Ex-smokers get help staying smoke-free from warnings on cigarette packages, according to a new study. The study arrives just as several nations, including the US, gear up to update cigarette pack warnings from words to graphic images. "This study provides the first evidence that health warnings can help ex-smokers stay quit," says Dr. Ron Borland of the VicHealth Centre for Tobacco Control in Australia. He and his team believe that warnings on cigarette packets remind ex-smokers why they quit in the first place, thus helping them resist relapse. The US FDA agree that cigarette packaging can help ex-smokers keep up their resolve. Patricia Folan, director of the Center for Tobacco Control at the North Shore-LIJ Health System in Great Neck, NY, says that anti-smoking PSA's have made significant impact urging smokers to quit. "When these types of commercials are aired, calls to state smokers' quit-lines have increased dramatically,” she says. “This increase in calls indicates that the ads appear to be motivating smokers to quit." One survey, conducted between 2002 and 2009 asked ex-smokers if cigarette packaging warnings had helped them stay off cigs. Those who found the cigarette packaging helpful had a relapse rate of 41%, whereas those who did not find it helpful had a rate of 50%. Advocates claim that if more aggressive measures are taken in warning the public about the dangers of smoking, global smoking rates could drop from 24% to 13% by 2030.
Some unexpected new victims have been caught in the crossfire of the war on drugs: connoisseurs of fine chocolate. Looking to curb production of Peruvian cocaine, the US Agency for International Development (USAID) broke a semi-sweet deal with local cocoa farmers: if they stop planting coca—the native, low yield crop that's the main ingredient of cocaine—USAID will give them CCN-51, a high-yield and bulk-selling hybrid cocoa. But the decision to import genetically spliced cocoa has aggravated some chocolate makers: CCN-51 tends to have an acidic flavor and lacks the complex and subtle flavors connoisseurs crave, so many chocolatiers want Peruvian farmers to cultivate native Peruvian cocoa instead. While the pure native cocoa is lower yield and more susceptible to disease than CCN-51, it's market price is almost double: pure cocoa sells for $4000 per ton compared to just $2400 per ton for the hybrid version. “Peru is a country of fine, aromatic cocoa, and like all good things it comes in small quantities,” says Mariella Balbi, owner of a Guanni Chocolates. USAID says it could reconsider the bargain, and might encourage native cocoa production if it's best for Peru's future—and this may be the case as global demand grows for organic food. "USAID did a fine job developing an alternative crop with CCN-51, but times change. What people want changes," says Astrid Gutsche, pastry chef and wife of Peruvian food icon Gaston Acurio. "This idea of native cocoa is quite new and I believe it's the future for Peru. We have something that no one else has."
You can't beat addiction with braininess: Just ask the man with the world's second highest IQ. Rick Rosner, currently ranked second in the World Genius Directory with an IQ in the 190s, recently spoke about his addiction to online porn that includes three hours of smut viewing every day (and which his wife of two decades seemingly has no problem with). He's also kept a lifelong count of how many orgasms he has achieved, which he has now tallied at just over 16,000. "I've had 42 years of sexual activity—most of it was myself," says Rosner. The genius also partakes in other compulsive behaviors such as ingesting 70 pills a day, including carb blockers, cholesterol blockers and brain supplements—in an effort to restrict his caloric absorption and, he believes, extend his life. Over the past six years, he has dropped from 177 to 150 pounds. His tendency to work out 50 times or more per week also landed him on the A&E show Obsessed in 2009, but he has since dropped that number to 30 times a week. His predilection for being the center of attention hasn't just been limited to reality television though. He competed in 2000 on Who Wants To Be a Millionaire (where he sued the show after losing due to an allegedly flawed question), performed as a giant penis on The Man Show and appeared naked with a light bulb in his backside on the Comedy Central gag show Crank Yankers. These days, Rosner works as a comedy writer for Jimmy Kimmel Live!
US teens have the highest rates of alcohol and drug abuse in the developed world, according to a study on adolescents across the globe. Some 30% of American 13-to-15 year-old girls reported binge drinking in the last 30 days—more than in any other country in the study. US teens also showed the highest rates of obesity, despite also being most likely to exercise. The study—published in the British medical journal The Lancet—also found that American adolescents had the highest incidence of death by violence, with around 17 in 100,000 boys age 15 to 19 killed each year. This is more than four times the number in Israel and Denmark, which were tied for the second highest rate. Sexual activity, however, was higher in European teens—with Denmark and Greece showing the highest rates of sexually active teens aged 13 to 15.
Young people today are experiencing longer periods of education, and delays to marriage, which researchers say could lead to an extended adolescence—this could explain the higher exposure to teen-related risks including substance abuse and casual sex. Also, cognitive research on teens has shown them to be more affected by stress and excitement than adults. Many risky health behaviors emerge during adolescence, and may be thwarted if the proper steps are taken, according to lead author Professor George Patton, of the University of Melbourne in Australia. “Irrespective of region, most adolescent deaths are preventable and thus strongly justify worldwide action to enhance adolescent health,” says Patton. He claims future global health initiatives should focus more on teenagers “in view of their dynamic and challenging health profile, the contribution of adolescent health to the global burden of disease, and the important effect of adolescents and their health across the life course." There are some 1.8 billion adolescents aged between ten and 24 in the world today, comprising more than a quarter of the world's population.
The Transportation Security Administration might not have the best rep with travelers in a hurry to get airborne, but a few TSA screeners have helped people get high smoothly. Four TSA screeners have been arrested for taking cash in exchange for allowing drugs to pass through security checkpoints at LAX. Authorities say large amounts of marijuana, cocaine, and methamphetamine were all allowed through LAX security checkpoints—including X-ray machines—by two former and two current TSA employees who accepted bribes of up to $2,400. "The allegations in this case describe a significant breakdown of the screening system through the conduct of individuals who placed greed above the nation's security needs,'' said US Attorney Andre Birotte Jr. Authorities cite five distinct drug passes, occurring over a six month period last year. One involved drug courier is in custody, with another courier expected to surrender on Thursday. Identified suspect, Duane Eleby, attempted to bring five kilograms of cocaine through a security checkpoint, but was caught by by a TSA employee who was not involved in the bribing scheme after Eleby went to the wrong terminal. "While these arrests are a disappointment, TSA is committed to holding our employees to the highest standards," said Randy Parsons, TSA Federal Security Director at LAX. All four employees will face a minimum of 10 years in federal prison if convicted.
- 'Anti-Alcoholism' Drug Cleared for Use in France [Medical Xpress]
- Accuser, Addict in Pa. Clergy-abuse Case Testifies [Associated Press]
- How Mindfulness Aids In Addiction Recovery [Psych Central]
- 3 in 5 Americans Misuse Prescription Drugs (pdf) [Quest Diagnostics]
- Circus Elephants Had Opiates in Their Systems [Irish Times]
- Marijuana Toxic to Pets [Daily Camera]
- Video: Ew! John Cusack Drinks Hand Sanitizer with Jimmy Kimmel [US]