Smoked out

Two news items this week had smokers nervously reaching for their cigarettes. First, Svenska Dagbladet picked up on a study from Linköping University Hospital which compared the levels of kotinine, a derivative of nicotine, in children of parents who smoke, with those in children from smoke-free homes.

The research found that children of parents who simply smoke indoors have 15 times as much kotinine in their urine, while sticking your head under the extractor fan can reduce that to 10 times as much. Even children whose parents smoke outside with the door closed have twice as much kotinine in their urine as normal.

But just as parents were installing themselves on the balcony and lighting up, Wednesday’s press reported that Malmö Council’s environmental inspector, Åsa Thomé, has written to the chairman of an apartment block asking him to formally ban smoking on balconies.

The letter follows a complaint by a resident who claimed his neighbour’s smoking was a public health hazard. Now the board of the block must set up a “smoking area” in the garden below.

If such stories make the smokers among readers consider snus as a trouble-free alternative, think again. According to Svenska Dagbladet, results of a new study show that ‘snusing’ is just as hard to quit as smoking.

Maria Rankka, who carried out the research for the drug company Pfizer, said that it’s partly physical and partly psychological. “People who use snus have a very strong dependency – they have higher levels of nicotine in the blood than active smokers. And there are fewer immediate benefits to giving up snusing compared to smoking.”