ASH Daily News for 19 September 2018



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International

  • Australia: Health Minister agrees to study health effects of e-cigarettes
  • Study: Chemical in cigarette smoke may damage important aspect of vision
  • Japan: Smoking cost the country $18.5 billion in 2015
  • USA: E-cigarette warnings to appear in high school toilets nationwide

Parliamentary activity

  • Parliamentary Question

International

Australia: Health Minister agrees to study health effects of e-cigarettes

Australian health minister Greg Hunt has agreed to an independent inquiry into the health impacts of nicotine e-cigarettes. This comes after several MPs raised the issue in a party meeting, saying there was widespread support within the government for making nicotine e-cigarettes legally available. Australia’s drug regulator has banned e-cigarettes, putting Australia at odds with several comparable countries, including New Zealand, Canada and the United Kingdom.

Source: The Guardian, 18 September 2018

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Study: Chemical in cigarette smoke may damage important aspect of vision

Exposure to cadmium, a chemical found in tobacco smoke, could make it more difficult for people to see in low-contrast conditions, such as low light, fog or glare, a new study suggests. Even those with 20-20 vision can experience problems with daily living if their contrast sensitivity is impaired.

“This particular aspect of vision is really important because it affects your ability to see the end of a curb or put a key into a lock in low light,” said lead author Adam Paulson of the University of Wisconsin, School of Medicine. “It’s something that at this point in time there’s no way to correct, unlike visual acuity, which you can easily correct with glasses or contact lenses.”

See also: JAMA Ophthalmology, Association of Cadmium and Lead Exposure With the Incidence of Contrast Sensitivity Impairment Among Middle-aged Adults

Source: Reuters, 18 September 2018

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Japan: Smoking cost the country $18.5 billion in 2015

Smoking caused 2.05 trillion yen ($18.44 billion) in damage to Japanese society in the fiscal year of 2015, a health ministry survey has shown. The damage mainly comes from medical costs, this includes treating cancer and other tobacco-related conditions.

“Tobacco has various effects not only on people’s health but also all aspects of society,” said Ataru Igarashi, an associate professor of medical policies at the University of Tokyo. “Health-care costs are expected to drop due to the shrinking smoking population, but tobacco is still causing significant damage. Further countermeasures are required.”

Source: Asahi, 19 September 2018

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USA: E-cigarette warnings to appear in high school toilets nationwide

The US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) will stage a massive education campaign aimed at the nearly 10.7 million teens it says are at risk of e-cigarette use and potential addiction, the agency said yesterday. In addition to placing posters in school toilets, the FDA is launching anti-vaping videos, targeted at youths, on social media.

The FDA calls e-cigarette use by minors ‘an epidemic’. The trend was flagged in a 2016 report from the US surgeon general, which cited a 900% increase in e-cigarette use by high school students between 2011 to 2015.

The new campaign is an extension of ‘The Real Cost Youth E-Cigarette Prevention Campaign’, which the FDA says is a nearly $60 million effort funded by fees from the tobacco industry.

Editorial note: The FDA’s concerns strongly contrast with the latest ASH survey on youth use of e-cigarettes in Great Britain, which found that just 2% of GB 11-18 year olds use the devices ‘at least weekly’ and that use is almost exclusively found in current or ex-tobacco smokers. You can access the ASH factsheet on GB youth use of e-cigarettes here.

Source: CNN, 19 September 2018

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Parliamentary activity

Parliamentary Question

Philip Davies Conservative, Shipley
To ask the Secretary of State for Health and Social Care, what assessment his Department has made of the potential effect of the WHO Framework Convention on Tobacco Control’s proposal for a worldwide ban on advertising, promoting and sponsoring e-cigarettes on the Government’s tobacco control plan; and if he will make a statement.

Steve Brine, The Parliamentary Under-Secretary for Health and Social Care answered:
The World Health Organization Framework Convention on Tobacco Control (WHO FCTC) is not proposing a worldwide ban on advertising, promoting and sponsoring of e-cigarettes. The Government supports proportionate regulation of e-cigarettes to ensure non-smokers and children are protected from accessing these products, and has implemented the European Union Tobacco Products Directive which ensures such proportionate regulation.

A search of the Department’s Ministerial correspondence database has identified two items of correspondence received in the last six months about his Department’s participation in the 8th Conference of the Parties (CoP) to the WHO FCTC in October 2018. This figure represents correspondence received by the Department’s Ministerial correspondence unit only. The Department has also answered five Parliamentary Questions related to CoP in the last six months.

As a global leader on tobacco control, the Department will engage constructively at the CoP, working closely with fellow members of the European Union and with other partners to continue to support measures proposed to reduce global harms from tobacco and ensure WHO FCTC Secretariat work proposals offer value for money.
Source: Hansard, 17 September 2018

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