smoking

We always knew when our PhD advisor was applying for a grant. He would pace the hallways, then go outside and smoke. A lot. (Thankfully, he's quit since then.)

Why do smokers find such solace in cigarettes? It may be the nicotine. Several years ago, a (very) small experiment suggested that people who were intentionally provoked into becoming angry were less likely to retaliate if they were wearing a nicotine patch.

That's an interesting finding because, as the original study explains, "Deficits in anger management may be a risk factor for smoking initiation and...

Not that long ago, if a company had invented a far safer way to deliver nicotine to addicted smokers, politicians would be celebrating. Smoking is one of the leading preventable causes of disease and death in the world. If every smoker quit cigarettes today, we would have a healthier society, and healthcare costs undoubtedly would decrease. That's a win-win.

But today, partisanship has ruined just about everything. It has crept into nearly every aspect of American life, from the workplace and classroom to sporting events and even dinner table conversations. A good idea is rejected simply because the "other team" came up with it.

This is a terrible development for our culture. But it's even worse for areas such as public health, because people die when we implement bad...

Through education and taxation, the struggle to end tobacco smoking has made tremendous gains over the last fifty years; some believe that we are entering the final phase of stopping the plague. Public health thinking has evolved too, cigarettes are now considered “nicotine delivery” systems and so they have taken on new forms – from the “low to no” nicotine cigarettes, to gum, patches, and vaporizers.

If we cannot end smoking short of prohibition, and we know how well abstinence only works, then we are compromising by containment, reducing harm while promoting cessation.

As a physician, advising patients to stop smoking remains the standard best practice, but for those who find it more difficult to quit addictive behavior, we are more practical and consider harm...

There's no doubt about it. E-cigarettes have the potential to save millions of lives.

What makes smoking so dangerous isn't the nicotine, per se. Nicotine is an addictive alkaloid, just like caffeine. (Believe it or not, plants produce both compounds because they are insecticides.) The addiction makes people want more tobacco, but the molecule itself isn't all that harmful.

Tobacco is lethal because of the smoke. A lit cigarette releases known chemical carcinogens and tiny bits of particulate matter, which are incredibly damaging to the lungs. Setting anything on fire, not just tobacco, and inhaling the fumes is a bad idea. That's why innovative ways to get...

We often tend to think of rural environments as being less polluted than our cities — fewer cars, less air pollution, etc. Thus we might expect folks living in rural areas to have fewer lung-related ailments. But a recent report from the CDC suggests that the opposite is true, at least with respect to Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease, or COPD.

COPD was the 4th leading cause of death in the United States in 2016. COPD includes emphysema, chronic bronchitis and sometimes asthma, and occurs when the tiny air sacs in the lungs (the alveoli, which is where oxygen exchange occurs) become damaged and no longer can function. It's a progressive and irreversible condition, leading to an inability to...

Last week, international media outlets reported that asparagus causes cancer. It does not.

Like a series of bad sequels, the media is back with yet another terribly botched story. This time, the claim is that using household cleaning sprays is like smoking 20 cigarettes per day. Wrong again.

The study, which used a cohort design, examined lung capacity and function among...

Why do people continue to smoke? Why do we seem to reach a point where education and taxation have not continued to reduce the numbers of people that begin smoking? Are they not “rational” decision makers (some may prefer the term idiots) or is there something else at play?

Smokers despite being aware of the health consequences, underestimate their risk. This is a common problem for all of us and for a range of our behaviors. It is sometimes difficult to quantify the probability/risk of an event, especially when its chance of occurrence is small or when the risk might occur later, rather than now. The economic term for changing judgment based upon when something will occur is temporal discounting. For those of you of a certain age, it can be neatly summed up as “I will gladly...

Like most topics in America these days, e-cigarettes are controversial. The reason stems largely from the fact that the debate is driven less by science and more by religious zealotry.

On the one side is the pro-vaping lobby, who seems to believe that e-cigarettes are the greatest invention since the wheel. Not only are e-cigarettes effective for quitting smoking, they are safe and fun.

On the other side is the prohibitionists, who believe that the mere thought of vaping is blasphemous. According to them, e-cigarettes are just as bad as tobacco, and therefore the only acceptable public health policy is total abstention.

Both sides are wrong. While the vapers are right that e-cigarettes can help smokers quit, it is unlikely that they are as safe as breathing fresh...

My wife and I travel frequently from our home in Seattle to Europe to visit her parents. I've been across the pond 20 times, and I've visited 18 countries there.

Whenever I listen to Americans talk about Europe, I'm struck by how little they actually understand it. To the Left, Europe is a progressive paradise -- scientifically savvy, technologically advanced, and culturally liberal with cradle-to-grave welfare for all. To the Right, Europe is a socialist hellhole -- an economically stagnant, irreligious, morally bankrupt continent of has-beens.

These diametrically opposed caricatures are completely wrong. As is often the case, the truth is somewhere in the middle.

Take science policy, for instance. Europe notoriously embraces the "precautionary principle,"...

Smoking really is as bad as everybody says it is.

A person's chance of getting lung cancer depends on how many years one has smoked, as well as how many cigarettes one has smoked per day. In general, according to the International Journal of Cancer, smoking makes a man nearly 24 times more likely to get lung cancer and a woman almost 8 times more likely. Put another way, smoking increases a man's risk of lung cancer by 2,300% and a woman's by 700%.

Lung cancer isn't the only thing a smoker needs to worry about. Smoking is linked to several different cancers, and it damages the cardiovascular, respiratory, and immune systems. Indeed, as the...