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
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
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
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
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
North East: Campaign launched as hospital is set to become a smokefree zone
North Tees and Hartlepool NHS Foundation Trust is raising awareness about smoking cessation services among patients and staff, as part of a pledge to go smokefree by March 2019.
The trust is offering nicotine replacement therapy and a referral to the community stop-smoking service for patients who smoke.
Clare Henry, the trust’s specialist alcohol and tobacco nurse advisor, said: “over the next few months we will be spreading the message to as many people as possible about what we can all do to help go smokefree. We understand there are many reasons why people might choose to smoke outside the hospital… what we are looking to stress to people is the importance to have a healthy environment around our hospital sites… we are here to help smokers to quit.”
Source: Hartlepool Mail, 9 August 2018
Ireland: Casual smokers dangerously unaware of the health risks
A study published by the Royal College of Physicians of Ireland (RCPI) has found that people who only smoke a few cigarettes a week have a 40% greater risk of dying from a smoking-related disease compared with non-smokers.
Casual smokers, who account for one fifth of Irish smokers, are dangerously unaware of the risks associated with casual smoking, particularly over longer time periods. This problem is particularly acute for women aged 35 to 49 who smoke between one and four cigarettes a day, increasing their chances of developing lung cancer by one fifth.
Doctor Des Cox, chairman of the policy group on tobacco at the RCPI, said that casual smokers “carry almost the same risk of cardiovascular disease as daily smokers. While great progress has been made to reduce smoking rates in Ireland, we still have 20 per cent of under-25s taking [it] up. This pattern of smoking is often perceived to have lesser risk and people continue this pattern of smoking over longer periods, increasing their long-term exposure to tobacco smoke.”
Source: The Times, 9 August 2018
China: Xi’an city to ban smoking indoors
Xi’an, capital of Northwest China’s Shaanxi province has announced a ban on smoking indoors in public places.
The ban, which will come into force on 1 November, will also prohibit smoking in some outdoor public venues and will issue fines of up to ¥1000 for venue owners who fail to enforce the regulation.
China currently has around 300 million smokers and has pledged to reduce the smoking rate from 27.7% to 20% by 2030.
Source: China Daily, 8 August 2018
Tariffs on Chinese goods could harm US vaping industry
Proposed levies on US imports from China could increase the price of e-cigarettes by around 15%. The US vape industry imported 91% of its vaping products from China in 2016, leaving them vulnerable to the US government’s proposed tariff on Chinese goods.
According to a study in the Journal of Tobacco Control, this could cause a knock-on reduction in sales of approximately 12% and 19% for disposable and reusable e-cigarettes respectively. The vape industry is particularly sensitive to price increases due to the relative affordability of vaping compared to smoking.
Euromonitor International’s Head of Tobacco Research, Shane MacGuill, said the tariff could have a “significant detrimental impact on the vapour product industry.”
Source: Reuters, 8 August 2018
Journal of Tobacco Control: The impact of price and tobacco control policies on the demand for electronic nicotine delivery systems
Smoking estimated to cost Japan over ¥2 trillion
Japan’s Health Ministry has said that smoking cost the country ¥2.05 trillion in 2015, equivalent to around £14 billion.
Smoker’s medical fees accounted for over half the total at ¥1.26 trillion, with cancer treatment and treatment for passive smoking costing ¥500 billion and ¥330 billion respectively. This is in addition to a further ¥260 billion in nursing care fees for smoking-related diseases and ¥98 billion for smoking-related fires.
Ataru Igarashi, a member of the Health Ministry’s team and a specially appointed associate professor at the University of Tokyo, said: “We have found that smoking not only increases medical costs but also leads to financial losses in a range of areas such as nursing care.”
Source: Japan Today, 9 August 2018
Philip Morris International under fire over ‘disgraceful’ PR stunt
Philip Morris International (PMI), the world’s largest tobacco firm, has been accused of staging “a disgraceful PR stunt” by offering to help NHS staff quit smoking to help mark the service’s 70th birthday. PMI made an ‘offer’ in a letter sent to all NHS bodies in England and also to Simon Stevens and Matt Hancock.
