrating, for the first time in some cases, that prenatal/neonatal exposure to environmental agents can produce effects persistent into adulthood that can increase susceptibility to a variety of disorders, including cardiovascular disease. In addition, I serve as the Community Outreach and Engagement Core (COEC)Director for our NYU NIEHS Core Center. In this regard, our COEC team partners with environmentally-impacted communities in the NY/NJ area to assess community concerns associated with environmental pollution and provide educational information that can help build community infrastructure. I am also extremely active as a leader in the Society of Toxicology having served as Secretary of the Society for 3 years and President of the Metals and Immunotoxicology SOT Specialty Sections where i received an Immunotoxicology Lifetime Achievement Award. I currently serve as Chairperson of the SOT Committee for Diversity Initiatives and President of the Ethical, Legal and Social Specialty Section. I am currently a full member of a National Institute of Health Study and have also served on several other Federal/State Advisory Panels including the Institute of Medicine and National Research Council, EPA, NASA, NTP, and NJ Department of Environmental Protection. In addition to serving as an Associate Editor and Editorial Board member for numerous toxicology/environmental health journals, I currently serve as vice-President for the NYU School of Medicine Faculty Council. (more…)
Alcohol, Author Interviews, Columbia, OBGYNE, Tobacco / 21.07.2016 Interview with: Dr. Qiana L. Brown, PhD, MPH, LCSW Postdoctoral Research Fellow Columbia University Mailman School of Public Health Department of Epidemiology Substance Abuse Epidemiology Training Program What is the background for this study? Dr. Brown: Prenatal substance use is a major public health concern, and poses significant threats to maternal and child health. Tobacco and alcohol are the most commonly used substances among pregnant women and non-pregnant women of reproductive age, and are leading causes of preventable adverse health outcomes for both mother and baby. Women with health insurance have more prenatal visits, and present for prenatal care earlier than uninsured women, which may increase their exposure to health messaging around substance abuse prevention at prenatal visits. Additionally, treatment for substance use disorders and maternal and child health care are part of the Essential Health Benefits covered by the Affordable Care Act, which may encourage patients and providers to engage in discussions around alcohol and tobacco use prevention during pregnancy. Given these factors, we examined the relationship between health insurance coverage and both past month tobacco use and past month alcohol use among a nationally representative sample of reproductive age women in the United States. We sampled 97,788 women ages 12 to 44 years old who participated in the U.S. National Survey of Drug Use and Health in 2010 to 2014. Among these women, 3.28% (n=3,267) were pregnant. We specifically investigated whether the relationship between health insurance and alcohol or tobacco use differed between pregnant and non-pregnant women. (more…)
Addiction, Dental Research, Microbiome, NYU, Smoking / 30.03.2016 Interview with: Jiyoung Ahn, PhD, RD, MS Associate Professor of Population Health Associate Director of Population Sciences, NYU Perlmutter Cancer Center  and Brandilyn Peters (post-doctoral fellow, lead author) NYU Langone School of Medicine What is the background for this study? What are the main findings? Response: Oral bacteria play important roles in oral health, and can influence the health of other body systems as well. We were interested in studying how cigarette smoking affects oral bacteria. To do this, we examined the oral bacteria in mouthwash samples from 112 current smokers, 571 former smokers, and 521 people who never smoked. We found that the mouth bacterial composition of current smokers differed dramatically from those who never smoked. However, the mouth bacterial composition of former smokers was similar to that of never smokers, suggesting that quitting can restore the oral bacteria back to a healthy state. (more…)
Author Interviews, Tobacco Research / 04.02.2016 Interview with: Dr. Kate Frazer University College Dublin School of Nursing, Midwifery & Health Systems Dublin , Ireland MedicalResearch: What is the background for this study? What are the main findings? Dr. Frazer: The review is an update of a 2010 Cochrane systematic review publication ‘Legislative smoking bans for reducing secondhand smoke exposure, smoking prevalence and tobacco consumption’. The 2010 review identified
  • Evidence of secondhand smoke exposure and reduced cotinine levels after the implementation of legislative smoking bans.
  • Evidence of reduced admissions for acute coronary syndrome.
  • Limited evidence of an impact on active smoking rates.
