ASH Daily News for 21 November 2018



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UK

  • Study: Compound in cigarette smoke could lower risk of Parkinson’s disease by up to 50%
  • Concerns that e-cigarettes are linked to popcorn lung called a myth

International

  • US: Letter cautions the FDA against recent over reactions to youth vaping
  • Pace of US smoking rate decline mirrors rapid rise in popularity of vaping

Parliamentary Activity

  • Parliamentary questions

UK

Study: Compound in cigarette smoke could lower risk of Parkinson’s disease by up to 50%

Researchers led by a team at Queen Mary University of London found that existing smokers are up to 50% less likely to develop the degenerative illness, which now affects some 145,000 people in the UK. The study also found a relationship between passive smoking and a lower incidence of Parkinson’s of up to 30%.

The study examined over 700 comprehensive case histories of Parkinson’s disease found among a European database of 220,000 patients, including 200 individuals who developed the condition in the UK.

However, the study authors warned that the disastrous harms caused by tobacco continue to vastly outweigh any benefit related to Parkinson’s. They call for further research to identify and isolate the compound in cigarette smoke which impacts on Parkinson’s with a view to developing a future preventive therapy, separate from tobacco smoke.

Source: iNews, 20 November 2018

International Journal of Epidemiology: Exploring causality of the association between smoking and Parkinson’s disease

Read Article

Concerns that e-cigarettes are linked to popcorn lung called a myth

Diacetyl, a chemical that has been found in some e-cigarette flavours in the US, has been linked to a condition called obliterative bronchiolitis, dubbed ‘popcorn lung’ when people are exposed to very high levels. A 2016 Harvard University study found that 39 out of 51 e-cigarette flavourings tested contained detectable levels of diacetyl.

Diacetyl is banned in the UK and is not present in UK e-cigarette flavourings. Public Health England (PHE) estimates suggest e-cigarettes are at least 95% less harmful than smoking.

According to the PHE blog, Public Health Matters, it’s a myth that smoking e-cigarettes puts users at risk of popcorn lung: “Diacetyl is banned as an ingredient from e-cigarettes and e-liquids in the UK. It has been detected in some e-liquid flavourings in the past, but at levels hundreds of times lower than in cigarette smoke. Even at these levels, smoking is not a major risk factor for popcorn lung.”

Source: The Sun, 20 November 2018

See also:
PHE Public Health Matters Blog: Clearing up some myths around e-cigarettes

Environmental Health Perspectives: Flavoring Chemicals in E-Cigarettes: Diacetyl, 2,3-Pentanedione, and Acetoin in a Sample of 51 Products, Including Fruit-, Candy-, and Cocktail-Flavored E-Cigarettes

Read Article

 

International

US: Letter cautions the FDA against recent over reactions to youth vaping

Following the Food and Drug Administration’s (FDA) recent actions in relation to e-liquid flavours and youth vaping, Iowa’s Attorney General Tom Miller, together with several public health experts, sent a letter to FDA Commissioner Scott Gottlieb, highlighting the dangers in exaggerating the risks of e-cigarettes:

“We share your widely reported concern about the rise in e-cigarette use among adolescents. At the same time, we remain hopeful that by encouraging smokers who cannot or who choose not to quit to switch to e-cigarettes, we may be able substantially to reduce premature mortality due to smoking, which remains the number 1 risk factor in the US and in the world.

With so much to gain from e-cigarette use by smokers, we write to urge FDA to take carefully calibrated and proportionate action in response. We hope you will consider the possible resulting harm to public health that could arise from disproportionate intervention, given the relative harms of cigarettes and e-cigarettes, the interactions between youth vaping and smoking, and between adult use and youth use.”

Source: Vaping Post, 20 November 2018

Read Article

Pace of US smoking rate decline mirrors rapid rise in popularity of vaping

A new study published in Tobacco Control has found that the pace of the fall in smoking prevalence among teens and young adults in the US has mirrored the rapid rise in popularity of e-cigarettes.

