ASH Daily News for 06 January 2017



  • E-cigarettes ‘most cost-effective quitting aid’
  • Opinion: UK government must help to stub out illicit tobacco trade
  • Concern around vaping flavours that could damage sperm
  • Animal study shows negative impact of pre-conception smoke exposure
  • USA: Smoking cessation among adults 2000 – 2015

E-cigarettes ‘most cost-effective quitting aid’

New research by the Irish Health Watchdog – the Health Information and Quality Authority (Hiqa) – has found that e-cigarettes are the most cost-effective aid to quitting smoking, and are twice as effective as unaided quit attempts.

Approximately €40 million is spent every year on helping people to quit smoking, but if 45% of people trying to quit smoking were prescribed e-cigarettes instead of other products it would save the government €2.6 million per year, Hiqa said.

Varenicline used in combination with nicotine replacement therapy was found to be more effective than use of e-cigarettes but is significantly more costly. Increasing the uptake of varenicline alongside nicotine replacement therapy would be ‘good value for money’, the report found, but would add almost €8 million to healthcare costs.

Máirín Ryan, Hiqa’s director of health technology assessment, noted that there is still some uncertainty around e-cigarettes. “Hiqa’s analysis shows that increased uptake of e-cigarettes as an aid to quitting would increase the number of people who successfully quit compared with the existing situation in Ireland and would be cost-effective, provided that the currently available evidence on their effectiveness is confirmed by further studies,” Dr Ryan said.

Hiqa’s findings will be put out for public consultation before it produces a final report for Health Minister Simon Harris.

Source: The Times, Ireland – 06 January 2017
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Opinion: UK government must help to stub out illicit tobacco trade

Martyn Day MP calls for action to tackle illicit trade and urges the UK Government to ratify that World Health Organisations’ (WHO) Illicit Trade Protocol.

Illicit trade in tobacco products costs the Treasury approximately £2.5 billion a year, as 13% of all cigarettes and 32% of hand-rolled tobacco sold in the UK are illicit.

Day argues that the UK Government has the capacity to tackle illicit trade in tobacco through WHO’s Illicit Trade Protocol which sets out a comprehensive range of measures to be undertaken by countries acting in collaboration with one another. The UK Government signed this protocol in December 2013, but despite repeated calls has since failed to ratify it.

Illicit trade fuels the tobacco epidemic and undermines tobacco control policies designed to protect public health. It also causes a notable loss in Government revenue which goes instead into funding criminal activity.

Mr Day argues the UK Government has prevaricated for too long and must ratify the protocol without further delay.

Source: The Times – 06 January 2017 (£)
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Concern around vaping flavours that could damage sperm

Concern has been raised about certain flavours of e-liquid used in e-cigarettes, following a study conducted by researchers at University College London which appears to show adverse effects on sperm.

The researchers grew sperm in dishes containing either propylene glycol, the main chemical used in most e-liquids, or e-liquids flavoured with bubblegum and cinnamon. The bubblegum and the cinnamon flavoured liquids had a significantly worse effect on the number, motility and maturity of the sperm than the normal liquid, according to findings presented at the Fertility 2017 conference in Edinburgh.

Researchers then exposed adult male mice to the three different types of vapour over four weeks and found that both flavourings seemed to make their testicles shrink.

Whilst the researchers acknowledge that these are not realistic simulations of what happens to men who use e-cigarettes, they are encouraging further research into the effects of flavourings and further regulation.

Further research published by the University of Salford, has found that flavoured e-liquids can damage bronchial tissues. This research paper can be accessed here.

Source: The Times – 06 January 2017
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Animal study shows negative impact of pre-conception smoke exposure

Researchers at Duke University have found that exposure to second-hand smoke even prior to conception could be damaging to a foetus.

Female rats were exposed to the chemical components of tobacco smoke at one of three periods, either prior to mating, during early gestation or during late gestation. Researchers then studied their off-spring from early adolescents into adulthood, focusing on regions of the brain known to be adversely affected by tobacco smoke.

Researchers found that smoke exposure during all three stages adversely affected functioning of the brain circuit which governs memory and learning, and the serotonin circuit which governs emotional behaviours.

Further research is needed to examine the reasons for this relationship, but causes may include the lingering effects of some smoke components, which can remain in the body for several days after exposure, or changes to the metabolic or hormonal systems.

See also:
– Is There a Critical Period for the Developmental Neurotoxicity of Low-Level Tobacco Smoke Exposure?, Oxford Journals

Source: Medical X Press – 05 January 2017
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USA: Smoking cessation among adults 2000 – 2015

To help progress towards the Healthy People 2020 goal of increasing the proportion of US adults who attempt to quit smoking to at least 80%, with a success rate of at least 8%, the Centre for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has assessed smoking cessation among adults between 2000 and 2015.

Across the period, an increasing number of smokers reported past year quit attempts, recent quitting success, or being given advice to quit by a healthcare professional. Further, by 2015 59.1% of adults who had ever smoked had quit.

However, less than one third of people used evidence based methods when attempting to quit. Given that over two thirds of smokers reported a desire to quit in 2015, in order to improve quitting healthcare provides must consistently try to identify smokers, provide evidence based advice and offer them cessation treatments.

Source: Centre for Disease Control and Prevention – 06 January 2017
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