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ACOSH Advocacy in Action - 11 February 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. Please forward to others who may be interested.
Thank you for your support.

The work of ACOSH is generously supported by Healthway and Lotterywest.

30th anniversary of Australian legal ruling on second-hand smoke

Thirty years ago, working in an office where people smoked, eating at a café where people smoked at the next table and being surrounded by people smoking at the footy was common.

In Australia, all this changed after Federal Court Justice Trevor Morling handed down a judgment on 7 Feb 1991, finding that second-hand smoke causes lung cancer in non-smokers and asthma attacks, as well as respiratory disease in children.

The case was the Australian Federation of Consumer Organisations Inc (AFCO) versus the Tobacco Institute of Australia Limited (TIA).

“The decision was the first of its kind by a superior court anywhere in the world” noted Professor Peter Le Souëf (Professor of Paediatrics, University of Western Australia).

“The success of this collaboration between medical experts and lawyers to counteract the efforts of the tobacco industry to deny scientific evidence was one of the most important milestones in the history of reducing rates of smoking” said Professor Le Souëf.

Professor Le Souëf was the first witness in the court case providing expert testimony on the damage to children’s health from exposure to second-hand smoke. The 30th anniversary of the decision is acknowledged this week in an essay in the UK medical journal The Lancet written by Neil Francey who acted as Counsel for AFCO throughout the legal proceedings.

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Bulletin of the World Health Organization: Smoking and epidemics of respiratory infections

“The causative role of smoking in respiratory infectious disease has been well documented in reports of the United States Surgeon General, but remains underappreciated because the main focus of the health community is on the long-term effects of smoking on chronic diseases. Global estimates from 2017 suggest that among adults aged 35–74 years, there were about 490 million incident cases and 1.34 million deaths due to infectious respiratory diseases.

“Of these, 22.5% (approximately 300 000 deaths) were attributed to smoking. This century we have seen pandemics of Middle East respiratory syndrome (MERS), severe acute respiratory syndrome (SARS), H1N1 influenza virus and now coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19). By October 2020, COVID-19 had caused over a million deaths, already accounting for 2% of all-cause global mortality. These respiratory pandemics will add to the 1 billion deaths expected to occur from smoking this century if current smoking trends persist.”

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COVID-19 Monitoring Brief: The tobacco industry, its interests and allies

STOP (Stopping Tobacco Organizations and Products) has been producing a regular COVID-19 Monitoring Brief detailing the trends and patterns of tobacco industry behaviour during the COVID-19 pandemic. These documents cover corporate social responsibility, policy interference, legal challenges, tobacco worker neglect, influencing the science of smoking/COVID-19, brand marketing and more. You can find these briefings in the resources section.

Edition 12: November/December/January

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World Cancer Day 2021: Prevention, awareness and accountability in tobacco control

“On 4 February 2021, we celebrate the 21st anniversary of World Cancer Day. This day has always been the occasion to offer a message of hope for cancer patients and survivors, particularly this year, thanks to the development of vaccines and the relief they will bring to health systems and those working on the frontlines. The pandemic period is not over, and we will pay the consequences for the next years, but we have now turned a corner and we now know that governments must invest in health systems, in supporting health workers and in the programmes and policies that promote health.

“The pandemic has shown us how health is fundamental to human security. We must plan ahead and use the momentum generated by the pandemic to address health concerns and invest in prevention strategies that can reduce the burden of non-communicable diseases in particular, a key strategy being strong tobacco control.”

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Addressing industry profits as part of tobacco control

“Given the harm caused by tobacco products, most countries apply excise taxes in order to increase their retail price and hence encourage existing users to quit and discourage others from starting. The World Health Organization (WHO) suggests such taxes should be at least 75% of the retail price of tobacco, so you would be forgiven for thinking that left very little room for tobacco companies to earn that much profit.

“In actual fact, manufacturing tobacco products is inordinately profitable despite high taxes. Such high profits are addictive, much like the cigarettes that generate them, so it isn’t surprising that tobacco companies want to maintain business as usual in their tobacco markets so that they can continue selling their cigarettes and generating these profits. Targeting the profitability of the tobacco industry should therefore be one of the tobacco control measures that countries consider as they look to avoid the millions of global deaths caused by smoking each year.”

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Identifying tobacco retailers in the absence of a licensing system: lessons from Australia

“A La Trobe University study found almost half of the retailers selling tobacco products in a regional Victorian Local Government Area were likely operating with no formal government oversight.

“The research team, headed by La Trobe PhD Candidate John Baker, identified 125 tobacco retailers in the Victorian Local Government Area, but found that nearly half (43.2 per cent) of these retailers were deemed as ‘unknown’ to local government authorities, and were therefore potentially operating without any formal oversight.

