ACOSH Advocacy in Action - 6 May 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.

Conclusions from the EU’s scientists and others on whether e-cigarettes help smokers quit

“This week the European Union’s scientific advisers issued their “Final Opinion on Electronic Cigarettes”.This report strengthens concerns about the risks associated with e-cigarette use, while failing to find more than weak evidence that they help smokers quit.

“This post summarizes the findings of this report, and provides a summary of scientific reports published subsequent to the release of the SCHEER’s draft opinion last fall.”

“… The studies to date, whether longitudinal data analysis, randomized control trials or meta-analysis of e-cigarettes as consumer products, when dual use was assessed, all found high levels of dual use, known to be hazardous, and high prevalence of continuing use of e-cigarettes, even if smokers were successfully able to use them to quit smoking.

“Smokers who use e-cigarettes daily are more likely than not to find e-cigarettes helpful in quitting smoking. However, this comes at the cost of likely continuing addiction to e-cigarettes. Among less frequent users of e-cigarettes, e-cigarette use makes smoking cessation less likely.

“Daily e-cigarettes increase the likelihood of smoking cessation, but decreases cessation for less-than-daily users of e-cigarettes. Overall, e-cigarettes, when used as consumer products, do not increase smoking cessation rates.



Is FDA going to ban menthol as a “characterizing flavor” or an ingredient? It matters

“Today [29 April] the FDA, with important support from the Biden Administration, announced that it would be moving to ban menthol as a “characterizing flavor” in cigarettes. In so doing, the FDA acted as requested in a Citizen’s Petition submitted by the Public Health Law Center in 2013. This is an important step forward.

“Today’s FDA letter to the Public Health Law Center provides a good summary of the history of the menthol issue, a brief summary of the scientific evidence, responses to public comments submitted to the FDA opposing the Citizen’s Petition, and commits to move forward and “to make this proposed rule one of the Agency’s highest priorities.”

“… As I discussed before the FDA acted, however, it is important that FDA ban menthol as an ingredient not just as a characterizing flavor. Just banning menthol as a “characterizing flavor” would allow tobacco companies to continue using menthol in cigarettes and cigars the ingredient as long as they don’t promote the cigarettes and cigars as “menthol.”

“While the Citizen’s Petition only asked that menthol be banned as a characterizing flavor, based on current knowledge, the FDA needs to ban menthol (and its analogs) as an ingredient.

“Why? Menthol has many effects that go beyond its flavor, including interacting with nicotine in a way that boosts addiction and making smoke (nicotine) easier to inhale…” said Professor Stanton Glantz.

See also
Menthol: Tobacco Companies are exploiting loopholes in the UK’s characterising flavours ban – Tobacco Control Blog

Big Tobacco could delay Biden’s menthol cigarette ban for years – Fortune

How to assess Biden’s actions on menthol – Professor Stanton Glantz blog

Flavored Tobacco Products Should be Banned Everywhere – Expose Tobacco



Australia in 2030: what is our path to health for all?

Chapter 5: Disrupting the commercial determinants of health

“Our vision for 2030 is an Australian economy that promotes optimal human and planetary health for current and future generations. To achieve this, current patterns of corporate practice and consumption of harmful commodities and services need to change.

“In this chapter, we suggest ways forward for Australia, focusing on pragmatic actions that can be taken now to redress the power imbalances between corporations and Australian governments and citizens.

“We begin by exploring how the terms of health policy making must change to protect it from conflicted commercial interests. We also examine how marketing unhealthy products and services can be more effectively regulated, and how healthier business practices can be incentivised.

“Finally, we make recommendations on how various public health stakeholders can hold corporations to account, to ensure that people come before profits in a healthy and prosperous future Australia.”

By Alexandra Jones, Jennifer Lacy-Nichols, Phil Baker, Anne Marie T Thow, Jane E Martin, Mike Daube, Kathryn Backholer, Belinda Townsend



Paying lip service to publication ethics: scientific publishing practices and the Foundation for a Smoke-Free World

“Foundation for a Smoke-Free World (FSFW)-funded organisations (including its Italian ‘Centre of Excellence’) and researchers affiliated with FSFW (including those working as editors and peer-reviewers) have failed to disclose their links to FSFW and Philip Morris International. While journals also failed to apply their COI policies, including on tobacco industry-funded research, the findings highlight that such policies are almost entirely dependent on researchers fully declaring all potential COIs.

