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January 14th, 2017:

Metro TV welcomes plan to ban cigarette ads

Metro TV news director Suryapratomo said Friday that the private TV station welcomed lawmakers’ plan to ban cigarette advertisements on television and radio, saying that a ban would not significantly affect its revenue.

“Lawmakers have the right to make any regulation. But I hope the House of Representatives carries out comprehensive discussion before making a final decision,” Suryapratomo told The Jakarta Post on Friday.

He added that a ban would have minimal impact on Metro TV, as cigarette ads contributed only a small portion to the company’s revenues.

“So please do ban [cigarette ads on TV] if you want. Metro TV does not make much from cigarette ads. We also don’t air cigarette ads frequently on our TV station,” Suryapratomo emphasized.

TV stations are currently allowed to air cigarette ads only after 10 p.m. However, the government may issue a total ban on cigarette ads on TV and radio, with a draft bill comprising stipulations of a ban awaiting deliberation at the House.

The House is expected to start deliberations this month and has assured that it will include various stakeholders in the discussion to gain comprehensive insight.

How spotting someone vaping triggers the same cravings as real tobacco

Seeing someone use an e-cigarette encourages smokers to light up, a study has warned. Even though they don’t look like a normal cigarette, ‘vape pens’ can trigger the same cravings as real tobacco products.

A study by Chicago University found the devices were a ‘potent trigger’ to encourage young adults to smoke as they mimic the same behaviour – inhaling and exhaling – and use the same hand and mouth movements as regular cigarettes.

The findings cast doubt on how well the smoking ban has worked to put cigarettes ‘out of sight’, as vaping becomes common.

Although the 18 to 35-year-olds in the study who were influenced by e-cigarettes already smoked, the findings also raise concerns about a ‘gateway effect’ encouraging people who smoke to vape as well.

The study, published in journal Nicotine & Tobacco Research, used 108 volunteers ranging from light smokers to those who went through a pack of cigarettes a day.

When they saw someone use a vape pen, they were more likely to want a cigarette or reach for one.

Vape pens look more like pens than cigarettes but still deliver a nicotine hit and puff out vapour.

Research leader Dr Andrea King, director of the clinical addictions research laboratory at Chicago University, said, “Vape pens look different but they share too many salient features of the act of smoking – including inhalation, exhalation and hand-to-mouth behaviours. This makes them a potent trigger, encouraging people to smoke.

Their impact is roughly equal to watching someone light up a cigarette. They made the young adults in our study want to smoke.”

The decade-old UK ban on smoking in public places was designed to make the habit seem less normal by keeping smokers out of offices and pubs.

However, despite calls from the World Health Organisation for countries to consider a similar ban on e-cigarettes, they are becoming increasingly popular.

To measure their effect on susceptible young adults, the researchers planted a pretend volunteer among their study group who smoked either a conventional cigarette or a vape pen.

Both cues increased the desire among research subjects for a cigarette or an e-cigarette. Then 26 of the group were tested 20 minutes later by placing a cigarette on a tray, along with a lighter and an ash tray.

Told they would receive a cash reward of 20 cents for every five minutes they resisted, those who had seen the person smoking a cigarette or vape pen managed to hold out for only 20 minutes.

Dr King said, “Our study focused on a classical Pavlovian trigger, as seeing someone smoke is a known potent cue that can induce others to smoke. We did not expect that the vape pen would be as potent a cue as the regular cigarette, but it was as potent.”

Smoking kills, so stop protecting it

JAMES Bond isn’t the only one with a licence to kill. The World Health Organisation reports that smoking costs the global economy RM4.5 trillion a year, and will take eight million lives annually by 2030.

For a species that has invented fire, travelled to space and split the atom, we are still paying an industry to kill us. Mankind is indeed strange.

Decades of research have shown that smoking can be fatal. So, we are often asked: if cigarettes cause such harm, why are they allowed to exist?

One challenge is the separation of the problem — the health industry sees tobacco as a health issue, while businesses and governments see it as an economic driver.

But the same WHO report also states that the cost of smoking far outweighs the revenue from tobacco taxes.

Treating smoking-related diseases drives up the cost of healthcare. In 2005, Malaysia’s Health Ministry spent 26 per cent of its budget to treat those diseases, which accounted for 0.74 per cent of its gross domestic product.

There are also the environment, productivity and human development — smoking pollutes our air and water, and smokers are 30 per cent more likely to miss work (for longer periods, too). In some families, money for cigarettes is taken from household essentials.

No other industry causes as much damage to its users and non-users alike — and remains legal.

Instead of protecting this industry, we urge the nation to support tobacco control efforts in Malaysia.

Tobacco control can work. A study published in the United States this month reports that efforts since 1964 had resulted in eight million fewer smoking deaths.

We should want the same for our fellow Malaysians.


National Cancer Society Malaysia