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ACOSH Advocacy in Action - 1 July 2021

 

Welcome to the latest edition of the ACOSH Advocacy in Action e-bulletin for 2021.
We aim to provide topical information on advocacy for tobacco control in Western Australia, Nationally and around the world.
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Consultation report: Review of the WA Tobacco Products Control Act 2006

In September 2020, the WA Department of Health launched the statutory review of the Tobacco Products Control Act (2006) and commenced the public consultation process.

The report summarising the key themes and responses by stakeholders was published last week (23 June) including:

• What is working well with the legislation

• Suggestions on how the legislation could be improved (sale and supply, advertising and promotion, licensing, administration, investigations, enforcement)

These key themes will assist the WA Department of Health in identifying possible areas for further investigation to strengthen the effectiveness of the WA Tobacco Products Control Act (2006).

Following the development of options for regulatory improvements, further consultation will be undertaken to inform the Government’s decision making process.

READ THE REPORT

 

National Party addicted to ‘Big Tobacco’ money

“The National Party has received more than $200,000 in donations from the tobacco giant Philip Morris International in the past five years.

“The Labor Party ceased accepting donations from “Bg Tobacco” in 2004 and the Liberal party stopped in 2014.

“Nationals MP Barnaby Joyce said it was a “legal product and if they want to donate to a party they can.”

“If you don’t get support, you can’t run a political party. You can’t pay staff and put ads on with feelings and well-meaning ideas,” Mr Joyce said.

He said he was comfortable with the donations.

“If it’s legal, it is legal and if you don’t like it, ban it,” he said.

READ MORE

 

Juul to Pay US$40 Million to Settle North Carolina Vaping Case

“Juul has agreed to pay North Carolina $40 million to settle the first of a spate of lawsuits brought by states that claimed the company’s marketing practices fueled widespread addiction among young people to its high-nicotine e-cigarettes.

“The settlement was announced on Monday by Josh Stein, the North Carolina attorney general, who sued the company in May of 2019. In the agreement, the company denies any wrongdoing or liability.

“For years Juul targeted young people, including teens, with highly addictive e-cigarettes,” said Mr. Stein in a statement. “It lit the spark and fanned the flames of a vaping epidemic among our children — one that you can see in any high school in North Carolina.”

“The North Carolina complaint accused Juul of designing, marketing and selling e-cigarettes to attract young people, and of misrepresenting the potency and danger of nicotine in the company’s products, in violation of the state’s Unfair and Deceptive Trade Practices Act.

“Thirteen states, including California, Massachusetts and New York, as well as the District of Columbia, have filed similar lawsuits. The central claim in each case is that Juul knew, or should have known, that it was it was hooking teenagers on pods that contained high levels of nicotine. Some of the youths in the cases claimed serious harm, including possible lung damage and mood disorders.”

See also
Juul to pay A$52m in North Carolina teen vaping suit settlement – 9News

Juul and the business of addiction – The Verge

NC Juul settlement: It’s a start – Emeritus Professor Stanton Glantz Blog

READ MORE

 

Framework for the public health assessment of electronic cigarettes

“Researchers from Australian National University have developed a framework for public health assessment of e-cigarettes and policy development. The framework was developed through consideration of existing frameworks and engagement with the Australian Government Department of Health and the National Health and Medical Research Council (NHMRC)’s Electronic Cigarettes Working Committee.

“The guiding principles of the framework are that it be: evidence based; considerate of the likely benefits and risks, uncertainty and safety; equitable and considerate of both the population and priority subgroups; independent of industry interference as per WHO FCTC; and that it supports high-quality policy and practice that facilitates ongoing application of emerging evidence.”

Source: Facts & issues-Tobacco Control Research highlights, May 2021

READ MORE

The science of spin: targeted strategies to manufacture doubt with detrimental effects on environmental and public health

This study maps out unique tactics used within the tobacco, sugar, chemical, climate and coal industries to manufacture doubt.

“We recognized 28 unique tactics used to manufacture doubt. Five of these tactics were used by all five organizations, suggesting that they are key features of manufactured doubt. The intended audience influences the strategy used to misinform, and logical fallacies contribute to their efficacy.”

“This list of tactics can be used by others to build a case that an industry or group is deliberately manipulating information associated with their actions or products. Improved scientific and rhetorical literacy could be used to render them less effective, depending on the audience targeted, and ultimately allow for the protection of both environmental health and public health more generally.”

READ MORE

A content analysis of the tweets of e-cigarette proponents in Australia

This study examines tweets by proponents of e-cigarettes in Australia and how they are minimising the harms associated with these devices.

“The main topics covered in the 1397 tweets analysed related to (a) criticism of the arguments made by public health agencies/advocates who oppose e-cigarettes (29%), (b) Australian e-cigarette policy (19%), (c) the health risks of e-cigarettes (16%) and (d) the efficacy of e-cigarettes as smoking cessation aids (13%). Proponents argued that the precautionary principle adopted by public health agencies/advocates lacks an appropriate evidence base and that legalising e-cigarettes would reduce smoking rates and smoking-related harm. Proponents minimised the risks associated with e-cigarette use and only presented evidence indicating that use facilitates smoking cessation.

