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Tuesday, August 31, 2010

Tobacco Use among School Students Declines Over Past 10 Years, but Current Rates of Decline are Slow

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report, during 2000-2009, the prevalence of current tobacco use among middle school students declined (15.1% to 8.2%), as did current cigarette use (11.0% to 5.2%) and cigarette smoking experimentation (29.8% to 15.0%).  The August 27, 2010 report also showed similar trends for high school students, with current tobacco use declining from 34.5% to 23.9%; current cigarette use from 28.0% to 17.2%; and cigarette smoking experimentation from 39.4% to 30.1%.

These trends in tobacco use among youth were analyzed from data from the 2000-2009 National Youth Tobacco Survey (NYTS) which collects information on tobacco use and related behaviors and attitudes from middle school and high school students.  The NYTS includes measures on prevalence of youth tobacco use, smoking cessation, tobacco-related knowledge and attitudes, access to tobacco, media and advertising, and secondhand smoke exposure and has been conducted approximately every 2 years since 2000.

Although tobacco use decreased over the past ten years for these groups, progress was stalled between 2006 and 2009, with no change in prevalence.  This indicates that the current rate of decline in tobacco use is relatively slow and more needs to be done to combat youth smoking.  The new restrictions on tobacco product sales and marketing under the Family Smoking Prevention and Tobacco Control Act are certainly great strides for tobacco control, but it is clear that we have a ways to go to substantially reduce youth smoking rates.

Partnership for Prevention recommends that youth tobacco prevention and control programs be fully funded to see a major reduction in the prevalence of youth smoking.  Specifically, we should focus our efforts on 1) a nationwide public education campaign modeled on the highly successful Truth® campaign that dissuades thousands of young people from initiating tobacco use and encourages smoking cessation and 2) support for existing state and community-based tobacco control programs that reach people where they live, work, play and worship.

Brandi Robinson
Tobacco Control Program Associate

Posted by: Brian McCue at 12:00 AM
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Labels: adolescents, CDC, tobaccocessation

Monday, August 30, 2010

Hand Cleaners Reduce Workdays Lost, Driving with Pets a Dangerous Distraction named “Best/Worst News for Prevention”

Alcohol-based hand cleaners shown to reduce common infections and number of workdays lost was named the “Best News for Prevention” while the risky behavior of driving with pets was named the  “Worst News for Prevention.”

Hand Cleansers Cut Absenteeism


Putting alcohol-based hand cleansers in work places slashed the incidence of several common infections and reduced the number of workdays lost, a randomized trial showed.

Access to the disinfectants was associated with odds ratios of 0.35 to 0.45 (P<0.05) for reported colds, fevers, and coughs in an unblinded trial with 129 participants, according to Nils-Olaf Hübner, MD, of the Institute of Hygiene and Environmental Medicine in Greifswald, Germany, and colleagues.

The researchers also found that putting disinfectants on employees' desks helped reduce absenteeism. The effect was modest overall, but workdays lost because of diarrhea were cut dramatically, they reported in the online open-access journal BMC Infectious Diseases.


Study: Driving under influence of pets a danger

Safety experts have a new pet peeve related to distracted driving. In addition to texting or talking on a cell phone while driving, lap dogs and other pets left unrestrained inside moving vehicles pose a major distraction that could be deadly, a new study released Wednesday warns motorists.

About two-thirds of dog owners surveyed by the AAA organization said they routinely drive while petting or playing with their dogs, sometimes even giving them food or water while maneuvering through traffic.

It has been a common sight for many years to see dogs hanging their heads out of open car windows with their ears flapping in the breeze. But in the cocoon that the automobile has become, more drivers are nonchalantly cradling their dogs atop their laps or perching the animals on their chests with the pet's front paws clutching the driver's neck or shoulders. It's risky behavior for the driver and dangerous for the pets, too.

The “Best and Worst” awards are announced each week in “Prevention Matters,” the blog of Partnership for Prevention. "Best and Worst News for Prevention” is based on a purposive sample of expert staff members who each week choose to share their opinions on the best and worst news for prevention. More information is available at

Posted by: Brian McCue at 12:00 AM
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Labels: driving, infections, workplacewellness

Monday, August 30, 2010

Expanding Coverage: Medicare Offers New Tobacco Cessation Counseling Benefit

On August 25th, the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services announced an expansion of Medicare coverage that is supported by many tobacco control advocates around the nation.  This new expansion offers coverage of evidence-based tobacco cessation counseling, allowing many more smokers to get the treatment that they need.

Despite the fact that Medicare provides coverage for over 43 million beneficiaries, tobacco counseling was previously only offered to those individuals who were diagnosed with or showed symptoms of a tobacco-related disease.   This new benefit provides coverage for tobacco cessation counseling to all smokers.  As Secretary Kathleen Sebelius explains, “For too long, many tobacco users with Medicare coverage were denied access to evidence-based tobacco cessation counseling.  Most Medicare beneficiaries want to quit their tobacco use.  Now, older adults and other Medicare beneficiaries can get the help they need to successfully overcome tobacco dependence.”

Medicare beneficiaries will now be provided coverage for two individual tobacco cessation counseling attempts each year, with a total of eight counseling sessions per Medicare patient each year.  This coverage has been expanded under the Affordable Care Act, which requires Medicare to cover a variety of preventive services, including tobacco cessation services.  The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services will also provide more guidance in the upcoming months about a new Medicaid benefit offering pregnant women coverage for tobacco cessation treatment.

Tobacco-related diseases will cost Medicare an estimated 800 billion dollars between 1995 and 2015.  With this new benefit, however, smokers will receive the help they need to quit and prevent these tobacco-related diseases, providing major health benefits for themselves and huge cost savings for Medicare. 

Medicare’s coverage of tobacco cessation counseling eliminates a huge barrier to treatment that previously impeded many smokers who sought help in trying to quit.  Such coverage fully supports Partnership for Prevention’s mission to provide comprehensive cessation treatments to all tobacco users.  Partnership commends the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services for its tobacco control efforts.

For more information please visit the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid website.

Katie Burggraf
Tobacco Control Team

Posted by: Brian McCue at 12:00 AM
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Labels: HHS, Medicaid, Medicare, tobaccocessation

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