14A - The Michigan Datly - Thursday, February 5, 1998
Dental prof. helps
smokers kick habit
By William Nash
Daily Staff Reporter
Four female University students stand
on the corner of South University and
East University avenues with four male
companions. They take puffs from ciga-
rettes, but the females don't inhale. Their
inexperience with tobacco shows in the
way they fumble with the cigarettes.
Dental Prof. Joan Mcgowan has seen
this situation., and is working to make it
a less common scene.
"It seems to have a cool, macho
image," Mcgowan said. "Teens see it on
TV and in movies where the attractive
female has a cigarette in hand."
Mcgowan. a former smoker, said
advertising directed at teenagers is in
part responsible for the growing number
of younger smokers. She cited tobacco
ads in local newspapers as an example.
Once a person is hooked, the nicotine
can make quitting smoking as difficult
as quitting cocaine, Mcgowan said.
"Many times, people, become re-
addicted to cigarettes," Mcgowan said.
"I had a case where a woman had quit
smoking for 20 years but started back
up because her husband left her for a
man. She used (cigarettes) as a crutch."
Before receiving treatment, dentists
at the School of Dentistry's dental clin-
ic are asked if they use tobacco prod-
ucts. For those who want to quit using
it, Mcgowan said, the triple-A system is
used: advice, assistance, and arrange-
nents for follow-up treatment.
Mcgowan also teaches people about
the dangers of chewing tobacco and
smoking cigarettes. She serves as
Michigan's National Spit Tobacco
Education Program coordinator and
works with the Detroit Tigers,
"We're working to dispel the myth
that smokeless tobacco is safe,"
Former Major League Baseball player
Joe Garagiola, who has survived oral
cancer, formed NSTEP in 1994. NSTEP
gets professional players to make public
service announcements and distributes
sunflower seeds at baseball games.
NSTEP works with Major League
Baseball players because forty percent
of its players, who are role models for
children, chew tobacco.
Chewing tobacco recently has
become more popular because negative
attention about tobacco has shifted to
cigarettes, Mcgowan said.
Denise LeBloch, chief of staff of
Oral Health of America, said neither
method of consumption is healthier
than the other.
"Which would you rather be, hit by a
motorcycle or hit by a truck?" LeBloch
The effects of chewing tobacco range
Dental Prof. Joan Mcgowan overlooks Dental student Katrina Ebersbach as she works on Frances Herman at the dental clinic
at the School of Dentistry.
from disgusting to deadly and are notice-
able after about two years, LeBloch said.
Besides yellow teeth, there can be
lesions of the mouth, gum recession and
"We've seen six yoing men in their
mid-twenties with oral cancer, and they're
all dead,"said Dental Prof. Jonathan Ship.
"One of them died in six months. It was
six months of hell for him and his family."
The odds of quitting are against cur-
rent smokers and chewers. It typically
takes about four attempts for a tobacco
user to quit, Ship said.
The invention of nicotine gum and
patches are helping tobacco users kick
their habit. The success rate of the gum
and patch is about 25 percent, but a new
pill aims to increase success rates. The
pill, Zyban, helps ease withdrawal symp-
toms and is available with a prescription.
Quitting has been shown to decrease
the likelihood of tobacco's long-term
effects, but the best way to dodge tobac-
co-related diseases is to avoid tobacco
"I've seen patients who have quit for
20 years and have developed cancer,"
Ship said. He said he was not sure how
much tobacco played a part in the illness.
ST PAUL, Minn. (AP) Brown &
Williamson Tobacco Corp. develope a
genetically altered strain of tobacc'
with twice the nicotine content anL
used it in cigarettes sold in the Unite.
States, a chemical engineering expert
testified yesterday. An undated Brown
& Williamson internal document
described a "Y-l" tobacco strain with a
nicotine content of 6.5 percent by
"Through genetic engineering they
were able to develop a tobacco strain
with twice as much nicotine as it might
otherwise have," said Channin
Robertson, a Stanford University pro-
"I am aware that the Y- I product was
contained in cigarettes sold in the
United States," Robertson said at
Robertson is a witness for the state
and Blue Cross and Blue Shield of
Minnesota in their lawsuit against
tobacco companies. The plaintiffs seck.
S.77 billion in money spent treatin.
smoking-related illnesses, plus punitive
The existence and sale of the high-
nicotine Y-l tobacco has been reported
before. A California biotechnology
company pleaded guilty in January to
conspiring with Brown & Williamon
to grow and improve the high-nicoti*-
tobacco from 1983 to 1994.
But Robertson's testimony allowed
the state to put the information before
the jury. Among several allegations, the
state accuses tobacco companies of
manipulating nicotine levels in ciga-
rettes and conspiring to mislead con-
sumers about the dangers of smoking.
Roberta Walburn, an attorney forthl
state, said internal industry documents
indicate Y-I tobacco was used in sever-
al B&W brands. The company's brands
include Raleigh, Viceroy, Richland and
R.J. Reynolds Tobacco Co. and other
defendants also did research through
the years to genetically modify tobacco
plants to enhance nicotine production,
Michael Ciresi, lead attorney for the
plaintiffs, introduced a 1992 Joint
research agreement between Reynolds
and an outside contractor aimed at
genetic manipulation of nicotine in
The aim of the research was "to
develop strains of tobacco products that
would be genetically modified ... to
control nicotine," said Robertson, who
reviewed thousands of previously con-
fidential company documents in prpaO
ration for his testimony.
Another document suggested B&W
was exploring changing nicotine levels
in tobacco leaf as early as 1963. In the
memo, a B&W researcher, R.B.
Griffith, wrote extensively about the
blending of nicotine and sugar in ciga-
rettes to please consumers.
But Griffith's letter also discussed
the raw materials used in making ciga-
rettes, and included the passage: "
may be well to remind you, however,
that we have a research program in
progress to obtain, by genetic means,
any level of nicotine desired."
Asked about the 1963 letter, Brown
& Williamson spokesperson Joe
Helewicz declined to address it specif-
ically but said it was unfair to consider
it out of context with other documents.
BONN, Germany (AP) - A propos-
al to restrict smoking in the workplace,
on which parliament is to vote today,
would cost German employers billions
of dollars to implement, a pro-business
economic think tank said yesterday.
The proposed law is supported by
organizations like the German Cance
Society but has been criticized a:
unnecessary by business groups.
Neither the governing coalition nor
opposition parties have taken a stand
on the law, proposed by lawmakers
from both sides. Parliamentary leaders
c2)X lamkr ca~n volte c IcordingO to
IS NOT A SAFE