Mark MacGregor, PMI’s director of corporate affairs in the UK and Ireland, said in the widely distributed letter: “To support the 70th anniversary of the NHS, we are keen to work with you to help the 73,000 NHS employees who currently smoke, to quit cigarettes. This would be a collaborative campaign: you would provide cessation advice for quitting nicotine altogether, and for smokers who do not quit we can help them switch to smoke-free alternatives.”
Paul Burstow, the former Liberal Democrat health minister in the coalition government, said in a letter to Simon Stevens: “Any such collaboration with the tobacco industry would be completely inappropriate and a breach of the UK government’s obligations as a party to the WHO FCTC.”
Bob Blackman, chair of the APPG on Smoking in Health said: “They have the cheek to say they want to support the 70th anniversary of the NHS, but it’s clearly just a commercial opportunity to use the NHS to promote their heated tobacco products.”
Steve Brine, the public health minister said he would tell NHS trusts not to get involved. Brine said: “Our aim to make our NHS – and our next generation – smoke-free must be completely separate from the commercial and vested interests of the tobacco industry.”
Deborah Arnott, chief executive of ASH said: “This is a disgraceful PR stunt. PMI is pretending partnership would benefit the NHS, when actually it would give them a massive commercial advantage. They could promote their own harm-reduction products as NHS-endorsed.”
Source: Guardian, 19 July 2018
British Government orders Phillip Morris to stop advertising “healthier” tobacco products, or face legal action
The Government will take one of the world’s largest tobacco firms to court unless it stops illegally targeting UK consumers with tobacco adverts, a Minister has said.
Yesterday the Department of Health sent a formal order to Phillip Morris International, which makes Marlboro cigarettes, telling it to remove poster adverts for “healthier” tobacco products from shops around the UK. PMI has been supplying newsagents across Britain with window posters promoting new iQOS tobacco heaters.
The iQOS posters are in breach of a strict, long-standing ban on advertising tobacco and tobacco-related products, the Department for Health and the National Trading Standards Institute have confirmed.
Public Health Minister, Steve Brine, said: “We have been explicit that the promotion of tobacco products is unlawful – as my letter to Phillip Morris International makes abundantly clear. We expect PMI to stop this unlawful advertisement of tobacco products and we will not rule out legal action if they continue.”
Source: The Telegraph, 18 July 2018
North-East: Smokers’ stories wanted for ‘hard-hitting’ health campaign
Tobacco control group Fresh wants people in the North-East affected by smoking to share their real life experiences. The aim is to put smokers’ real stories at the heart of a ‘hard hitting’ new campaign later this year, warning of the dangers of smoking. They are hoping to hear from former smokers who have been personally affected by ill-health or family members whose loved ones have suffered from a smoking-related illness.
Ailsa Rutter, director of Fresh, said: “It is a brave step to share your experiences with others, but we know that it can have a powerful impact in encouraging others to quit. If you want to make a difference and are interested in backing the campaign, we would love to hear from you.”
Source: The Northern Echo, 19 July 2018
Lancashire: More seizures of illicit tobacco in Nelson
Action against illegal tobacco in central Nelson has resulted in a further seizure in under a week at one shop, and a manufacturing operation being uncovered at another. An inspection by Lancashire County Council Trading Standards and Lancashire Police on Tuesday, July 17, found a further 88 packs behind the counter at one shop, after a raid the previous Thursday netted over 2,200 packs worth £10,000.
Officers then visited a second shop just outside Nelson town centre, where they found a production line for manufacturing packs of counterfeit rolling tobacco in an upstairs room.
Source: This is Lancashire, 18 July 2018
Scotland: Avoidable death rate highest in the UK
Scotland has the highest rate of avoidable death in the UK and the figures are getting worse, a BBC analysis has found. In 2016, the rate stood at 301 deaths per 100,000 people, compared with 287 in 2014. Experts blame social deprivation, with easy access to alcohol, tobacco and fast food also a factor.
Dr Andrew Fraser, from NHS Health Scotland, said: “We know that people in poorer areas experience more harm from alcohol, tobacco and fast food than those in more affluent areas. Part of the reason for this is that it is easier to access the things that harm our health in those areas.”
“To prevent death, disease and harm we need to take actions where and when they are needed. We must address harm from alcohol, tobacco, being overweight or obese. However, these are often common factors, co-existing in communities, groups and individuals, and so we must also address the environment we live in.”
