ASH Daily News for 19 July 2019



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UK

  • Cigarette butts causing ‘serious damage to environment’, study on impact to plant growth reveals
  • Smoking cessation debated on Loose Women

International

  • USA: Marlboro maker bets $100m more on alternative cigarettes
  • USA: Number of American smokers who’ve tried to quit has stalled
  • USA: Many of the deadliest cancers receive the lowest amount of research funding
  • Hong Kong: How WhatsApp helps people quit smoking

Links of the week

  • Moderators of real-world effectiveness of smoking cessation aids: a population study
  • Incentives for smoking cessation

UK

Cigarette butts causing ‘serious damage to environment’, study on impact to plant growth reveals

A new study published in the Ecotoxicology and Environmental Safety journal, led by academics from Anglia Ruskin University, has indicated that cigarette butts pose a significant risk to plant growth. Usually made of cellulose acetate fibre, a type of bioplastic, cigarette filters can take decades to break down. An estimated 4.5 trillion are littered each year. The presence of cigarette butts in soil reduces the germination success and shoot length of clover by 27% and 28% respectively, and in grass, germination success was reduced by 10% and shoot length by 13%. The root weight of grass was reduced by 57%.

Filters from unsmoked cigarettes had almost the same effect on plant growth as used filters, indicating that the damage to plants is caused by the filter itself, even without the additional toxins released from the burning of the tobacco.

“Dropping cigarette butts seems to be a socially acceptable form of littering and we need to raise awareness that the filters do not disappear and instead can cause serious damage to the environment.” said lead researcher Dr Dannielle Green.

Source: The Independent, 19 July 2019
See also: https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-49044422

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Smoking cessation debated on Loose Women

Some Loose Women viewers have reacted angrily after the panellists clashed over an idea to pay smokers to stop smoking. Nadia Sawalha, a smoker, explained that she doesn’t think she could ever give up cigarettes, although she managed to temporarily quit while pregnant. Commenting on the fact that she managed to quit smoking, Carol McGiffin insisted that quitting is simply a matter of willpower.

Viewers offended by what they called ‘lack of respect’ to smokers, took to Twitter, with one fan saying: “I think it’s a bit disgraceful that I’ve just heard the term ‘mind over matter’ in reference to addiction. Some of your panellists clearly have no understanding or respect for addiction and it’s [sic] crippling effects.”

Source: Daily Star, 18 July 2019

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International

USA: Marlboro maker bets $100m more on alternative cigarettes

Philip Morris International, the company behind Marlboro, is to spend another $100m (£80m) this year developing its alternative to traditional cigarettes as a global marketing drive intensifies to convert smokers to a new generation of products.

Martin King, chief financial officer, said on Thursday that extra funds would be deployed to accelerate innovation of the company’s IQOS product — a cigarette-like device that heats, rather than burns, tobacco. The plans, which come ahead of an imminent launch of IQOS in the US, are the latest sign of big tobacco ramping up investment to safeguard the industry’s future.

Source: Financial Times, 18 July 2019

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USA: Number of American smokers who’ve tried to quit has stalled

New research from the US Centres for Disease Control and Prevention has found that the percentage of US smokers who are trying to quit has flatlined. Between 2001 and 2013, the rate of quit attempts rose steadily among US smokers. But newer data, for the years 2011 to 2017, finds that “most states experienced no change in quit attempt prevalence”.

Researchers pointed out that Americans have made great strides against smoking, with smoking rates among adults falling from over 42% in 1965 to just 14% in 2017. The new federal data—gleaned from all US states and two territories—found that, on average, about 65% of current smokers during the years 2011 to 2017 said they had tried to quit at least once over the past year.

But according to Walton’s team, that number hasn’t budged for years and is still below the 80% quit-attempt rate aimed for by US Healthy People 2020 guidelines.

Source: Medical Xpress, 18 July 2019

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USA: Many of the deadliest cancers receive the lowest amount of research funding

Many of the deadliest or most common cancers get the lowest amount of nonprofit research funding, according to a new Northwestern Medicine study that examined the distribution of nonprofit research funding in 2015 across cancer types.

Colon, endometrial, liver and bile duct, cervical, ovarian, pancreatic and lung cancers were all poorly-funded compared to how common they are and how many deaths they cause, the study found. In contrast, breast cancer, leukaemia, lymphoma and paediatric cancers were all well-funded, respective to their impact on society.

The study also explored factors that may influence which cancers receive more public support over others. Cancers that are associated with a stigmatised behaviour, such as lung cancer with smoking or liver cancer with drinking, were all poorly funded.

Source: BioEngineer, 18 July 2019

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Hong Kong: How WhatsApp helps people quit smoking

The charity Sin Tong Benevolent Society (LST) has found social media to be an effective tool in helping people to quit smoking. Results showed the overall quit rate among the 801 participants in the LST’s Smoking Cessation Programme in the Workplace was 20% while the amount of tobacco that participants smoked was reduced by 49.5%.

LST attributes much of the success of the programme to the use of information and communications technology, particularly in counselling participants. The programme makes use of WhatsApp and SMS to disseminate tips on how to quit smoking and send messages to encourage participants to give up. Social media also allows for more personal interaction between service users and counsellors, thereby enabling the latter to provide more effective psychosocial support to participants in their quitting journey.

Results showed that participants who had real-time interaction through WhatsApp with the counsellors had a quit rate 1.4 times higher than those who did not engage in real-time interaction.

Source: ejinsight, 19 July 2019

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Links of the week

Moderators of real-world effectiveness of smoking cessation aids: a population study

The Society for the Study of Addiction (SSA) has published a new report titled Moderators of real-world effectiveness of smoking cessation aids: a population study.

The results of the report show that smokers using e-cigarettes or varenicline were significantly more likely to quit compared to smokers trying other methods. The use of prescription of nicotine replacement therapy was found to be associated with higher abstinence rates, but only in older smokers. The use of websites was associated with higher abstinence rates, but only in smokers from a lower socio-economic status.

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Incentives for smoking cessation

A new Cochrane review has examined the question of if rewards can help smokers to quit in the long term.

For general smokers, Cochrane found that six months or more after the beginning of the trial, people receiving rewards were more likely to have stopped smoking than those in the control groups. Success rates continued beyond when the incentives had ended. Studies varied in the total amounts of rewards that were paid. There was no noticeable difference between trials paying smaller amounts (less than USD 100) compared to those paying larger amounts (more than USD 700).

Regarding pregnant smokers, combining data from nine trials showed that women in the rewards groups were more likely to stop smoking than those in the control groups, both at the end of the pregnancy and after the birth of the baby.

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