ASH Daily news for 24 May 2016



  • Electronic cigarettes – the fog and haze around the debate

    On 20th May the updated EU Tobacco Products Directive (TPD) took effect. For the first time electronic cigarettes were included in its scope. The Directive imposes a set of new laws including a ban on cross border advertising and limits to the strength of nicotine in e-liquid.

    The BBC reviews the possible impact of the TPD, noting that some people have concerns about the nicotine limits. However, Deborah Arnott, chief executive of Ash, said: “Our research shows that most vapers use less nicotine than the limit set in the new EU regulations and are likely to have to refill their devices no more than a couple of times a day. Concerns that the EU regulations would force the products most vapers use off the market seem to have been overstated.”

    Source: BBC News 21 May 2016

  • Europe lifts warning on Pfizer smoking cessation drug

    European regulators have lifted a warning on Pfizer’s smoking cessation drug Champix after a clinical study concluded it did not appear to increase the risk of neuropsychiatric side effects.

    Champix is approved as an effective therapy for helping smokers quit but the European Medicines Agency added a “black triangle” warning following reports linking it to agitation, aggression, panic, anxiety, depression and suicidal thoughts. The special warning required additional safety monitoring for patients taking the medicine.

    Pfizer said on Monday (23rd May) that experts at the European drugs watchdog had now adopted a decision to change the label in the light of results from a large study, published in The Lancet in April, that provided safety reassurance.

    The full study published in the Lancet can be accessed here.

    Source: Reuters 23 May 2016

  • Scotland: Young people unaware of health risks of fruit-flavoured Shisha pipes

    Growing numbers of school pupils in Glasgow are experimenting with shisha because they mistakenly believe it is safer than cigarettes, evidence shows.

    The fruit flavours of the tobacco such as apple, strawberry and cola have led some health campaigners to describe shisha as the tobacco equivalent of ‘alcopops’, giving young people the false impression it is not harmful.

    A city-wide survey found that cigarette smoking rates have dropped by half over the last three years but schools are facing fresh challenges.

    Melanie Owen, Health Improvement Lead for Tobacco and Young People for NHSGGC said: “There is a perception that it is safer than cigarettes. Young people are seeing their friends doing it and think it’s cool. We explain that it has all the same toxins. It has the tar and carbon monoxide … we always include it now in our smoking awareness sessions.”

    Source: The Evening Times 24 May 2016

  • Study reveals success of text messaging in helping smokers quit

    A new study from The Miriam Hospital’s Centers for Behavioural and Preventive Medicine found that smokers who received a text messaging intervention were more likely to abstain from smoking relative to controls.

    Using a meta-analysis technique the researchers conducted the most extensive systematic review of the literature to date. Text messaging interventions provide health education, reminders and support using short written messages. SMS interventions can be adapted to fit an individual’s health needs in his or her natural environment. The messages of support can be as simple as “You can do it!” or “Be strong.”

    The full research can be accessed here.

    Source: Medical X Press 23 May 2016

  • USA: Electronic cigarette use stalls as health concerns grow

    Use of electronic cigarettes and other vaping devices has stalled in the United States as more Americans question their safety, according to a new online Reuters/Ipsos poll.

    About 10% of the 9,766 adults surveyed between 19 April and 16 May use the devices, the same percentage as in a similar Reuters/Ipsos poll in May, 2015. This year, however, a growing percentage of participants expressed negative attitudes toward e-cigarettes. 47% of respondents said vaping was not healthier than smoking conventional cigarettes compared with 38% who felt that way a year ago.

    Increases were also seen in the number of people who believed that vaping could have similar effects to those of second-hand smoking, and those who thought electronic cigarettes were ineffective in helping smokers quit.

    Dr. Michael Siegel, a professor at the Boston University School of Public Health, has advocated vaping as a way to wean smokers off conventional cigarettes. He blames negative publicity for the growing concerns about the devices, and believes most are unwarranted. “There have been public health scares, and they are working,” said Siegel. “They are dissuading a lot of people from trying these products.”

    See also:
    The Malay Mail: Poll: US e-cigarette use stalls as health concerns grow

    Source: Reuters 24 May 2016

  • USA: Baseball great Tony Gwynn’s family sues tobacco industry over his death

    Nearly two years after Tony Gwynn died of salivary gland cancer, the family of the baseball star filed a wrongful-death lawsuit Monday (23rd May) against the tobacco industry.

    The suit lists a range of defendants including Altria Group Corp. and US Smokeless Tobacco Co. In addition individuals from an intramural softball team called “Skoal Brothers” who provided free samples of smokeless tobacco products will appear in court.

    Attorney David S. Casey Jr. of Casey Gerry said Gwynn became addicted to smokeless tobacco at a time when the industry knew the risks, but had no warning labels on its products. Casey said the companies’ marketing targeted minors, black males, college students and athletes. “Tony Gwynn was caught in the crossfire of all four of those targeting efforts,” the attorney said.

    Source: Review Journal 23 May 2016