Source: BBC News: 19 July 2018
Scotland: Dundee has one of the highest smoking rates in Britain
New figures from the Office for National Statistics show Dundee still has one of the highest rates of smoking in Britain, with more than one in five adults smoking. However, the number of smokers in Dundee is decreasing, due to a successful and sustained tobacco control strategy from the government. In 2011, 27.3% of Dundee’s population smoked 2017 and by this figure had dropped to 20.8%.
Source: Evening Telegraph, 18 July 2018
UN-backed treaty against illicit tobacco trade set to take effect in September
A UN-backed treaty aimed at stopping the illicit trading of tobacco products, is set to take effect on the 25th of September. The package of measures agreed by countries which 45 Parties and the European Union have ratified is known as the Protocol to Eliminate Illicit Trade in Tobacco Products. It was developed in response to a growing illegal trade in tobacco products, often across borders.
The Protocol aims to make the supply chain of tobacco products secure through a series of governmental measures. It requires the establishment of a global tracking and tracing regime within five years of its entry into force. Other provisions to ensure control of the supply chain include licensing, record keeping requirements, and regulation of internet-sales, duty-free sales and international transit.
Source: Government World Magazine, 18 July 2018 x
Japan: First anti-smoking law gets go ahead – but it is lax and partial
Japan has approved its first national legislation banning smoking inside of public facilities, but the watered-down measure excludes many restaurants and bars and is seen as toothless.
The legislation aims to lower secondhand smoking risks ahead of the 2020 Tokyo Olympics amid international calls for a smokefree Games. But ruling party lawmakers with strong ties to the tobacco and restaurant industries opted for a weakened version.
The new national law bans indoor smoking at schools, hospitals and government offices. Smoking will be allowed at existing small eateries, including those with less than 100 square meters (1,076 square feet) of customer space, which includes more than half of Japanese establishments. Larger and new eateries must limit smoking to designated rooms.
Violators can face fines of up to 300,000 yen ($2,700) for smokers and up to 500,000 yen ($4,500) for facility managers. The ban will be implemented in stages and fully enter into force in April 2020.
Source: Medical Xpress, 18 July 2018
USA: Campaign helps smokers to quit
The ongoing Tips from Former Smokers (Tips) campaign, which features stories of former smokers living with smoking-related diseases and disabilities, has had a considerable impact, according to a report from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
The Tips campaign engages health care providers so that they can encourage their smoking patients to quit. In addition, resources are provided for health care providers, public health professionals, and mental health providers. More than nine million smokers were estimated to have attempted to quit during 2012 to 2015 as a result of the Tips campaign; conservative estimates indicate that over half a million smokers have quit for good.
There were 267,594 calls attributable to the Tips campaign in 2017, which ran from January 9 to July 30. An estimated 1.83 million smokers attempted to quit and 104,000 quit for good as a result of the 2014 campaign. Non-smokers reported increased conversations with family and friends about the dangers of smoking and had greater knowledge of smoking-related diseases as a result of the Tips 2012 campaign. An estimated 1.64 million smokers made a quit attempt and 100,000 smokers quit for good as a result of the 2012 campaign.
“Smokers who have seen Tips ads report greater intentions to quit within the next 30 days and next six months, and smokers who have seen the ads multiple times have even greater intentions to quit,” according to the report.
Source: Medical Xpress, 18 July 2018
Link of the week
Tobacco giant buys stake in medical cannabis
One of the UK’s biggest tobacco manufacturers is seeking to diversify from the under-pressure cigarette market by taking a stake in a start-up researching medical uses of cannabis.
Imperial Brands, the FTSE 100 company behind Winston and Gauloises cigarettes, is investing in Oxford Cannabinoid Technologies (OCT). It is thought to be the first time that a Big Tobacco company has invested in cannabis research in the UK.
Deborah Arnott, chief executive of Action on Smoking and Health, said: “Imperial talks of there being ‘significant potential’ in cannabinoid products but they’re not a pharmaceutical company, they’re a recreational drug company. This is all about developing the expertise they need to market cannabis not as a medicine, but as a recreational drug. It’s a bad move for a start-up like OCT to besmirch its reputation by taking money from an industry responsible for killing more than seven million people a year. And it bucks the trend. Major investors all round the world, from banks and pension funds, to insurers and sovereign wealth funds, are all getting out of tobacco.”
