ASH Daily News for 14 January 2020


  • Swindon firm gives non-smokers extra holiday
  • Superdrug gives 20% off Nicorette products to expectant and new mums


  • Study: Researchers have identified a specific emotion linked to tobacco addiction
  • USA: FDA’s Juul inquiry found consumers had 2,600 health complaints
  • Study: Weight management after smoking cessation important to maximise cardiovascular benefit
  • Senegal: ‘Vaginal tobacco’, a risky cocktail for West African women


Swindon firm gives non-smokers extra holiday

Employees at a recruitment agency are being rewarded with four extra days of holiday for not smoking at work. KCJ Training and Employment Solutions in Swindon wants to compensate staff who do not smoke, rather than penalise those who do. Managing director Don Bryden has introduced the measure despite being a smoker himself.

“It’s been taken on and embraced within the company by both smokers and non-smokers,” he said. “I’m not discriminating against anyone […] What I’m saying is if you take a smoke break, fine, take a smoke break. I’m not saying stop that. But if you say it’s three 10-minute smoke breaks a day that equates to 16 and a quarter days a year based on an eight-hour working day. Let’s cut it by a third and say you only take one 10-minute smoking break a day, that adds up to just over five days.”

Mr Bryden says if the prospect of more leave motivated people to give up smoking, he would support them.

“I’ve been asked if someone doesn’t smoke for three months, will I give them a day off, and I said of course,” he said. “And if they can do it for six months, I’ll give them two days. Remember, a healthier workplace is a happier workplace. I’ll work with the people who smoke but I do want to make sure that the ones who are sitting there working while the others take their ciggie break get some sort of compensation.”

Source: BBC News, 13 January 2020

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Superdrug gives 20% off Nicorette products to expectant and new mums

Superdrug is offering a 20% discount on Nicorette nicotine replacement products (NRPs) to pregnant women and new mothers to help them quit smoking. Expectant mothers and new mums will receive the discount when they present their maternity exemption certificate, which is valid for 12 months after the baby’s due date.

Pharmacy teams in Superdrug’s 205 pharmacies across the UK will also assist smokers with advice and support on how to quit smoking and will inform the parents to be of “the dangers of second-hand smoke contributing to stillbirths and complications during childbirth”, the retailer said.

Superdrug claimed to be the first high street retailer to support NHS England’s drive to help pregnant women stop smoking and reduce the number of stillbirths in the country. They told C+D today (January 13) that while the initiative is currently scheduled to “run throughout 2020”, the company will “assess how the scheme develops” and “may consider extending the support to partners”.

Source: Chemist and Druggist, 13 January 2020

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Study: Researchers have identified a specific emotion linked to tobacco addiction

In a new research project, which has been published in the Proceedings of the National Academy Sciences, researchers from Harvard University analysed four studies to see if certain negative emotions such as stress, upset, anger or sadness could amplify tobacco addiction.

The project analysed data from an American national survey of more than 10,000 people over a 20-year period and laboratory tests examining the reactions of smokers to negative emotions. All of the four research studies reviewed came to the same conclusion: sadness, more than any other negative emotion, increases the desire to smoke and the risk of relapse a decade or two after having given up.

“The conventional wisdom in the field was that any type of negative feelings, whether it’s anger, disgust, stress, sadness, fear, or shame, would make individuals more likely to use an addictive drug,” remarked the lead author of the study Charles A. Dorison, who added that these latest results suggest “the reality is much more nuanced.”

Jennifer Lerner, co-founder of the Harvard Decision Science Laboratory and co-author of the study, believes that the data described in the project could have useful implications for public health prevention policies. For example, current anti-smoking awareness campaigns could be redesigned to avoid images that may cause sadness and thus inadvertently increase the desire to smoke among cigarette users.

Source: Yahoo! News, 13 January 2020

See also: PNAS. Sadness, but not all negative emotions, heightens addictive substance use.

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USA: FDA’s Juul inquiry found consumers had 2,600 health complaints

Juul Labs Inc. received roughly 2,600 complaints about adverse health effects related to its e-cigarette during its first three years in operation, with customers citing issues such as burning sensations in the lungs, blistered lips and vomiting, according to an internal report by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration.

The report, which was released to Bloomberg News under the federal Freedom of Information Act, contains few details about the anonymous consumers’ complaints or health outcomes. It cites only one “serious adverse event,” in which a woman reported that her throat bled after she used a Juul product.