“The assessed tweets have the potential to reduce the public’s trust in the information being presented by authoritative public health agencies/advocates. The dissemination of information downplaying the health risks associated with e-cigarettes may distort perceptions of the devices.”

READ MORE

Thoughts on neologisms and pleonasm in scientific discourse and tobacco control

“Prior to 2000, the tobacco marketplace was, in retrospect, fairly simple. Cigarettes, chewing tobacco, moist snuff, dry snuff, cigars, pipes, waterpipes and bidis captured most of the marketplace. There were subtypes of products and regional variation to be sure, but the terms themselves were nearly universal.

“More recently, the tobacco marketplace has become increasingly diversified with the invention and marketing of new nicotine products. Terms have proliferated to try and capture this new complexity, while grouping conceptually or superficially similar products for ease of reference. This has occasioned a panoply of neologisms (newly coined words), retronyms (eg, ‘tobacco cigarette’ to distinguish from ‘electronic cigarette’) and portmanteau (new words formed from existing words), not to mention terms invented and used for a single paper (nonce words) or terms that are pleonastic (eg, novel and emerging products).

“This editorial seeks to explore this phenomenon and examine the conditions under which these differentiated terms emerged and what they may imply. For the moment, at least, we take no position on the appropriateness of any particular term with respect to its use in the Journal, except for those already identified in our Author Guidelines. We do hope to: (1) encourage authors, reviewers, funders and readers to reconsider the use of these terms (and acronyms) and instead describe what is being studied more directly; (2) discourage authors from inventing a new term when acceptable alternatives exist and (3) encourage thinking about whether some terms should be retired.”

READ MORE

E-cigarette lithium-ion batteries: Warning after two men suffer serious burns when devices exploded

“Authorities are warning about the dangers of lithium-ion batteries found in e-cigarettes after two WA men suffered serious leg burns when they exploded and caught fire.

“The WA Director of Energy Safety has revealed two alarming incidents, including how a Scarborough man was left needing skin grafts after a lithium-ion battery in his vape device caught fire in his pocket with “intense white light and heat”.

“Steve, who did not want his surname used, said he was working at Ascot Racecourse when he felt a “searing pain and heat” on his thigh after placing coins in the same pocket at a loose lithium-ion battery to power a vape.

“He spent a week in hospital after the incident.”

“A mine worker also suffered serious thermal and chemical burns on his leg when a vape battery combusted while he was travelling in a ute.

“According to a Department of Mines, Industry Regulation and Safety report, the incident was described as “not unlike fireworks going off and flying around the inside of the vehicle”.”

READ MORE

Tobacco Tactics: PMI’s Foundation for a Smoke-Free World

“The Foundation for a Smoke-Free World describes itself as “an independent, non-profit organization” that was established and is “operated free from the control or influence of any third party”, which “makes grants and supports medical, agricultural, and scientific research to end smoking and its health effects and to address the impact of reduced worldwide demand for tobacco”.

“The FSFW’s 2020 tax return, filed on 17 May 2021, shows that its funding from PMI (Philip Morris International) was cut from US$80 million to US$45 million, but PMI remains the sole funder.

“It also showed that despite publicly claiming to focus funding on low-and middle-income countries (LMICs), in reality less than 10% (approx. US$2.5 million) was granted to LMICs in 2020, whilst approximately 75% (approx. US$30 million) of funding went to organisations based in the US and UK.”

For more analysis of the FSFW’s 2020 tax return see the STOP INDUSTRY BRIEF: FSFW’s 2020 Tax Return Reveals Deep Links to the Tobacco Industry + Other Findings.

READ MORE

Let’s act on illicit vape sales

“Is the government going to send in the ‘vape police’? It’s astounding how children as young as 12 are able to walk into a tobacconist and buy the black market goods in plain sight.

“It is illegal under state law for anyone to sell or supply nicotine-containing e-cigarettes, but individuals are able to import up to three months’ supply for their personal use with a prescription.

“In Victoria, the state government funds local councils to carry out tobacco education and enforcement. But rogue operators know these checks are rarely undertaken. If councils were doing their due diligence then the dozens of tobacconists, milk bars and small grocers selling these dangerous products to children would have already been slapped with fines or even shut down.”

READ MORE

Queensland schools and parents worried ‘lolly-flavoured’ vapes on the rise among students

“Parent and Beenleigh State High School P&C president Nate Hamon voiced concern that e-cigarettes are being specifically marketed to young people.

“From caramel to bubblegum to watermelon to pina colada — basically these guys are selling lolly-flavoured addiction” Mr Hamon said.

“In a statement, the Department of Education said smoking was banned at all Queensland state and non-state schools and for five metres beyond their boundaries.

“It said every Queensland state school is required to develop a student code of conduct, which details property that students may not bring to school, such as tobacco and other smoking products, including e-cigarettes.

“The department acknowledges the importance of preventative measures around smoking and e-cigarettes,” it said.

