ASH Daily News for 28 March 2017



  • What is sudden infant death syndrome, how common is cot death and what are the causes?
  • Researchers warn of hazards of smoking, need for wider use of varenicline to quit
  • US: Paying people to stop smoking works, especially among vulnerable populations
  • US: Justice Department should recuse lawyers who represented tobacco companies
  • Netherlands: Dutch amusement parks, museums to ban smoking while you wait
  • Australia: E-cigarette nicotine ban criticised by health experts

What is sudden infant death syndrome, how common is cot death and what are the causes?

The Scottish Sun explores ways to prevent sudden infant death syndrome and highlights the risks of smoking in pregnancy and babies’ exposure to secondhand smoke.

Most sudden and unexplained deaths happen during the first six months of a baby’s life. The exact cause is unknown, but a number of factors are thought to be a factor, such as getting tangled in bedding, tobacco smoke, a minor illness or a breathing obstruction. It is therefore essential for women not to smoke during pregnancy or let anyone smoke in the same room while pregnant, or near the baby after birth.

The Lullaby Trust provides advice and support for bereaved families. Specially trained advisers are available on their helpline. The number is 0808 802 6868.

Source: The Scottish Sun – 27 March 2017
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Researchers warn of hazards of smoking, need for wider use of varenicline to quit

In a commentary published in the current issue of the American Journal of Medicine, researchers from the Charles E. Schmidt College of Medicine at Florida Atlantic University reassure clinicians and their patients that varenicline is a safe and effective way to achieve smoking cessation and that failure to use this drug has caused preventable heart attacks and deaths from cardiovascular disease.

A large randomized trial was recently completed that included both apparently healthy individuals as well as those with severe mental illness. The trial was conducted for 12 weeks on about 8,000 long-term smokers and included equal subgroups of those without as well as with psychiatric disorders.

In subjects without psychiatric disorders, those treated with varenicline had less neuropsychiatric symptoms and in subjects with psychiatric disorders there were no increases in these symptoms. Both groups of participants assigned at random to varenicline achieved significantly higher abstinence rates at 12 weeks than those assigned to placebo, nicotine patch or bupropion.

See also:
Smoking Cessation: The Urgent Need for Increased Utilization of Varenicline, American Journal of Medicine.

Source: Medical Xpress – 27 March 2017
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US: Paying people to stop smoking works, especially among vulnerable populations

Cigarette smoking in the US has dropped dramatically since the landmark publication of the 1964 US Surgeon General’s report on smoking and health. This has led to improved health for millions of Americans.

Those reductions, however, are unevenly distributed. Smoking remains prevalent among impoverished groups, those with other substance-use disorders or mental illness, certain ethnic/racial minorities, and gender/sexual minorities. In some populations, such as disadvantaged women, smoking rates have actually increased during this period.

Research has shown that financial incentives, in the form of vouchers, are particularly effective to promote smoking cessation among vulnerable populations. However, the effectiveness of financial incentives depends on certain features of how they are delivered. For example, incentives-based interventions are most effective when the incentives are delivered immediately following evidence of behaviour change, and when the magnitude of the incentives is higher.

Source: Business Insider – 27 March 2017
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US: Justice Department should recuse lawyers who represented tobacco companies

Four leading public health groups (Tobacco-Free Kids, American Cancer Society Cancer Action Network, American Heart Association and Truth Initiative) have urged the US Department of Justice to recuse any lawyers who previously represented tobacco companies from any tobacco-related litigation while serving in the government.

The letter specifically expresses concerns about Noel Francisco, the nominee for Solicitor General, and Chad Readler, currently Acting Assistant Attorney General of the Civil Division, both of whom represented R.J. Reynolds in lawsuits against the government while they were partners at the law firm Jones Day.

Source: Health Technology Net – 27 March 2017
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Netherlands: Dutch amusement parks, museums to ban smoking while you wait

In total, 21 Dutch tourist attractions and amusement parks are to ban visitors from smoking while they queue up. The list of locations where smoking will be discouraged outside includes Amsterdam’s Rijksmuseum, the Efteling amusement park and Emmen’s Wildlands zoo.

The aim is to protect young visitors from the damaging effects of smoke. The ban will be introduced on April 1. Smoking has already been banned in covered outdoor waiting areas at the 21 attractions.

Source: DutchNews.nl – 28 March 2017
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Australia: E-cigarette nicotine ban criticised by health experts

Australia’s decision to ban the use of nicotine in electronic cigarettes has been condemned as “flawed and unethical” by a group of doctors and health experts.

Last Friday the Therapeutic Goods Administration made its final decision to uphold the ban, citing evidence that e-cigarette use caused nicotine addiction and could lead to teenagers becoming hooked on tobacco. A group of 16 doctors, academics and public health advocates had tried to reverse the decision, campaigning on grounds that e-cigarettes were a useful tool to help smokers quit. “It is unethical and unscientific to exempt nicotine in tobacco products and to deny smokers access to a much safer alternative,” the group wrote in a submission to the TGA last February.

In Australia it is legal to buy e-cigarette “vaping” devices but there is a ban on the purchase of the nicotine packages they use. The use of nicotine in e-cigarettes is currently legal in the United Kingdom and the United States, while countries such as Canada and New Zealand are moving towards legalisation.

Source: Brisbane Times – 28 March 2017
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