ASH Daily News for 31 January 2019



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UK

  • Study: E-cigarettes more effective for smoking cessation than nicotine replacement therapy
  • Opinion: Big tobacco and generation vape

International

  • Health campaigners’ suspicions confirmed as New Zealand Tax Payers’ Union found to receive tobacco industry funding

UK

Study: E-cigarettes more effective for smoking cessation than nicotine replacement therapy

Smokers are almost twice as likely to quit successfully if they use e-cigarettes rather than more traditional nicotine replacement therapies (NRT), a large randomised trial published in The New England Journal of Medicine has shown.

The study, led by Queen Mary University of London, found that 18% of e-cigarette users were biochemically validated to be abstinent after a year, compared with 9.9% who used other forms of NRT such as gum or skin patches. The 886 participants attending NHS stop-smoking clinics in London, Leicester and East Sussex, were assigned at random to receive either an e-cigarette starter pack with one or two bottles of e-liquid or another NRT product of their choice for up to three months. All participants also received weekly one-to-one behavioural support.

The study found that among participants who did not achieve full abstinence, more e-cigarette users achieved a biochemically validated reduction in smoking of at least 50%. E-cigarettes also provided higher satisfaction and were rated as more helpful than NRT.

“This is the first trial to test the efficacy of modern e-cigarettes in helping smokers quit,” said Peter Hajek, lead researcher. “Although a large number of smokers report that they have quit smoking successfully with the help of e-cigarettes, health professionals have been reluctant to recommend their use because of the lack of clear evidence from randomised controlled trials. This is now likely to change.”

Source: BBC, 30 January 2019

The New England Journal of Medicine – A randomized trial of e-cigarettes versus nicotine-replacement therapy

See also:
The Guardian – Vaping twice as likely as gum to help smokers quit, research finds
The Financial Times – E-cigarettes give smokers extra incentive to give up

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Opinion: Big tobacco and generation vape

Gillian Tett writes in the Financial Times on the tobacco industry’s attempt to collaborate with governments around tobacco control: “In recent years, Philip Morris…has steered clear of the World Economic Forum’s annual meeting in Davos…But at this year’s Davos meeting, there was an intriguing whiff of change in the air. André Calantzopoulos, chief executive of Philip Morris, could be spotted stalking the corridors of smart hotels with a new message to impart: the tobacco industry needs support from governments to improve smokers’ health.

“Tobacco executives such as Calantzopoulos are pleading with regulators and investors to back their new ‘smokeless’ pitch as part of a drive for better global health.

“…Should we fight for a world where nobody has access to any nicotine, or merely to minimise the damage in a world where nicotine will inevitably be used? Will offering a ‘healthier’ device to deliver nicotine prompt more people to consume the drug? And is this a worthwhile trade-off to reduce the damage among existing smokers? There are no easy answers. One thing that is clear is that those contradictions are not going to disappear soon – not when men such as Gottlieb are determined to crack down and Big Tobacco is ready to fight back on ‘health’ grounds.”

Source: Financial Times, 30 January 2019

Editorial note: This article conflates Philip Morris’ heated tobacco product ‘IQOS’ with its e-cigarette ‘IQOS MESH’. IQOS uses compressed tobacco in a ‘mini-cigarette’ form in a vapouriser. In contrast to e-cigarettes, which vapourise nicotine suspended in a liquid, IQOS heats and vapourises tobacco. The relative health benefits of e-cigarettes as compared to smoking should not, therefore, be considered to extend to IQOS. The article notes that IQOS has captured 15% of the market in Japan, this claim refers to the heated tobacco product IQOS, not the e-cigarette IQOS MESH. The article also conflates ‘smokefree’ or ‘smokeless’ products with e-cigarettes when, in practice, these terms are used by the tobacco industry to also refer to their tobacco containing products.

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International

Health campaigners’ suspicions confirmed as New Zealand Tax Payers’ Union found to receive tobacco industry funding

Tobacco control advocates’ suspicions have been confirmed as a recent Guardian investigation into tobacco industry funding of ‘think tanks’ has revealed that the New Zealand Taxpayers’ Union accepted funding from British American Tobacco (BAT).

The New Zealand Tax Payers’ Union has a history of opposing cigarette tax increases and plain packaging laws in New Zealand. Mihi Blair, Tobacco Control Manager at Hāpai te Hauora, a Maori public health organisation, said that this is predictable behaviour from tobacco companies: “I should think the NZ Taxpayer’s Union will have their tail between their legs. This completely undermines their credibility, especially with a motto like lower tax, less waste, more transparency. This is the sort of behaviour we expect from Big Tobacco – trying to find puppets to advance their interests.”

Source: New Zealand Doctor, 31 January 2019

See also: The Guardian – Revealed: The free-market groups helping the tobacco industry

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