02-19-2017  6:10 pm      •     

according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. In fact, an estimated one out of five deaths in this country are caused by cigarette smoking alone.

As the curtain starts to come down on the year, it is the time of year when we focus on Lung Cancer Awareness, and many people use this period to smoke less or to quit smoking for good on a specially designated day called the Great American Smokeout, which this year was Nov. 18. But, whether it is during the Lung Cancer Awareness period or any other time of year, it is never a bad time to take the pledge to stop smoking. If you don't smoke, pledge to help a family member or a friend quit. If you or someone you know needs help with quitting, please call the National Cancer Institute's Smoking Quitline toll-free at 1–877–44U–QUIT (1–877–448–7848). The information specialists on the quitline can provide free cessation information and support. Additionally, the Smokefree and Smokefree Women web sites (smokefree.gov and women.smokefree.gov) allow you to choose the type of help that best fits your needs.

People of all races and ethnicities smoke cigarettes, but certain groups have been targeted for marketing of specific kinds of cigarettes. For example, menthol-flavored cigarettes have been marketed particularly heavily in minority communities. Just this month, leading researchers released a series of papers about the marketing of menthol cigarettes and their impact on smoking in minority communities. These papers were published in a special issue of the scientific journal Addiction that was funded by the National Cancer Institute. The studies indicate a wide range of effects of menthol cigarette marketing, including greater menthol cigarette use by African Americans, women, young people, the unemployed, and those with lower education. Another finding from the studies is that Hispanics and African Americans who smoke menthol cigarettes are less likely to quit successfully than those who smoke non-menthol cigarettes.

Also a few weeks ago, the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, which is your lead federal agency that oversees America's health initiatives, announced a new tobacco control strategy that calls for new warnings and graphic images to appear on cigarette packs and advertisements. If this plan goes into effect, expect larger text sizes and more clear and direct language for warning labels as well as some pretty shocking graphics and photos of people who have been affected by cigarette smoking.

Whether it takes strong new graphic images or more sternly worded health warnings, the fact remains clear that this must be the message that people get on tobacco: Smoking causes lung cancer, which is the most common cause of cancer-related death in the United States. African Americans have higher rates of death from lung cancer than any other racial/ethnic group. Smoking causes about 90% of all lung cancer deaths in men and 80% of all lung cancer deaths in women, and the risk increases according to the amount smoked, the length of time someone has been smoking, and the age at which smoking began. Cigarette smoking also causes many other types of cancer, including cancers of the esophagus, larynx (voice box), mouth, throat, kidney, bladder, pancreas, stomach and cervix, as well as acute myeloid leukemia.

Take action today to live tomorrow by quitting smoking and by helping others in your life quit. It is never too late to quit smoking, and quitting reduces your risk for lung cancer and other diseases. The National Cancer Institute has a wealth of resources for you to learn more about lung cancer—and all other types of cancer as well: call the Cancer Information Service toll-free at 1-800-4-CANCER and speak to an information specialist.

NCI leads the National Cancer Program and the NIH effort to dramatically reduce the burden of cancer and improve the lives of cancer patients and their families, through research into prevention and cancer biology, the development of new interventions, and the training and mentoring of new researchers. For more information about cancer, please visit the NCI Web site at http://www.cancer.gov or call NCI's Cancer Information Service at 1-800-4-CANCER (1-800-422-6237).