The update was undertaken because more countries have since implemented legislative smoking bans since the review was published in 2010 and the body of research was growing in the intervening period. The new review, published 4th February 2016, presents evidence from 77 observational studies in 21 countries. MedicalResearch: What are the main findings? Dr. Frazer: There is consistent evidence identifying reduced admissions in the post ban period for acute coronary syndrome/ acute myocardial infarction in 33 of 43 studies. There is evidence of reduced mortality from smoking related illnesses in 8 out of 11 studies. There is evidence of reduced admissions for asthma and chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, but the evidence of reduced admissions was not consistent in all studies. There is evidence of an impact on perinatal health outcomes including low birth weight and risk of pre term birth, but the evidence was not consistent in all studies. The evidence of an impact of legislative smoking bans on active smoking and tobacco consumption is not consistent. There have been reductions in smoking rates. The impact of the ban on reducing admissions was observed in smokers and in non-smokers. (more…)
Author Interviews, Tobacco / 25.01.2016 Interview with: Terry Gordon, PhD Professor, Department of Environmental Medicine at NYU Langone Medical Center and at New York University's College of Global Public Health  Medical Research: What is the background for this study? What are the main findings? Dr. Gordon:I t is well established that the intentional inhalation of tobacco combustion products causes severe respiratory and cardiovascular health effects and, in fact, active smoking is the leading preventable cause of death in the US and worldwide.  Importantly, secondhand smoke exposure also causes a range of serious health problems in adults, adolescents, and children exposed in the home or at work. Secondhand smoke exposure can be as harmful as active smoking and is a major cause of both cancer and cardiovascular disease itself, as well as having countless other harmful effects. It was the scientific findings of these effects that led to many clean air regulations across the nation and enabled the FDA to regulate a number of tobacco products.  A growing number of studies in the U.S. and abroad have demonstrated poor indoor air quality in hookah bars, but none have looked at the effect of this on those who work in such establishments. We, therefore, studied whether workplace exposure to secondhand hookah smoke affects the pulmonary and cardiovascular systems.  One of our main findings was that occupational exposure to secondhand hookah smoke produces systemic effects as seen by increases in inflammatory cytokines in the blood after a 10 to 12 hour work shift. This is very worrisome as more and more diseases are being linked to chronic inflammation.  Changes in heart rate suggested that the cardiovascular system was also altered during a single work shift.  The most dramatic effect, however, appeared to be an increase in exhaled carbon monoxide after the work shift.  The low temperature burning of charcoal used to heat the shisha in a water pipe produces large amounts of carbon monoxide, and we observed exhaled carbon monoxide levels as high as 90 ppm, which suggests significant exposure of workers to secondhand hookah smoke and the potential for impairment of hemoglobin to efficiently carry oxygen to the tissues. (more…)
Author Interviews, CDC, Tobacco / 13.12.2015 Interview with: Ralph S. Caraballo, PhD MPH Branch Chief, Epidemiology Branch Office on Smoking and Health National Center for Chronic Disease Prevention and Health Promotion CDC Atlanta GA Medical Research: What is the background for this study? What are the main findings? Dr. Caraballo: Electronic nicotine delivery system (ENDS) use has increased rapidly in the U.S. in recent years. The availability and use of ENDS raise new issues for public health practice and tobacco regulation, as it is unknown whether patterns of ENDS use enhance, deter, or have no impact on combustible tobacco product use. This study assessed past-month, lifetime, and frequency of ENDS use among current, former, and never adult cigarette smokers. In 2014, overall lifetime and past-month ENDS use was 14.1% and 4.8%, respectively. By smoking status, 49.5% of current, 14.7% of former, and 4.1% of never cigarette smokers had used ENDS in their lifetime, whereas 20.6% of current, 4.0% of former, and 0.8% of never smokers used ENDS in the past month. Among current and former cigarette smokers who ever used ENDS, 44.1% and 44.7% reported using ENDS >10 days in their lifetime, respectively. (more…)
