ASH Daily News for 23 August 2019



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International

  • New Zealand: Prominent smoking researcher shunned over Philip Morris funding
  • India: Government documents show that India’s health ministry has proposed a ban on e-cigarettes, with jail terms for offenders

Links of the week

  • ASH Fact Sheet: Tobacco and Ethnic Minorities
  • Evidently Cochrane: What helps women to quit smoking while pregnant?

International

New Zealand: Prominent smoking researcher shunned over Philip Morris funding

Marewa Glover, a finalist for the New Zealander of the Year award for her work with Māori smokers, has been criticised because her research is funded by the tobacco-industry funded US-based Foundation for a Smoke Free World. The foundation’s sole source of funding is the tobacco company Philip Morris, which has pledged $1.5 billion to the organisation over 12 years. The World Health Organisation has blacklisted the foundation and researchers around the world are rejecting its money, seeing it as a PR strategy for the tobacco industry to gain legitimacy.

Glover set up the Centre for Research Excellence: Indigenous Sovereignty and Smoking in 2018 and in just one year has received $1.5 million from the Foundation, the third-largest grant that has been awarded so far.

As a result, New Zealand tobacco control academics want Glover to be excluded from working with the public health system. Emails obtained during an RNZ (Radio New Zealand) investigation show researchers at Otago University have tried to stop district health boards (DHBs) working with Glover, suggesting that she is compromised by the Philip Morris money. After inquiries by Radio New Zealand (RNZ) the Ministry of Health is now warning DHBs it would prefer they not work with the centre. Hāpai te Hauora, which holds the national tobacco control contract, has also said that it cannot work with Glover. It respects her expertise on Māori smoking cessation – and has a shared cause in seeing vaping as a valid option – but says the source of funding leaves it no choice but to cut ties.

Glover has worked in tobacco control for 25 years, most recently as Professor of Public Health at Massey University. Unlike her former academic colleagues, Glover is critical of mainstream thinking on tobacco control, which she believes hasn’t delivered results for Māori people. She has said that Māori women will particularly miss out on her expertise, as they have the highest smoking rates in New Zealand at 37% – nearly three times the rate for the general population.

Source: Radio New Zealand, 22 August 2019

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India: Government documents show that India’s health ministry has proposed a ban on e-cigarettes, with jail terms for offenders

India’s health ministry has proposed a ban on the production and import of electronic cigarettes, saying it was needed to ensure e-cigarettes don’t become an “epidemic” among children and young adults.

Justifying its call for a ban, in an internal note seen by Reuters that the federal cabinet is expected to consider, the health ministry argued that e-cigarettes can also be used as delivery devices for other substances such as cannabis and could promote dual use with conventional cigarettes. Health officials are proposing jail terms of up to three years, with a penalty of up to 500,000 rupees (£5,716) for repeat offenders, according to a draft of the executive order.

Such orders are typically issued in India as an emergency measure when parliament is not in session. It can lapse if it is not approved when lawmakers convene against in the next session, which will most likely be held around November. It was not immediately clear whether the draft executive order will face changes, or when it will be approved.

India has 106 million adult smokers, second only to China in the world. More than 900,000 people die each year in the country due to tobacco-related illnesses.

Source: Reuters, 22 August 2019

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Links of the week

ASH Fact Sheet: Tobacco and Ethnic Minorities

ASH has launched a new Smoking and Ethnic Minorities fact sheet which looks at the varying ways people from different ethnic backgrounds use and are affected by tobacco.

Read Fact Sheet

Evidently Cochrane: What helps women to quit smoking while pregnant?

Aimed at women who want to quit smoking in pregnancy, Cochrane authors Jonathan Livingstone-Banks and Catherine Chamberlain look at the research evidence on what can help. The blog is part of a special series Cochrane UK are running throughout August called ‘Maternity Matters’.

Read Blog Post