HEALTH

Economy, cigarette tax may cause smokers to kick the habit

BY Michael Johnsen

PARSIPPANY, N.J. A new survey commissioned by GlaxoSmithKline found that the April 1 federal price increase on cigarettes and the current economy are big concerns for smokers and will change their current smoking habits.

The survey found that 70% of smokers say that the current price of cigarettes is already too expensive and is one of their main concerns about smoking, second only to health concerns. For survey respondents over 45 years old, the price of cigarettes was the most cited concern. Further, 56% of smokers say the April 1 price increase will prompt them to smoke fewer cigarettes and 72% say the price increase on cigarettes would increase their intention to quit.

Smokers also say the current economy is a big concern and it will prompt them to change their smoking habits — 47% of smokers say they would cut back on cigarettes because of the economy.

“Research shows that smokers are more likely to try to quit when the price of cigarettes goes up,” stated Frank Chaloupka, professor of economics at the University of Illinois at Chicago and affiliate of the National Bureau of Economic Research. “Given the recent tax hike and the state of the economy, now would be a great time for smokers to re-evaluate how smoking affects their finances and calculate how much they could save by quitting. A typical pack-a-day smoker could be spending approximately $2,000 each year on cigarettes, but no matter how expensive it is to smoke, quitting smoking is a big challenge.”

The federal cigarette tax increased Wednesday by 62 cents to a total of $1.01 per pack, to fund the expansion of the State Children’s Health Insurance Program that was signed into law earlier this year.

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HEALTH

Connectyx Technologies launches MedFlash

BY Michael Johnsen

PALM CITY, Fla. Connectyx Technologies Holdings Group on Monday launched MedFlash, an interoperable personal health record storage device with drugstore.com, where it is retailing for $29.95.

“We are very pleased to offer MedFlash through drugstore.com, a leading online drugstore that recognizes the importance of personally managing one’s own healthcare records,” stated Ronn Schuman, Connectyx CEO. “MedFlash is a significant step forward in healthcare that can protect individuals from serious drug interactions, and it’s absolutely invaluable in an emergency.”

MedFlash is designed to simplify and provide peace-of-mind solutions for healthcare with individual access to an Internet portal and a 24/7 emergency hot line.

Consumers recognize the need to be their own advocates, and MedFlash was designed with that in mind, Schuman noted. MedFlash is an easy-to-use, portable personal health and lifestyle record that allows consumers to choose what they wish to store. MedFlash can manage all areas of their lifestyles, focusing on wellness and prevention. It allows members to easily keep their history, medication records, treatments and lifestyle routines up to date on a device that they can carry with them. The device is seamlessly connected to any computer for routine or emergency access to important information. Serious drug interactions can be avoided, allergic reactions prevented and historical records accessed including X-rays, MRIs and CAT scans.

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Dextromethorphan bill passes in House, now awaits Senate consideration

BY Michael Johnsen

WASHINGTON Just four weeks after being introduced, the U.S. House of Representatives on Tuesday approved the Dextromethorphan Distribution Act of 2009, which restricts the sale of bulk, unfinished DXM to those distributors registered with the Food and Drug Administration.

“The deadly reality is that our teens think that it’s safe to get high off of DXM because it is a common ingredient in cough syrup – the passage of the DXM bill in the House is an important step in shattering that myth,” stated Rep. Fred Upton, R-Mich., who introduced the bill March 3. “This is too important an issue not to get done – kids’ lives literally hang in the balance and I urge the Senate to swiftly follow suit. This commonsense piece of legislation will put an end to the bulk sale of DXM over the Internet, and keep our kids safe from the dangers of this type of drug abuse.”

The bill would make it illegal to distribute unfinished DXM to a person or company not previously registered with the FDA, or registered or licensed clinics, compounding pharmacists, pharmacies and researchers. The measure, which passed the House by a vote of 407 to 8, now awaits consideration in the Senate.

“[Today] the House of Representatives took an important step toward controlling the bulk supply of DXM and we urge the Senate to do the same,” stated Steve Pasierb, president and CEO of the nonprofit Partnership for a Drug-Free America. “This legislation will help reduce the abuse of DXM, a dangerous behavior that 2.4 million teens report engaging in during their lifetime. The work of policymakers, combined with the efforts of concerned parents communicating the risks of DXM abuse to their kids, will have a significant positive impact on this issue.”

Linda Suydam, president of the Consumer Healthcare Products Association explained that there is no reason for anyone but “but manufacturers, pharmacists, and researchers to have the raw form of this ingredient.”

“The companies that sell this potent ingredient to kids are unscrupulous online pushers, knowingly providing teens the raw form of DXM as a means to get high,” Suydam said.

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