ACOSH Advocacy in Action - 2 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.

From the archives: Thirty years since the 7th World Conference on Tobacco or Health 1990

April 1 marks thirty years since the Seventh World Conference on Tobacco or Health held in Perth in 1990 (April 1 – 5).

“This is an anniversary worth remembering and celebrating.

The COVID-19 pandemic is a powerful reminder of how tenuous our hold on life and employment can be but the reduction in smoking rates across many countries since 1990 has saved millions of lives globally and continues to do so.

That is a major achievement by all who have been resolutely involved in this difficult journey.

The early evidence is also suggesting that those who are non-smokers do have a better chance of survival if they do contract this highly infectious virus and become ill,” said Professor Kingsley Faulkner AM, ACOSH President.

Stop the presses! Smoking & COVID-19

“We all know COVID-19 affects the lungs, and that lung function is affected by smoking.  Importantly also we know that smokers have less elastic lungs which means that they might be more at risk if they get severe disease. Surprisingly, there have been only five studies to date, all from China, on how smoking relates to risk of COVID-19.  The largest of these looked at just over 1000 patients.

Thanks to all the COVID Symptom trackers, we now have data on 1.5 million people from all over the UK.  In this data, smoking significantly increases the risk of self-diagnosed COVID-19 given classical symptoms (fever and persistent cough) by about 26%.  Other studies indicate the risk of severe disease is probably even higher.”



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.


COVID-19 and smoking: A systematic review of the evidence

“We identified five studies that reported data on the smoking status of patients infected with COVID-19. Notably, in the largest study that assessed severity, there were higher percentages of current and former smokers among patients that needed ICU support, mechanical ventilation or who had died, and a higher percentage of smokers among the severe cases. However, from their published data we can calculate that the smokers were 1.4 times more likely (RR=1.4, 95% CI: 0.98–2.00) to have severe symptoms of COVID-19 and approximately 2.4 times more likely to be admitted to an ICU, need mechanical ventilation or die compared to non-smokers (RR=2.4, 95% CI: 1.43–4.04).

In conclusion, although further research is warranted as the weight of the evidence increases, with the limited available data, and although the above results are unadjusted for other factors that may impact disease progression, smoking is most likely associated with the negative progression and adverse outcomes of COVID-19.”



Imperial Brands and British American Tobacco sign deals for new credit

Imperial Brands and British American Tobacco (BAT) have announced deals for new credit but say the pandemic has had little material effect on business.

“This is another example of how Big Tobacco has its foot flat to the floor promoting and marketing the most lethal consumer product in the world,” said Maurice Swanson, ACOSH Chief Executive.



JTI unveils alternative tobacco products ahead of menthol ban

“Japan Tobacco International (JTI) has launched a range of alternative products, available from 20 May 2020 when the menthol ban will be implemented [in the European Union].

“Stephane Berset, JTI’s marketing vice president, said: “The upcoming menthol and capsule cigarette ban will mean that adult smokers will be looking for a range of new alternatives.

“Therefore, we’ve worked to evolve our portfolio to cater to these needs with a raft of pack and filter innovations, distinctive new blends and unique taste alternatives, so adult smokers can continue to choose quality tobacco products they know and trust.”

Yet another example of Big Tobacco finding its way around regulations through product engineering.



Public Health England paid group linked to Big Tobacco

“Doctors have criticised the organisation responsible for protecting the nation’s health over its work with a vaping pressure group that is itself linked to the world’s largest multinational tobacco company.

Public Health England paid £40,000 for a series of YouTube videos co-produced by the New Nicotine Alliance (NNA) and held numerous meetings with the group, despite its ties to Philip Morris International, an investigation by the Bureau has revealed.

A strict international treaty, to which the UK is a signatory, severely limits contact between tobacco companies and ministers and public health officials, but the rules do not apply to the NNA, which says it campaigns for alternatives to cigarettes in order to protect public health.”



Big Tobacco criticised for ‘coronavirus publicity stunt’ after donating ventilators

“Philip Morris International, the world’s largest multinational tobacco company, has been accused of a “shameful publicity stunt” by a leading campaigner after it donated ventilators to the Greek government as coronavirus infections mount in the country.

A PMI executive said that the company’s Greek affiliate Papastratos had sourced and paid for the ventilators in order to help “flatten the curve”. Stavros Drakoularakos, PMI’s director of communications for Greece, tweeted the news and said he was “sky-high proud” of the move and described it as “proof of what sheer will and collaboration between all can achieve”.”



The hazards of smoking and the benefits of cessation: a critical summation of the epidemiological evidence in high-income countries

“In high-income countries, the biggest cause of premature death, defined as death before 70 years, is smoking of manufactured cigarettes. Smoking-related disease was responsible for about 41 million deaths in the United States, United Kingdom and Canada, cumulatively, from 1960 to 2020.

Every million cigarettes smoked leads to one death in the US and Canada, but slightly more than one death in the UK. The 21st century hazards reveal that smokers who start smoking early in adult life and do not quit lose a decade of life expectancy versus non-smokers.

Cessation, particularly before age 40 years, yields large reductions in mortality risk. Up to two-thirds of deaths among smokers are avoidable at non-smoking death rates, and former smokers have about only a quarter of the excess risk of death compared to current smokers. The gap between scientific and popular understanding of smoking hazards is surprisingly large.”



Tweet of the week

“We prefer to take out chance with cholera and the rest than be bullied into health. There is nothing a man hates so much as being cleansed against his will, or having his floors swept, his walls whitewashed, his pet dung heaps cleared away, or his thatch forced to give way to slate, all at the command of a sort of sanitary bombaliff.” 
The Times Editorial, 1848

“What an annus horribilus the right must be having with #COVID19 controls: conservative gvts max regulating business + personal/social behaviours,facilitating decent social wages, talking compassionately about society & community. Imagine if @theIPA were in charge!” said Emeritus Professor Simon Chapman AO.


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