“The paper explores ways to address these problems, including via standardised reporting of COI and funding in journals; journal policies prohibiting publication of tobacco industry-funded science; development of an author-centric database of financial interests; and legally mandated tobacco industry financial contributions to fund science on new tobacco and nicotine products.”



Under the influence

“The tobacco industry has a long and well-documented history of influencing, exploiting and misleading public health and research communities. Starting with the 1953 ‘Tobacco Industry Research Committee’, stakeholders affiliated with the tobacco industry have strategically promoted industry interests through the funding of research programmes and public health initiatives, in order to influence research agendas, manipulate the design, methods and conduct of research, affect interpretation of findings and selectively disseminate information through publications, conferences, forums and panels.

“These activities have enabled the tobacco industry to promote its versions of ‘sound science’ and ‘good epidemiology’ which have been designed to weaken consensus about the harms of tobacco use and second-hand smoke exposure.”



Progress towards a Smokefree Aotearoa 2025 Action Plan: Congratulations to the Government

“Given sufficient political and public support, and effective implementation, New Zealand is poised to lead the world in tobacco control. The Government’s “Proposals for a Smokefree Aotearoa 2025 Action Plan: Discussion Document” represents a bold and innovative approach informed by sound logic and research findings from Aotearoa and internationally. If adopted and implemented in full, the Action Plan offers a realistic chance of realising the 2025 goal to achieve minimal smoking prevalence and eliminate smoking-related health disparities in Aotearoa.”

“Key measures proposed include:
• greatly reducing the availability of smoked tobacco products by only permitting these products to be sold in specialised stores or pharmacies;
• substantially decreasing the addictiveness of tobacco products by reducing the nicotine in these products to very low levels, and
• restricting the legal sale of tobacco products to people born before a designated year (the “smokefree generation” idea).”

See also
Reducing tobacco retail availability: how could this be achieved and what evidence supports the NZ Government’s proposals? – University of Otago Public Health Expert Blog

Reducing nicotine in smoked tobacco products: A pivotal feature of the proposals for achieving Smokefree Aotearoa 2025 – University of Otago Public Health Expert Blog


The illicit tobacco trade is often used by the tobacco industry as an argument against tobacco control measures. But what’s the real story?

“The trade in illicit tobacco, which encompasses any illegal activity over the lifetime of a tobacco product including the smuggling and counterfeiting of cigarettes, is often put forward by the tobacco industry as an argument against tobacco control measures. But in framing the illicit tobacco trade as primarily driven by tobacco control policies, counterfeiters and organised crime groups, the industry conveniently overlooks its own role in the problem.

“Researchers at the Tobacco Control Research Group (TCRG) at the University of Bath have spent many years studying the illicit tobacco trade, the policies designed to address it as well as the tobacco industry’s involvement in these.”



The ‘filter fraud’ persists: the tobacco industry is still using filters to suggest lower health risks while destroying the environment

“Despite being labelled the “deadliest fraud in the history of human civilisation”, filter tips now feature on almost every mass-produced cigarette smoked across the globe. After filters first appeared in the 1860s as an attempt to protect against tobacco flakes entering the mouth, the tobacco industry introduced modern cellulose acetate cigarette filters in the 1950s to alleviate public concerns about smoking-related lung cancer.

“… The overwhelming majority of independent research shows that filters do not reduce the harms associated with smoking—a fact understood by tobacco industry scientists in the 1960s. In fact, filters may increase the harms caused by smoking by enabling smokers to inhale smoke more deeply into their lungs.

“Furthermore, toxic fibres shed from the cut end of the filter are inhaled and ingested by smokers. A recent research letter reporting a study with contradictory findings has been criticised for a non-representative sample and failing to take into account confounding factors such as socioeconomic status.”

See also
Butting out: The life and times of a cigarette filter –

It’s time to stub out the butts for good – University of Bath



The Dirt Behind Big Tobacco and the Environment

“The next time you go for a walk, look at the ground. How many littered cigarette butts do you see? Chances are, more than a few. Cigarette butts are the most littered item on the planet—4.5 trillion are discarded every year. While cigarette waste may be the most visible form of environmental degradation the tobacco industry contributes to, it’s only one way the industry creates lasting damage to the environment and subsequently, the people who live in it (that’s all of us—smokers and nonsmokers alike).

