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Young women selling cigarette lighters stroll through downtown Shanghai. (ALY SONG/REUTERS)
Young women selling cigarette lighters stroll through downtown Shanghai. (ALY SONG/REUTERS)

Talking points: dole dilemma, herbal helpers and where there’s smoke Add to ...

DOLE DILEMMA

Unemployment benefits may not necessarily demotivate people from finding new jobs. BBC reports on a British study that concluded even generous benefits levels had virtually no effect on the well-being of unemployed people. The paper from the University of Edinburgh examined jobless rates in 28 European countries and compared how being out of work affected people’s general life satisfaction. Sweden and Luxembourg were in the top 25 per cent for both benefit levels and dissatisfaction among the unemployed. Conversely, Poland and Romania ranked in the bottom 25 per cent for benefit levels, but their unemployed people were among the least affected by being out of work. The study found that being unemployed in Germany hurt a person’s well-being far more than anywhere else in Europe, and being out of work in Spain, Poland and Romania had “little effect” on subjective well-being.

HERBAL HELPERS

It almost sounds too good to be true, but new evidence shows that the common herbs rosemary and spearmint could be effective in treating and preventing Alzheimer’s disease. As reported by The Guardian, recent experiments at the St. Louis University of Medicine tested proprietary compounds made of spearmint extract and rosemary extract on mice afflicted with age-related cognitive decline. The rosemary extract had a significant effect in improving learning and memory, and the spearmint extract improved memory. Geriatrics professor Susan Farr cautioned that it’s still too soon to know whether the herbs will do likewise in humans or what doses might be needed.

WHERE THERE’S SMOKE

Does suggestive cigarette advertising still work? The Daily Mail reports on new research that shows teens and young adults who see a single tobacco ad often crave cigarettes for up to a week. The study took 134 college students in Pittsburgh and fitted them with devices that allowed them to document exposure to pro-smoking messages. Each time they saw one, their desire to light up increased by an average of 22 per cent, and in most cases that desire lasted a full seven days. “The results suggest that positive media messages about smoking are likely to influence behaviour even if opportunities to smoke occur infrequently,” said psychologist Steven Martino.

THOUGHT DU JOUR

The structure of a play is always the story of how the birds came home to roost.

Arthur Miller, playwright (1915-2005)

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