See also: BBC, ‘Tobacco giant Imperial Brands invests in medical cannabis’
Source: The Times, 29 June 2018
North West: Burnley women urged to stop smoking
Burnley has the second highest rate of women smokers in the country. In Burnley 25.5% of women are smokers, second only to Hastings in East Sussex, with fellow Lancashire area South Ribble having the least amount of women smokers at just 4%.
Lancashire County Council has commissioned a ‘Quit Squad’ which encourages people to stop smoking, and includes support for pregnant women to quit in partnership with midwifes, health visitors and children’s centres.
Shaun Turner, Lancashire County Council’s cabinet member for health and wellbeing, said: “We know how difficult it is to stop smoking, but we’re here to help. Current figures show that 16% of Lancashire’s population smokes, which is just above the national average. Rates in the county are falling. However, we are aware of tobacco use hotspots such as Burnley and our targeted work with communities will help us address them. Our aim is to cut smoking rates in Lancashire to 12% or less by 2022.”
Source: Burnley Express, 28 June 2018
The protocol to eliminate illicit trade in tobacco products is live
On the 27 June 2018, the conditions for the entry into force of the first legally binding instrument adopted under the WHO FCTC were met. The ratification of United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland, meant the necessary number of Parties to the Protocol to Eliminate Illicit Trade in Tobacco Products was reached, paving the way to eliminate illicit trade of tobacco products.
This achievement is a milestone in the history of tobacco control, as the Protocol contains a full range of measures to combat illicit trade distributed in three categories: preventing illicit trade, promoting law enforcement and providing the legal basis for international cooperation. Moreover, it aims to secure the supply chain of tobacco products, through licensing, due diligence and record keeping, and requires the establishment of a global tracking and tracing regime that will allow Governments to effectively follow up tobacco products from the point of production to the first point of sale.
The Parties can now hold the First session of the Meeting of the Parties to the Protocol (MOP1) in Geneva, Switzerland, from the 8th to the 10th of October 2018, following the Eighth Conference of the Parties (COP8) of the WHO FCTC.
Source: FCTC, 28 June 2018
Australia: WTO backs plain cigarette packets
Australia has won a major trade dispute over its pioneering plain packaging for cigarettes, in a decision handed down by the World Trade Organization (WTO).
Australia made it mandatory in 2011 for cigarettes to be sold in plain packets that carry health warnings. Seven years on, the WTO has rejected complaints from four nations that the laws violate international trade. Unless there is a successful appeal, the decision is expected to hasten similar regulations around the world.
“Australia has achieved a resounding victory,” its government said in a statement on Friday. Cuba, Honduras, Dominican Republic and Indonesia – all tobacco producers – had argued that plain packaging infringed on trademarks and intellectual property rights. But the WTO rejected those arguments and assertions that alternative measures could achieve an equivalent benefit to public health.
Financial Times, Australia wins landmark WTO ruling over cigarette packaging
The Guardian, ‘Resounding victory’: Australia wins tobacco plain packaging dispute
Daily Mail Online, ‘Australia wins landmark WTO ruling on plain tobacco packaging’
Source: BBC News, 29 June 2018
China: Low funding cited as top reason for lackluster smoking control
Lack of funding has become a major obstacle to the enforcement of tobacco control regulations, according to a new report based on feedback from the governments of 18 major cities on the Chinese mainland. Wang Zhenyu, the head of the law firm that carried out the study, said “We found that lack of government funding is the biggest difficulty in tobacco control for many cities, and the problem has not improved over the past few years.”
Of the 18 cities, nine disclosed the amount of money allocated for tobacco control for 2016. Beijing was top, with total funding of about 4.8 million yuan ($724,000), followed by Guangzhou, Guangdong province, at 4.6 million yuan. Funding on all the other seven cities was below 500,000 yuan.
However, Jiang Yuan, director of the tobacco control office of the Chinese Center for Disease Control and Prevention, said that although Beijing has placed more emphasis on tobacco control than most other cities in China, but the funding level is still far from adequate. She said, “Per capita funding is far below many other countries and regions, such as Hong Kong.”
Source: China Daily, 29 June 2018
China: Paternal smoking linked to miscarriage risk
Would-be fathers may increase their partner’s risk of miscarriage by smoking during the pregnancy, or even during the time leading up to conception, a large study from China suggests.
