By M.H. Cavanaugh
Christian Action League
January 27, 2022
“I am a native North Carolinian who loves his state and its heritage. My summer job was working in the tobacco fields as a young boy. My grandfather was a tobacco farmer. But the scientific evidence for the harm smoking does to one’s health is clear nowadays. Despite our state’s heritage as a tobacco state, we have a lot to do to minimize smoking’s threat,” said Rev. Mark Creech, executive director of the Christian Action League.
Rev. Creech was speaking about a new report from the American Lung Association, which gives North Carolina’s anti-tobacco efforts an “F” in five categories: (1) the state’s funding on prevention and cessation programs, (2) smoke-free air, (3), tobacco taxes, (4) access to cessation services, and (5) and restrictions of flavored tobacco products that lure youth to smoke.
According to the report, North Carolina’s spending on prevention and cessation programs is $13,399,600, well below the CDC’s recommendation of 15.9%. Although the state’s revenue from tobacco-related sales is $458.1 million, North Carolina’s cigarette tax is currently 45 cents per pack, one dollar below the recommended level. There are no constraints on e-cigarettes and certain places such as recreational facilities and private workplaces. The state’s “Quitline” is allocated $1.75 per smoker, well below the median $2.41. Lastly, there is no state law or restrictions on flavored tobacco products, including menthol brands.
Fox News recently noted that the Food and Drug Administration “reports that there are nearly 18.6 million menthol smokers, most of them African American and Hispanic, and almost half of smokers between the ages of 12 and 17 smoke menthol.”
“That’s alarming, I think, when you consider another study which was recently published in Scientific Reports, which says smoking cigarettes before puberty has lasting harmful effects that can last up until three generations later,” said Rev. Creech.
The new study on the transgenerational effects of smoking was done by the University of Bristol, which released the following statement:
“Experiments with model studies elsewhere have shown that exposure of males to certain chemicals before breeding can have effects on their offspring. There has, however, been doubt as to whether this phenomena is present in humans and whether any apparent effects may be more readily explained by other factors.
“To investigate effects of prepubertal exposures in humans, scientists from the University of Bristol have studied possible effects of ancestral prepubertal cigarette smoking on participants in the Children of the 90s, a study of over 14,000 individuals. In earlier research from 2014, they found that if a father started smoking regularly before reaching puberty (before 11 years of age), then his sons, but not his daughters, had more body fat than expected. In the newly published study, they extended this analysis to earlier generations using recently collected data on the grandfathers and great-grandfathers of study participants obtained by questionnaires. They discovered higher body fat in females whose paternal grandfathers or great-grandfathers had started smoking before age 13 compared to those whose ancestors started smoking later in childhood (age 13 to 16). No effects were observed in male descendants. Further research will be needed to confirm these observations in other longitudinal studies and to expand the investigation into other transgenerational effects and ancestral exposures.
“Professor Jean Golding, lead author of the report, said: ‘This research provides us with two important results. First, that before puberty, exposure of a boy to particular substances might have an effect on generations that follow him. Second, one of the reasons why children become overweight may be not so much to do with their current diet and exercise, rather than the lifestyle of their ancestors or the persistence of associated factors over the years.
“‘If these associations are confirmed in other datasets, this will be one of the first human studies with data suitable to start to look at these associations and to begin to unpick the origin of potentially important cross-generation relationships. It is with great thanks to participants within the Children of the 90s study that we are able to carry out such pioneering research. There is much to explore.’”
“I find this new study most interesting,” said Rev. Creech. “The Scriptures, Exodus 34:6-7, talk about the sins of the fathers being visited on the children down to the third and fourth generations. Regardless of volition, there are natural negative consequences for our actions being passed down through the generations. We tend to think that what we do only affects us now, but it doesn’t. It can negatively impact our children for decades. For the sake of life now and the lives of our children, grandchildren, and great-grandchildren, there is still work to do on the smoking issue in North Carolina. We can do better than this.”