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Author Topic: Reducing Teen Smoking -- would a spray showing if someone smoked help?  (Read 3725 times)

Offline Caleb

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This is something Iíve thought about for a long timeó would a spray which would indicate whether someone had earlier smoked nicotine/tobacco/etc. in the room reduce smoking?

The problem for me now is thisó when kids smoke in school bathrooms, oftentimes no one but other youngsters know. When the smoke goes away, there usually is no trace of what happened there. And for many kids, smoking is still a high status activity.

I remember a high school official telling me that no one smoked in a nearby high school bathroom. My daughter begged to differ when I told her that.

If mothers, fathers, members of the PTA group had such a spray (clearly showing whether a cigarette product had been smoked in the school bathrooms), probably by changing into an obvious color, almost certainly this would reduce smoking at that school.

As we know, if youngsters donít start smoking by the time they are 18, they are not likely to smoke at all. (According to http://www.elon.edu/docs/e-web/academics/communications/research/06SachsEJSpring10.pdf , 80% of people start smoking before they are 18.)

This approach in psychology is looking for a stimulus traceó something that remains once those behaving actually leave the area. (One variant of this is looking at museum floors and seeing which tiles are worn mostó this indicating which displays have the most viewers.)

Any suggestions? Feedback?

Yours,

Caleb


 

Offline Aemilius

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Hey Caleb (nice to meet you)...

That's an extremely interesting idea. Just as an aside, I know, at least here in the United States where the Constitution has been indefinitely suspended, that the Department of Homeland Security could find many, many even more creative applications for this kind of technology.

I'm sure it would be effective at reducing teen smoking, but.... Wouldn't it be more effective if one were to develop a spray that could simply be applied each morning as the suspected teenager/misfit left for school as part of the daily routine? A sort of a "spray and forget" type of thing. You know how busy parents are.... They might forget to spray/check their teenager/misfit when they return home!
 
On the way out the door each morning, for example, the parent would simply hose down the suspected teenager/misfit with a spray that chemically reacts with nicotine turning, say, hot pink. If the teenager returned home with a hot pink color around the mouth the parent would know they'd been smoking.
 
Carrying it a bit further and looking ahead, a whole range of sprays could be developed. For instance.... alcohol (blue reaction), marijuana (green reaction), heroin (purple reaction), explosive residue (red reaction), cocaine (white reaction), methamphetamine (yellow reaction).

Obviously, depending on the circumstances, certain possible physical bodily illicit drug entry points (generally orifaces of one sort or another) usually associated with this or that particular drug should be heavily sprayed for maximum product efficacy. Warning.... This could be problamatic if the parent believes some undesirable drug is being introduced rectally/vaginally to their teenager/misfit (apparently not at all uncommon these days).
 
So.... If one did the whole bit in the morning and the suspected teenager/misfit came home in the afternoon with a pink mouth, blue tongue, green fingers, purple forearms, an empty red backpack, white nostrils and a yellow anus you'd definitely have some indication there that something is wrong!

I sure hope the Department of Homeland Security doesn't get wind of this.
« Last Edit: 12/01/2014 04:16:43 by Aemilius »
 

Offline Caleb

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Aemilus --

I think that anything effective may be misused. But cigarette smoking is a particular kind of bad, killing or helping to kill 400,000 Americans each year, and our trade policy is exporting this poison, requiring countries to loosen up their anti-smoking policies.

My mother died of Acute Respiratory Distress syndrome about 12 years ago. Took her about 7 days to pass away at the end. She had actually given up smoking for about 10 years, but an opportunistic lung infection caused her death. Many, many people with ARDS, with emphysema, etc., started smoking cigarettes out of sight of responsible adults and too damned many people have died as a result.

The tobacco industry would HATE, HATE, HATE such a product like this. They have put so much money, for instance, in trying to insure that vending machines sell cigarettes when no adult need be around.  They sure are not doing it out of the kindness of their hearts.

They know that their customers are dying and they need to continually hook our young on smoking, and also the young in other countries.

Yours,

Caleb
 

Offline Caleb

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Thanks for asking! I'm in mid-sixties, and hailing from Oregon. And you?
 

Offline Aemilius

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Sorry, I accidentally deleted the post you're responding to.... Seattle here, I'm 55. Are you a scientist of some sort?
« Last Edit: 12/01/2014 05:34:41 by Aemilius »
 

Offline CliffordK

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It would seem like you could tie a smoke detector into the ventilation system. 

Might as well have an alarm ring in the principal's office, so he or she could walk down to the bathroom and catch the students in the act.  Of course you'd have to be a little discrete about it, kind of like the Enigma Machine.  Don't call every offense, or the offenders would learn about the detection system very quickly.  Just snag them occasionally. 

