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December 8th, 2015:

Broken Promises to Our Children: A State-by-State Look at the 1998 State Tobacco Settlement 17 Years Later

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Linda Bauld discusses e-cigarettes on BBC Radio Wales


Health experts urge AMs to drop e-cigarette ban plan

A DOZEN public health and smoking cessation experts are urging AMs to resist proposals for a ban on the use of e-cigarettes in enclosed and substantially enclosed public places in Wales.

Such a ban is the centrepiece of the Public Health (Wales) Bill, to be debated in the Senedd this afternoon (TUE).

But the idea has proved controversial and is meeting with an increasing tide of opposition, including from a number of organisations and individuals with expertise in smoking issues.

“There is no evidence to justify the legislation regarding electronic cigarettes (e-cigarettes) and if passed it will discourage rather than encourage smokers to switch from smoking to e-cigarettes, with a negative impact on public health in Wales,” states the letter,” which has been sent to AMs.

“We urge you to consider carefully the provisions of the Bill.”

‘We’ includes Gerry Stimson, Emeritus Professor of Social Science and Medicine at Imperial College, London; Paul Aveyard, Professor at the Behavioural Medicine

Department of Primary Care Health Sciences at Oxford University; Dr Jamie Brown, deputy director of the Tobacco and Alcohol Research Group at University College, London; and Ann McNeill, Professor of Tobacco Addiction at the National Addiction Centre, King’s College, London.

The signatories describe as “disappointing” a recent failure by the Assembly’s health and social care committee to reach a consensus view on the idea of a ban, and state: “We want to make it clear that the provisions in this Bill relating to e-cigarettes are not evidence based.”

If passed, they fear a ban will send a message that e-cigarettes are as harmful as tobacco cigarettes and should be dealt with in the same way as smoking tobacco.

It would also, they contend, act as a deterrent to the use of e-cigarettes by current users by treating them the same way as smokers.

Health minister Mark Drakeford has stated that e-cigarettes might act as a gateway to the uptake of smoking – and may normalise the rituals of smoking – for the young.

Anti-Smoking Zealot Claims E-Cigarettes Are ‘Against Our Culture’

Anti-tobacco activist Dr. Peter Shields claims e-cigarettes glorify the act of smoking and are “against our culture.”

Shields, one of the key drivers in convincing Ohio State University to ban smoking on campus in 2014, made the comments in a Monday interview with student daily newspaper The Lantern.

“The idea was, let’s send a message to everybody that tobacco use is not okay and it should be denormalized,” says Shields.

With Ohio State’s tobacco-free policy approaching its two year anniversary in January, Shields believes e-cigarettes should fall under the same rules as normal tobacco, with vapers forced to go off campus to use their e-cigs.

“Electronic cigarettes are glorifying the smoking act,” Shields tells The Lantern. “It’s against our culture of what we’re trying to promote. If it turns out that there’s some benefit or lack of harm, then we’ll take it off the policy.”

But Ohio State is typical of a new wave of initiatives to crack down on smoking and e-cigarette use among young people. Berkeley, Calif., is contemplating raising the age of buying e-cigarettes along with regular cigarettes to 21, putting both products on par with alcohol.

On Monday, Cleveland City Council took the plunge and voted to hike the minimum age of tobacco and e-cigarette products to 21. It is also considering banning the sale of flavored tobacco.

While the majority of the e-cigarette industry is supportive of efforts to keep vaping products out of the hands of minors, there is some evidence to suggest that raising the age for the purchase of e-cigarettes could have unintended consequences.

A study by Abigail Friedman of the Yale School of Public Health published in the Journal of Health Economics finds smoking rates among 12-17 year olds actually rises in states that banned e-cigarette sales to minors.

“Such bans yield a statistically significant 0.9 percentage point increase in recent smoking in this age group, relative to states without such bans,” Friedman says. The study controlled for smoking rates within states and statewide cigarettes.

Health ministry praises BAT bribes expose

THE Health ministry has commended the BBC for exposing alleged bribery by British American Tobacco.

In a joint statement with the Tobacco Control Board yesterday, the ministry said the investigative report confirmed fears of “unethical and illegal” activities in the tobacco industry.

Two weeks ago, the BBC Panorama Programme reported that BAT paid bribes to African government officials, including then Trade minister Moses Wetang’ula in 2012, to undermine the global anti-smoking treaty.

It said the bribes were paid by BAT employee Paul Hopkins and a whistleblower.

“We commend the BBC programme for their interest in investigating the industry and their willingness to share their findings and facts as they found them,” the statement read.

“The revelation explains why and how the board has continued to encounter hurdles in implementing tobacco control measures to protect public health.”

The statement was signed by TCB chair Peter Odhiambo and secretary Kepha Ombacho.

They called for the report to be taken seriously, “bearing in mind that Kenya Tobacco Control Act 2007 took more than 13 years to be passed due to intimidation and interference”.

The officials urged Hopkins to reveal all those who were involved in frustrating Kenya’s tobacco control measures.

Reliable Harvard Scientists Say E-Cig Flavors Can Cause “Popcorn Lung”

In the weird world of vaping research, it’s hard to find a scientist who isn’t funded by a tobacco company or an anti-smoking organization. However, in a government-funded study, a team of Harvard scientists made a grisly discovery. Candy-flavored e-cig liquid contains chemicals that cause a horrible condition called “popcorn lung.”

The study revealed that 75-percent of the 51 flavored liquids tested contain the very dangerous chemical diacetyl and two other harmful compounds. The flavors tested “included varieties with potential appeal to young people such as cotton candy, ‘Fruit Squirts,’ and cupcake.” (It’s unclear if the teen-favorite “unicorn puke” was included.) Diacetyl is known to cause bronchitis obliterans, a degenerative and irreversible respiratory condition also known as that often requires a lung transplant. Bronchitis obliterans is also known as popcorn lung.

The name isn’t as visual as it sounds. Its history can be traced back to a case of eight former employees of a factory in Missouri that made artificial butter flavor for microwave popcorn. The workers inhaled diacetyl from the flavoring on a daily basis and developed wheezing, coughing, shortness of breath, as well as night sweats and weight loss. It sounds like a very terrible condition!

Here’s the scary thing: Many people who vape with flavored e-cig liquids also inhale this chemical on a daily basis. Some of these people are kids, especially since many states still allow e-cigs to be sold to minors. The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) is considering regulation e-cigs like tobacco products, but for now, it’s still a bit of a free for all.

What makes this revelation especially concerning is two-fold. One, the study was funded by the National Institute of Health, not some tobacco lobby, so it’s potentially more reliable that the many, often contradictory studies already out there. Two, the study focuses not on the perils of nicotine consumption but rather the chemicals used to flavor e-cig liquid. So even if you think you’re safe vaping with nicotine-free liquid, you could still end up with popcorn lung.

“Since most of the health concerns about e-cigarettes have focused on nicotine, there is still much we do not know about e-cigarettes,” says Harvard professor David Christiani, who co-authored a paper on the new study. “In addition to containing varying levels of the addictive substance nicotine, they also contain other cancer-causing chemicals, such as formaldehyde, and as our study shows, flavoring chemicals that can cause lung damage

All that said, there’s still a lot of research to be done about the health effects of vaping. Another recent study funded by the British government claims that vaping is 95-percent less harmful than smoking tobacco. That 5-percent could still prove deadly, though.