ACOSH Advocacy in Action - 8 April 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.
Thank you for your support.The work of ACOSH is generously supported by Healthway and Lotterywest.

Metadata reveals medical charity ATHRA received assistance from PR company linked to vaping campaign

“A doctors’ health promotion charity is unable to explain how metadata linked to a global public relations firm with ties to campaigns funded by tobacco, e-cigarette and vaping interests ended up on its website.

“The metadata, which first appeared last April, was in the form of a distinctive username which cropped up on the website of the Australian Tobacco Harm Reduction Association (ATHRA).

“The username shows who had permission to post content to and manage ATHRA’s website and is associated with at least 10 posts on the site as well as the development of functionality to search for a doctor willing to prescribe nicotine.

“The ABC has traced that username to an employee of global public relations firm Burson Cohn & Wolfe (BCW) in Hong Kong.

“The metadata and the content associated with the username was removed after the ABC approached the firm for comment.

“At the time the metadata first appeared, BCW was also working with the Australian Retailers Association (ARA) on a campaign funded by Philip Morris International (PMI) to legalise the sale of e-cigarettes.”

This ABC news story follows earlier articles published in the Australian Finanical Review that exposed significant links between vaping organisations and the tobacco industry.



Teens dealing vaping products on TikTok, Instagram

“Seventeen-year-old Peta was introduced to e-cigarettes by her older brother over summer and now vapes most days.

“Most of my friends vape,” said Peta, who declined to use her last name. “People my age feel as though it won’t affect them because it’s not tobacco.

“It’s become an issue at my school that the younger year levels are hanging out in the bathrooms vaping together.”

“Peta, a year 12 student from Melbourne’s south, says vaping gives her the same rush as a cigarette but with no foul aftertaste.

“Teenagers are selling vape pipes to other high schoolers through Instagram and TikTok, offering to meet to drop them off in the inner northern and eastern suburbs.

“Black-market sellers use social media platforms TikTok and Instagram to sell teenagers e-cigarettes, which are often sold in fruit and confectionery flavours that appeal to young people.

“Vaping is a problem for teenagers and schools, says Quit Victoria director Dr Sarah White, and as a result her organisation is developing an anti-vaping resource for schools and parents.

“Health Department figures show e-cigarette use by young Australians increased 96 per cent between 2015 and 2019.”



Vape sellers are using popular music videos to promote e-cigarettes to young people in the US – and it’s working

“Research that my colleagues and I recently conducted demonstrates that electronic cigarette product placement in music videos is associated with vaping among minors.

“The Tobacco Master Settlement Agreement of 1998 prohibits product placement for cigarettes and chew tobacco in television, music videos and motion pictures, but those restrictions do not apply to electronic cigarettes.

“My team and I have been working the past three years to determine the overall extent of electronic cigarette product placement in music videos. We’ve also been working to determine if exposure to these videos is related to electronic cigarette use among young adults.

“In a recent study, we found that participants exposed to any electronic cigarette product placement or imagery in music videos were more likely to have used an electronic cigarette in the past month compared to participants with no exposure.”



Nicotine vaping products with no quality assurance ‘unacceptable’

“Australia’s proposal to allow personal imports of nicotine-containing vaping products without rigorous analysis of their ingredients is ‘unacceptable’, the RACGP said in a submission to the Therapeutic Goods Administration (TGA).

“The RACGP is calling for consistent high standards and quality for liquid nicotine for e-cigarettes in its submission to the TGA’s consultation for its new standard for vaporised nicotine.

“While noting Australia’s position as a world leader in making vaporiser nicotine a therapeutic product that is only available with a prescription, the RACGP says the health watchdog should require further checks.

‘The aim should be to support evidence-based use of these products and seek to ensure the products available in Australia meet standards for quality and safety,’ the submission states.

‘That the TGA will not require nicotine vaporiser products imported into Australia to meet good manufacturing practice standards and provide a certificate of analysis is unacceptable.’



Smokers want to quit to help the health system during COVID

“It’s always a good time to quit, but COVID is making smokers think about doing it sooner rather than later. And many want to quit for other people, not just themselves.