At the previous office I worked out, one of my friends was a smoker.  You could certainly smell the smoke on her breath and clothing for several minutes after she would come back from breaks. 

As far as teenage smoking, there are urine tests for Cotinine.  I don't know if I would support random drug tests of students, but if student athletes are tested, then I would include the Nicotine/Cotinine in the panel.

It Cotinine also shows up in hair tests.  One could potentially do surveillance testing of hair from school shower drains, although attributing hair to individuals might be more complex.

Will the future give us smart toilets  (or here?

Again, kids would quickly learn to avoid technology that would automatically tattle on them.

 

Offline Aemilius

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Hey CliffordK, how's it going?

One could potentially do surveillance testing of hair from school shower drains, although attributing hair to individuals might be more complex.

Hah! I can see it all now. A new Federally Mandated Joint Task Force.... "The DHS/DEA/NSA Special Covert School Shower Hair and Specimen Collections Unit" crawling around in the showers and around toilets in moon suits in the middle of the night with tweezers and little flashlights!

That's hilarious!
« Last Edit: 12/01/2014 07:23:18 by Aemilius »
 

Offline alancalverd

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The only effective ways to prevent kids from smoking are

1. Tell them that it is their patriotic duty to smoke

2. Tell them that it would please their parents if they died from lung cancer or heart disease

3. Tell them that smoking is a symptom of or compensation for sexual inadequacy.

Why bother with detection? Just assume that every kid will smoke at some time, and leave the rest to Darwin. 

This trick won't work in the USA, but in civilised countries with free medical care you can provide registered smokers with an ID card. Then make it an offence to sell give or offer tobacco to anyone without a SID, or to provide free healthcare to a registered smoker. Let the market decide.

Some years back I rejected a research grant proposal for a sensitive tobacco residue urine test. It was intended to reduce healthcare costs on similar grounds to the SID. The problem was that it wouldn't distinguish between a passive smoker, an active smoker who had abstained for 12 hours, and a guy who had smoked his annual cigar a week ago at a wedding.   
« Last Edit: 12/01/2014 09:28:21 by alancalverd »
 

Offline CliffordK

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Testing a hair sample would likely be more diagnostic of longterm smoking.

A 12 yr old shouldn't be smoking cigars at weddings. 

Around here, smoking is banned in all restaurants and bars.  This greatly reduces one's exposure to second hand smoke.  For a teenager, I'd set the threshold for second hand smoke very low.  Essentially any detectable Nicotine/Cotinine would indicate that the kid was either smoking, or hanging out with kids who were smoking which I would consider as equivalent.  That is assuming the parents don't smoke.  Riding in cars with smokers?
 

Offline Caleb

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alancalverd -- Do you have any children? We have two grown children and they (thank goodness) were never interested in smoking.

I think I like my way better, of finding out whether kids are smoking in school bathrooms. If such a product could be made very inexpensively (having a spray which one would spray on the walls to determine whether cigarettes and been smoked there recently), this would seem to be a very time- and effort-efficient way to evaluate whether or not smoking is taking place in the bathrooms. Also, one might simply spotcheck other rooms, could quickly see whether a school is relatively problem-free or not, etc. (Also, with this system, one doesn't have to rely on the words school officials about whether smoking has taken place.

Such a spray would be a "stand alone" product that parents could use to help ensure that the children who were in the most private place in school--in the bathrooms--do not smoke and, importantly, do not bring about a culture of smoking.

It sure seems to me that this is similar in many ways to the approach that physician John Snow, M.D., used in England in the 1850s to prevent the spread of cholera--he removed a pump handle from a busy intersection in Soho, London, based on his studies of the spread of the disease. Right now a major problem in controlling early smoking is that we often times do not have the appropriate information about whether children are smoking at schools or elsewhere. A simple spray which could show whether youngsters (or perhaps others) had smoked would certainly go a long way to providing us with the information we need to curtail such behavior.

The following is from an article on the upcoming Trans-Pacific Trade agreement (http://www.cfr.org/trade/tobacco-problem-us-trade/p31346):

"For many years, there was no doubt that tobacco was a product like any other in U.S. trade policy. Throughout the 1980s and 1990s, the United States used trade measures to pry open emerging Asian economies to imported cigarettes. Those countries were unprepared for intensive marketing by the tobacco industry, particularly to women and youth. According to a U.S. Government Accountability Office report, after multinational tobacco companies entered South Korea in 1989, smoking among teens rose 11 percent and quintupled among girls in the first year. A public outcry ensued. In 1997, Congress conditioned the appropriations of several U.S. government agencies on those funds not being used to promote tobacco internationally."

