ASH Daily News for 22 November 2019


  • Cigarette imports fall by half over a decade


  • British American Tobacco shares jump after US shelves tough regulations
  • Canada: Teen suffers lung injury after vaping THC
  • Study finds increase in US adults who perceive e-cigarettes more harmful than cigarettes

Link of the week

  • Registration: ASH Health inequalities webinar


Cigarette imports fall by half over a decade

The number of cigarettes being imported into Britain has fallen by almost half in the past decade as the decline in smoking continues.

The volume of duty-paid cigarettes fell to 24.5 billion sticks in the 12 months to the end of September, down 47% from 46.1 billion during the same period ten years ago. Imports of cigars also fell by 47% to 260,000 kg but hand-rolled tobacco grew by 17% to 6.5 million kg. Government interventions, including higher taxes and the 2006 smoking ban, have helped slash the number of smokers. While a fifth of the adult population smoked in the UK 2010, the figure has fallen to 15.3%.

The US health department has been considering plans to cut nicotine levels in cigarettes but yesterday withdrew the proposals from its agenda for the year ahead. Shares in global tobacco companies, including British American Tobacco, rallied.

Deborah Arnott, chief executive of Action on Smoking and Health said: “It’s not clear yet whether this strategy has been put on hold or abandoned. Make no mistake, for the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) to abandon its harm reduction strategy would be a major victory for Big Tobacco.”

Source: The Times, 22 November 2019

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British American Tobacco shares jump after US shelves tough regulations

Shares in British American Tobacco (BAT) have surged this morning after US regulators shelved plans to force tobacco firms to slash the amount of nicotine in cigarettes. The proposal was unveiled by the US Department of Health and Human Services two years ago but was put on hold yesterday (21 November).

The plan was expected to cut tobacco sales, and so comes as a major boost to tobacco firms.

British American Tobacco had risen 5.99% by 9am on the London Stock Exchange, hitting 3,032p. “This is clearly good news for the tobacco industry: effectively the nicotine standard is no longer on the ‘to-do’ list,” said Nico von Stackelberg, an analyst at broker Liberum.

Food and Drug Administration (FDA) spokesperson Michael Felberbaum said that the FDA’s decision to shelve the policy does not mean it does not consider it a priority, opening the door to possible further action.

Source: City A.M., 21 November 2019

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Canada: Teen suffers lung injury after vaping THC

A Canadian teenager has developed a vaping-related lung injury similar to “popcorn lung” after vaping THC (Tetrahydrocannabinol), his doctors say. “Popcorn lung” is a rare form of irreversible obstructive lung disease that scars the smallest airways in the lung – the bronchioles – and makes it difficult for air to flow. The condition was previously seen in workers who were exposed to the chemical flavouring diacetyl as they packaged microwave popcorn.

The boy had vaped daily for five months using flavoured cartridges and regularly added THC – the psychoactive ingredient in cannabis – to his vaping fluid. As his condition deteriorated, he was taken to intensive care. He spent 47 days in hospital and narrowly avoided needing a double lung transplant, though there may be severe long-lasting lung damage, his doctors say.

“This patient had severe, acute bronchiolitis, possibly related to inhalational injury from vaping, with several features suggestive of subsequent early bronchiolitis obliterans [‘popcorn lung’],” they write.

Diacetyl has been banned as an ingredient from e-cigarettes and e-liquids in Europe since 2016 and THC is also banned. Health Canada also notes that steps have been taken to reduce its use and it is less common in vaping products than before.

Source: BBC News, 22 November 2019

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Study finds increase in US adults who perceive e-cigarettes more harmful than cigarettes

A study by tobacco researchers from Georgia State University’s School of Public Health has found that the number of US adults who perceive e-cigarettes to be as harmful as, or more harmful than, cigarettes has increased between 2017 and 2018. The percentage of adults who perceived e-cigarettes to be less harmful than cigarettes decreased from 29% in 2017 to 26% in 2018.

In 2018, 43% of US adults considered e-cigarettes to be as harmful as cigarettes and 8% considered e-cigarettes to be more harmful or much more harmful than cigarettes. This increased from 36.4% and 4.3% respectively in 2017.

This trend was also observed among current smokers of cigarettes, a finding that has implications for smokers’ decision-making around switching to e-cigarettes.

Amy L. Nyman, lead author of the study, said: “Smokers who perceive too much risk from e-cigarettes may decide against using them to quit smoking and may instead continue with their combustible smoking habit.”

Nyman noted that perceived harm of e-cigarettes relative to cigarettes may have increased further since 2018 because of the recent outbreak of vaping-related illnesses.

Source: Scienmag, 21 November 2019

See also:
JAMA Network Open: Perceived Comparative Harm of Cigarettes and Electronic Nicotine Delivery Systems

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Registration: ASH Health inequalities webinar

Following the re-launch of the ASH’s Health Inequalities Resource Pack, click here to register for a free webinar on Health Inequalities and Smoking.

The webinar will run from 11:00 – 12:15 on Thursday 27th November 2019.

Speakers will include Deborah Arnott, Chief Executive, ASH and Dr Sarah Jackson, Senior Research Associate in Behavioural Science and Health, University College London.

Please e-mail if you have any questions or issues registering for the webinar.

Registration link: