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Sunday, September 28, 2008

Shocking Pictures To Appear On Cigarette Packets In UK On 1st October

The UK's ten million Smokers may see pictures of rotting teeth, throat cancer, and indications of male impotence (erectile dysfunction) on cigarette packets they buy at the beginning of October. The Department of Health (DoH) says "The warnings illustrate the devastating effects that tobacco can have on health."

Written warnings were introduced in January 2003. The DoH says they have been a great success. It says over 90,000 smokers have been moved by written warnings and consequently called the NHS Smoking Helpline (Tel - (0800 169 0 169).

There are 1.9 million fewer smokers today in the United Kingdom, compared to 1982. However, the DoH says smoking is still the nation's biggest killer. In England alone smoking is responsible for the premature deaths of 87,000 people annually.

The DoH says it expects the graphic pictures should have an even bigger impact on both triggering smokers into action (to giving up) and putting off want-to-be smokers from ever starting. These visual warnings will be changed periodically, for maximum effect. Research suggests that smokers remember the negative effects for longer if they are exposed to images, compared to written sentences.

Sir Liam Donaldson, Chief Medical Officer said:

"I welcome the introduction of picture warnings on tobacco product packaging, which show smokers the grim reality of the effects smoking can have on their health. This will help to maintain the momentum of the increasing number of people who have given up smoking following England going smoke free in 2007. Written health warnings have encouraged many smokers to stop smoking. These new stark picture warnings emphasize the harsh health realities of continuing to smoke. I hope they will make many more think hard about giving up, and get the help they need to stop smoking for good."

The Department of Health, in a recent press release, quotes Michael Shepherd, 39, who was diagnosed with throat cancer two years ago. Michael hopes that the new warnings will help make smokers realize that the risks they are taking are real. He hopes that, unlike him, they can stop before it is too late.

Michael Shepherd said "Before I was diagnosed with cancer, I felt I was invincible. I was a big strong bloke working at a trade I loved; I had a huge circle of friends and money to spend. Now I'm on invalidity benefits, and live on state handouts. I hate it and would do anything to get back into work. All this has happened to me because of smoking. I never realized you could get cancer so young. The doctors saved my life, but what I've got now is a hard struggle. I will keep on and I will fight to get better, if only for my daughter's sake."

In 2001 Canada introduced graphic warnings. Official reports indicate that 31% of Canadian ex-smokers gave up because they had seen the pictures, and 27 per cent reported they had helped them to stay smokefree. The following countries use graphic warning on tobacco products - Australia, Brazil, Canada, India, New Zealand, Singapore, Venezuela, Thailand and Uruguay.

According to local NHS Stop Smoking Services around England, 350,000 smokers in the UK stopped smoking. If you are a smoker and wish to give up you can join them and find out more - order a free DVD which explains the different types of NHS support available to help smokers who want to quit - call 0800 169 0 169.

The images come from an image bank stipulated by the European Union. The warnings 'Smoking kills' and 'Smoking seriously harms you and others around you' will continue to be used on the front of tobacco packs.

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Should Ecstasy Be Downgraded? UK

Before the turn of the century ecstasy was a big headline puller and journalists wrote about it a great deal. Recently, however, cocaine and heroin have taken front stage. Just because ecstasy is not hitting the headlines as much as it used to may not necessarily mean it is not a dangerous drug and should consequently be downgraded. The declining popularity of the rave scene has lead to a drop in ecstasy interest. Hence, ecstasy's classification is being reviewed.

According to the Department of Health, 567,000 people under the age of 60 in the UK used ecstasy in 2006. 48% of them were aged 16 to 24. Experts say these figures indicate only a very 'slight' decline since the 1990s. Prices have dropped as well, from £25 in the early 1990s to approximately £5 today.

Official figures show that 246 people died as a result of consuming ecstasy during 2003 to 2007, compared to 28 from the beginning of 1998 to the end of 1999.

Experts say that from a clinical point of view ecstasy should never have been a Class A drug, like heroin - it should have been a class B if penalties are supposed to be in proportion to consumption risks and dangers.

The government is currently carrying out a review of ecstasy's category. Prof. David Nutt, who is soon to head the ACMD (Advisory Council on the Misuse of Drugs), has said ecstasy is not as damaging to health as heroin or cocaine, both Class A drugs. The ACMD will publish its report at the end of 2009.

The police, on the other hand, are mostly against changing ecstasy from Class A to Class B.

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