ASH Daily News for 12 February 2019


  • Rizla ads banned for calling smoking products “safe”
  • Trying to quit smoking? Vaping could be the best way to do it
  • Study: Stigma could cause pregnant women to smoke in private


  • Study: Cigarette smoke and heated tobacco vapour similarly toxic to lung cells



Rizla ads banned for calling smoking products “safe”

The Advertising Standards Agency (ASA) has told Imperial Tobacco to withdraw poster advertisements and a Facebook ad for Rizla cigarette papers after multiple complaints that the adverts described smoking as ‘safe’ and concerns that they were aimed at young people.

The ads featured two people dressed as bank safes standing in front of a wall on which the word ‘safe’ was written in very large letters. Members of the public complained that this suggested that smoking was safe, and that use of the word ‘safe’ to mean ‘good’ indicated that ad was designed to appeal to under-18s.

Imperial Tobacco responded that the adverts were designed to draw attention to new packaging which it says protects the cigarette papers from damage. The ASA, however, concluded that “use of the word ‘safe’ suggested that smoking was safe, and this could encourage people to smoke or increase their consumption”, and that “the term ‘safe’… a slang term commonly used by young people, was associated with youth culture and would resonate with and appeal to people under 18. We also considered that the presentation of two people standing in bold coloured cardboard cut-out objects… were shown in a playful manner and which was likely to appeal to people under 18.”

Source: New Statesman, 12 February 2019

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Trying to quit smoking? Vaping could be the best way to do it

Writing in the Independent, Katie Myers Smith, Hayden McRobbie and Peter Hajek outline the results of their latest study into the effectiveness of e-cigarettes in helping people quit smoking:

“Many smokers successfully quit by switching to e-cigarettes (vaping), but doctors can’t recommend this treatment without good evidence from clinical trials. They now have this evidence. Our latest study confirms that e-cigarettes are indeed an effective way to help smokers quit.”

“In the trial, published in the New England Journal of Medicine, almost 900 smokers seeking to quit were randomly assigned to one of two groups. One group was given nicotine replacement therapy (NRT) – mostly combinations of nicotine patches with a shorter-acting medication, such as nicotine chewing gum, inhaler or mouth spray. The other group was given a refillable e-cigarette, with one or two bottles of e-liquid, and taught how to use the device.”

“At the end of the year, almost twice as many people in the e-cigarettes group had been abstinent throughout the year compared with the NRT group (18% vs 10%)… These ex-smokers are, of course, still continuing to use nicotine through vaping, but this does not have the major negative effects on health that cigarettes have.”

“We are continuing to follow the trial participants and will eventually have data on how long the long-term vapers continue to vape for and what effect this has on their health and their relapse rate. In the meantime, doctors can tell smokers that there is good evidence that vaping can help them quit.”

Source: The Independent, 12 February 2019

New England Journal of Medicine: A Randomized Trial of E-Cigarettes versus Nicotine-Replacement Therapy

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Study: Stigma could cause pregnant women to smoke in private

A study has found that mothers-to-be who smoke or drink could be hiding their habits in private because of negative reactions. Researchers said women need “empathy” rather than being stigmatised.

According to the study, women who smoke or drank during pregnancy said they had “awkward” relationships with their midwives and would receive health advice in a “judgemental tone”, making them less likely to seek support. Some women said they were also judged negatively by anti-smoking partners, although others were encouraged to drink alcohol at home as it was an enjoyed shared activity prior to pregnancy. But despite the feedback, it did not stop women smoking, with many saying that in private it is “acceptable” for pregnant women.

Dr Aimee Grant, from Cardiff University’s Centre for Trials Research, said: “Moral judgements are commonly directed towards mothers through reference to health behaviour in pregnancy, and working-class mothers are particularly subject to this criticism, ignoring the challenges of living on a low income.”

Source: BBC, 12 February 2019

Editorial note: For more information on evidence based support for pregnant women who smoke see NICE guidance PH48 and PH26. The Smoking in Pregnancy Challenge Group has also produced a key messages document to support the delivery of messaging on smoking and pregnancy. This emphasises the importance of highlighting the risks in a non-judgemental way, with the emphasis on giving pregnant women the information they need to manage their smoking and encouraging them to make use of the free quitting support available.

Women and Birth: Smoking during pregnancy, stigma and secrets: Visual methods exploration in the UK

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Study: Cigarette smoke and heated tobacco vapour similarly toxic to lung cells

A study at the University of Sydney has found that cigarette smoke and heated tobacco vapour was harmful to lung cells both at lower and higher exposure, whereas e-cigarette vapour triggered a response mainly at higher exposure.

The researchers tested the effects of Philip Morris’s IQOS heated tobacco device, e-cigarettes and traditional cigarettes on two types of cells taken from the human airways – epithelial cells and smooth muscle cells.

However, some experts have criticised the study saying its methods are flawed and contradicts other estimates that vaping is 95% less harmful than traditional cigarettes.

Ben Youdan, policy analyst at Action on Smoking and Health New Zealand, said there were many limitations to this research, one being that it was conducted in a lab rather than looking at the “real world impacts”. He said: “Multiple studies in the US, in Europe and the UK have shown improved lung function and respiratory health as a consequence of switching from smoked tobacco to these vaping and heated tobacco devices.”

Youdan said the impacts of e-cigarettes on the lungs were also dependent on how people were dosing and the base-line of their lung function before they switched from smoking to vaping or other devices.

Source: Daily Star, 11 February 2019

European Research Journal: IQOS exposure impairs human airway cell homeostasis: direct comparison with traditional cigarette and e-cigarette

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