ASH Daily News for 19 November 2019



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UK

  • Vaping deaths: Why e-cigarettes may not be as bad as the headlines say
  • Is vaping healthier than smoking cigarettes? Experts have their say

International

  • USA: Donald Trump reverses plans for flavoured e-cigarette ban
  • India says ban on e-cigarette sales implies use of devices also prohibited
  • USA Study: Quitting smoking could lead to major changes in gut bacteria
  • USA: California sues Juul over advertising and underage sales

Opportunities

  • National Specialty Adviser for Tobacco Addiction

UK

Vaping deaths: Why e-cigarettes may not be as bad as the headlines say

Dr Caitlin Notley, senior lecturer in Mental Health at the University of East Anglia, has written a piece on why e-cigarettes are an important tool that we shouldn’t dismiss, despite their recent bad press.

“Smokers are likely to die ten years earlier than non-smokers. Quitting at a young age gives people the best chance of living a normal life, but quitting at any age has great benefits. Smokers who quit will notice improved breathing, a better sense of taste and smell, and being financially better off.”

“One way to quit is e-cigarettes. Most smokers want to quit, but they also enjoy smoking. E-cigarettes offer a similar sensory experience to smoking regular cigarettes and flavours are an important part of that experience.”

“Experience tells us that prohibition is not the answer. Banning products and flavours fuels the illicit economy, leaving more people vulnerable to the ill effects of adulterated, unregulated products. Instead, we need to take a measured view, assessing the benefits of regulated e-cigarettes for helping people stop smoking.”

“Although a precautionary approach might suggest that we should ban e-cigarettes as we don’t know the long-term effects of inhaling the chemicals in flavours, this would be a travesty for public health. It would be effectively denying hundreds of thousands of smokers the opportunity to successfully stop smoking, as robust evidence has demonstrated that e-cigarettes are more effective for smoking cessation than nicotine replacement therapy.”

“There are other effective ways to give up smoking – using nicotine in the form of patches or gum, taking medication (neither of which are risk free, although also much less risky than continuing to smoke). When these methods haven’t worked, or for people that don’t want to use these methods, e-cigarettes are an effective, attractive and safer alternative to smoking.”

Source: The Independent, 19 November 2019

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Is vaping healthier than smoking cigarettes? Experts have their say

Thousands of early deaths and cases of disease could be prevented if every smoker stopped smoking completely and switched to vaping, according to North East tobacco control programme Fresh and a senior cancer doctor from the region.

Dr Tony Branson, consultant oncologist and clinical lead for the Northern Cancer Alliance, said: “Not all the publicity recently about vaping has been positive, but people who are vaping to quit smoking need the right information to make an informed choice, and it is vital that they are not scared back into the more harmful option of tobacco smoking. If you’re not a smoker, the advice is don’t vape. But if you are, it is much better to vape instead. Over 350,000 people in the North East smoke and if every one of those switched to vaping completely, it’s likely we would see a big benefit to the health of people in the North East.”

Ailsa Rutter OBE, director of Fresh, said: “To date all the evidence strongly suggests that e-cigarettes are not only helping people to stop smoking completely, but they contain significantly fewer harmful chemicals than tobacco.”

Professor Eugene Milne, director of public health for Newcastle City Council and lead director of public health in the North East, said people often think the problem with cigarettes is nicotine. In fact, it’s the many other chemicals which cause most of the health problems such as cancer. “Vaping is less harmful than smoking because you’re not setting fire to and breathing in all the cancer causing chemicals,” he said.

Source: Chronicle Live, 14 November 2019

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International

USA: Donald Trump reverses plans for flavoured e-cigarette ban

President Donald Trump has reversed plans to ban flavoured e-cigarettes, US media has reported. He announced plans for a ban in September, but reportedly decided not to enact it this month because of possible job losses and voter pushback.

Mr Trump last week said he would meet industry and medical professionals to find “an acceptable solution” to youth vaping. Concerns about jobs and voters had been raised by advisers during a 4th November flight to a Kentucky campaign rally, the Washington Post newspaper reported on Sunday. It quoted Trump campaign manager Brad Parscale as saying that a ban of flavoured e-cigarettes could hurt the president in key states in the 2020 election.

