ASH Daily News for 11 April 2019


  • Discussion: Our relationship to nicotine is changing. Are vaping fears just hot air?
  • Smoking rates fall among mums-to-be in South Tyneside
  • Sunderland introduce no smoking zones in city parks
  • Letter: Netflix, your smokers are setting a terrible example


  • Study: Treating cancer patients who smoke may cost extra $3.4 billion each year
  • US: McLaren’s IndyCar livery features BAT’s Vuse e-cigarette branding

Parliamentary Activity

  • Parliamentary question



Discussion: Our relationship to nicotine is changing. Are vaping fears just hot air?

In an article in Apolitical, Deborah Arnott, chief executive of ASH and Marcus Munafo, Professor of Biological Psychology at the University of Bristol, discuss how comprehensive action has reduced smoking prevalence in the UK and the differing approaches to e-cigarette regulation in the US and the UK:

“The UK’s approach to vaping has been unique: we’ve taken the view that vaping is a good tool for people to stop, and should encourage it in that context,” said Munafo. As a consequence, Munafo added, vaping in the UK is often seen to be the preserve of the middle-aged, trying to kick their smoking habit once and for all, not a rebellious act by a new generation of teenagers. “The US approach seems to be glamorising [vaping] to young people,” said Arnott. Munafo echoed the point: “There’s no better way to get people — particularly young people — to start than saying you shouldn’t.”

Arnott expressed particular concern at the way that US statistics conflate smoking and vaping under tobacco use, equating the dangers of the two, when the science suggests they’re incomparable. A major evidence review conducted by Public Health England estimates that vaping is approximately 95% less harmful than smoking.

“Nobody is saying we should have a free-for-all unregulated free market model approach to vaping,” said Munafo. In the UK, there are age restrictions, health warnings on bottles of vaping liquid, restrictions on formulations of the liquids, and advertisements are banned on television and radio.

“There’s a middle ground where you can encourage vaping as a way to stop, while still seeking to minimise the number of people taking it up.”

Source: Apolitical, 10 April 2019

See also
Public Health England: Evidence review of e-cigarettes and heated tobacco products 2018

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Smoking rates fall among mums-to-be in South Tyneside

South Tyneside Clinical Commissioning Group (CCG) says the number of mums-to-be who smoke during pregnancy has fallen almost continually for about a year.

Up to 170 women in South Tyneside have signed up to an incentive scheme which offers up to £300 in vouchers in return for giving up smoking. Early findings have indicated women who sign up to the scheme are more likely to quit and stay smokefree than those who don’t. The vouchers can be spent at stores such as Mothercare, Halfords and Boots.

Source: The Shields Gazette, 10 April 2019

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Sunderland introduce no smoking zones in city parks

Sunderland City Council has introduced smokefree schemes in all city parks.

The scheme has the support of local people, receiving a 70% approval rate in a survey carried out by the Council. As part of the scheme, signs featuring the message “Thank you for not smoking where we play”, will be displayed near the entrances to parks across the city.

Ailsa Rutter, Director of Fresh, the UK’s first dedicated regional tobacco control programme, said: “There’s strong support in the North East for people not smoking in playgrounds and clearly these plans for Sunderland have the support of local parents and children. Voluntary schemes like these are not bans, but a recognition that there are some places where it is less appropriate to smoke. In our experience, the vast majority of people who smoke completely understand this.”

Source: University of Sunderland News, 10 April 2019

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Letter: Netflix, your smokers are setting a terrible example

In a letter published in the Financial Times, Prof Leonard Hofstra, a professor of Cardiology at VU University Medical Center in Amsterdam, argues that the prevalence of smoking on the streaming service, Netflix, risks normalising smoking among viewers:

“What strikes the eye when watching Netflix series such as The Bridge, Grand Hotel and Narcos is that key characters light up cigarettes every 10 minutes, to say the least. We all know that smoking kills about 7million people worldwide every year, and that second-hand smoke kills at least hundreds of thousands. Rather than worrying about the success of Fortnite, Mr Hasting [the CEO of Netflix] should know better and start worrying about how Netflix helps normalise smoking and thereby contributes to the deadly consequences of tobacco use.”

Source: Financial Times, 11 April 2019

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Study: Treating cancer patients who smoke may cost extra $3.4 billion each year

A recent US study published in JAMA Network Open has found that cancer treatment is likely to be less effective and more expensive for cancer patients who are current smokers, compared to those who quit smoking.

The added cost largely stems from additional treatments needed after continuing smokers fail to respond to first-line cancer therapies, and totals roughly $11,000 per person, the study team calculates. While smoking cessation after a cancer diagnosis has been found to improve survival odds, studies to date have not provided a clear picture of how treatment outcomes and costs are affected when smokers don’t quit.

The researchers estimate that about one in five cancer patients are current smokers, based on data from a 2014 U.S. Surgeon General report. Across 1.6 million patients diagnosed with cancer in the U.S. each year, this would add up to potential added annual costs of $3.4 billion.

The researchers didn’t calculate how costs might be affected if smoking cessation therapy was a standard part of care for smokers diagnosed with cancer.

Source: Reuters, 10 April 2019

JAMA Network Open: Attributable Failure of First-line Cancer Treatment and Incremental Costs Associated With Smoking by Patients With Cancer

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US: McLaren’s IndyCar livery features BAT’s Vuse e-cigarette branding

McLaren Racing’s official livery for their car at next month’s Indy500 race in Indianapolis is to feature British American Tobacco (BAT) branding promoting its Vuse e-cigarette.

McLaren signed a multi-year deal with BAT in February, saying the partnership would focus solely on the cigarettes manufacturer’s ‘reduced risk products’. The deal marked BAT’s return to racing after a 14 year break from sport sponsorship resulting from EU regulations banning cross-border tobacco advertising in 2005.

The World Health Organisation (WHO) has called on the International Automobile Federation (FIA) to ban tobacco companies sponsoring teams even if they are not promoting cigarettes. Formula One banned tobacco advertising in 2006 but BAT’s e-cigarette branding is permitted because it does not promote a tobacco product.

Source: SportsPro, 10 April 2019

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Parliamentary Activity

Parliamentary question

PQ: Electronic cigarettes

Asked by Lord Rennard
To ask Her Majesty’s Government what progress the Medicines and Healthcare products Regulatory Agency has made in setting up an expert group to provide advice on streamlining the medicinal licensing process for e-cigarettes; whether that expert group has been convened yet; and if not, what steps they will take to expedite that process.

Answered by Baroness Blackwood of North Oxford
In December 2018, the Commission of Human Medicines (CHM) endorsed the formation of an ad hoc working group of experts to consider the recommendations from the Science and Technology Select Committee on e-cigarettes that impact licensing of e-cigarettes as medicines. In March 2019, the CHM endorsed the terms of reference and membership of the ad hoc working group and the appointment of the chair. The first meeting is expected to be held in late April 2019, subject to availability of the members.

Source: Hansard, 10 April 2019

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