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January 28th, 2016:

China’s quit-smoking efforts under fire as more take up the habit

Zhuang Pinghui

More people started smoking than gave up in China in the last five years, pointing to a lack of services for those who want to quit, according to a tobacco control advocacy group.

Releasing its “A Civil Society Perspective: Tobacco Control in China 2015” report on Tuesday, the ThinkTank Research Centre for Health Development said that of the nearly 40 per cent of smokers who said they wanted to quit, only 14.4 per cent succeeded. The number of people who quit smoking in that time “increased by 13.3 million” fewer than the number of people who started lighting up.

The report reviewed China’s efforts in the decade since the World Health Organisation’s Framework Convention on Tobacco Control came into effect in the country.

Under the China Tobacco Control Plan 2012-2015, the government aimed to cut smoking from 28.1 per cent of adults to below 25 per cent, but a national survey last year found as much as 27.7 per cent of adults were smokers, on par with levels five years ago. That amounted to 15 million more smokers, given the increase in population.

“This figure should be a call for leaders, legislators, decision makers, that more – much, much more – needs to be done,” said Bernhard Schwartlander, the WHO’s representative in China.

Only three to five per cent of heavy smokers quit on their own. Health authorities set up quit clinics in 31 provinces and cities in 2014, but by last year only six had seen more than 200 patients. “The public fails to recognise smoking as an addictive disease. We need to recognise the importance of clinics to help people quit,” Wu Yiqun, from the centre, said.

The report said the tobacco industry also lobbied against graphic warnings on cigarette packaging, fearing that its highly profitable high-end cigarettes would be downgraded from luxury gifts to fast-moving consumer goods.

“Indulging the tobacco industry’s refusal to print graphic warnings on the package has cost the public the most economic, direct and effective way of education on the harm of tobacco to health,” the report said.

The report also criticised the authorities’ reluctance to use taxes to deter smokers, one of the most effective tobacco control measures identified by the WHO.

The WHO says tax hikes must be sufficient to make tobacco expensive enough for most smokers to think about quitting.

The State Council increased the tax on tobacco from 5 per cent to 11 per cent last year but cigarettes on the mainland are still some of the cheapest in the world.

A packet of mid-range cigarettes that sold for 5.5 yuan (HK$6.51) in 2010 cost 9.90 yuan last year. Some packs cost as little as 2 yuan.
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Don’t overlook harm of shisha smoking – Letters to the editor

I refer to the article, “Tar in one hookah session as much as you get from smoking 25 cigarettes [5]” (January 15). Scientists have found that smoking hookah, also known as shisha, delivers approximately 125 times the smoke, 25 times the tar, 2.5 times the nicotine and 10 times the carbon monoxide compared with a single cigarette.

It seems clear that hookah smokers are exposed to more harm than they realise. Perhaps many do not care, but Hong Kong should do something to prevent hookah from becoming a sort of trend, especially among teenagers, who are always curious.

There are several shisha bars in Hong Kong. I think these shops should be banned.

Hookah should be treated as seriously as cigarettes, and more people should be made aware of its harm.

Seki Chan, Tseung Kwan O
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MPs set to vote for new tobacco packaging with gruesome images

Dutch MPs are today expected to approve new European Union rules on tobacco packaging, which will see 65% of cigarette packets covered with health warnings.

The new packaging, which will include photographs of damaged lungs and other smoking-generated health problems, is due to be introduced on May 20 throughout the EU.

Tobacco firms are being given a year to bring in the changes and replace their current packaging.

Health experts say 19,000 die in the Netherlands every year from the effect of smoking and millions suffer from smoking-related problems such as cancer, heart and lung disease.

Exploding e-cigs claim two more vaping victims

Vaping has claimed two more victims.

On Saturday, a 20-year-old vapist in Cologne, Germany, was taking a pull off of a new e-cigarette at his local vape shop when the device exploded in his mouth. He reportedly sustained burns and wounds to his face and mouth, and a number of his teeth were knocked out of their sockets.


The vapist was rushed to the hospital, and while his current condition is unknown, he’s probably dead.

Meanwhile, in Alberta, Canada, 16-year-old vapist Ty Greer (pictured above) is facing a long and arduous recovery from a similar vaping accident. He and his friend were sharing an e-cigarette when it blew up, resulting in second- and third-degree burns to Greer’s face and fractured teeth.

“There was a fireball about two feet and it started his gym bag on fire,” Perry Greer, the vapist’s father explained. “It was horrible. No father should have to witness that.”

Vapists may think that vaping “looks cool,” but ask yourself this: How “cool” do you think you will you look when you don’t have a face?

DITCH THE VAPE. Before it’s too late.

Cherry-flavored e-cigs may deliver higher levels of benzaldehyde than other flavors

Doses of this respiratory irritant often higher than those derived from conventional cigarettes

Cherry flavoured e-cigarettes may expose vapers to significantly higher levels of the respiratory irritant benzaldehyde than other flavours, suggests a laboratory study published online in Thorax.

The doses inhaled with 30 puffs were often higher than those breathed in from a conventional cigarette, the findings show.

Many e-cigarettes contain flavourings, most of which are recognised as safe when used in food products, but concerns have been raised about their potential harm when inhaled, particularly over the long term.

Benzaldehyde is routinely used in foodstuffs and cosmetics, and is a key ingredient in ‘natural’ fruit flavourings. But it has been shown to irritate the airways in animal and workplace exposure studies.

The researchers therefore wanted to quantify the levels of benzaldehyde that a vaper might breathe in from fruit flavoured e-cigarettes, purchased online.

The 145 e-cigarettes were grouped according to their labelling: berry/tropical fruit (40); tobacco (37); alcohol (15); chocolate/sweet (11); coffee/tea (11); mint/menthol (10); cherry (10); and ‘other’ (11).

Aerosol vapour was generated using an automatic smoking simulator, with 30 puffs taken from each e-cigarette in two series of 15 puffs with a 5 minute interval in between, and the quantities of benzaldehyde measured.

The researchers calculated a daily inhaled dose of benazaldehyde for each product, assuming that an experienced vaper puffs on an e-cigarette 163 times a day

The inhaled dose from 30 puffs was compared with that from a conventional cigarette and with a hypothetical maximum permissible dose that healthy workers might be exposed to over the course of an 8 hour shift.

Benzaldehyde was detected in 108 out of 145 e-cigarettes (74%), with the highest levels detected in the cherry flavoured products. Yields of the chemical were around 43 times higher than in these products.

The doses of benzaldehyde inhaled from 30 puffs from flavoured e-cigarettes were often higher than those inhaled from a conventional cigarette.

The estimated daily inhaled dose from cherry flavoured e-cigarettes was 70.3 ug, which is more than 1000 times lower than the maximum permissible workplace exposure level.

The researchers emphasise that their study used a simulator, so may not reflect actual inhalation during vaping, but suggest that it still points to a potential risk associated with cherry flavoured e-cigarettes.

“Users of cherry flavoured products may inhale significantly higher doses of benzaldehyde compared with users of other flavoured products,” they write.

“Although e-cigarettes may be a promising harm reduction tool for smokers, the findings indicate that using these products could result in repeated inhalation of benzaldehyde, with long term users risking regular exposure to the substance,” they add.

Did limits on payments for tobacco placements in US movies affect how movies are made?

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