ASH Daily News for 31 October 2019



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UK

  • British health experts are as ‘certain as ever’ that vaping is less harmful than smoking cigarettes
  • Report says that government’s smoke-free aim is threatened by ‘moral panic’ over vaping

International

  • USA: Juul Labs faces new claims it put public health at risk
  • USA: Groups urge ban on mint and menthol e-cigarette flavours

UK

British health experts are as ‘certain as ever’ that vaping is less harmful than smoking cigarettes

Health leaders have said that they are ‘as certain as ever’ that vaping is less harmful than smoking, in the wake of e-cigarette-related deaths in the US. Professor Newton, director of health improvement at PHE, reiterated it had not changed its advice on nicotine containing e-cigarettes.

“Smokers should consider switching completely and vapers should stop smoking,” he said. “We are as certain as ever that e-cigarettes are far less harmful than smoking, which kills almost 220 people in England every day. Our concern is that the responses we have seen to the problem in the US and in other countries may increase the already widespread misunderstanding about the relative safety of nicotine e-cigarettes, deterring smokers from switching and risk driving vapers who have switched back to smoking.”

PHE said that some unregulated were being sold on UK streets and warned users against buying unregulated devices. Figures from ASH show that an estimated 7% of people in the UK regularly vape — up from 6.2% in 2018. Most vapers are ex-smokers (54%), a third of whom report their main reason for vaping as being to help them quit cigarettes.

Source: Mail Online, 30 October 2019

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Report says that government’s smoke-free aim is threatened by ‘moral panic’ over vaping

The health of young Britons could be under threat if the UK falls victim to a “moral panic” over vaping, a new report has claimed. Free market thinktank the Adam Smith Institute (ASI)* today urged the government to take a more liberal approach to e-cigarettes if it wants to achieve its aim of a smoke-free generation by 2030.

The thinktank cited a “very strong correlation” between the reduction in UK smokers and the increase in vaping usage recently. The ASI warned that Britain risked “going backwards” if it did not embrace vaping as a safer alternative to smoking. The report outlined a series of recommendations for the government, including introducing a risk-based taxation scheme to incentivise switching and encouraging the NHS to promote tobacco harm reduction.

Tobacco-control charity Action on Smoking and Health (ASH) said that vaping was an “effective” way for smokers to quit but warned the ASI’s recommendations were “more likely to increase profits for an already obscenely wealthy tobacco industry, than they are to reduce smoking”.

“In light of the health concerns around vaping emerging from the US, the best way to increase uptake is via a public information campaign sharing the message that vaping is always safer than smoking,” ASH said.

*ASH editorial note: The Adam Smith Institute has received funding from the tobacco industry.

Source: City AM, 31 October 2019

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International

USA: Juul Labs faces new claims it put public health at risk

Juul Labs is facing new claims that it has put public health at risk, after a former executive has alleged it shipped at least one million “contaminated” nicotine pods for its e-cigarettes.

Siddharth Breja, who was senior vice-president of finance at the San Francisco-based company, claimed in a lawsuit that Juul failed to recall the products or inform customers despite being aware they were problematic. Mr Breja alleged that it was brought to his attention earlier this year that a batch of “mint refill kits” had been contaminated, jeopardising public health. He also claimed he became aware that Juul had been shipping old products, and that he recommended the packaging include an expiration date, or a date of manufacture. He maintained that Kevin Burns, the company’s chief executive until he was replaced last month, and Timothy Danaher, outgoing chief financial officer, dismissed his concerns.

Juul, which is part-owned by the tobacco group Altria, said it would “vigorously defend” itself against the claims, which it described as “baseless”. “We already investigated the underlying manufacturing issue and determined the product met all applicable specifications,” the company said in a statement.

Mr Breja lost his job in March in what he claims was retaliation against him for raising concerns about Juul’s practices. Mr Breja claimed the reasons he was given for his dismissal were “fabricated”. Juul said in its statement: “He was terminated in March 2019 because he failed to demonstrate the leadership qualities needed in his role.”

Source: Financial Times, 30 October 2019

See also: Mail Online – Juul shipped 1 million contaminated products: lawsuit

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US groups urge ban on mint and menthol e-cigarette flavours

The Trump administration must include mint and menthol in any plan to halt sales of flavoured e-cigarette products, according to 50 American health and advocacy groups.

In response to media reports that the administration could exempt mint and menthol, the groups wrote in a letter that the ban on flavoured e-cigarette products would be “weakened” by such an exception: “A policy that does not remove all flavoured e-cigarettes will not solve the current epidemic of youth e-cigarette use. Youth who now use mint and menthol e-cigarettes will continue to do so, and youth who use flavours that are removed from the market will simply switch to mint and menthol.”

Groups that signed the letters include the American Academy of Pediatrics, the American Heart Association, the American Lung Association, the American Medical Association, the American Cancer Society Cancer Action Network, the Campaign for Tobacco-Free Kids and the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP). They noted that FDA data shows that mint or menthol flavours are used by nearly 64% of US high school students, up from 51.2% in 2018 and 42.3% in 2017. A policy on flavoured e-cigarette products is yet to be finalised by the FDA.

Source: Web MD, 30 October 2019

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