Guam - medical professionals send strong meassage about tobacco's ill efects..

October 11, 2009 - Medical professionals continued to send a strong message about tobacco's ill effects as the Micronesian Medical Symposium continued yesterday, October 10th while presenting the current state of cancer incidence and mortality rates to the region's doctors and nurses.

Tobacco smoking has been linked not only to lung cancer, but to a number of other cancers and health problems, said Dr. John Ray Taitano, founder of the Micronesian Medical Symposium. "Smoking prevention is the only thing that's been demonstrated to decrease the risk of lung cancer," said Dr. David Quinn from the University of Southern California.

Guam had the highest smoking rate per capita in the nation for the period from 1998 to 2007, according to a study published in March by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

A health professional advising a patient to quit smoking, and following up with a routine plan for the patient, is the most effective way to help a person change behavior, Quinn said yesterday at the symposium.

Quinn further said that Guam's $1 tax on (a pack of) cigarettes is the lowest of any country in the world, and does not encourage people to stop smoking. "If you want to prevent this," Quinn said, "You probably need to move it to $5."

Dr. Sam Friedman of the Cancer Center of Guam echoed Quinn's statement, recommending an increase in the cigarette tax to reduce smoking on Guam.

Bill 150, introduced by Vice Speaker Benjamin Cruz, proposes to raise the current tax of $1 per cigarette pack to $1.50 per pack. The last public hearing held for the bill was on July 28th.

Quinn also reviewed different kinds of cancer treatments that applied to different stages of the disease, including radiation, chemotherapy and drug treatment.

Radiation therapy will be available on Guam in April 2010, Taitano said.

In a preliminary report published in April on the cancer incidence and mortality of Guam residents from 2003 to 2007, lung cancer was the leading cause of cancer death for both men and women on Guam. Lung cancer had the second highest incidence rate on Guam for the same period. Prostate cancer had the highest incidence rate for men, and breast cancer had the highest incidence rate for women, according to the report from the Cancer Research Center of Guam.

Reference: Doctors agree on raising cigarette taxes by Bernice Santiago, Pacific Sunday News -, 10/11/2009.

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Guam trying to increase the tax on tobacco to save lives..;
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