ASH Daily news for 26 May 2016



  • Achieving a smokefree pregnancy: can electronic cigarettes help?

    Midwives and health professionals are increasingly being asked for advice about the safety of using electronic cigarettes whilst pregnant. Jo Locker, tobacco control programme manager and lead for smokefree pregnancy at Public Health England, shares the key messages from a new briefing about using electronic cigarettes during pregnancy.

    The briefing: Use of electronic cigarettes in pregnancy, has been produced by the Smoking in Pregnancy Challenge Group summarising the most recent evidence and providing answers to the most commonly asked questions.

    The briefing carries a strong message of harm reduction, with key messages including: Stopping smoking is one of the best things a woman and her partner can do to protect the health of their baby through pregnancy and beyond; and whilst not completely risk free, electronic cigarettes carry a fraction of the risk of smoking for users, with no known risks to bystanders.

    Key advice to healthcare professionals is that: While licensed nicotine replacement products are the recommended option, if a pregnant woman chooses to use an electronic cigarette and if that helps her to stay smokefree, she should not be discouraged from doing so.

    See also:
    Full briefing: Use of electronic cigarettes in pregnancy: A guide for midwives and other healthcare professionals

    Source: Public Health England 26 May 2016

  • Canada: Study shows effectiveness of hospital initiated smoking cessation programs

    A new study from the University of Ottawa Heart Institute (UOHI), in collaboration with the Institute for Clinical Evaluative Sciences (ICES), has established that greater adoption of hospital initiated tobacco cessation interventions improved patient outcomes.

    The before and after study compared hospitalized people who smoke who had received the Ottawa Model for Smoking Cessation (n=726), to hospitalized people who smoke who had not (n=641), or who had received “usual care”, to determine if implementation of the Ottawa Model for Smoking Cessation would reduce mortality and downstream healthcare use.

    The results showed that those who received the Ottawa Model had notably better health outcomes with 35% smokefree at 6 month follow-up compared to 20% in the usual care group. Further smokers who received the Ottawa Model were 21% less likely to be re-hospitalized and 9% less likely to visit an emergency department, 2 years following their hospitalization. Most importantly, the study showed a 40% reduction in 2-year mortality risk among patients who received the Ottawa Model.

    See also:
    Brightsurf: Canadian study shows effectiveness of hospital-initiated smoking cessation programs

    Source: Medical X Press 25 May 2016

  • Researchers raise concerns over electronic cigarette safety

    New research conducted by the University of Manchester says the vapour from electronic cigarettes contains formaldehyde and acrolein, as in tobacco cigarettes, which has the potential to be harmful if taken over the long term.

    The research examined the effect of electronic cigarette exposure on human white blood cells taken from 10 non-smokers, finding raised activity of neutrophils in response to electronic cigarette exposure.

    Electronic cigarettes are often used to avoid the unwanted effects of traditional cigarettes, such as causing pulmonary inflammation. This research emphasises the need for further research into the effects of long term electronic cigarette use.

    Editorial Note:

    Commenting on this research, Deborah Arnott, chief executive of ASH said:
    “New studies on e-cigarettes are welcome as we need to know more about these products. However, a common problem with some research, including this study, is that the main comparison should be with tobacco which contains a range of toxicants including formaldehyde and acrolein. Previous research has shown that levels of these compounds are far lower in e-cigarette vapour than in tobacco smoke.

    Smokers need accurate information that conveys the relative risk of continued smoking compared with e-cigarette use, and all the available evidence is that e-cigarettes are a far safer option. Alarming headlines based on cell line studies such as this one will merely deter more smokers from stopping smoking by using e-cigarettes, contributing to the disease and early death that continued smoking causes.”

    Source: Medical X Press 25 May 2016

  • Malaysia has made a ‘u-turn’ on introducing plain packaging for tobacco products

    Health campaigners have raised concerns at an apparent u-turn from the Malaysian Government over the introduction of plain packaging.

    Parliamentarian Charles Santiago said the Health Minister’s response to Parliamentary Questions on plain packaging showed the Government had backed down from its original position, as the Minister announced that they were not prepared to proceed with the plan without public consultation.

    “It’s obvious that Subramaniam has buckled under pressure from the tobacco industry and lobby groups … These groups have cautioned the government that introducing plain-packaging would violate international trade laws, undermine Malaysia’s business-friendly image besides leaving the country open to be sued at international arbitration tribunals. And the government has caved in under pressure from these groups and completely ignored pro-health views,” said Mr Santiago.

    See also:
    The Star: Health Ministry rapped over tobacco plain packaging plans

    Source: The Edge Markets 25 May 2016