ACOSH Advocacy in Action - 17 June 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.
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The work of ACOSH is generously supported by Healthway and Lotterywest.

Vaping among students no safer than smoking cigarettes, say health experts

“Getting a high-nicotine blast from an electronic cigarette or “vape” is as easy as going to the toilets during lunch, school students say, as experts warn there is no evidence the flashy, brightly-coloured tubes are healthier than smoking cigarettes.

“The vape black market is so sophisticated that some schoolyard sellers even accept bank cards, or use apps to ­instantly transfer cash for sales between students, in clandestine deals carried out in toilet blocks during school lunch breaks.”

“The revelations from students come after a senior schoolboy at Waverley College (NSW) was suspended for allegedly heading a “pyramid scheme” using fellow kids to offload the vapes to students throughout the eastern suburbs.

Australian Council on Smoking and Health director Maurice Swanson explained that those turning to long-term vaping as a healthier alternative were being misled because most commonly available disposable vapes contained nicotine but did not say so on packaging.

“The impact on quitting smoking is very weak,” Mr Swanson said.

“One disposable vape pod has the nicotine equivalent of 20-25 cigarettes.

“Mr Swanson said the most concerning risk was that non-smokers were using vapes and getting hooked on nicotine unknowingly.

“Apart from the nicotine, you’re also inhaling the breakdown products of the device as it’s heated,” he said.

“You are also absorbing flavours. Not a single (vape) flavour in the world has been approved as safe. The TGA would never approve a butterscotch flavoured asthma inhaler and the reason is because no health authority in the world would approve them to do so.

“Kids who’ve never smoked, who start vaping, their risk of becoming lifelong smokers is three to four times if they vaped beforehand ­because they get hooked on nicotine and then they graduate from vaping to smoking.”



Perth private school bans vaping amid rise in e-cigarette use

“The Principal at one of Perth’s most prestigious private schools has issued a warning to parents about students using e-cigarettes.

“The Alcohol and Drug Foundation has found 14 per cent of children aged 12 to 17 have tried vaping.

“Scotch College headmaster Dr Alec O’Connell told Liam Bartlett he is hoping to prevent the trend from taking hold in his school.

“I’m just worried that it is being played down a little bit, as if it is a lot safer than smoking, is it just going to become the next addiction?’ he said.

“A letter has been issued to parents of Scotch College students, warning them about the worrying trend.

“It’s simple if you bring apparatuses or bring the materials on to the college grounds, in my views you are choosing to put our community at risk.

“My message is very simple, school is not a place to be vaping.”

See also
Aquinas College installs vape detectors in toilets in response to rise of e-cigarette use – The West Australian



Doctor runs experiment to show how easily kids can buy vapes online

“One of Australia’s top respiratory doctors has run an experiment to show how easy it is for children to buy vapes, also known as electronic cigarettes.

“One in five teens are estimated to be using the devices, which are designed to help smokers quit cigarettes.

“Matthew Peters, Head of Respiratory Medicine at Concord Hospital, warned vapes could have the opposite effect for non-smokers.

“Nicotine is toxic, it’s addictive,” Professor Peters told Today, explaining vapes with nicotine can easily be bought on Facebook Marketplace and convenience stores.

“As an experiment this morning I went on Facebook Marketplace, I typed in ‘fruit’ – the second item was for $14.

“I could buy a disposable vaping device, that packs the punch of six packets of cigarettes, something that would cost kids $300 plus, they can buy online very easily for $14.”



Public education campaigns to discourage smoking: the Australian experience

“Figure 14.3.2 (left) shows federal government expenditure on anti-smoking campaigns from the 2010-11 financial year to 2019-2020, adjusted for inflation to $2018. This expenditure includes all campaigns for which total expenditure exceeded $250,000, including television, radio, print and cinema, among other channels.

“Australian government expenditure on anti-smoking campaigns was almost $36 million in 2010-11 and $31 million in 2012-13. Expenditure then fell by more than 80% in 2013-14 and has remained at $10 million or less annually to 2017-18.

“Annual federal expenditure on anti-smoking campaigns in 2017-18 was one-fifth of that in 2010-11.” – Tobacco in Australia Facts and Issues.

The Australian Medical Association and Australian Council on Smoking and Health recently called for the federal government to drive a stronger comprehensive national program.

“The most effective measure the federal government could take is to run a new hard-hitting national mass-media, anti-smoking campaign during this parliamentary term,” said Dr Omar Khorshid, AMA President.

“We are calling on the Health Minister Greg Hunt to spend $20 million in funding which has been set aside to revive Australia’s highly effective National Tobacco Campaign. It’s a tiny portion of the projected revenue of $15.06 billion dollars which will go to the federal government from tobacco excise this financial year.”



Killer complacency: need to address COVID blip as smokers quit quitting during lockdown

“Every single one of the deaths due to COVID has been a tragedy. So, too, has every single one of the 40 Australians who die every single day because of the tobacco industry.

“A failure to invest the relatively tiny amount of $40 million per annum to run adequately funded mass media campaigns is not only a far from proportionate response to the tobacco epidemic it’s a complacency that is killing more Australians every year than COVID ever will,” said Dr Sarah White, Director Quit Victoria.



Big Tobacco is exploiting the COVID-19 pandemic to undermine tobacco control policy

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 briefs have been developed into a new tobacco and COVID-19 monitoring database, which features information on the Tobacco Industry during the COVID-19 crisis.



