ACOSH Advocacy in Action - 16 April


Welcome to the latest edition of the ACOSH Advocacy in Action e-bulletin for 2020. 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.


Dear subscribers to the ACOSH Advocacy in Action e-bulletin – Please keep safe during this challenging period for public health.

Graphic attached reproduced with the kind permission of AMA WA.


Teen smokers less likely to give up the habit as adults, study finds

“The study, published in the Journal of the American Heart Association, drew on information from more than 6,600 people from the United States, Australia and Finland.

“It looked at their experiences of smoking between the ages of 6 to 19, during their 20s and their 40s. The study said the prevalence of smoking during adolescence and adulthood was similar among US, Finnish and Australian participants in the study.

“The younger people were when they started smoking, the more likely they were to be smoking daily in their 20s and less likely to have quit by their 40s, the research found.

• For those who first tried smoking at ages 18-19,     just 8% still smoked daily in their 20s.
• For those who first tried smoking at ages 15-17,     33% were still smoking daily in their 20s.
• For those who first tried smoking at ages 13-14,     48% were still smoking daily in their 20s.
• For those who first tried smoking at ages 6-12,       50% were still smoking daily in their 20s.

“Even children who only experimented with smoking a few cigarettes were more likely to end up smoking daily as an adult.”



New Zealand: Smokers turned off by plain packs, survey shows

“Plain packaging is making tobacco products less appealing and warning labels more noticeable, researchers at the University of Otago, Wellington, have found.

“The Health Research Council-funded study is the first evaluation of New Zealand’s standardised packaging law.

“The International Tobacco Control Policy Evaluation (ITC) New Zealand Project surveyed 910 (2016-17) and 726 (2018) smokers, more than 300 of whom identified as Māori. Participants were recruited from the nationally representative New Zealand Health Survey and were asked about their reactions to cigarette and roll-your-own packaging in the year before the introduction of plain packaging, and again immediately after implementation.

“The proportion of smokers who did not like the look of their pack increased from 50 per cent to 75 per cent, and the proportion who noticed the warning labels first when looking at their pack instead of other aspects of the pack – such as branding – doubled from 24 per cent to 48 per cent.”

See also
Evaluation Report



Push to curb smoking in strata properties

“The Australian Council on Smoking and Health (ACOSH) is urging the State Government to make it easier for body corporates to ban smoking in strata properties amid expectation that second-hand smoke complaints will increase as the COVID-19 outbreak forces people to work from home.

“ACOSH Chief Executive Maurice Swanson said the council was now focused on helping body-corporates forbid smoking in strata properties, which he said was a complicated process.

“Although it is usually possible and lawful for the owners’ corporation, also called body-corporate, to add a non-smoking bylaw, there are several barriers,” he said.

“Awareness is low, the procedure is complex and legal advice may be needed to prepare a bylaw that is valid and enforceable.

“Very few strata properties in Western Australia have implemented comprehensive bylaws to control smoking.

“Some have bylaws that prohibit smoking in common areas, however, ACOSH is receiving an increasing number of calls from strata residents for assistance and advice on how to achieve bylaws to control smoke drift.

“These calls are likely to increase over the coming weeks because of people being asked to work from home and stay at home in response to the COVID-19 pandemic.”



Unsmoke is a Joke: a 12-Month Look at the Campaign from Philip Morris International

“The Year of Unsmoke is a Philip Morris International campaign that launched in April 2019. The campaign touts PMI’s commitment to creating a “smoke-free future.”

“Since the campaign’s launch, STOP [Stopping Tobacco Organizations & Products] has documented PMI’s activity each month. What we found shows that PMI is still fundamentally a company that sells cigarettes and profits from the tobacco epidemic. Get more details.

“A critical look at the past year makes Philip Morris International’s Year of Unsmoke campaign completely laughable. The problem is that, while it markets itself as part of the solution, the tobacco industry remains the biggest barrier to reducing tobacco-related deaths.”



The World Pushes Back Against E-Cigarettes and Juul

“When the big American tobacco companies started feeling pressure decades ago, they found new markets and friendlier regulation abroad. Juul’s efforts to follow the same playbook have been stunningly unsuccessful.

“The company has been met with ferocious anti-vaping sentiment and a barrage of newly enacted e-cigarette restrictions, or outright bans, in country after country. As a result, its ambitious overseas plans have collapsed.”



U.S. sues to force Altria to unwind investment in Juul

“WASHINGTON (Reuters) – The U.S. Federal Trade Commission said on Wednesday it had filed a complaint aimed at forcing Marlboro maker Altria Group to sell its investment in e-cigarette maker Juul Labs Inc.

“The FTC has probed Altria’s decision to buy a 35% stake in Juul, announced in December 2018, for $12.8 billion. The value of the investment has dwindled to $4.2 billion, following a series of writedowns last year, as Juul faced litigation and heightened regulatory scrutiny over its contribution to a surge in teenage vaping.”



Japan’s ban on smoking inside restaurants and bars takes effect

“TOKYO — People will no longer be allowed to smoke in most restaurants and bars in Japan starting Wednesday [1 April], according to the Ministry of Health, Labour and Welfare.

“The ban, which includes heated tobacco like cigarettes and cigars but not e-cigarettes, protects people “who want to avoid getting exposed to secondhand tobacco smoke,” according to a health ministry document explaining the law.

“It’s part of a revised Health Promotion Law passed in 2018. It applies to all restaurants and bars across Japan but exempts establishments that sell tobacco, such as cigar bars, and some small bars and restaurants that meet conditions set by the law.”



The tobacco industry in the time of COVID-19: time to shut it down?