The researchers examined publicly available, nationally representative data on smoking and vaping among youth and young adults up to and including 2017. They observed an increase in youth vaping prevalence in 2014, accompanied by an acceleration in the decline of smoking rates among youths.

The researchers caution that observational studies such as this one cannot establish cause. As the analyses were all done using US data, the findings may not be applicable elsewhere. They conclude that vaping: “may be playing a contributing role to the recent steep declines in youth and young adult smoking.”

Source: Medical Xpress, 20 November 2018

Tobacco Control: Examining the relationship of vaping to smoking initiation among US youth and young adults: a reality check

Read Article

 

Parliamentary Activity

Parliamentary questions

PQ 1: Electronic cigarettes

Asked by Jim Shannon, Strangford
To ask the Secretary of State for Health and Social Care, what assessment his Department has made of the effectiveness of the regulation of non-nicotine liquid for vape products and nicotine shots.

Answered by Steve Brine, The Parliamentary Under-Secretary for Health and Social Care
Nicotine shots are regulated under the Tobacco and Related Products Regulation 2016 as they are a nicotine containing product. As shortfills do not contain nicotine when sold they are not regulated under the Tobacco and Related Products Regulations 2016 (TRPR), but are covered by General Product Safety Regulations.

The Government is committed to conduct a review of the TRPR at a later date.

Source: Hansard, 20 November 2018
Link: https://www.parliament.uk/business/publications/written-questions-answers-statements/written-question/Commons/2018-11-13/190885/

PQ 2: Electronic cigarettes

Asked by Jim Shannon, Strangford
To ask the Secretary of State for Health and Social Care, what the implications are for his policies of the evidence from Public Health England and Cancer Research UK that one of the most effective ways to stop smoking is to use vape products.

Answered by Steve Brine, The Parliamentary Under-Secretary for Health and Social Care
The Government is committed to reducing public health harms caused by smoking and has consistently highlighted that quitting smoking and nicotine use is the best way to improve health. E-cigarettes are not risk free. However, the evidence is increasingly clear that vaping is significantly less harmful to health than smoking tobacco and can be particularly useful in supporting smokers to quit, especially when combined with stop smoking services.

The most recent evidence report review from Public Health England, published on 6 February 2018, argues that e-cigarette use, alone or in combination with licensed medication and behavioural support from a stop smoking service appears to be helpful in the short-term, and that e-cigarettes have contributed to tens of thousands of additional quitters in England.

The Department will continue to monitor the impact of regulation and policy on e-cigarettes and novel tobacco products in England, including evidence on safety, uptake, health impact and effectiveness of these products as smoking cessation aids, to inform our future policy.

Source: Hansard, 20 November 2018
Link: https://www.parliament.uk/business/publications/written-questions-answers-statements/written-question/Commons/2018-11-13/190884/

PQ 3: Oral Tobacco

Asked by Jim Shannon, Strangford
To ask the Secretary of State for Health and Social Care, if he will make an assessment of the potential merits of lifting the ban on Snus products.

To ask the Secretary of State for Health and Social Care, if he will make it his policy to direct Public Health England to include the effect of Snus on people’s health in future evidence reviews.

Answered by Steve Brine, The Parliamentary Under-Secretary for Health and Social Care
No evidence has been collated by the Department as snus is banned under the European Union’s Tobacco Products Directive as an oral tobacco product. The Commission has however set out the evidence underpinning the ban. The impact assessment for the 2014 Directive can be found at the following link:
https://ec.europa.eu/health/sites/health/files/tobacco/docs/com_2012_788_ia_en.pdf

The Government committed in the Tobacco Control Plan for England to review where the United Kingdom’s exit from the EU offers us opportunities to re-appraise current regulation to ensure this continues to protect the nation’s health. We will look to identify where we can sensibly deregulate without harming public health or where current EU regulations limit our ability to deal with tobacco. The Government’s goal will remain to achieve a proportionate approach to managing risk, one which protects the young and non-smokers, whilst giving smokers access to products which will reduce harm.

Source: Hansard, 20 November 2018
Link: https://www.parliament.uk/business/publications/written-questions-answers-statements/written-question/Commons/2018-11-12/190471/