ASH Daily News for 1 October 2019



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UK

  • Opinion: Vaping saves lives, we must ignore pressure to ban it
  • E-cigarette firms face inquiry over adverts
  • Illegal cigarettes and tobacco discovered during Kent raid

International

  • Opinion: Banning vaping would be the last nail in the smoker’s coffin

Parliamentary Activity

  • House of Lords question: Advertising of duty-free shopping and Brexit

UK

Opinion: Vaping saves lives, we must ignore pressure to ban it

Professor John Britton, Director of the UK Centre for Tobacco & Alcohol Studies and Professor of Epidemiology at the University of Nottingham, write in The Times on the importance of vaping:

“Smoking is the UK’s biggest avoidable killer. The best thing a smoker can do for their health is to quit, saving up to a day of life for every four smoke-free days. Eradicating smoking would also be good for society, reducing pressure on the NHS, relieving poverty and increasing productivity.

“Smokers are driven by an addiction to nicotine but it is the many other components of tobacco smoke that disable and kill. So the emergence of e-cigarettes, which allow smokers to inhale nicotine without smoke and hence at much-reduced risk, has been a game-changer. E-cigarettes are not safe, they are just much less harmful than smoking. A non-smoker who takes up vaping will harm their health but the smoker who switches to vaping gains massively. Health authorities have seized this opportunity by promoting vaping with great success, as smoking rates decline rapidly. Concerns that vaping might lead young people to start smoking in large numbers have proved unfounded.

“So what should we make of the recent outbreak of lung disease, which includes some fatalities, among vapers in the US? The disease, lipid pneumonia, is caused by inhaling oil and it appears that the oil responsible is not a component of regular nicotine vape solutions, but cannabis oil. The US epidemic is happening primarily among people who use e-cigarettes to vape cannabis. Britain has not, despite recent press reports, been hit by a similar epidemic: among a vaping population that stands at 3.6 million there are only two known cases of lipid pneumonia.

“The US outbreak has triggered radical proposals, including banning vape flavours and outlawing vaping altogether. Banning flavours appeals to those concerned at a rapid increase in vaping among young Americans that has not occurred in this country, probably because advertising and promotion are much more tightly controlled here.

“A ban on flavours would make vaping much less tolerable; nicotine vapour causes irritation and can be difficult to inhale. Banning vaping altogether is irrational since it would push millions of ex-smokers back into using tobacco. It is essential to remain vigilant in detecting and preventing adverse effects from vaping but also to keep sight of the benefits. Smoking kills. Vaping saves lives.”

Source: The Times, 1 October 2019

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E-cigarette firms face inquiry over adverts

Vaping companies could see restrictions placed on advertising as the government watchdog launches investigations into e-cigarette marketing that could entice children. The Advertising Standards Authority (ASA) has received hundreds of complaints relating to film, social media and poster adverts for a handful of vaping companies in the UK market.

Serious concerns have been raised about campaigns that appear to target the under-18s, who are not legally allowed to vape, and adverts that “misinform” about the dangers of e-cigarettes. A spokeswoman for the ASA said there had been complaints relating to the promotion of electronic cigarettes in the UK. The watchdog has opened investigations into several companies including Juul, Blu and Vype.

More than 20 complaints have been made about a cinema advertisement for Juul Labs — a fast-growing newcomer that aims to make smoking obsolete — with concerns that the clip does not make clear the risks of vaping. The advertisement, shown in cinemas across the UK, features interviews with five ex-smokers, who have switched to Juul electronic cigarettes. Some 112 complaints have been made about another company, Blu, most recently in relation to a series of poster adverts on buses and billboards, which complainants believe encouraged non-smokers to use e-cigarettes. Seven Instagram posts by Vype are also being investigated by the ASA over concerns they target the under-18s.

A survey by King’s College, London, and the University of South Carolina found that a third of 16 to 19-year-olds thought adverts made e-cigarettes attractive and a similar number believed that they targeted non-smokers.

Source: The Times, 1 October 2019

See also
Preventative Medicine: Youth self-reported exposure to and perceptions of vaping advertisements: Findings from the 2017 International Tobacco Control Youth Tobacco and Vaping Survey.

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Illegal cigarettes and tobacco discovered during Kent raid

Ten bags of illegal cigarettes and tobacco have been seized during a raid in Folkestone, Kent. The products were found in two properties during the operation led by Kent County Council’s Trading Standards team and supported by Folkestone and Hythe District Council and Kent Police.

The three teams were assisted by sniffer dogs Maggie and Yoyo during the raid on Thursday 26th September 2019. In total, 29,480 illegal cigarettes were confiscated and 20.8kgs of illegal hand-rolling tobacco was seized.

