And now the latest burning (as in non-electronic) news about smoking:

First, researchers at Penn State say teen smokers are better at getting their friends to join them in the habit than nonsmoking teens are at getting their smoking friends to quit.

by: CREATOR'S SYNDICATE - Scott Laffee“What we found is that social influence matters. It leads nonsmoking friends into smoking, and nonsmoking friends can turn smoking friends into non-smokers,” said study author Steven Haas. “However, the impact is asymmetrical: the tendency for adolescents to follow their friends into smoking is stronger.”

Haas said nicotine’s addictive effect may be the strongest influence on an adolescent’s inability to help friends quit smoking, but he cited other reasons as well, including a likely lack of resources to help friends quit. “Most often adolescents will try to either quit cold turkey or by gradually reducing their smoking, and these are the least successful ways to quit,” Haas said.

Second, MRI scans of smokers suggest a possible connection between how the brain responds to reward and the desire to smoke. Penn State

scientists tested 44 smokers to examine how their brains responded to monetary rewards, specifically in their willingness to forgo a cigarette in lieu of a chance to earn additional money.

They found that the smokers who would not defer a chance to smoke (and thus earn a couple extra bucks) showed weaker responses in the ventral striatum, a portion of the brain linked to assessing the relative values of things.

Body of knowledge

In a fetal brain, nerve cells develop at an average rate of 250,000 per minute.

Life in Big Macs

One hour of general aerobics burns 442 calories (based on a 150-pound person), or the equivalent of 0.6 Big Macs, 1.6 Snickers bars or almost 15 carrots.


10 — Number of new e-cigarette brands that entered the online market each month between 2012-2014.

466 — Number of e-cigarette brands sold online

7,700 — Number of e-cigarette flavors currently offered

2 — Number of flavors legally sold in traditional cigarettes (tobacco and menthol)

Source: Shu-Hong Zhu, University of California, San Diego School of Medicine.

Phobia of the week

Illyngophobia — Fear of vertigo

Never say diet

The Major League Eating speed-eating record for gyros is 24 8-ounce sandwiches in 10 minutes, held by Matt Stonie. Warning: Most of these records are held by professional eaters; the rest by people who really should find something better to do.


“Reality is something you rise above.” — American actress and singer Liza Minnelli


“She always said her feet were killing her, but nobody believed her.” — Margaret Daniel’s headstone at Hollywood Cemetery, in Richmond, Virginia

To find out more about Scott LaFee and read features by other Creators Syndicate writers and cartoonists, visit the Creators Syndicate

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