ACOSH Advocacy in Action - 31 October

Welcome to the latest edition of the ACOSH Advocacy in Action e-bulletin for 2019. 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.

New report highlights the annual $137 billion cost of smoking in Australia

The release of the new report, Identifying the Social Costs of Tobacco Use in Australia 2015/16  was announced last week by Health Minister Greg Hunt via a video link at the Oceania Tobacco Control Conference.

The report, from the National Drug Research Institute (NDRI) at Curtin University, provides the first update on smoking costs in Australia in 15 years, detailing that social costs associated with smoking now sit at $136.9 billion annually, up from an estimated $31.5 billion in 2004–05.



Tobacco use linked to more than 1 in 8 deaths in Australia

“Tobacco use contributed to an estimated 21,000 deaths, or more than 1 in 8 fatalities, in Australia during 2015, according to a new report by the Australian Institute of Health and Welfare (AIHW).

The report, Burden of Tobacco use in Australia, used burden of disease analysis to study the impact of smoking on the population in terms of premature death (the fatal burden) and years lived in ill health (the non-fatal burden).

‘Tobacco use remains the leading risk factor for ill health and premature death in Australia and was responsible for 9.3% of the total burden of disease in Australia in 2015,’ said AIHW spokesperson Mr. Richard Juckes.

‘Almost three-quarters of the burden due to smoking was fatal.

‘Forty-three per cent of the tobacco-related disease burden was due to cancer and most of this was from lung cancer. Chronic obstructive pulmonary disease accounted for 30% of the burden, coronary heart disease 10% and stroke 3.1%.’”



An argument for phasing out sales of cigarettes – Professor Ruth Malone

ACOSH co-hosted a seminar with international guest speaker Professor Ruth Malone, University of California, San Francisco. Ruth delivered the presentation “What’s next for tobacco control: Is it time to start talking about phasing out cigarette sales?” 

“While discussions of an “endgame” for the tobacco epidemic have been ongoing for the past decade, the cigarette – the single most deadly consumer product in history – remains widely available for sale. This represents a massive public health failure to protect.

“This paper, drawing on principles of consumer protection, makes the argument that phasing out sales of cigarettes should be the endgame goal, led first by low-prevalence jurisdictions with strong tobacco control policies. We offer evidence that such an approach would be likely to further reduce smoking and have minimal negative unintended consequences.”

Chronic Disease Prevention Directorate, Department of Health, Healthway and Cancer Council WA Make Smoking History were co-sponsors of this important seminar.



Canada: Plain cigarette packs to hit shelves as ‘best in the world’ regulations kick in

“Plain-packaged cigarettes have started to pop up on shelves as the tobacco industry prepares for Health Canada’s regulations to take effect on Nov. 9, after which retailers will have a 90-day window to offload their remaining inventory.

Rob Cunningham, a senior policy analyst at the Canadian Cancer Society, lauded Canada’s plain-packaging regulations as “the best in the world,” having learned from the examples of at least 13 other countries that have adopted similar measures.

Cunningham adds that Canada is leading the charge in eliminating extra-long and “slim” cigarettes, which tend to be marketed to women.

In 2021, slide-and-shell packages will become mandatory in Canada, providing a wider surface area that will display the largest health warnings in the world, he said.

“This measure is going to have an important difference, especially over time,” said Cunningham. “We will have kids who will grow up not exposed to branded packages.”



Extreme right-wing lobbyists under scrutiny over federal election role

“The right-wing Australian Taxpayers’ Alliance is under pressure to detail the source of funds it deployed during this year’s federal election, in the face of claims it lacks transparency and has close ties with a network of foreign-backed political lobby groups.

… The alliance’s Sydney-based executive director Brian Marlow also heads up Legalise Vaping Australia, the nation’s “largest pro-vaping advocacy group” which wants nicotine in vaping products to become legal without prescription – a goal shared by tobacco companies.”



Alliance of Australian Retailers files for deregistration

The Alliance of Australian Retailers, an tobacco industry front group financied by Philip Morris, Imperial Tobacco and British American Tobacco, was set up to oppose the Government’s introduction of plain packaging in Australia.

In October 2019 it applied to the government’s business regulator to be deregistered and effectively cease operation.



The Unsmoke campaign: A Distraction From What Really Reduces Smoking

Philip Morris International’s ‘Unsmoke’ marketing campaign claims to encourage smokers to quit cigarettes by switching to e-cigarettes.

A new brief by industry watchdog Stopping Tobacco Organizations and Products (STOP) explains the campaign is a tactic to distract from what really works.



Tobacco firms accused of using gimmicks to subvert plain packaging

“Tobacco companies have been accused of undermining plain packaging laws by introducing gimmicks that ensure their cigarettes stand out from rival products but do not breach regulations.

A report in the British Medical Journal’s BMJ Open publication found that global tobacco companies adopted subtle marketing techniques to replace traditional cigarette branding, which was banned in the UK in 2016.”



No more butts – Reducing plastic pollution means banning the sale of filtered cigarettes

“The largest part of most cigarette butts is a non-biodegradable plastic filter made of cellulose acetate. Filters first appeared in the 1950s following early health concerns about cigarettes, and their rapid adoption was helped by the post-war explosion in manufacturing of plastics. The tobacco industry portrayed filters as a way to make cigarettes safer by absorbing some of the “tar” that was implicated in the lung cancer epidemic. We now know that this safety argument was a myth (box 1), one of many created by the tobacco industry to sell cigarettes.”


JUUL: beaten-down innovator or vicious bully?

“JUUL may have accomplished the near-impossible feat of uniting pro-vape ‘harm reductionists’ and those concerned about e-cigarettes’ impact on public health: both now hate JUUL but for different reasons. Tobacco harm reductionists are angry that JUUL has caused crackdowns on vaping as a whole, including the small businesses that had learned how to guide customers to use e-liquids to quit smoking altogether. New policies aimed at JUUL are now potentially putting the whole e-cigarette harm reduction enterprise in jeopardy.

Those who are concerned that e-cigarettes may cause as-yet unrecognised harms to health or result in a new nicotine-addicted generation more likely to move on to smoking cigarettes think that JUUL has created a monster—a high nicotine product so unobtrusive it can be used in junior high classes. JUUL imitators and other vapour product offshoots have piled on rapidly, resulting in an enormous proliferation of completely unregulated, easily concealed nicotine products resembling pens, remote controls, car fobs, sweatshirt drawstrings and inhalers”



From the archives: Philip Morris’ corporate strategy 2014 – the appropriation of harm reduction

The behavior of Philip Morris in the promotion of e-cigarettes and heated tobacco products is entirely consistent with the tactics laid out in PMI’s 10 year corporate affairs strategy developed in 2014, to appropriate the concept of harm reduction.

The strategy highlights the identification and engagement of non-traditional third party stakeholders or allies, including e-cigarette manufacturers, retailers, and naive tobacco harm reduction advocates.



Tobacco Control news

Juul to cut hundreds of jobs in “reset” effort – AXIOS

A Fight Over Vaping “Bots” Is Blazing While E-Cigarette Bans Loom – Buzzfeed News

Don’t Vape In Your Seat At 36,000 Feet: Korean Air Tackles In-Flight Smoking – Forbes

New York lawmakers look to ban menthol cigarettes – Democrat & Chronicle

What’s Contributing to E-Cigarette Use in Adolescents and Young Adults? Two New Studies Offer Some Answers – AAP Publications

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