“According to a new study from The George Institute for Global Health, many smokers want to know about their risks during COVID, and many want to quit to avoid being an additional source of stress on the health system at this time.

“The analysis of data from 1,500 smokers in Australia, New Zealand, and the UK, published in the Journal Nicotine & Tobacco Research today, found that:

• Smokers found messages encouraging them to quit during COVID to be acceptable, believable, and personally relevant.

• 44% of respondents chose to access additional information about their COVID-related risks as a smoker when given the opportunity to do so.

• The largest increase in quit intentions was found in response to information highlighting the benefits of quitting to reduce the pressure on the health system during COVID. This information worked better overall than messages focused on smokers’ own physical health or financial well-being.”



Smoking cessation intention and its association with advice to quit from significant others and medical professionals

“Smokers who had been advised to quit smoking by both significant others and medical professionals, significant others only, and medical professionals only were 2.63 (95% confidence interval (CI): 1.62-4.29), 1.84 (95% CI: 1.17-2.89), and 1.44 (95% CI: 0.70-2.94) times more likely to intend to quit within 1 month, respectively, than those who were not advised to quit. The odds ratios of an intention to quit within 6 months were 2.91 (95% CI: 1.87-4.54), 2.49 (95% CI: 1.69-3.68), and 0.94 (95% CI: 0.44-2.05), respectively. To promote smokers’ intention to quit, the role of significant others should be considered.”


Canada-wide ban on menthol cigarettes leads to significant increases in quitting among smokers

“Bans on menthol cigarettes across Canada from 2016 to 2017 led to a significant increase in the number of smokers who attempted to quit, smokers who quit successfully, and lower rates of relapse among former smokers, according to a new research study from the International Tobacco Control Policy Evaluation Project (the ITC Project) at the University of Waterloo.

“Menthol is the most common flavoring for cigarettes in many countries. Menthol creates a cooling sensation, which reduces the harshness of cigarette smoke. Because of this, menthol leads to increased experimentation and progression to regular smoking among new smokers, especially among youth.

“Our study demonstrates the substantial benefits of banning menthol cigarettes,” said Geoffrey T. Fong, Professor of Psychology and Public Health and Health Systems at Waterloo, and principal investigator of the ITC Project. “The enormous success of the Canadian menthol ban makes it even clearer now that the U.S. should finally ban menthol, which the tobacco industry has used for decades to attract new smokers and to keep many of them as customers, especially among the African-American community.”



NZ: Cancer Society launches petition to restrict number of tobacco sale outlets

“The Cancer Society has today [31 March] launched a petition calling for a significant reduction in the number of stores that are able to sell tobacco.

“Between 3000 and 4000 shops sell tobacco in New Zealand, but the society would like that to drop as low as 200.

“It said only drastic action can help the country reach its Smokefree 2025 goal, and combat health issues which kill up to 11 people a day.

“More than half a million adults are thought to be smokers in New Zealand, and each year about 4000 people die from smoking-related issues.”



Will Big Tobacco’s History of Failed “Safer” Products Repeat Itself?

“Tobacco companies are like chameleons, changing their outward-facing appearance to whatever it needs to be in order to survive. In the 1950s, when scientists first discovered a link between smoking and lung cancer, the tobacco industry realized that the truth about their deadly products could inspire people to quit. And in the eyes of a tobacco executive, that meant one thing: a threat to profits. They had to make it look like they cared about their customers’ health, or risk losing users who might otherwise choose to quit.

“Thus began the industry’s ongoing efforts to disguise its true colors. A look back reveals that the “reduced-risk” products the industry started marketing not only weren’t safer, but in some cases, were more harmful.

“With major tobacco companies currently throwing significant money and marketing effort behind their new products, now is the time to ask: Is history simply repeating itself with the industry’s latest round of new “safer” tobacco products?”



UK warns big tobacco firms: You should pay for cleaning up cigarette butts

“Britain is considering a plan to force big tobacco companies to pay the 40 million pound ($55 million) annual cost of cleaning up discarded cigarette butts.

“We are exploring how cigarette companies can be held fully accountable for the unsightly scourge of litter created by their products,” junior environment minister Rebecca Pow said in a statement on Tuesday.