Based on data for nearly 6 million pregnancies, researchers found that women whose partner smoked during the first few months of the pregnancy were 17% more likely to miscarry than women with nonsmoking partners. Women whose partners quit smoking around the time of conception had an 18% lower risk of miscarriage than those whose smoking partner didn’t quit, the study team reports in the Journal of Epidemiology & Community Health.
“Although we have known for a long time that if the mother smokes there is an increased risk for adverse pregnancy outcomes, dads who smoke also influence the ‘success’ of the pregnancy,” Dr. Alison Holloway, a professor of obstetrics and gynecology at McMaster University in Hamilton, Ontario.
Source: Reuters, 27 June 2018
Japan: Smoke exposure during pregnancy and infancy tied to hearing loss
Kids exposed to tobacco smoke in the womb and early in infancy could have double the odds of developing hearing loss compared with children who were not exposed to tobacco at all, a Japanese study suggests.
Researchers examined data on 50,734 children born between 2004 and 2010 in Kobe City, Japan. Overall, about 4% of these kids were exposed to smoking during pregnancy or infancy, and roughly 1% had tobacco exposure during both periods.
Hearing tests done when kids were 3 years old found that 4.6% of the children had hearing loss. They were 68% more likely to have hearing loss if they were exposed to tobacco during pregnancy, and 30% more likely if they inhaled second-hand smoke during infancy, the study found. When kids had smoke exposure during both periods, they were 2.4 times more likely than unexposed kids to have hearing loss.
Source: Reuters, 28 June 2018
US: Opinion: 12-year-olds can’t buy cigarettes. Why can they work in tobacco fields?
In the US, a 12-year-old cannot legally walk into a store and buy cigarettes, but the law allows that same child to work in a tobacco field. A 16-year-old child tobacco worker told Human Rights Watch that tobacco was “the hardest of all the crops we’ve worked in. You get tired. It takes the energy out of you. You get sick, but then you have to go right back to the tobacco the next day.”
When the seminal legislation the Fair Labor Standards Act was passed in 1938, it exempted agriculture from its extensive labor protections, including child labor. In 2011-12, the Obama administration attempted to ban teen work in tobacco, but farm groups claimed this would “kill the family farm” and the Obama administration promised to never implement them again during Obama’s tenure. Now, the Trump administration is working to remove hazardous work restrictions for students and apprentices that would allow minors to use chainsaws, meat slicers, compactors and other dangerous machinery for longer hours than currently allowed.
We call on the tobacco industry to raise the minimum age of work on tobacco farms to 18 in the US and around the world immediately. It’s bad enough that the tobacco industry is willing to kill its customers with a dangerous product; it really should move to protect the workers who produce that product.
See also: Guardian, ‘The US children working in tobacco fields’
Source: Guardian, 29 June 2018
Link of the week
Cigarettes and Chimneys
In a short 15 minute programme, Radio 4 tells the story of how Richard Doll’s research in the 1950s identified that smoking caused lung cancer and how the Royal College of Physicians (RCP) had to weigh in to ensure that government took the evidence seriously.
When lung cancer, a new deadly disease, began to grip the nation, the NHS was focused on treatment, not prevention. Lung cancer was a disease that doctors couldn’t treat. The suggestion that something you could prevent – cigarette smoking – might be causing it, led to a radically new way of thinking about the role of the health service.
The RCP has been in the forefront of promoting this change in perspective since its seminal 1962 report Smoking and Health, and it continues to promote the role of prevention in the NHS today with its latest report Hiding in plain sight.
Many other RCP reports are also available for free to download on the RCP website.
Source: BBC Radio 4, 25 June 2018
Opinion: Why don’t more young women vape?
Sophie Jarvis from the Adam Smith Institute comments on vaping trends
When it comes to tackling the harms of smoking we still seem to stick to an abstinence-only approach. It should be made easier for adults to switch to safer (but not risk-free) alternatives.
Public Health England have to their credit highlighted the relative benefits of vaping by pointing out that it’s at least 95% safer than smoking. In other words, it would take 20 non-smokers to take up vaping to outweigh the good of one smoker switching the other way.
British vaping laws aren’t that Victorian, but there’s room for improvement. While we allow vape shops and vaping in public places, e-cigarette manufacturers face stiff regulation and are prevented from talking about the relative risks of vaping compared with smoking.
