China Bans Smoking in Most Public Places
China, home to more than 300 million smokers, has banned lighting up in most public places. Starting Sunday, all bars, restaurants, hospitals, theaters, hotels, parks, and mass-transit vehicles became smoke-free—a move designed to curb one of the country's greatest health threats. China accounts for a third of all cigarettes smoked worldwide, and smoking is linked to the deaths of 1 million people there each year. Public venues are now required to prominently display "No Smoking" signs; since smoking is still allowed in offices, employers are encouraged to ask their staffers not to smoke. Fines or punishments for breaking the ban, however, aren't specified, leading some critics to cast doubt on its effectiveness. "I acknowledge that there are imperfections in the guidelines," Yang Gonghuan, director of China's National Office of Tobacco Control, told the Associated Press. "But I think we should all come together to help push forward the regulation's implementation."
12 Reasons to Really Quit Smoking
We'll spare you the lecture. (Seriously, though. Stamp out that butt and flush the pack, already.) Tobacco use, namely cigarette smoking, is the chief cause of preventable death in the United States. Left unbridled, smoking could kill more than a billion people this century, according to the World Health Organization. That equals the number who would die if a Titanic sank every 24 minutes for the next 100 years, as former U.S. Surgeon General C. Everett Koop so starkly put it during a 2008 press conference.
1. It fogs the mind. Smoking may cloud the mind, according to accumulating research. A 2008 study in the Archives of Internal Medicine found that smoking in middle age is linked to memory problems and to a slide in reasoning abilities, though these risks appeared lessened for those who'd long quit; this is important, the authors wrote, because other research has shown that people with mild cognitive impairment in midlife develop dementia at an accelerated rate. Their report piggybacks on several focused on the older set: A 2007 analysis of 19 prior studies concluded that elderly smokers face a heightened risk of dementia and cognitive decline, compared with lifelong nonsmokers. And in 2004, researchers reported in Neurology that smoking appeared to hasten cognitive decline in dementia-free elderly smokers, bringing it on several times faster than in their nonsmoking peers.
2. It may bring on diabetes. As if we need any more risk factors for diabetes, an analysis published in the Journal of the American Medical Association found that across 25 prior studies, current smokers have a 44 percent greater chance of developing type 2 diabetes than nonsmokers do, and the risk was strongest for those with the heaviest habit, who clocked 20 or more cigarettes per day. In an accompanying editorial, researchers made a striking estimation: That some 12 percent of all type 2 diabetes cases nationwide might be attributable to smoking. [Read more: 12 Reasons to Really Quit Smoking.]
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Is It Possible to Be Smoke Free in 30 Days?
By now, it's almost a cliché to reiterate that smoking is the chief cause of preventable death in the United States. Yet approximately 46 million Americans are still lighting up, according to estimates from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. U.S. News spoke to clinical psychologist Daniel Seidman, director of smoking cessation services at Columbia University Medical Center, about his book Smoke-Free in 30 Days: The Pain-Free, Permanent Way to Quit (Fireside Trade Paperback Original). In it, Seidman draws on his 20-plus years of experience with thousands of patients and walks people through the quitting process—including how to prepare for the "quit day" and how to maintain their success.
The big obstacles to quitting, he said, are numerous: "Really, there are three hurdles people have to get past: the physical, the automated behavior (which is the habit), and emotional belief systems. Most people, when they think about this addiction to smoking, think of it as a physical problem with some element of habit. But I think people really don't get that for many smokers, making a good emotional adjustment after they quit is the hardest thing. If every time for 20 years you get upset you take a cigarette, that's going to become very much a part of your emotional repertoire, right? Once you can get [people] to think differently about that emotional belief system, it really helps them move beyond smoking and lose interest in it." [Read more: Is It Possible to Be Smoke Free in 30 Days?]
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