Author Interviews, NYU, Tobacco, Tobacco Research / 11.12.2015 Interview with: Michael L. Weitzman MD Professor, Departments of Pediatrics and Environmental Medicine NYU Langone Medical Center. Medical Research: What is the background for this study? What are the main findings? Dr. Weitzman: While the prevalence of cigarette smoking in the United States has recently seen a steady decline, more and more individuals report hookah (water pipe) usage. Researchers have shown that web queries for ‘hookah’ and ‘hookah bars’ have increased dramatically, but it is unclear whether this interest has led to an increase in the number of hookah bars in a given area.  We first tested the website to see whether it could reliably provide us with information – such as the date of establishment of a hookah bar – by comparing the date of the first review written on with the actual opening date. We found that, for 2014 onwards, the first review posting on, on average, occurred within the first month of a hookah bar’s opening date. Additionally, we found a dramatic increase in the number of hookah bars in New York City over the past 5 years. These hookah bars tend to be not randomly distributed, but instead clustered near universities and specific ethnic neighborhoods. (more…)
Author Interviews, Pediatrics, Tobacco Research / 24.11.2015 Interview with: William G. Shadel, PhD Associate Director, Population Health Program Senior Behavioral Scientist RAND Corporation Pittsburgh, PA  15213  Medical Research: What is the background for this study? What are the main findings? Dr. Shadel: The tobacco industry spends almost all of its multi-billion dollar advertising budget at retail point-of-sale locations.  A key feature of their advertising strategy includes the tobacco power wall, a prominent behind the cashier display of hundreds of cigarette and tobacco product brands.  The power wall also displays posters for those tobacco products as well as pricing information.  As such, it conveys a lot of positive messages about tobacco products to consumers. The purpose of this experiment was to evaluate whether hiding or moving the tobacco power wall from its highly conspicuous location reduced teens’ smoking risk when they shop at convenience stores.   The study took place in the RAND StoreLab (RSL), a life-sized replica of a convenience store that was constructed to explore a range of options for regulating tobacco products at point-of-sale retail locations.  A sample of 271 teens (ages 11-17) was randomized to one of three experimental conditions: cashier (the tobacco power wall was located in its usual location, behind the cashier); side wall (the tobacco power wall was moved from behind the cashier to an out of the way location in the RSL); and hidden (the tobacco power wall was located behind the cashier, but was hidden behind an opaque wall).  After teens finished shopping in the RSL, they completed questionnaires that measured their susceptibility to future smoking. Teens assigned to the condition where the power wall was hidden were significantly less likely to report that they would smoke in the future, compared with those that were assigned to the cashier condition.  Locating the power wall to a sidewall had no effect on smoking susceptibility. (more…)
Author Interviews / 20.09.2015

Mohammed K. Ali, MBChB, MSc, MBA Associate Professor of Global Health and Epidemiology Rollins School of Public Health Emory University Interview with: Mohammed K. Ali, MBChB, MSc, MBA Associate Professor of Global Health and Epidemiology Rollins School of Public Health Emory University Medical Research: What is the background for this study? What are the main findings? Dr. Ali: The background of this study is that we attempted to provide a comprehensive overview so that readers could see what has been happening for the 4 most common sets of chronic non-communicable diseases (cardiovascular diseases, diabetes, common cancers, and chronic respiratory diseases) over the past 30 years (1980-2012). We looked at one measure: death due to these conditions as that is the longest-standing way to understand what diseases are most common in society and warrant efforts to address them. And, we picked these 4 groups of conditions because together, they account for one out of every two deaths worldwide. We compiled data for 49 countries where over 70% of deaths in the country are documented and reported to the World Health Organization’s Mortality Database. What we found is that:
  • Between 1980 and 2012, death rates for many conditions (heart disease and stroke; cervical and stomach cancers) declined worldwide.
  • Second, deaths due to diabetes, liver cancers, and female lung cancer and female respiratory diseases increased worldwide.
  • And third, there were disparities between high-income countries (like the US, Australia, European countries) and low- and middle-income countries (like Mexico or Eastern European countries) in that these latter countries experienced less impressive declines in deaths due to heart disease, stroke, stomach, and cervical cancers, and actual increases in deaths due to breast cancers and colon cancers.This suggests that we have made important strides in high-income countries, largely due to efforts to lower tobacco exposure, and that awareness, access to healthcare, screening, and earlier treatments seem to be having an effect on prolonging survival from many cancers. Similarly, greater attention to and treatment of cardiovascular risk factors may be yielding benefits. However, more efforts are needed in low- and middle-income countries, and these disparities should not be overlooked.