The rate of complaints received per Juul pods sold “is very low,” said Austin Finan, a Juul spokesman. “We take product safety very seriously and implement stringent quality control measures to ensure the safety of all our products.”

Source: Bloomberg, 13 January 2020

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Study: Weight management after smoking cessation important to maximise cardiovascular benefit

Adults with type 2 diabetes who gain weight after they quit smoking do not decrease their cardiovascular disease risks as much as those who do not gain weight; however, all-cause and cause-specific mortality are similar among quitters who gain or maintain weight, according to findings published in The Lancet Diabetes & Endocrinology.

“Smoking cessation without subsequent weight gain is associated with a reduced risk of cardiovascular disease and mortality among smokers with type 2 diabetes,” Gang Liu, PhD, professor at Tongji Medical College, Huazhong University of Science and Technology in Hubei, China, said. “Weight gain after smoking cessation attenuates the reduction in risk for developing cardiovascular disease but does not attenuate the beneficial effect of smoking cessation with respect to mortality. These findings confirm the overall health benefits of quitting smoking among people with type 2 diabetes, but also emphasize the importance of weight management after smoking cessation to maximize its health benefits.”

Liu and colleagues analysed data from adults with type 2 diabetes participating in two prospective cohorts in the United States: The Nurses’ Health Study (1976-2014; n = 121,700) and the Health Professionals Follow-Up Study (1986-2014; n = 51,529). Participants had a prior diagnosis of type 2 diabetes, or were diagnosed during the study, and were current smokers or never smokers without cardiovascular disease or cancer at the time of diabetes diagnosis.

“Smoking cessation is particularly important for people with type 2 diabetes because their risk of developing cardiovascular disease or other morbidities is substantially augmented by both smoking and insulin resistance or glycemia,” the researchers wrote. “However, smoking cessation is often accompanied by weight gain (e.g., mean weight gain of 4-5 kg after 1 year of abstinence), which is a risk factor for cardiometabolic diseases and might dilute the health benefits of quitting.”

Source: Healio, 13 January 2020

See also: The Lancet. Smoking cessation and weight change in relation to cardiovascular disease incidence and mortality in people with type 2 diabetes: a population-based cohort study.

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Senegal: ‘Vaginal tobacco’, a risky cocktail for West African women

“I told an aunt about my difficulty getting pregnant and she recommended this product. After using it I was able to have a child. […] Even the doctors were surprised,” says Neyba, a Senegalese woman of at least 50 years old. Speaking in the privacy of her home in Sédhiou, in the southern region of Casamance, Neyba says she is convinced that she owes her “miracle” to a tobacco powder that she regularly applies to her genitals.

Aphrodisiac qualities attributed to the tobacco seem to be the main attraction for consumers in Sédhiou. Researchers, doctors and other experts in female reproductive systems with experience of treating patients engaged in the practice are clear that this form of tobacco use is “fruitless” and only has a “placebo effect”.

Many of the women who have used the product also say they felt burning sensations followed by severe dizziness, vomiting and even loss of consciousness. Pascal Foumane, professor of gynaecology-obstetrics at the University of Yaoundé I, says “These products often create ulcers which, by scarring, shrink the vagina, make it hard and can go so far as to close it completely. It can even make the normal flow of menstruation impossible.” Aminata Seck, a midwife stationed in Sédhiou, says that she has seen complications during childbirth due to this use of tobacco. “They had too great an increase in the rate of uterine contractions, which sometimes caused a decrease in oxygenation in the fetus, resulting in stillbirth or, in other cases, neonatal death,” she explains.

These anecdotes would seem to marry with the findings of a study on the impact of smoking on female genitals, published in January 2018 in the British journal Scientific Reports. The study found that smoking changes vaginal flora and that these changes put women who smoke at a high risk of vaginal infections. Foumane believes that a link between tobacco use and cervical cancer is quite plausible. “Tobacco is indeed a well-documented carcinogen,” the gynaecology expert says. “The risk of cervical cancer seems to us all the more increased in the case of the administration of tobacco in direct contact with the cervix.”

No scientific studies have yet established a correlation between vaginal tobacco and cases of cancerous lesions or childbirth complications, but health workers believe there is “certainly a connection”. “It is a practice that we are currently documenting seriously,” adds Ba of the Senegalese tobacco control programme. “At the moment, we don’t have enough information on its real effects.” In the meantime, all the experts agree on one thing: the need to educate women so that they stop using the product.

Source: Sci Dev Net, 13 January 2020

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