Council leader Cllr David Monk said: “Illegal tobacco is not a victimless crime – it can have far-reaching and devastating effects on communities. We’re pleased to have supported this successful operation, and we are working with our partners to tackle such activity in the district.”

Source: Kent Online, 30 September 2019

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International

Opinion: Banning vaping would be the last nail in the smoker’s coffin

Michael Martin writes in the Financial Times on the need for e-cigarettes in preventing avoidable deaths caused by smoking:

“I loved cigarettes to death, but they were killing me. Countless times I tried to outright quit […] I tried nicotine gum and mints; nasal snuff; even a fruity nicotine-based throat spray. Nothing worked, until two years ago when, outside a bar, I tried a friend’s vape pen […] The transition was almost seamless. I went from smoking 10 cigarettes a day to zero. I can taste my food now, I can swim further, and am a slightly more endurable date. Vaping changed a lot for me, but now I fear my saviour will be taken away.

“For every action in America, there is an overreaction. Medical authorities have linked hundreds of lung illnesses and 12 confirmed deaths directly to vaping. So now the US Food and Drug Administration is looking at banning flavoured e-cigarettes and Walmart has said it will stop selling vaping equipment of any kind. As goes the US, so goes the world. India, a nation of more than 266 million tobacco users, just made vaping illegal. Trying to save your life from carcinogenic cigarettes in this country could soon cost you three years in jail. Other countries will follow suit. On the tail of these bans and public denunciations of vaping, I began to wonder why all of the vaping-related illness reports seem to be in the US.

“[…] Martin Dockrell, head of Tobacco Control at Public Health England, argues that government oversight is the answer. “Unlike in the US, all e-cigarette products in the UK are tightly regulated for quality and safety by the Medicines and Healthcare Products Regulatory Agency,” he said last month.

“In the US, public health officials have not identified a particular chemical or brand as the source of the illnesses. But they do note that 77 per cent of sufferers reported using THC-containing products and only 16 per cent said they exclusively used nicotine. Light touch regulation is a problem. The US is flooded with black market and oil-tainted vaping products. The issue has been furthered muddied by the widespread availability of flavoured vape pens, and fears about the rapid uptake of vaping among under-18s. Instead of sorting out the problem, authorities are demonising the vaping industry as a whole, and few people have the courage to speak out in favour of this healthier alternative to cigarettes.

“[…] Parents now see the very existence of vaping products as a threat to their children. If they were truly this worried about child welfare, San Francisco parents who pushed for a vaping ban would take a look at their glasses of Chardonnay. An estimated 4,300 Americans under the age of 21 die from causes related to underage drinking every year. Those numbers pale in comparison to the 480,000 people in the US alone who will die from smoking this year. For people like me, vaping is the only viable alternative to killing ourselves slowly with cigarettes, and it is being thoughtlessly shut down.”

Source: Financial Times, 30 September 2019

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Parliamentary Activity

House of Lords question: Advertising of duty-free shopping and Brexit

Baroness Thornton posed the following question in the House of Lords on Monday 30th September: “To ask Her Majesty’s Government what assessment they have made of the compatibility of their recent campaign advertising the return of duty-free shopping after Brexit with (1) domestic law and (2) international charters governing the advertising of tobacco products.”

Following a tweet posted by HM Treasury promoting Britons’ ability to purchase “beer, spirits, wine and tobacco without duty being applied in the UK” in the event of a no-deal Brexit, Baroness Thornton went on to ask the House whether the Government had “strayed outside our tobacco regulations and law” and whether “the Government intend to use Brexit as a way of undermining or relaxing the UK’s legal and regulatory position on tobacco regulation.”

In response, Lord Bethell said that the advertising authority reviewed the tweet and confirmed it fell outside of the scope of regulation as the tweet was not paid-for. He said “this Government are fully committed to our health policy on tobacco and to bringing down tobacco smoking and consumption in this country. However, a no-deal Brexit creates ambiguity both for shop owners in airports and ports and for consumers, so this was a perfectly reasonable move to bring clarity to a confusing area of policy.”

Lord Rennard pressed Baroness Thornton’s point, asking “is not the concept of drawing attention to the possibility of buying cheap cigarettes totally counterproductive to the Government’s stated aim of making the country smoke-free by 2030?” Lord Bethell responded by insisting that the Government “is committed to addressing the harms from both alcohol and tobacco and to improving the nation’s health.”

Source: Hansard, 30 September 2019

See also
HM Treasury promotion of duty-free sales on Twitter

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