ASH Daily News for 17 March 2020


  • British American Tobacco circumventing ad ban, experts say
  • Smoking increases risk from coronavirus – doctor shares tips to help you quit
  • Smoking cessation 2: supporting older people to quit


  • European governments keeping tobacco kiosks open during coronavirus lockdown
  • USA: Actress Patricia Arquette, 51, is on ‘day three’ of quitting smoking in efforts to protect herself from coronavirus
  • USA: Some e-cigarettes kept in front pockets may interfere with implanted heart devices, report suggests


British American Tobacco circumventing ad ban, experts say

British American Tobacco (BAT) is marketing e-cigarettes and heated cigarettes with pictures of young attractive models and using hashtags such as “I dare you to try it”, despite a crackdown last year after it paid social media influencers to promote its products.

BAT had already come under fire after hiring young models to sell its products despite having an explicit policy banning under-25s from appearing in adverts. In the UK the Advertising Standards Authority banned e-cigarette-makers from paying influencers to promote their products on Instagram. After the ban, Facebook and Instagram both announced in December that they would no longer allow influencers to promote tobacco or e-cigarettes.

Since the policy changes, experts say BAT is now running its own accounts that mirror the youth-oriented content promoted by influencers, using models posing under red lights or at festivals. The company is also using paid adverts and branded content on Facebook, despite it not being allowed under the social media platform’s rules. The adverts include a number from the Glo Poland account, which were put up at the beginning of March. BAT runs a number of pages globally to promote e-cigarette brands such as Vype and heated-cigarette brands like Glo. It is also promoting hashtags on Instagram such as #vypefriends, #vypelife and #teretoaprobarlo, which means “I dare you to try it” in Spanish.

“Tobacco companies like British American Tobacco maintain that their marketing is only ever targeted to and intended for current adult smokers. Yet much of the content posted from these BAT-run accounts mirrors the youth-oriented content promoted by influencers,” said Caroline Renzulli, a spokeswoman for the Campaign for Tobacco-Free Kids.

Andy Rowell, spokesperson for the STOP partnership, a global tobacco industry watchdog, said: “The internet is the tobacco industry’s dream marketing platform, as they can get away with pretty much anything. It’s the advertising equivalent of the wild west. Their online playbook is clearly trying to depict vaping as cool by using attractive young adults posing in trendy places, bars and pools.”

Source: The Guardian, 17 March 2020

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Smoking increases risk from coronavirus – doctor shares tips to help you quit

With the number of coronavirus cases across the world increasing every day, scientists are trying to grapple with how to prevent the spread of the COVID-19 disease. The disease is especially dangerous for older people and those with underlying health issues.

One of the things that increases the risk of becoming seriously ill with coronavirus is smoking. Deborah Arnott, chief executive of public health charity ASH, advises those who smoke should quit or switch to alternative products to lower their risk.

She said: “Smokers are more likely to get respiratory infections and twice as likely to develop pneumonia as non-smokers. Quitting smoking is good for your health in so many ways and smokers should see coronavirus as further motivation to give quitting a go to build up their body’s defence now before coronavirus becomes widespread in the UK.”

New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio also said that smoking increases a person’s vulnerability to becoming infected by COVID-19.

As emphasised by online doctor Dr Simran Deo, the most effective ways to quit include using Nicotine Replacement Therapy (NRT), prescription medication and behavioural therapy. Visit for more advice.

Source: Daily Star, 16 March 2020

See also
Wales 247: Top Welsh Doctor Tells Smokers To Quit Or Face Greater Risks From Covid-19

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Smoking cessation 2: supporting older people to quit

In the second article in a five-part series on smoking cessation, freelance smoking cessation consultant Louise Ross outlines why nurses should give older people stop-smoking advice, and how best to approach it and reinforce the smokefree message:

“Many older people will have started smoking just after the Second World War and, having smoked all their lives, may be dismissive of attempts to get them to stop at this late stage. However, there are many reasons why stop-smoking advice can add value to the routine care of older people.”

Key points include:

  • “Older people may dismiss the relevance of stopping smoking, thinking that the damage has already been done”
  • “Smoking contributes to, or exacerbates, many long-term conditions such as dementia, diabetes, macular degeneration and osteoporosis”
  • “Smoking can cost a disproportionate amount of household income, and quitting can lift older people out of poverty”
  • “Children whose parents and grandparents smoke are more likely to become smokers themselves, and this is more likely in disadvantaged communities”
  • “Older people using stop-smoking services do at least as well as any other age group, and better than the average for all age groups”

Source: Nursing Times, 17 March 2020

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European governments keeping tobacco kiosks open during coronavirus lockdown

Italy, France, Spain and Switzerland are keeping tobacco kiosks open along with essential shops such as grocery stores and pharmacies, while the rest are closed to stem the spread of coronavirus.

