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“As the affordability of legally manufactured cigarettes continues to diminish, more consumers are expected to downgrade to this cheaper alternative.” Beedis accounted for about 44 percent of the total tobacco market last year, up from 20 percent in 2007, Ridley said. The share of smuggled cigarettes is expected to rise to about 8 percent this year from 2 percent in 2016, according to the company. The numbers for the market share shift being claimed for beedis are exaggerated, said Health Minister Rajitha Senaratne. The government is in discussions with farmers cultivating tobacco to wean them away from the crop, he said. Sri Lanka hasn’t seen any evidence of an increase in the market share of beedis as imports of tendu leaf haven’t climbed, said Palitha Abeykoon, chairman of the National Authority on Tobacco and Alcohol. Tighter regulations on the beedi segment are being considered, he said. The authority estimates market share using surveys that are based on prevalence of use and not stick count. The government statistics are based on officially imported tendu leaves, according to Ridley. Since there has been evidence of a local source of tendu leaves as well as seizures of smuggled tendu leaves, these are “additional components” that need to be included in the calculation, she said. Some smokers of Capstan cigarettes, the company’s lowest-priced brand, have cut back on the number of sticks they buy after the price increases and also purchase beedis, said K.K. Badra, 58.
Magnetic resonance imaging studies of cigarette smoking-related effects on human brain structure have primarily employed voxel-based morphometry, and the most consistently reported finding was smaller volumes or lower density in anterior frontal regions and the insula. Much less is known about the effects of smoking on subcortical regions. We compared smokers and non-smokers on regional subcortical volumes, and predicted that smokers demonstrate greater age-related volume loss across subcortical regions than non-smokers. Non-smokers (n = 43) and smokers (n = 40), 22–70 years of age, completed a 4 T MRI study. Bilateral total subcortical lobar white matter (WM) and subcortical nuclei volumes were quantitated via FreeSurfer. In smokers, associations between smoking severity measures and subcortical volumes were examined. Smokers demonstrated greater age-related volume loss than non-smokers in the bilateral subcortical lobar WM, thalamus, and cerebellar cortex, as well as in the corpus callosum and subdivisions. In smokers, higher pack-years were associated with smaller volumes of the bilateral amygdala, nucleus accumbens, total corpus callosum and subcortical WM. Results provide novel evidence that chronic smoking in adults is associated with accelerated age-related volume loss in subcortical WM and GM nuclei. Greater cigarette quantity/exposure was related to smaller volumes in regions that also showed greater age-related volume loss in smokers.