Mr Trump decided not to sign off on a “decision memo”, fearing potential job losses and voter anger, the newspaper reported. The New York Times also reported that “allies working for the vaping industry” had warned him that such a move could cost him support.

A senior official told the Washington Post that Mr Trump “didn’t know much about the issue and was just doing it for Melania and Ivanka”.

Source: BBC News, 18 November 2019

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India says ban on e-cigarette sales implies use of devices also prohibited

The Indian government has told a court that its federal ban on the sale of electronic cigarettes implies that their use is also prohibited, according to legal documents seen by Reuters.

India banned the import, manufacture, sale, advertisement, storage and distribution of e-cigarettes in September. India’s decision, however, did not ban the use of such devices outright, and a senior Health Ministry official told Reuters after the announcement that e-cigarette use would not be barred.

However, in a filing in a Kolkata court on 5th November, where the government is defending two legal challenges against the ban, the ministry said it was “completely baseless” to say only the sale and manufacture of e-cigarettes and vaping devices was barred, and not use.

“The ordinance is aimed at banning the product. Once the import, production, manufacture, distribution and storage of e-cigarettes is prohibited, it is implied that the use of e-cigarettes is also prohibited,” said the court filing, which has not been yet made public.

The Health Ministry official said on Monday the court document was “factually correct”, without giving further details due to the court proceedings. The official added that authorities would not take action against the “personal use” of e-cigarettes. The filing, however, has unnerved users, who argue against the ban and say they fear police action if they continue using the devices.

Source: Reuters, 19 November 2019

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USA Study: Quitting smoking could lead to major changes in gut bacteria

Quitting smoking leads to major changes in intestinal bacteria, according to new research presented during the American Heart Association’s Scientific Sessions in Philadelphia yesterday (18th November). Past work has shown smoking is associated with a decrease in diversity in the types of beneficial bacteria living in the gut.

For the new study, researchers looked at 26 people who were trying to quit smoking and analysed their stool samples at the start of the study, two weeks later, and twelve weeks later.

“We concluded that smoking cessation changes the gut microbiota, and I think that’s a significant piece of science,” said the study’s lead author, Dr Marcus Sublette. “It’s already been established that smoking changes the gut microbiome. What we’re adding here is that smoking cessation itself will continue to change the gut microbiome.”

The study showed improvements in bacterial diversity were associated with reductions in heart rate, systolic blood pressure and C-reactive protein levels, which rise in response to inflammation. It also showed an increase in haemoglobin, the red blood cells that carry oxygen.

“All of those changes are indirect markers of potentially better health,” said Sublette, a cardiology fellow at the University of Wisconsin, Madison. “It adds greater fuel to the hypothesis that the gut microbiome is really doing something for cardiovascular disease.”

Sublette said researchers also found that people who quit smoking had decreases in some bacteria called firmicutes and increases in others called bacteroides that past studies have shown could be measures for lower risk for diabetes and obesity.

Source: Medical XPress, 18 November 2019

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USA: California sues Juul over advertising and underage sales

On Monday 18th November, California sued Juul Labs, alleging that it deliberately marketed and sold its flavoured nicotine products to young people. California is the second state to sue the company, following a North Carolina lawsuit in May. Illinois, Massachusetts and several other states are also investigating the company.

The lawsuit from California Attorney General Xavier Becerra argues that Juul´s past marketing efforts online and in major US cities used bright colours and youthful looking models to attract underage users. The lawsuit also alleges that Juul previously failed to adequately verify customers’ ages and identities on its website; shipped products to users who gave fake names, such as “Beer Can”; and distributed free products at concerts and festivals that did not include a mandatory warning label.

A Juul spokesman said the company’s intended customers are adult smokers, adding “we do not intend to attract underage users.”

Source: Mail Online, 19 November 2019

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Opportunities

National Specialty Adviser for Tobacco Addiction

NHS England and NHS Improvement are looking for a National Specialty Adviser for Tobacco Addiction. The deadline for applications is 1 December 2019. Click here for more information.

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