“All Queensland state schools provide health and wellbeing education, either as part of the delivery of the Australian curriculum or as part of the school’s pastoral care program.”

READ MORE

Revealed: Big Tobacco behind NZ dairy owners’ postcard protest at Parliament

“Postcards from dairy [convenience store] owners protesting against restrictions on selling cigarettes appear to have been supplied by British American Tobacco.

“The postcards – “thousands of them”, according to Act deputy leader Brooke van Velden – were delivered to her this morning on Parliament’s forecourt.

“They follow the release of the Government’s proposals for Smokefree Aotearoa 2025, which includes limiting tobacco sales to a limited number of specific stores.

“Restricting sales to a limited number of store types would make it substantially more difficult to buy cigarettes. The result would be to reduce uptake by young people and support smokers who are trying to quit,” the discussion document says.

“The British American Tobacco employee whose business card was attached to the postcards that were sent to dairy owners declined to comment when contacted by the Herald.

“Associate Health Minister Ayesha Verrall said it was disappointing to see Big Tobacco companies trying to get dairy owners to do their “dirty” work for them.

“The former dairy owner from the Waikato who showed the Herald the business card attached to the postcard said that the tobacco company only cared about itself – not the dairy owners.”

See also
Big Tobacco Exploit Dairy Owners In Cynical Attempt To Derail Smokefree Policy – SCOOP politics

READ MORE

 

Canada: Newly-announced vaping regulations are urgently needed – as are larger reforms of Canada’s approach to tobacco companies

“Physicians for a Smoke-Free Canada welcomes the federal regulatory measures announced today [18 June] to protect young people and non-smokers from the marketing of highly-addictive and enticingly flavoured vaping products.

“The new limits on the amount of nicotine that is permitted in vaping liquids will protect many young people from addiction. This measure will be in place in a matter of weeks and urgently required. Vaping products are highly addictive: for every eight young Canadians who vape even once, one has become a daily user. Capping nicotine concentration at 20 mg/ml will align Canada’s health regulations with those in the European Union and other countries whose experience of youth vaping has been less severe than countries, like Canada and the United States, where higher levels have been allowed.

“…As welcome as today’s announcements are, the new regulations are only band-aid solutions. They do not address the underlying problems of the tobacco market or the structural weaknesses of the federal law.

“The 2018 Tobacco and Vaping Products Act has proven inadequate both at protecting young people and at reducing harm to smokers. This law was based on the dangerous and incorrect assumption that harm reduction could be achieved by giving nicotine companies more marketing power in a liberalized commercial vaping market instead of requiring them to end the sale of their most harmful products.”

READ MORE

Yarning it up, don’t smoke it up – 10-year celebration

The Yarning it Up-Don’t Smoke it Up team celebrated their 10-year anniversary on Wednesday 16 June.

On the banks of the Derbal Yirrigan (Swan River), the team celebrated their anniversary with a welcome to country performed in the traditional Noongar Language by respected Noongar Elder Elizabeth Hayden. This set the scene for everyone to be taken back in time with traditional dances and entertainment performed by the recognised Aboriginal dance group Wadumbah Aboriginal Dance Group.

The program is aimed at reducing tobacco smoking in the Aboriginal Community. Yarning it up-Don’t Smoke it up is designed to increase knowledge within the Aboriginal communities of the harms related to smoking and the links to chronic disease.

“The development of the program was directed by the community for the community, with aims to empower and equip individuals with the tools they require to understand and to make positive changes to own their decisions.” says Lorraine Woods, who developed the program with Robert Morrison.

Joel Gurr, the Executive Director of East Metropolitan Health Service also provided some startling statistics, highlighting that Aboriginal people are almost 3 times more likely to smoke compared to non-Aboriginal Australians, and that smoking is the number one preventable cause of death in the Aboriginal community.

Yarning it up – Don’t Smoke it up has proven to be a successful program. Since it started 10 years ago, the proportion of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people who smoke having fallen almost 10%, with the team playing an important role in this reduction of smoking rates.

Congratulations to the Yarning it up – Don’t’ Smoke it up team for their amazing work!

Tweet of the week

“Children vaping is not due to “peer pressure.” It is squarely on the shoulders of the vaping industry that shamelessly promotes its products and the government that allows this unfettered marketing and sales to continue,” said Associate Professor Becky Freeman, University of Sydney.
READ MORE

Tobacco control news

Teens vaping a problem for almost half of central Auckland primary and intermediate schools – NZ Herald

D.C. Council votes to ban sale of flavored tobacco, including menthol cigarettes – The Washington Post

Breakthroughs in Ending Unacceptable Practice of Child Labor Require Industries Such As Tobacco To Be Held Accountable – exposetobacco.org

5 Key Takeaways from the ‘Tobacco Industry and Child Labor’ Webinar – exposetobacco.org

Birth-cohort estimates of smoking initiation and prevalence in 20th century Australia: Synthesis of data from 33 surveys and 385,810 participants – PLOS ONE

The consequential impact of JUUL on youth vaping and the landscape of tobacco products: The state of play in the COVID-19 era – Prev Med Rep