Author Interviews, Cannabis, Smoking, University Texas / 20.08.2015

Francesca M. Filbey PhD School of Behavioral and Brain Sciences Center for Brain Health University of Texas at Dallas Dallas, Interview with: Francesca M. Filbey PhD School of Behavioral and Brain Sciences Center for Brain Health University of Texas at Dallas Dallas, TX Medical Research: What is the background for this study? What are the main findings? Dr. Filbey: Most studies exclude tobacco users from participating, but 70% of marijuana users also use tobacco. We were interested in investigating the combined effects of marijuana and tobacco. Our research targeted the hippocampus because smaller hippocampal size is associated with marijuana use. We chose to study short term memory because the hippocampus is an area of the brain associated with memory and learning. The main finding was surprising. The smaller the hippocampus in the marijuana plus nicotine user, the greater the memory performance. We expected the opposite, which was true of the non-using control group. (more…)
Author Interviews, CDC, Cost of Health Care, Tobacco Research / 24.07.2015 Interview with: Sajal Chattopadhyay, Ph.D. Economic Advisor, The Community Guide Branch Division of Public Health Information Dissemination Center for Surveillance, Epidemiology, and Laboratory Services Office of Public Health Scientific Services Centers for Disease Control and Prevention Medical Research: What is the background for this study? What are the main findings? Dr. Chattopadhyay: Based on an updated review of all of the available scientific studies, the Community Preventive Services Task Force (CPSTF) reiterated its recommendation for tobacco price increases based on strong evidence of their effectiveness in reducing tobacco use and its harmful consequences. This study expands on the conclusions on effectiveness of price increases by systematically reviewing the evidence on the economic impact of policies that raise the unit price of tobacco products in the U.S. and other high-income countries, primarily through taxation. The findings indicate that tobacco price increases generate substantial healthcare cost savings and can generate additional gains from improved workplace productivity. (more…)
Author Interviews, CDC, Tobacco Research / 19.11.2014 Interview with: Brian King, Ph.D. Senior Scientific Advisor with the CDC Office on Smoking and Health. MedicalResearch: What is the background for this study? What are the main findings? Dr. King: This study presents data from the 2013 National Youth Tobacco Survey, an annual school-based survey of U.S. middle and high school students in grades 6 through 12. The data show that more than 1 in 5 high school students and more than 1 in 20 middle school students have used a tobacco product in the past 30 days; and nearly half of high school students and almost 1 in 5 middle school students have used a tobacco product at least once in their life. Nine of ten high school tobacco users used a combustible tobacco product such as a cigarette, cigar, hookah, pipe, bidi, or kretek; there was lower use of only noncombustible tobacco products or only electronic cigarettes among both current and ever tobacco users. (more…)
Author Interviews, BMJ, Tobacco Research / 30.08.2014 Interview with:  Michelle Scollo Senior policy adviser, Tobacco Centre for Behavioural Research in Cancer Medical Research: What are the main findings of the study? Answer:  Each November the Cancer Council Victoria conducts a survey asking smokers about their tobacco purchasing habits and smoking attitudes, intentions and behaviours. This study compared what smokers said about where and what they purchased in:
  • November 2011, a year before the introduction of world-first legislation mandating standardized packaging of tobacco products throughout Australia
  • In November 2012, while the new plain packs were being rolled out onto the market and
  • In November 2013 one year later.
The tobacco industry had strenuously opposed the legislation, but—contrary to the industry predictions and continuing claims in other countries contemplating similar legislation—we found: 1.       No evidence of smokers shifting from purchasing in small independent outlets to purchasing in larger supermarkets 2.       No evidence of an increase in use of very cheap brands of cigarettes manufactured by companies based in Asia and 3.       No evidence of an increase in use of illicit unbranded tobacco. (more…)
ADHD, Author Interviews, OBGYNE, Smoking / 21.05.2014 Interview with: Nathalie E. Holz, MA Department of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry and Psychotherapy Central Institute of Mental Health, Medical Faculty Mannheim/Heidelberg University, Mannheim, Germany MedicalResearch: What are the main findings of the study? Dr. Holz: Using data from a prospective community sample followed since birth, we investigated the impact of prenatal maternal smoking on lifetime Attention-Deficit/ Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD) symptoms and on brain structure and inhibitory control assessed with Magnetic Resonance Imaging in the adult offspring. Those who were prenatally exposed to tobacco not only exhibited more ADHD symptoms, but also showed decreased activity in the inhibitory control network encompassing the inferior frontal gyrus as well as the anterior cingulate cortex. Activity in these regions was inversely related to lifetime ADHD symptoms and novelty seeking, respectively. In addition volume in the inferior frontal gyrus was decreased in these participants. (more…)
Addiction, BMJ, Tobacco Research / 13.02.2014 Interview with: Dr Jenny L Hatchard University of Bath and UK Centre for Tobacco and Alcohol Studies What are the main findings of the study? Dr. Hatchard: Our study found that global tobacco companies’ claims that standardised packaging ‘won’t work’ should be viewed sceptically. The aim of standardised packaging, with no logos, brand imagery, symbols, or promotional text, is to restrict the already limited opportunities that tobacco companies have to market their products, and deter people from starting smoking. It was introduced in Australia in 2012 and the UK Government is currently considering following suit. We analysed the evidence cited by four global tobacco companies in their lengthy responses (1521 pages in total) to a recent UK Government consultation on standardised packaging for cigarettes. (more…)