The latest Tobacco Control Editorial by Marita Hefler and Coral Gartner argues that the tobacco industry should not survive through and beyond the COVID-19 pandemic.

“The contradiction between shutting down to protect the community from a deadly virus, while minimising disruption to continue to produce the most lethal consumer product in history, is farcical. However, it raises a serious question: why should the tobacco industry continue during a pandemic which is fundamentally changing the world?”

“… The fact that the tobacco epidemic curve is only partially flattened (in some countries) is widely accepted because the cigarette pandemic has been with us for so long, and the tobacco industry has been extraordinarily successful at conditioning the public and policymakers to accept it as a given. If governments had acted to protect the public from tobacco with a fraction of the effort (and financial investment) they have exerted to control this coronavirus, many millions of lives could have been saved, and underlying demand on health services significantly reduced.”



WHO warns on tobacco industry role in vaccine

“The World Health Organisation has warned governments about engaging with the tobacco industry over the development of coronavirus vaccines.

“British American Tobacco, whose cigarette brands include Lucky Stripe and Dunhill, said this month that it had made a breakthrough in developing a potential plant-based vaccine candidate for COVID-19.

“However, vaccines from Big Tobacco would pose a dilemma for public health officials and governments. Under the WHO’s framework convention on tobacco control, members are restricted in dealing with the industry.

“The global health body said that “partnership with the tobacco industry undermines governments’ credibility in protecting population health as there is ‘a fundamental and irreconcilable conflict between the tobacco industry’s interests and public health policy interests’.”

“It said that countries including Britain that had ratified the framework in 2004 “should take steps to prevent any interference by the tobacco industry”.

“It also said that the tobacco industry was trying to be “part of the solution, proposing support and donations” to countries to improve its corporate image by showing “social responsibility to the population, media and decision makers”, with governments “struggling with a lack of resources and limited supplies of medical equipment during the COVID-19 pandemic”.”



Experts Urge Smokers and Tobacco Firms to Quit for COVID-19

“Health experts on Monday urged smokers to quit and cigarette companies to stop producing and selling tobacco products to help reduce the risks from COVID-19.

“The best thing the tobacco industry can do to fight COVID-19 is to immediately stop producing, marketing and selling tobacco,” Gan Quan, a public health specialist and a director at the International Union Against Tuberculosis and Lung Disease, said in a statement.

“The group, which links international respiratory and lung specialists, officials and health agencies, said it is “deeply concerned” about COVID-19’s impact on the world’s 1.3 billion smokers, in particular those in poorer countries whose health systems are already overburdened.”



Why experts say people who smoke fare worse if they get COVID-19

“Smoking can also cause or contribute to the development of health conditions, such as cardiovascular disease, that appear to be associated with a worse outcome in the current pandemic.

“You are about twice as likely to have severe COVID disease if you are a current or past smoker compared to someone who has never smoked,” said Matthew Peters, head of respiratory medicine at Sydney’s Concord Hospital.

“He has based this conclusion on preliminary data from China and some as-yet-unpublished data from Italy he has seen.

“There is also what we already know about how respiratory illnesses affect those with chronic lung disease caused by smoking, such as chronic pulmonary obstructive disorder (COPD).”



Cochrane Library: Coronavirus (COVID-19) effective options for quitting smoking during the pandemic

“This Special Collection includes Cochrane Reviews on the following topics: medication; behavioural support; and gradual quitting.

“Tobacco smoking is known to be a risk factor for acute respiratory infections. The World Health Organization has also identified it as a specific risk factor for Covid-19. In addition, we know that second-hand smoke increases the risk of acute respiratory infections. The World Health Organization urges people to stop smoking tobacco to minimize the risks associated with the current coronavirus pandemic in both people who smoke and those exposed to second-hand smoke.”



COVID-19 and smoking: resources, research and news

Tobacco Control’s News Editor, Marita Hefler, has compiled a comprehensive blog on tobacco and COVID-19. It brings together a range of up-to-date information including research, WHO updates, quit support and info, media reports, tobacco industry responses and actions, specifically about COVID-19 and smoking/tobacco. This page is being updated regularly as additional resources are published.


Tweet of the Week

“Reduce the risk. STOP smoking. Please. If I had my way I’d ban smoking now and enhance nicotine withdrawal support. Even a small benefit in the age of COVID could translate into a big public health effect,” said Professor Nick Talley, MJA Editor in Chief.


From the archives: ACOSH advocacy to remove tobacco sponsorship of sport

In the 1980s, the tobacco industry continued to ruthlessly exploit the loophole in the Broadcasting and Television Act that allowed the promotion of cigarette brands during the broadcasting of sporting events if those images were “incidental or accidental” to the television coverage of those events.

During the broadcast of a one day cricket match, Australia v England, on 11 February 1987 the total playing time on television was 320 minutes, and cigarette advertisements were visible for 103 minutes, being shown on 1143 separate occasions.

In 1988, ACOSH chartered a plane to tow a message around the WACA ground for the Benson and Hedges Worlds Series Cup cricket match between Australia and NZ on 3 February 1988. Two hours of exposure of the sign “Smokers are Dying to Bring you the Cricket”, cost $390.00.

Tobacco Control News

Cancer Council WA offers $5000 quit smoking aids to homeless hotel guests – Cancer Council WA

BAT South Africa urges government to lift cigarette sale ban – Reuters

More young people vaping, despite growing evidence of risks – The Conversation

British American Tobacco under criminal probe by U.S. regulators: The Times – Reuters

One of Juul’s Co-Inventors Is Leaving the Company – Bloomberg

Now’s the time to quit smoking: It could increase your odds of beating Covid-19 – CNN Health

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