ASH Daily News for 27 August 2019


  • USA: First death linked to vaping reported in Illinois
  • USA: Are e-cigarettes creating a recycling disaster?
  • New Zealand: Philip Morris tried to target the disadvantaged through poverty alleviation group
  • Opinion: Why nobody cares about teen smoking



USA: First death linked to vaping reported in Illinois

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) have said that a patient has died after developing a severe respiratory disease due to vaping in the first such death in the US. The CDC said there were 193 “potential cases” in 22 US states, with many of the cases involving vaping THC, the main active compound in cannabis.

Officials have ordered laboratory tests of vaping liquid samples in a bid to identify any harmful compounds. A “black market” is known to exist for THC-containing vape cartridges, which are sold legally through medical marijuana dispensaries in some states. No cause for the mystery illness has been identified, and the link to THC products is not clear yet either.

Source: BBC News, 24 August 2019

Editorial note
Deborah Arnott, Chief Executive of ASH, said: “Reports from the US that a death from respiratory disease has been linked to vaping are obviously concerning, coming on the back of reports of nearly 200 people suffering serious respiratory problems after vaping. However, as the US health authorities have made clear, the cause of death has not yet been confirmed. Further investigation is needed although concerns have been raised that the cause may be contaminated e-liquid bought on the black market.

“To date no serious side effects have been reported in the UK where the rules on e-cigarette products are overseen by our medicine regulator, the MHRA. Anyone can check on the MHRA website to make sure the product that the product they’re using has been notified and is being sold legally. Buying unregulated black market vaping products is a very bad idea. Anyone concerned about side effects from a vaping product they’re using should immediately report this to the MHRA, using the yellow card scheme.

“If you’re a smoker using e-cigarettes to help you quit or prevent relapse back to smoking and are having no problems with the e-cigarettes you are using, it would not be a good idea to stop vaping and revert to smoking. When you smoke you inhale toxic tar and carbon monoxide not present in e-cigarettes, so while vaping is not risk-free it is widely acknowledged by UK health authorities to be significantly less harmful than smoking.”

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USA: Are e-cigarettes creating a recycling disaster?

Researchers have expressed concern that single-use and disposable e-cigarettes could pose problems to the environment. When littered, these products can leach dangerous metals, battery acid, and nicotine into their surroundings.

While leading vape companies JUUL and Altria have expressed the need to act on the growing problem of electronic waste that their devices leave behind, “none of the companies so far have taken the necessary action,” said Yogi Hale Hendlin, a research associate at the Environmental Health Initiative at the University of California, San Francisco. “It is the consensus of public health researchers working on the environmental costs of tobacco that e-cigarette manufacturers need to put a product deposit system into action.”

A spokesman from JUUL told the Guardian the company is piloting an internal take back and recycling programme with employees in a number of its offices and will launch the program publicly “in the near future”.

Source: The Guardian, 27 August 2019

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New Zealand: Philip Morris tried to target the disadvantaged through poverty alleviation group

Tobacco giant Philip Morris has been trying to gain access to a major Auckland poverty group in a bid to get its new tobacco products marketed to low-income people. The tobacco company has also been lobbying key figures in the Ministry of Health and approached South Auckland’s Counties Manukau District Health Board (DHB) in an attempt to give away its IQOS “heat-not-burn” device, which it says is less harmful than cigarettes, for use in stop-smoking groups. There are currently no reliable studies of the dangers of “heat-not-burn” tobacco.

Emails obtained by Radio New Zealand (RNZ) show that Silver Eye Communications approached Auckland Action Against Poverty in June to try to broker a meeting with Philip Morris. Silver Eye managing director Jo Coughlan, a former Wellington City Councillor, and a representative from Philip Morris wanted to meet with Ricardo Menendez, who runs the advocacy group, which was set up to help vulnerable New Zealanders.

“I think it’s disingenuous and, quite frankly, disgusting for Philip Morris to be approaching groups that work at the front lines with low-income communities, under the pretence that they’re there to help low-income people switch to less harmful products,” Menendez said. “They’re just trying to find avenues to target low-income communities to make a profit and so I’m quite appalled that this is a tactic a corporation is using.”

Source: Radio New Zealand, 27 August 2019

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Opinion: Why nobody cares about teen smoking

In an opinion piece, Guy Bentley criticises the lack of media coverage of the decline in smoking rates contrasting with the large negative media coverage of e-cigarettes, considering that no cases of severe illness related to vaping have been attributed to the use of a legal nicotine product.

Source: Washington Examiner, 26 August 2019

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