“The harmful impact the Big Four—British American Tobacco (BAT), Imperial Brands (IB), Japan Tobacco International (JTI) and Philip Morris International (PMI)—have on the planet doesn’t get the urgent attention it deserves. A big reason for that is so-called corporate social responsibility (CSR) activities. These include activities like donations to environmental organizations or partnerships with governments to address local sustainability concerns.”


It’s time to clear the air: the Queens Hotel becomes entirely smoke-free

The Queens Hotel in Mount Lawley this week announced that it is now entirely smoke-free, becoming the first liquor licenced venue in the City of Vincent to do so.

ACOSH congratulates the Queens Hotel on this decision which will ensure staff and patrons are protected from the dangers of exposure to secondhand smoke and help continue to denormalise smoking in the community.

It also supports the City of Vincent’s Public Health Plan which includes a target to achieve smoke-free town centres by 2025.

Around eight per cent of residents in the City of Vincent report currently smoking.

In Western Australia, liquor licenced venues are still permitted to designate up to 50 per cent of an outdoor eating area as a smoking zone.

ACOSH is advocating for the removal of this exemption in the review of WA’s tobacco control legislation which is currently underway.


Secondhand smoke exposure and oral cancer risk: a systematic review and meta-analysis

“Following the application of eligibility criteria, five studies were included, comprising a total of 1179 cases and 5798 controls, with 3452 individuals exposed and 3525 individuals not exposed to SHS. An overall OR of 1.51 (95% CI 1.2o to 1.91, p=0.0004) for oral cancer was observed, without significant heterogeneity (I2=0%, p=0.41). The duration of exposure of more than 10 or 15 years increased the risk of oral cancer (OR 2.07, 95% CI 1.54 to 2.79, p<0.00001), compared with non-exposed individuals, without significant heterogeneity (I2=0%, p=0.76).”

“This systematic review and meta-analysis supports a causal association between SHS exposure and oral cancer. Our results could provide guidance to public health professionals, researchers, and policymakers to further support effective SHS exposure prevention programs worldwide.”


Facebook approves alcohol, vaping, gambling and dating ads targeting teens, lobby group find

“Facebook is accused of harvesting the data of teenagers and on-selling it to advertisers for targeted alcohol, gambling, vaping and dating ads.

“The findings were revealed in a report, released today, by lobby group Reset Australia — the local arm of a global initiative working to “counter digital threats to democracy”.

The group last year set up a fake account, Ozzie News Network, to test whether Facebook treated the data of teenagers differently to adults.”



How are young people accessing vapes?

“Parents, school principals, youth centres and researchers have sounded the alarm bell about the rise in young people taking up e-cigarettes across the country.

“The devices, also known as vapes, are a relatively new phenomenon compared with traditional smoking, leaving some schools and communities unsure about how to properly address the issue.

“… The 2017 Cancer Council report found that students who had vaped most commonly reported getting e-cigarettes from friends, siblings, parents, or buying the products themselves.

“Dr Michelle Jongenelis, a researcher at the University of Melbourne’s School of Psychological Sciences, said avenues included social media and online stores.

“It actually isn’t that hard to purchase an e-cigarette if you are under 18 as they are readily available online,” she said.

“Few online shops have controls on website visitors and those that do have controls simply ask website visitors to click a button confirming they are over 18, which of course anyone can fake.”

“Dr Jongenelis, who published an article about the myths of e-cigarettes last year, said enforcement was “a big issue”.



Tweet of the week

“For too long the [#TobaccoIndustry] has been addicting our people, fleecing them of their money before we have to bury them in urupa [burial grounds]…I am looking forward to truly making this a sunset industry…” – Shane Kewenata Bradbrook.


Tobacco control news

Big Four Global Accounting Firms – Tobacco Tactics, University of Bath

Surprise! Juul publishes a paper concluding that e-cigs save lives – Professor Stanton Glantz Blog

Vaping the Venom: Oral Cavity Cancer in a Young Adult With Extensive Electronic Cigarette Use – Pediatrics

Tobacco giant JTI placing stealth adverts for its brands on Facebook and Instagram – The Bureau of Investigative Journalism

Efficient tobacco control reduces cancer mortality – Union for International Cancer Control

Tobacco industry accused of earning millions but paying ‘peanuts’ in terms of taxes – Business Recorder Pakistan

Burden of smoking in Asia-Pacific countries – Tob Induc Dis