Continued access to cigarettes and vapes has been justified to prevent withdrawals or anxiety attacks while smokers are forced to stay home. However, the World Health Organization has said smokers may have an increased risk of more severe reactions to COVID-19, just as smoking makes people more susceptible to other respiratory illnesses.

Smokers should be encouraged to use the coronavirus outbreak as further motivation to quit and build up their body’s defences, or switch to alternative products to lower their risk, Action on Smoking and Health (ASH) has said. Nevertheless, there are signs even tobacco is being stockpiled, along with toilet paper, food and soap.

“People have been buying cartons and cartons of cigarettes in the last few days,” said Sascha Kuenzler, who owns a kiosk shop in downtown Zurich. “Many of them have also switched to loose tobacco so they can roll their own.”

Over the past month, Philip Morris International Inc. and British American Tobacco Plc have both fallen about 21%, while the Euro Stoxx 50 is down 36% and the S&P 500 declined 29%.

Source: Bloomberg, 17 March 2020

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USA: Actress Patricia Arquette, 51, is on ‘day three’ of quitting smoking in efforts to protect herself from coronavirus

American actress Patricia Arquette has announced on Twitter that she is on ‘day three’ of no smoking in efforts to further protect herself from the rapidly spreading coronavirus. The Academy Award winner has smoked for most of her adult life and has publicly discussed her off-and-on relationship with smoking.

“As COVID-19 attacks the lungs one of the most important things you can do is quit smoking and vaping,” she wrote. “I’m in day 3. Care to join?”

Patricia’s decision to go public with her quitting journey sparked followers to join in. “After 24 years of smoking, I am trying,” one user responded. “Let me rephrase that I will quit smoking. Thanks for letting me know I am not alone in this important health decision.”

Dr. Norman Swan, who presents Australia’s Radio National’s Health Report, said smokers were particularly at risk of getting sick. “If you are a smoker, the lining of your lungs is more vulnerable and you’re producing more of the receptors which the COVID-19 virus latches on to,”’ he said. “So quit now; there are plenty of resources to help you.”

Source: Mail Online, 16 March 2020

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USA: Some e-cigarettes kept in front pockets may interfere with implanted heart devices, report suggests

A magnetic part in e-cigarettes may prevent implanted cardiac defibrillators from detecting and treating dangerous heart rhythm problems, a new case report suggests.

“If a patient stores the e-cigarette near the defibrillator – such as in shirt or jacket pocket overlying the device – there is a risk of temporarily disabling the defibrillator’s ability to detect and treat a potentially lethal heart rhythm abnormality,” said Julie Shea of Brigham and Women’s Hospital and Harvard Medical School in Boston, co-author of the case report. “To the best of our knowledge, this is the first reported interaction between an electronic cigarette and an implantable defibrillator,” she added.

The report details the experiences of a 48-year-old man who had cardiac sarcoidosis, a rare disease that causes clusters of white blood cells to clump in the heart. The condition can lead to chest pain, shortness of breath and a rapid, irregular heartbeat. He had an implanted cardiac defibrillator, a device that can detect an irregular heartbeat and deliver an electric shock to the heart to restore a normal heart rhythm.

He also used e-cigarettes and didn’t realise that the JUUL device he used for vaping had an integrated magnetic component. When he carried the e-cigarette in his left breast shirt pocket, it caused a so-called magnetic reversion in his defibrillator, interrupting the defibrillator’s ability to detect or treat an irregular heart rhythm. Because he wasn’t aware of this potential problem, the e-cigarette had blocked his defibrillator four times before he reported it to his healthcare providers, researchers report in Heart Rhythm Case Reports.

He described hearing the device beep several times but said he didn’t experience any symptoms along with the sounds and that the device appeared to be working normally. Upon further questioning, the patient mentioned that he often carried his vape device in his left breast pocket. Researchers then held the e-cigarette up to the defibrillator, and the defibrillator beeped.

JUUL does advise vapers to keep e-cigarettes away from key cards, credit cards and other items with magnetic strips as well as pacemakers, the study team noted. This is just a single case report, but the results suggest that clinicians should warn patients who vape about the potential for this problem to develop, the researchers conclude.

Source: Reuters UK, 16 March 2020

Heart Rhythm. Unintentional magnet reversion of an implanted cardiac defibrillator by an electronic cigarette. March 2020.

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