Four ways the tobacco industry is attempting to rebrand itself

“As tobacco companies roll out e-cigarettes and other non-combustible products, they are trying to transform their image with claims that they can be part of the “public health solution” to end smoking. The tobacco industry is making these claims while at the same time putting a new generation at risk of nicotine addiction – one in five high school students used e-cigarettes in 2020 – and continuing to sell cigarettes, which remain the country’s leading cause of preventable death.”

“Truth Initiative hosted a virtual discussion with leading experts – “Not Buying It: The Tobacco Industry’s Rebrand” – to break down companies’ tactics to remake their reputation and the conflict of interest between the tobacco industry and public health. Here are some of the tobacco industry strategies that were discussed.”

1. Positioning itself as working alongside public health

2. Infiltrating research and scientific publishing

3. Presenting themselves as good corporate citizens

4. Cultivating influence with non-profits and public leaders



Recent developments in the Canadian vaping market

“Over the past few months, federal proposals to restrict the types of vaping products that can be sold in Canada have become the target of industry-funded campaigns.

“The Canadian Vaping Association (CVA), which represents specialty vape shops, has focused on opposing restrictions on flavours. Through its mobilization web-site, it has arranged for about 100,000 indivduals to send emails to members of parliament — that’s about 1 in 10 of all adult vapers in Canada. This was a lobbying season, and the CVA was the most active federal lobbyist group this April. Meanwhile, the Vaping Industry Trade Association (VITA), which represents vaping manufacturers and convenience stores, has focused on mobilizing opposition to limits on the amount of nicotine that can be put in vaping liquids.

“The impact of these campaigns will be known later this spring, when the government does (or does not) finalize its plans to put a ceiling of 20 mg/ml of nicotine in vaping liquids, or introduce proposed regulations to restrict flavours.

“This post reports on some recent activities and decisions of vaping manufacturers.”



Trends in e-cigarette brands, devices and the nicotine profile of products used by youth in England, Canada and the USA: 2017–2019

Results In 2019, the use of pod- or cartridge-style e-cigarettes was greater in Canada and the USA than England, with Smok and JUUL the leading brands in all countries. In 2019, youth vapers in England were less likely to report using e-cigarettes with ≥2% nicotine (12.8%) compared with Canada (40.5%; adjusted OR (AOR)=4.96; 95% CI 3.51 to 7.01) and the USA (37.0%; AOR=3.99, 95% CI 2.79 to 5.71) and less likely to report using nicotine salt-based products (12.3%) compared with Canada (27.1%; AOR=2.77, 95% CI 1.93 to 3.99) and the USA (21.9%; AOR=2.00, 95% CI 1.36 to 2.95). In 2019, self-reported use of products with higher nicotine concentration was associated with significantly greater frequency of vaping, urges to vape and perceived vaping addiction (p<0.05 for all).

Conclusions The use of high-nicotine salt-based products is associated with greater symptoms of dependence, including JUUL and other higher-nicotine brands. Greater use of high-nicotine salt-based products may account for recent increases in the frequency of vaping among youth in Canada and the USA.”



‘Ice’ flavoured e-cig use may be linked to nicotine dependence among the young

“The use of ‘ice’ flavoured e-cigarettes may be common and positively associated with conventional smoking and nicotine dependence among young adults, suggests research published online in the journal Tobacco Control.

“And it’s unclear where these’ hybrid’ vapes, combining fruit/sweet and cooling flavours, fit into current or future regulatory frameworks, which apply restrictions according to distinct flavour categories, point out the study authors.

“‘Ice’ flavoured e-cigarettes–marketed as a combination of fruity/sweet and cooling flavours, such as ‘blueberry ice’ or ‘melon ice’–recently entered the US market. Previous research suggests that young adult vapers prefer either fruit/sweet or menthol/mint flavours.”



Plan for ‘smoking kills’ warnings on UK cigarettes

“Bold plans to place ‘smoking kills’ warnings on individual cigarettes are set to be unveiled in the UK this week.

“Deadly warnings including “you don’t need me anymore” would be printed in red on individual cigarettes, reminding smokers of the dangers every time they light up.

“A bill will be introduced to the UK parliament this week and could become law.”



Smoking ban credited for 74% drop in heart attacks in Scotland

“Heart attacks have fallen by 74% in Scotland as a direct result of smoking rates more than halving and improvements in blood pressure and cholesterol levels, a landmark study found.

“The smoking ban and increased uptake of cholesterol testing and statin drugs are said to have contributed to a dramatic reduction in the incidence of Scotland’s biggest killer over the past 25 years.

“Researchers said the figures equated to 42,000 heart attacks being prevented or delayed. The number of strokes fell by 68% over the same period.

“Scotland was the first country in the UK to introduce a ban on smoking in public places in 2006 under Labour’s Jack McConnell. Only the Tories voted against the ban.”



Tweet of the week

“Coles seems concerned about hormones in beef but relaxed about continuing to sell cigarettes the world’s most lethal consumer product killing over 20,000 Aussies every year,” said Maurice Swanson, ACOSH Chief Executive.


Tobacco control news

Evidence of cushioning of tobacco tax increases in large retailers in Australia – Tobacco Control Journal

Where there’s smoke, there’s call for crackdown on cigarettes in units – Brisbane Times

How tobacco companies are drawing in vapers – The Daily Telegraph

Juul: less than half of e-cigarette trial outcomes were properly reported or declared, study finds – The BMJ

To End Child Labour, the UN Must Cut Ties with Tobacco Industry – Health Policy Watch

E-cigarette manufacturers’ compliance with clinical trial reporting expectations: a case series of registered trials by Juul Labs – Tobacco Control Journal