“Mr Baker said the report shows an alarming lack of government regulation of the retail availability of tobacco products in Victoria, despite previous estimates suggesting approximately 8000 tobacco retailers operate within the state.

“It was worrying to see how many tobacco retailers were considered ‘unknown’ by local government,” Mr Baker said.

“If we don’t have an accurate record of who is selling tobacco products, we can’t enforce public health measures and more importantly, we can’t monitor those retailers who are selling tobacco products illegally, or who are supporting the illicit tobacco trade,” he said.

“Dr Sarah White, director of Quit Victoria says the study highlights the need for a state-wide licensing system to ensure both state and local governments know exactly who is selling tobacco and e-cigarette products.”

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BAT targets Canadian vaping market with higher nicotine and more flavours

“This post reports on our recent review of BAT’s vapour product offerings in the 18 other countries in which it operates a country-specific web-site.

“From an inventory of the different devices and liquids they sell, it is apparent that BAT sells higher nicotine concentrations in Canada than it does in most other countries and that BAT sells more flavours for its high-nicotine ePOD device in Canada than it does in any other country.

“Low-nicotine devices are gone. High nicotine device remains

“Last week Imperial Tobacco Canada (BAT) sent an e-mail informing its Canadian clients that it was withdrawing the ePEN device and that the EPOD was their only remaining vaping product in this country.

“Over the past 31 months, BAT has introduced 4 vaping products into Canada and has withdrawn 3 – the eStick, the eTank and the ePen.

“The devices they pulled from the market are those which were designed to use lower-concentration nicotine liquids.

“The device they continue to sell is the one designed to be used with higher-nicotine (salted) liquids, which was introduced by BAT in January 2019 as a competitor to JUUL.

“This device, notably, is reported by BAT to now be the market leader, with 40% market share by value.”

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Tobacco Tactics: Racism and the Tobacco Industry

“In 2016, tobacco companies were faced with a new law in the UK which would force them to introduce plain packaging on their products. The industry reacted furiously. Front groups sent letters, bogus reports were commissioned and a legal action was launched. How could they be treated like this, wailed the lawyers for British American Tobacco. And if plain packaging was going to happen, then they wanted compensation. The precedent they drew upon was the compensation paid to slave owners by the British government after the abolition act of 1833. The tobacco companies asserted the brands were their property and wanted recompense – just as slave owners had been given. It was an argument dismissed by the court and an ironic one at that.

“It was also an unwitting reminder by tobacco companies of their deep and troubling ties to slavery. The vital role slavery played in establishing the wealth of the sector is well-understood, though not if you look on tobacco company websites.”

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It’s About a Billion Lives Annual Symposium

To watch the archived symposium, click here

Keynote Speaker, Stanton A. Glantz, PhD, Professor of Medicine (Retired), Founding Director, Center for Tobacco Control and Education, presents: “Half a century later it is still about social acceptability”

• “Smoking and E-cigarette Use among San Francisco Priority Populations,” Arturo Durazo, PhD, Postdoctoral Fellow, Center for Tobacco Control Research and Education

• “Smoking, Vaping and Acute Lung Injury,” Michael Matthay, MD, Professor and Associate Director, Critical Care Medicine, UCSF, UCSF Pulmonary, Critical Care, Allergy and Sleep Medicine

• “In Tech We Trust?: Peer-generated information about vaping nicotine and cannabis in digital spaces,” Meredith Meacham, PhD, MPH, Assistant Professor, UCSF Department of Psychiatry and Behavioral Sciences

• “E-cigarette Policy and Social Media Discussions in China,” Joanne Lyu, PhD, Postdoctoral Fellow, Center for Tobacco Control Research and Education

Closing Remarks, Alan Ashworth, PhD, FRS, President, UCSF Helen Diller Family Comprehensive Cancer Center

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Tweet of the week

“AEC donations data day! A great moment confirm that the National Party is still taking tobacco money in 2019-20!” said Ariel Bogel (@arielbogle)
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Tobacco Control News

Scientists discover link between nicotine and breast cancer metastasis – Medical Xpress

How Tobacco Giant Altria Is Becoming A Cannabis Company – Forbes

To protect Black lives, ban menthol tobacco products – Star Tribune

How Juul’s Valuation Went Up in Smoke – Wall Street Journal Digital Network

Online retail promotion of e‐cigarettes in New Zealand: A content analysis of e‐cigarette retailers in a regulatory void – Health Promotion Journal of Australia

Robinson: Lessons from the smoking epidemic apply to COVID-19 too – Ottawa Citizen