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NYS Lawmakers vote to raise the smoking age from 18 to 21 - Rahman Lab interviewed

Wednesday, March 6, 2019

Lawmakers in the New York state Assembly have voted to raise the smoking age from 18 to 21.

The legislation, which passed the Democrat-led chamber on Wednesday, prohibits the sale of tobacco, as well as electronic cigarettes, to anyone under 21.

"I always thought that we were going to be the generation to stop smoking and then all of these new products came out and we are at step one," said Monica Jackson, a research assistant at the University of Rochester.

She said she doesn't smoke, but some of her friends do.

"I think just educating people and putting it in their heads this is not good for us," she added.

Jackson is part of a team of researchers at the university, including Dr. Irfan Rahman. Dr. Rahman has been helping conduct a study on the impacts of smoking and vaping for more than 10 years. Some of his work has also been published.

"This is really bad for high schoolers and middle schoolers when their lungs are developing, and if they vape it's interfering with lung development," he explained.

When asked about raising the age to buy tobacco and e-cigarettes, Dr. Rahman said it won't do much.

"The problem will never be solved by increasing the age. Overall it will not address the issue of toxicity and diseases," he said.

Throughout the years, Dr. Rahman says he's studied the evolution of different products to consume tobacco and nicotine.

When it comes to research on Juul products, he said, "we found metals such as copper, we published a paper, we found lung injuries, inflammation and stress in the lungs."

The elevated smoking age is already the law in seven states, and several cities around the country, including New York City.

Some people think passing such a law is going too far.

"The idea for them to choose when they finish high school when they become adults it's more applicable, so i think 19 would be more of an applicable age," said James McGuinness a Rochester resident.

Brandon Barr is the manager of Exscape Smoke Shop and Vapor Lounge. He said the age of 21 at least is giving you more life experience, and more of a chance to educate yourself about the thing you want to do.

He said if the law is passed, it likely won't impact his business directly.

"I think convenience stores and things like that probably will because they have more of a high customer volume," he added.

Barr said the topic of education should be at the center of this debate. He said he works to educate all of his customers about what they are buying.

"Some of these very high level nicotine juices if you were to put them in certain kinds of vapes it can put so much nicotine into you - you could get sick," he said.

The measure is backed by Governor Andrew Cuomo, and has broad support in the Democrat-controlled state Senate, where it has yet to be scheduled for a vote.

Cuomo released a statement after the Assembly passed the bill.

"The lifelong health effects and human misery caused by tobacco use cannot be understated and New York needs to do everything in its power to keep tobacco products out of the hands of our young people. That's why I made raising the age of tobacco sales to 21 one of the first proposals of my Justice Agenda and I applaud the Assembly and particularly Assembly Member Rosenthal for taking action on this very important issue today. I urge the Senate to follow suit and help make this a stronger and healthier New York for all."

Julie Hart of the American Cancer Society Cancer Action Network called the measure "common sense" and said it will reduce the number of young people who become addicted.

Read More: NYS Lawmakers vote to raise the smoking age from 18 to 21 - Rahman Lab interviewed

URMC Study reveals uptake of Vaping flavors among teenagers - Dr. Rahman Interviewed by Channel 8

Friday, March 1, 2019

Vaping flavors may be appealing for the eye and may taste better than smoking cigarettes. But a new study out of the University of Rochester found that vaping is starting to grow in popularity among teenagers.

According to Dr. Rahman, the study also shows an alarming uptake of vaping among youth which could lead to serious health problems later in life. 

The study showed just last year vaping among 6th to 8th graders increased 48 percent and 9th to 12th graders in increased to 78 percent. Doctors said the lungs are still developing during those school years 

"Be defective development, and after the development is complete, then it could lead to complications,” said Dr. Rahman. 

Nowadays e-cigarettes are shaped like a USB flash drive and are easy to conceal. Dr. Rahman says the liquids come in flavors that appeal to youth and can be easily bought online.

“Have to be alerted that these are toxic chemicals in here,” said Rahman. “Smoking or vaping should completely be abolished.” 
  
There is currently a “flavor ban” legislation that could eliminate vaping flavors. For those who support flavors say thousands will return to combustible cigarettes, people would lose jobs and its mainly for adults. 

"I switched from combustible cigarettes to flavors. they tasted better more appetizing to use and more enjoyable.  Ultimately the studies are showing that no more than 5 percent of long term health effects that's what got me to switch from combustible cigarettes personally,” said Ken Gregory, owner of Bad Drip Labs. 

According to Gregory, his business isn’t about getting teens to use their products.  He added the industry is made for adults and teens shouldn’t be vaping. 

