ASH Daily News for 28 October 2019



  • Medical chief trolled by vaping lobby for highlighting e-cigarettes are not for non-smokers
  • Big illegal tobacco haul found in York


  • US: Vaping bans raise fear of return to smoking


Medical chief trolled by vaping lobby for highlighting e-cigarettes are not for non-smokers

Helen Stokes-Lampard, chairwoman of the Royal College of General Practitioners, has revealed that she received abuse on social media after tweeting about vaping.

“I was making some very sensible comments about how vaping was far safer than smoking but that we did not have a strong evidence base that it was totally safe,” Professor Stokes-Lampard said. “The message was that using vaping as an aide to smoking is great, but people shouldn’t be taking up vaping thinking it’s safe. Suddenly there was this real outpouring of vitriol.”

The trolling included attacks on her professional integrity. “We later found out that people pretending to be patients and doctors were actually lobbyists for the vaping industry,” she said.

This week it was announced that Professor Stokes-Lampard will lead a new government-funded charitable body, the National Academy for Social Prescribing. With an annual budget of £5 million, it will formulate guidelines on how doctors should steer patients towards non-medical treatments. Social prescribing typically involves connecting people with charities or other voluntary groups that can offer advice on housing, welfare and debt. It also involves linking people to groups such as gardening clubs and book groups, often with the aim of providing emotional support.

Source: The Times, 26 October 2019

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Big illegal tobacco haul found in York

An operation to disrupt the sale and supply of illegal tobacco in North Yorkshire has uncovered more than 85,000 cigarettes and 112 kilos of hand-rolling tobacco.

Officers from HM Revenue and Customs (HMRC) with a tobacco detection dog visited four self-storage sites in York and Selby on 22nd October 2019. The illicit tobacco, worth £66,223 in unpaid duty, was seized from a unit close to York city centre.

Eden Noblett, from the Fraud Investigation Service at HMRC said: “The sale of illegal tobacco will not be tolerated by us or our partner agencies. Disrupting criminal trade is at the heart of our strategy to clampdown on the illicit tobacco market, which costs the UK around £1.8 billion a year. This is theft from the taxpayer and undermines legitimate traders.”

Source: Minster FM, 24 October 2019

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US: Vaping bans raise fear of return to smoking

Vaping bans and other crackdowns on access to vaping products are spurring criticism from both past smokers and some public health experts. Protests have cropped up across the US, as many vapers who rely on e-cigarettes as a smoking-cessation aid say bans put their health at risk and could fuel a black market for vaping products.

Some public health and addiction experts worry that government responses to two health crises— vaping-related illness and concern about teen vaping—could have the unintended consequence of pushing adult e-cigarette users back to deadly cigarettes. “I’ve seen both kids and adults go back to smoking cigarettes in light of the news,” said Jonathan Avery, the director of addiction psychiatry at New York-Presbyterian and Weill Cornell Medicine. “You hope it motivates them to not use at all, but you worry that they’ll do more risky behaviors as a consequence of restricted access.”

Cigarette smoking is linked to 480,000 deaths in the US each year, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Public health officials in the US, the UK and elsewhere have encouraged combustible cigarette smokers to switch to less harmful alternatives such as e-cigarettes. But as the CDC began investigating the vaping-related lung illness earlier this year, it advised the public to avoid vaping products, including e-cigarettes. The agency has since narrowed its warning, advising people not to vape THC, the psychoactive ingredient in cannabis. Illicit THC products play a “major role” in the vaping related lung illnesses according to federal officials.

Since the CDC’s initial warning on 7th September 2019, US e-cigarette sales have fallen 18%, according to a Credit Suisse analysis of Nielsen data. Further, in September, Health and Human Services Secretary Alex Azar announced that the Food and Drug Administration intends to take off the market all nicotine e-cigarettes except those formulated to taste like tobacco amid concerns that sweet flavours ap. Several states have since adopted similar measures.

“It is always better to use e-cigarettes or nicotine-replacement therapy instead of combustible tobacco,” Mr. Azar said in an interview. “We are striking this balance between an off-ramp for adults but preventing the on-ramp for kids.” Under the FDA’s proposed ban, e-cigarette manufacturers could apply for agency authorisation for specific flavoured products to come back on the market.

Nevertheless, analysts say they expect sales of regular cigarettes to improve as a result, and recent sales data suggest it may already be happening. Cigarette consumption in the U.S. has been falling for decades. The decline accelerated two years ago when e-cigarette sales took off, but in recent weeks the decline in unit sales of cigarettes has slowed slightly, Nielsen data shows.

Research has shown many adult smokers who make the switch to vaping attribute their success to forgetting the smell and taste of cigarettes, said Dave Abrams, a tobacco control expert and professor at New York University’s College of Global Public Health. “It’s absolutely insane to leave menthol cigarettes on the market and take away menthol or mint e-cigarettes,” Dr. Abrams said. “That makes no public health sense, if you’re aiming to save lives….You want the least-harmful product to be as appealing.”

Source: The Wall Street Journal, 25 October 2019

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