The EU’s Tobacco Products Directive limits tank sizes, regulates nicotine content, and restricts the ability for e-cigarette sellers to market their products effectively. We know from other countries that heavy-handed e-cigarette laws don’t help smokers: in Australia, where e-cigarettes are banned, smokers as a proportion of the population dropped by just 0.6% between 2013-2016. By contrast, the UK’s relatively liberal approach to vaping lead to smoking rates falling by 2.9%. Japan also banned e-cigarettes, but they allow heat-not-burn products which has resulted in a significant decline in cigarette sales.
Source: Spectator, 25 June 2018
Note: The Adam Smith Institute has received money from the tobacco industry in the past
Scotland: Smokers outside Larbert hospital to be fined
Larbet hospital in Falkirk will soon be fining those who smoke too near the hospital premises. The Scottish Government aims to make it an offence to smoke within 15 metres of hospitals, as part of a tobacco control action plan which includes 44 specific actions.
The NHS in Scotland has spent years trying to persuade smokers not to smoke in hospital grounds, and now intends to tackle the issue by bringing in new legislation.
However no final decision has been made on whether vaping should continue to be allowed around NHS facilities – the Scottish Government aims to work with health boards and integration boards to “try and reach a consensus” on the issue.
The move is part of tobacco control action plan aimed at addressing health inequalities and cutting smoking rates, particularly in deprived areas.
Source: Falkirk Herald, 22 June 2018
USA: Study finds large increase in number of college campuses going smokefree
Smoking continues to fall out of favour at colleges and universities across America, a new study has found. As of November 2017, over 2,000 U.S. college campuses were smokefree or tobacco-free (no smokeless tobacco use or smoking), compared with only 774 campuses in 2012, the report found.
In 2017, 84% of smokefree campuses were tobacco-free, compared with 73% of smokefree campuses in 2012, according to the study by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the American Nonsmokers’ Rights Foundation.
“Colleges and universities are ideal places to promote healthy behaviours that can continue for a lifetime, including being tobacco-free,” Corinne Graffunder, director of the CDC’s Office on Smoking and Health, said in an agency news release.
Source: Health Day, 22 June 2018
See also: Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Smoke-Free and Tobacco-Free Policies in Colleges and Universities – United States and Territories, 2017 (page 10 of PDF download)
Signs that Philip Morris’s iQOS heat-not-burn product might not be a big hit
Philip Morris International’s (PMI) lacklustre first-quarter earnings report has weighed heavily on the tobacco industry, after the company experienced a dramatic drop off in sales of its next-generation heat-not-burn tobacco devices in Japan. Their concern is that the device won’t be able to offset the secular decline in traditional cigarette sales.
The rollout of the iQOS heat-not-burn device marked a significant change in how Philip Morris presented itself to the public and investors. The future, Philip Morris said, was going to be smokefree, and the company took out full-page ads in newspapers calling on smokers to quit and switch to alternative products.
Japan was a seminal point for iQOS, and after rolling it out nationwide, it captured 80% of the heat-not-burn market in the country. However, PMI’s earnings report indicated it has burned through all of the early adopters of the new technology and now faced the prospect of convincing older, more conservative smokers to switch, a more difficult and costly task. It has since cut the cost of iQOS devices to try and boost sales.
Source: Yahoo Finance, 22 June 2018
China: On-screen smoking scenes in Chinese media declining
The number of scenes depicting tobacco smoking in Chinese movies and TV series have declined overall in the last decade, according to the Chinese Association on Tobacco Control. However the figures for 2017 were worse than in 2016, according to the public health charity.
This is the 10th consecutive year the association has surveyed Chinese movies and television shows. Twenty of the top thirty movie blockbusters had at least one smoking scene last year, down 23% from 2007. The declining trend in TV series was even more apparent; 17 of the 30 most-watched shows had smoking scenes in 2017, down by 37% from 10 years ago.
Under regulations issued in 2009 and 2011 by the former State Administration of Press, Publication, Radio, Film and Television, smoking scenes are “strictly controlled” rather than banned.