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  • WASHINGTON (AP) — One month after the inauguration, the stretch of Pennsylvania Avenue in front of Donald Trump's White House still is a hard-hat zone. Skeletal remains of the inaugural reviewing stands poke skyward. Random piles of plywood and cables are heaped on the ground inside crooked lines of metal fencing. The disarray outside the president's front door, though not his fault, serves as a metaphor for the tumult still unfolding inside. Four weeks in, the man who says he inherited "a mess" at home and abroad is presiding over a White House that is widely described as itself being a mess. At a stunning pace, Trump has riled world leaders and frustrated allies. He was dealt a bruising legal blow on one of his signature policies. He lost his national security adviser and his pick for labor secretary to scandal. He's seen forces within his government push back against his policies and leak confidential information. All of this has played out amid a steady drip of revelations about an FBI investigation into his campaign's contacts with Russian intelligence officials. Trump says his administration is running like a "fine-tuned machine." He points to the rising stock market and the devotion of his still-loyal supporters as evidence that all is well, although his job approval rating is much lower than that for prior presidents in their first weeks in office. Stung by the unrelenting criticism coming his way, Trump dismisses much of it as "fake news" delivered by "the enemy of the people" — aka the press. Daily denunciations of the media are just one of the new White House fixtures Americans are adjusting to. Most days start (and end) with presidential tweets riffing off of whatever's on TV talk shows or teasing coming events or hurling insults at the media. At some point in the day, count on Trump to cast back to the marvels of his upset of Democrat Hillary Clinton in the November election and quite possibly overstate his margins of support. Expect more denunciations of the "dishonest" press and its "fake news." From there, things can veer in unexpected directions as Trump offers up policy pronouncements or offhand remarks that leave even White House aides struggling to interpret them. The long-standing U.S. policy of seeking a two-state solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict? Trump this past week offered this cryptic pronouncement: "I'm looking at two-state and one-state, and I like the one that both parties like. I can live with either one." His U.N. ambassador, Nikki Haley, the next day insisted, "We absolutely support a two-state solution." Trump's days are busy. Outside groups troop in for "listening sessions." Foreign leaders call or come to visit. (Or, in the case of Mexico's president, cancel out in pique over Trump's talk about the planned border wall.) After the president signed two dozen executive actions, the White House was awaiting a rush order of more of the gold-plated Cross pens that Trump prefers to the chrome-plated ones used by his predecessor. Trump hands them out as souvenirs at the signing ceremonies that he points to as evidence of his ambitious pace. "This last month has represented an unprecedented degree of action on behalf of the great citizens of our country," Trump said at a Thursday news conference. "Again, I say it. There has never been a presidency that's done so much in such a short period of time." That's all music to the ears of his followers, who sent him to Washington to upend the established order and play the role of disrupter. "I can't believe there's actually a politician doing what he says he would do," says an approving Scott Hiltgen, a 66-year-old office furniture sales broker from River Falls, Wisconsin. "That never happens." Disrupt Trump has. But there may be more sound and fury than substance to many of his early actions. Trump did select Judge Neil Gorsuch to replace the late Antonin Scalia on the Supreme Court, a nomination that has drawn strong reviews from conservatives. But the president is regrouping on immigration after federal judges blocked his order to suspend the United States' refugee program and ban visitors from seven Muslim-majority countries, which had caused chaos for travelers around the globe. Some other orders on issues such as the U.S.-Mexico border wall and former President Barack Obama's health care law are of limited effect. Trump says his early actions show he means to deliver on the promises he made during the campaign. "A lot of people say, 'Oh, oh, Trump was only kidding with the wall,'" the president told a group of police chiefs recently. "I wasn't kidding. I don't kid." But the Republican-led Congress is still waiting to see specifics on how Trump wants to proceed legislatively on top initiatives such as replacing the health care law, enacting tax cuts and revising trade deals. The messy rollout of the travel ban and tumult over the ouster of national security adviser Michael Flynn for misrepresenting his contacts with Russia are part of a broader state of disarray as different figures in Trump's White House jockey for power and leaks reveal internal discord in the machinations of the presidency. "I thought by now you'd at least hear the outlines of domestic legislation like tax cuts," says Princeton historian Julian Zelizer. "But a lot of that has slowed. Trump shouldn't mistake the fact that some of his supporters like his style with the fact that a lot of Republicans just want the policies he promised them. He has to deliver that." Put Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., in the camp of those more interested in substance than style. "I'm not a great fan of daily tweets," McConnell said Friday, referring to the "extra discussion" that Trump likes to engage in. But McConnell was quick to add: "What I am a fan of is what he's been actually doing." He credits Trump with assembling a conservative Cabinet and taking steps to reduce government regulation, and promised: "We like his positions and we're going to pursue them as vigorously as we can." The challenge may be to tease out exactly what Trump wants in the way of a health care plan, tax changes and trade policy. At his long and defiant news conference on Thursday, Trump tried to dispel the impression of a White House in crisis, squarely blaming the press for keeping him from moving forward more decisively on his agenda. Pointing to his chief of staff, Reince Priebus, Trump said, "You take a look at Reince, he's working so hard just putting out fires that are fake fires. I mean, they're fake. They're not true. And isn't that a shame because he'd rather be working on health care, he'd rather be working on tax reform." For all the frustrations of his early days as president, Trump still seems tickled by the trappings of his office. When New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie visited the White House last week to discuss the national opioid epidemic over lunch, the governor said Trump informed him: "Chris, you and I are going to have the meatloaf.'" Trump added: "I'm telling you, the meatloaf is fabulous." ___Follow Nancy Benac on Twitter at http://twitter.com/nbenac
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