In the New York Times three weeks ago I was reading about an African country that was told it could not have larger warnings on cigarette packages because otherwise they would be sued by tobacco companies -- same thing happened in Australia several years ago, about how American tobacco companies, wanted to restrict warning signs. (Please see Australia's recent response to this in a paragraph close to the end of this message.)

The following is a very moving anti-smoking ad from Thailand, nothing at all gross -- just very moving and using two very cute youngsters as stars.
http://www.upworthy.com/i-can-see-why-this-has-been-called-the-best-anti-smoking-ad-ever

I remember reading a decade and a half ago about how the United States forced other countries to open themselves up to American tobacco and also forced these countries to accept American advertising, etc. At that point, the smoking in countries such as Thailand was much less, and the countries were able to legally control the growth of smoking, could warn about the health risks in the way they saw fit, etc., but then American companies roared in with threats of GATT complaints, and the walls to this developing country was largely knocked down.

The following is from: http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-srv/national/longterm/tobacco/stories/asia.htm

"U.S. officials not only insisted that Asian countries allow American companies to sell cigarettes, they also demanded that the companies be allowed to advertise, hold giveaway promotions and sponsor concerts and sports events in what critics say was a blatant appeal to women and young people. They regularly consulted with company representatives and relied upon the industry's arguments and research. They ignored the protests of public health officials in the United States and Asia who warned of the consequences of the market openings they sought. Indeed, their constant slogan was that health factors were irrelevant. This was, they insisted, solely an issue of free trade.

"But then-Vice President Quayle suggested another motive when he told a North Carolina farming audience in 1990 that the government also was seeking to help the tobacco industry compensate for shrinking markets at home. "I don't think it's any news to North Carolina tobacco farmers that the American public as a whole is smoking less," said Quayle. "We ought to think about the exports. We ought to think about opening up markets, breaking down the barriers."

"A handful of American health officials vigorously opposed the government's campaign, yet were either stymied or ignored. "I feel the most shameful thing this country did was to export disease, disability and death by selling our cigarettes to the world," said former surgeon general C. Everett Koop. "What the companies did was shocking, but even more appalling was the fact that our own government helped make it possible.""

At the Australia Health Department site is this:

http://www.health.gov.au/internet/main/publishing.nsf/Content/tobacco-warn-A are the pictures of the warnings on the cigarette packs themselves, and some of them are very graphic.

Under a picture of a girl with an oxygen mask are these words:

Image shows a health warning on 90% of the back of the pack, with space for branding below this. The health warning has the following components:
Health authority warning: Don't let children breathe your smoke.
Photo of a young girl on a ventilator, with superimposed Quitline number 131 848.
Text: Children exposed to passive smoking experience more serious illnesses such as pneumonia, middle ear infections and asthma attacks. Babies exposed to passive smoking are at greater risk of SIDS (Sudden Infant Death Syndrome).
You CAN quit smoking. Call Quitline 131 848, talk to your doctor or pharmacist, or visit Quitnow website

Yours,

Caleb
 

Offline Caleb

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Testing a hair sample would likely be more diagnostic of longterm smoking.

A 12 yr old shouldn't be smoking cigars at weddings. 

Around here, smoking is banned in all restaurants and bars.  This greatly reduces one's exposure to second hand smoke.  For a teenager, I'd set the threshold for second hand smoke very low.  Essentially any detectable Nicotine/Cotinine would indicate that the kid was either smoking, or hanging out with kids who were smoking which I would consider as equivalent.  That is assuming the parents don't smoke.  Riding in cars with smokers?

CliffordK --

My approach would not be invasive -- no snipping of the hair, etc. It would allow rapid and wide-spread screening of high-probability smoking areas, e.g., the bathrooms in "all restaurants and bars."

I would bet a fair amount of money that even in the smoke-free bathrooms in your neck of the woods people are sneaking in to smoke and also, therefore, are thereby indicating to others that there is a "culture of smoking" and perhaps thereby increasing the status of this behavior.

Let's just think for a moment how such a spray might work on business and fast-food bathrooms in the US and elsewhere -- Might go a huge way to reducing smoking there and elsewhere, forcing the kids to stop smoking, to live longer, to not waste money on these dangerous materials, to avoid being role-models of smoking for younger siblings and other peers, etc. Just the threat of investigatory bodies able to come in and test the bathroom walls for tobacco residue might really, really curtail much of smoking which now takes place out of sight, and which, all too often, leaves no clear trace behind.

My own two cents, but this is a dreadful problem today and it will get worse in the developing world in the future.

Yours,

Caleb
« Last Edit: 12/01/2014 21:04:18 by Caleb »
 

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