Source: China Daily, 25 June 2018
Opinion: Inconsistent regulators risk stifling UK vaping industry
Gillian Golden, chief executive of the Independent British Vape Trade Association, discusses the impact of regulation on the UK vaping industry
Independent vaping companies, free from ownership or control by the tobacco or pharmaceutical industries, make up 90% of what is one of the fastest growing industries in Britain. UK vaping businesses are known globally for their innovation and product stewardship, and locally, independent vape shops are one of the few areas of positive growth on British high streets.
On average, members of the Independent British Vape Trade Association (IBVTA) have seen a 24% reduction in business since the regulations were fully implemented in May 2017, forcing some businesses to close. While we are not happy with the current set of restrictions placed on the UK’s vape industry, the IBVTA is not anti-regulation, and has worked proactively to ensure that members comply with the relevant regulations. However, the lax attitudes from some enforcement bodies has meant that non-compliance, particularly online, has given a competitive advantage to manufacturers and sellers which aren’t following the most recent legislation.
Our report, “The State of Compliance – One year on from the TRPR”, which launched in parliament this week, should serve as a wake-up call. We must review the inclusion of vaping in the TRPR at the earliest possible opportunity, and introduce proportionate, risk-based, vape-specific legislation which allows as many smokers as possible switch away from smoking.
Source: City AM, 7 June
See also: IBVTA: The State of Compliance
Opinion: The impact of NICE on cardiovascular disease prevention
Professor Gillian Leng, deputy chief executive and director Health and Social Care at NICE, looks into what can be done to decrease cardiovascular disease nationally and how to prevent missed opportunities in the future.
Cardiovascular disease (CVD) accounts for just over a quarter of deaths and affects around 7 million people in the UK. Risk factors for CVD include smoking, obesity, mental illness, physical inactivity, and long-term factors like diabetes, high cholesterol and high blood pressure. These can all be addressed with the right care and support.
For example, data from the Public Health Outcomes Framework (PHOF) shows smoking levels in 2016 fell to 15.5% of the adult population. To encourage this, we recommend offering patients in hospitals, mental health, and maternity services advice on quitting. But despite an audit of 15,000 patients finding that of the 73% that had their smoking status recorded, only 28% were asked if they would like to quit. This suggests key opportunities are being missed to further tackle smoking rates.
Source: National Health Executive, 6 June 2018
Japanese study: Children who were exposed to cigarettes in the womb and as babies are more than twice as likely to be deaf
A study conducted by Kyoto University has found that exposure to cigarette smoke in pregnancy and as newborns raises the risk of hearing problems by 2.4 times. Three-year-olds exposed within the first four months of life are 30% more at risk of deafness and children are 26% more at risk if their mothers smoked during their pregnancies.
Study author Dr Koji Kawakami, Kyoto University, said: “Although public health guidelines already discourage smoking during pregnancy and in front of children, some women still smoke during pregnancy and many young children are exposed to second-hand smoke.
This study clearly shows that preventing exposure to tobacco smoke during pregnancy and postnatally may reduce the risk of hearing problems in children.”
Source: Daily Mail, 6 June 2018
San Francisco approves ban on menthol cigarettes and flavoured e-cigarette liquids
San Francisco residents have overwhelmingly voted to uphold a ban on all flavoured tobacco, alongside flavoured e-cigarette liquids.
The city’s supervisors approved the measure last summer, but tobacco giant R.J. Reynolds and a coalition of businesses and industry associations challenged it. Nearly 70% of voters supported the ban, according to San Francisco’s election results.
Tuesday’s vote ends a campaign that pitted Big Tobacco against former New York mayor and billionaire philanthropist Michael Bloomberg and public health groups. R.J. Reynolds, the maker of best-selling menthol cigarette brand Newport, poured more than $11.6 million into the effort. Bloomberg donated $1.8 million of the $2.3 million raised by supporters of the ban.
Source: CNBC, 6 June 2018
China: Beijing’s smoking population drops by 200,000
The number of smokers in Beijing has dropped by about 200,000, three years after the city adopted its strictest tobacco control regulations, the municipal health authority said Wednesday.
The adult smoking rate in Beijing is now 22.3%, or 3.99 million smokers. This means there are 200,000 fewer smokers than in 2015, the city’s commission for health improvement said.
A total of 61 hospitals have opened smoking cessation clinics. The number of tobacco control volunteers has approached 15,000 citywide. Around 1,600 departments and over 7,300 individuals have been found to violate tobacco control regulations.
Source: Xinhua Net, 6 June 2018