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March 9th, 2017:

Legal age for smoking to be raised to 21

http://www.channelnewsasia.com/news/singapore/minimum-legal-age-for-sale-of-tobacco-products-to-be-raised-to/3580594.html

The legal age for smoking and buying tobacco products in Singapore will be raised from 18 to 21, Senior Minister of State for Health Amy Khor announced in Parliament on Thursday (Mar 9).

“We want to protect our young from the harms of tobacco, and lay the foundation for good health,” she said.

The restrictions, which will be phased in over the next few years, will cover the retail and social supply to minors; and the purchase, use and possession of tobacco products by minors, the Ministry of Health said.

Dr Khor said that in Singapore, 45 per cent of smokers become regular ones between the ages of 18 and 21. Research has also shown that adolescent brains have a heightened sensitivity to the effects of nicotine, with a World Health Organization (WHO) report stating that people who do not start smoking before the age of 21 “are unlikely to ever begin”, she added.

She also noted the Health Promotion Board conducted public consultation on further tobacco control measures between December 2015 and March 2016, and feedback showed “considerable support” for raising the minimum legal age for smoking in Singapore.

As such, to further de-normalise tobacco use and reduce the number of youths from picking up the habit, the ministry will propose legislative changes to Parliament within a year to raise the minimum legal age to sell tobacco products to minors from the ages of 18 to 21, Dr Khor said.

Dr Khor also gave an update on standardising tobacco packaging, saying the ministry had studied closely the experience of Australia, France and the United Kingdom as countries that had implemented this.

“(We) see significant value in moving in this direction, so as to reduce the appeal of tobacco products, particularly to youths, and raise the visibility and effectiveness of health warnings,” she said.

“We will conduct a further public consultation on standardised packaging this year to seek additional and more detailed views on possible standardised packaging measures,” Dr Khor added.

Responding to the decision, the Tobacco Association of Singapore highlighted various concerns on how this would be implemented by licensed tobacco retailers “in a practical manner” and whether the regulation would be enforced for non-Singaporean visitors.

It also raised the issue of whether retailers facing manpower issues would face restrictions in hiring workers between the ages of 18 and 20 as a result.

The association added that it welcomed the opportunity to provide further input in the second round of public consultation on the proposal for standardised packaging.

Vapors Of High-Powered E-Cigarettes May Cause Cancer

http://www.sciencetimes.com/articles/10054/20170309/vapors-of-high-powered-e-cigarettes-may-cause-cancer.htm

People might have to stop powering their e-cigarettes to the highest level as scientists have found out that its vapors can cause cancer. There are significant levels of cancer-causing benzene in the vapors of those e-cigarettes in the highest power, stated Portland State University scientists.

The result of the study was published on March 8 in the online journal “PLOS ONE”. The chemistry professor James F. Pankow led the research team, reported EurekAlert. The level of benzene they found from the high powered e-cigarettes was thousand times higher than in the surrounding air. It also depends greatly on the device itself. If it is not at its highest level, the benzene levels are not that high.

When the e-cigarette fluid additive chemicals benzoic acid or benzaldehyde is present it added so much to the benzene levels. However, of course, the level of this is nothing compared to the level of a conventional smoke from a cigarette. Benzene is one component of gasoline. It is very bad for people.

It has been linked to a number of illnesses that are very grave and can cause death. Diseases like leukemia and bone marrow failure are few of the examples of diseases a person can acquire with benzene. Benzene is usually found in the urban areas where industrial emissions are very rampant plus fuel tank leaks. This chemical has been deemed as the largest single cancer-risk air component in the U.S.

Meanwhile, according to Science Daily, the smoke that conventional cigarettes release is affecting the natural healing process of lungs. The blocking then leads to chronic obstructive pulmonary disease or COPD. Cough, bronchitis and breathing difficulties are the major signs of COPD. The findings were published in “American Journal of Respiratory and Critical Care Medicine”. It was from the researchers at the Helmholtz Zentrum München, a partner in the German Center for Lung Research (DZL), and their international colleagues.

An individual with COPD does not heal its own lungs anymore. Researchers are now trying to find out why.

‘War of Innovation’ Rages in Tobacco Industry

A recent Bloomberg report titled “Big Tobacco Has Caught Startup Fever” sheds light on traditional tobacco and cigarette industry leaders’ accelerated race to offer innovative products in light of anti-smoking regulation and campaigns, along with changing consumer preferences. As a byproduct of this shift, market giants such as Philip Morris International Inc. (PM), Reynolds American Inc. (RAI) and Japan Tobacco Inc. have invested heavily in product development, funding tech incubators, launching venture funds and creating apps after the style of Silicon Valley in efforts to develop next-gen reduced-risk tobacco platforms. (See also: Business Groups Increasingly Turn Against Tobacco.)

http://www.investopedia.com/news/war-innovation-rages-tobacco-industry/

‘Next-Gen Nicotine Delivery’

Philip Morris, the world’s largest publicly traded tobacco company, demonstrated its commitment to offer “next-gen nicotine delivery” through a new $111 million environmentally progressive research center called the Cube.

As a testament to the Lausanne, Switzerland-based firm’s new greeting on its re-launched homepage, “Designing a smoke-free future,” the high-tech center has three wings named Earth, Wind and Air. The absence of Fire signifies the company’s push for “heat not burn” tobacco products, including its popular IQOS heat stick. Philip Morris has poured more than $3 billion into new tobacco-based inventions as an alternative to the fragmented e-cigarette market. The decision makes sense given that the largest companies already have a competitive edge in the tobacco space.

A Cigarette-Free Future

A wave of tobacco companies shadowing Philip Morris have shown their willingness to deliver tobacco through any means consumers will adopt, whether it be heat-not-burn products, gum, lozenges, dip, e-cigarettes etc.

In January 2016, America’s second-largest tobacco company, Reynolds, announced the formation of RAI Innovations Co., following the nationwide release of its e-cigarette brand Vuse. Later, British American Tobacco Inc. (BTI) announced plans to acquire Reynolds for $49.4 billion. The London-based company’s CEO, Nicandro Durante, told sources that the deal was more about the future of smokeless nicotine than of scale.

“It’s going to be an arms race,” said analyst Nik Modi of RBC Capital Markets. “Who has the best technology, the best science? Who can get their applications through the FDA the quickest? We’re not in a pricing war. We’re in an innovation war.” (See also: Tobacco Giants Push New ‘Alternative Products’.)