Read More: URMC Study reveals uptake of Vaping flavors among teenagers - Dr. Rahman Interviewed by Channel 8

New Study Links Electronic Cigarettes and Wheezing in Adults

Thursday, February 28, 2019

Electronic cigarette use (“vaping”) is associated with wheezing in adults, according to a new study published in the journal Tobacco Control. People who vaped were nearly twice as likely to experience wheezing compared to people who didn’t regularly use tobacco products. Wheezing, which is caused by narrowed or abnormal airways, is often a precursor to other serious health conditions such as emphysema, gastro-esophageal reflux disease, heart failure, lung cancer and sleep apnea.

“The take-home message is that electronic cigarettes are not safe when it comes to lung health,” says Ossip, a tobacco research expert and professor in the Department of Public Health Sciences at the University of Rochester Medical Center (URMC). “The changes we’re seeing with vaping, both in laboratory experiments and studies of people who vape, are consistent with early signs of lung damage, which is very worrisome.”

Researchers from URMC analyzed data from more than 28,000 adults in the U.S. who took part in the Population Assessment of Tobacco and Health (PATH) study. After adjusting for age, gender, race/ethnicity, body mass index, secondhand smoke exposure and other factors, adult vapers were 1.7 times more likely to experience wheezing and related respiratory symptoms (such as difficulty breathing) compared to non-users.

Lead study author Dongmei Li, Ph.D., associate professor in the Department of Clinical and Translational Research at URMC, acknowledges that there are limitations to the study. PATH study data are self-reported, so it’s possible that information collected from participants is subject to recall bias. The analysis cannot prove that vaping causes wheezing; it only identifies an association between the two. Finally, PATH data does not include information on some important factors that could influence the results, such as participants’ diet and physical activity levels.

Despite these limitations, senior study author Irfan Rahman, Ph.D., professor of Environmental Medicine at URMC, says the research clearly identifies another health repercussion from vaping. This is particularly concerning given new data released from the Center for Disease Control and Prevention that shows a dramatic uptick in youth vaping. According to the report, in 2018 vaping increased by 78 percent among ninth to 12th graders and 48 percent in sixth to eighth graders.

Read More: New Study Links Electronic Cigarettes and Wheezing in Adults

Falsey, Mariani Secure $3.8 M NIH Grant to Reduce Antibiotic Overuse

Thursday, February 21, 2019

Ann R. Falsey, M.D., professor of Infectious Diseases, and Thomas J. Mariani, Ph.D., professor of Pediatrics, received a 5-year, $3.8 million grant from the National Institutes of Health to search for a better way to distinguish bacterial and viral respiratory infections. The goal of the study is to define predictive genes – using gene expression profiling of blood – that can be developed into a simple point of care diagnostic that can be used by clinicians to discriminate bacterial and non-bacterial illness. Such a test would allow physicians to optimally manage patients with acute respiratory infections, which are a leading cause of antibiotic overuse and are linked to the rise of antibiotic resistant organisms.

The grant is the result of research done as part of the NIH-funded Respiratory Pathogens Research Center. Falsey and Mariani are the co-principal investigators, and Edward Walsh, M.D., Angela Branche, M.D. and Derick Peterson, Ph.D. are co-investigators.

Public health joins dance to put arts into action

Thursday, January 10, 2019

Valeriia Sherina

Professor Katrina Smith Korfmacher, front right, with students in her Environmental Health and Justice course, take a short hike following a tour of the Hemlock Water Filtration Plant. (University of Rochester photo / J. Adam Fenster)

Last fall, students from a public health course and a dance class got together for a day of combined learning.

In effort to understand how to initiate change in a community, students in Arts and Activism, and their counterparts in Environmental Health and Justice in the Rochester Community, met up in the Linda E. Sloan Studio of Todd Union to create some new moves.

The Arts and Activism students were using dance to explore the relationship between social activism and artistic practice. Earlier in the semester, the students—in collaboration with a local organization—used visual art, film, and performance to create a two-night interactive installation that would show the importance of voting during the 2018 mid-term elections. Now, they would study a new chapter that would explore the theater practice known as “Theater of the Oppressed” as a vehicle for community organization, expression, and action.

“We talk about communication and how to communicate ideas using theater practice,” says Rose Pasquarello Beauchamp, instructor for Arts and Activism and senior lecturer in the Program of Dance and Movement.

“I thought my students would gain a broader perspective on communication from this experience,” says Katrina Smith Korfmacher, director of the Community Engagement Core for the Environmental Health Sciences Center. In her Environmental Health and Justice class, students had been working over the semester with several local groups to collect and analyze data for projects such as the protection of the City of Rochester’s drinking water supply as well as the condition of the bike trails for the Genesee Riverway Trail.

Read More: Public health joins dance to put arts into action