“Ministers are considering regulating the industry to ensure it pays the full disposal costs of cigarette litter.

“The ministry cited research which showed that smoking related litter is the most prevalent form of litter in England, making up 68% of all littered items and found on around 80% of surveyed sites.”



How the tobacco industry works to disrupt public health policies in low- and middle-income countries

“Throughout the decades, the tobacco industry has developed a set of techniques and arguments that it employs whenever it wants to derail, dilute, and delay public health policies that threaten to harm its enormous profits. In this piece, researchers from the University of Bath’s Tobacco Control Research Group (TCRG) explain their recent research on industry interference in low- and middle-income countries (LMIC), which shows how we might predict industry responses to tobacco control measures.

“We found that the industry uses a broadly similar set of arguments and techniques to those identified in the Policy Dystopia Model (PDM). However, our interviews  also showed that the industry tweaks its approach depending on the context in which it operates. For example, while in many high-income countries its focus is on rehabilitating its tarnished image, for example through PR campaigns, in the countries included in our study we found that the industry rather seeks to maintain an existing favourable reputation.

“The tobacco companies were reported to repeatedly emphasise their contribution to a country, for example, as a major job provider and taxpayer. They also engaged in various ‘corporate social responsibility’ activities and attempted to present themselves as potential partners of LMIC governments in tackling crises as diverse as droughts and civil conflicts. This suggests that in some LMICs much more work is needed to denormalise the tobacco industry.”



US FDA’s reduced exposure marketing order for IQOS: why it is not a reliable global model

“Unfortunately, both ‘reduced-exposure’ and ‘reduced-harm’ are classified as ‘modified risk tobacco products’ under US law. Exploiting this confusion, Philip Morris International used the FDA [Food and Drug Administration] decision as the basis for marketing and public relations campaigns outside the USA to press governments to reverse policies that ban or regulate the sales and marketing of HTPs [heated tobacco products], including IQOS.

“Parties to the WHO Framework Convention on Tobacco Control should reject tobacco companies’ unsubstantiated explicit or implied claims of reduced harm associated with HTPs and resist Philip Morris International’s and other companies’ calls to relax HTP regulations based on the FDA’s actions.”



WA Aboriginal Tobacco Control Leadership Team

ACOSH met with the WA Aboriginal Tobacco Control Strategic Leadership Team meeting on 26 March, hosted by the Aboriginal Health Council of WA.

Representatives from the Pilbara, Kalgoorlie, Geraldton, Kimberley and Perth Metropolitan regions attended the meeting. Guest speaker Dr Raglan Maddox, Australian National University; Study Director for Tackling Indigenous Smoking Program, provided an update on the evaluation of the Tackling Indigenous Smoking program.

The Strategic Leadership Team shared success stories, barriers and brainstormed joint state-wide initiatives to effectively address Aboriginal smoking and tobacco control in WA.



From the archives: ACOSH advocacy action 1971 – 1999

ACOSH has published an online resource on advocacy strategies and achievements of ACOSH from its establishment in 1971 to 1999.

The resource aims to assist health professionals, students of public health and other health sciences, in public health advocacy by providing case studies on successful advocacy for tobacco control in WA and nationally.



Tweet of the week:

Tobacco in Australia: Facts & Issues

“Parental #smoking during #pregnancy and exposure to secondhand smoke after birth are preventable risk factors for sudden infant death syndrome (#SIDS). Read more on the link between SIDS and secondhand smoke exposure in our newly updated summary.”



Tobacco Control News

Australia: Big Tobacco wins in defeat of T21 age bill – Tobacco Control Blog

Hunter schools threaten students with suspension if they are caught vaping – ABC Newcastle

Six steps the Government and the TGA must take to stop its vapable nicotine prescription plan failing badly – Emeritus Professor Simon Chapman Blog

‘Give ‘em the vape, sell ‘em the pods’: razor-and-blades methods of pod e-cigarette pricing – Tobacco Control ad watch

Nicotine Pouches – Tobacco Tactics

Are nicotine e-cigarettes and vaping devices dangerously available? – ABC RN Breakfast