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September 25th, 2017:

Nicotine is still nicotine, no matter the delivery system, and it’s still bad for you

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Tobacco demand to fall 40% after new excise tax

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Labour HEALTH spokesman Anas Sarwar under fire as family firm promotes benefits of smokers to clients

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Hasten passing of tobacco laws tobacco control

MALAYSIA became party to the WHO Framework Convention on Tobacco Control (FCTC) in 2003. FCTC Article 15 enumerates in detail measures to tackle illicit trade in tobacco products.

Although the relevant authorities have been discussing the illicit trade in tobacco products, including preparation for the ratification of the Protocol to Eliminate Illicit Trade in Tobacco Products (ITP) by Malaysia, there seems to be lack of or even absence of serious and effective measures to stop the reportedly growing illicit trade in tobacco products so far.

Article 15.7 of the FCTC calls for licensing to control or regulate the production and distribution of tobacco products in order to prevent illicit trade.

The National Kenaf and Tobacco Board Act 2009 amendment in 2010 stipulates licensing of tobacco and tobacco products.

Licensing of Tobacco and Tobacco Products Regulation 2011 has yet to be implemented amid continued opposition by the tobacco industry.

We must be reminded that the provision on the ban of kiddie packs under The Control of Tobacco Product Regulations 2004 was also delayed for over six years due to interference by the tobacco industry.

Again, this is in contravention to Article 5 General obligations of the WHO FCTC, which states in 5.3: “In setting and implementing their public health policies with respect to tobacco control, Parties shall act to protect these policies from commercial and other vested interests of the tobacco industry in accordance with national law.”

With such blatant disregard to legal provisions and international treaty obligations, the tobacco industry’s typical threats of loss of employment, loss to tobacco farmers, increasing illicit cigarettes and now the increased use of illicit cigarettes by young smokers become the emotive justification by the industry and the front groups in chorus to blind and blinker all the public healthcare professionals’ expert recommendations.

Cigarette retailers and the cigarette companies are not a stakeholder in deciding public health policies. They have vested interest in the sale and promotion of tobacco products.

WHO reports link direct and indirect involvement of the tobacco industry in the smuggling and illicit trade of tobacco products. As such, they have no credibility and their proposal aims only to guarantee benefits to them.

Instead of entertaining regressive ideas and proposals, all related parties should be tightening the tobacco products supply chain under the Blue Ocean Strategy.

For a start, immediately institute a ban on sale of tobacco products at places other than permanent premises.

This measure was successfully used to tackle pirated CD/DVD sale by local governments before.

Hasten the implementation of licensing of tobacco and tobacco products by National Kenaf and Tobacco Board.


Tobacco Control @ Smoke Free Malaysia Initiative
Federation of Malaysia Consumers Association

Nicotine is still nicotine, no matter the delivery system, and it’s still bad for you

House Call: Nicotine is still nicotine, no matter the delivery system, and it’s still bad for you

E-cigarettes have been available in the United States for just more than 10 years now. In that time, they have really taken off and are becoming increasingly popular. They are frequently marketed as a safe alternative to smoking and other tobacco products, and sometimes as a tool to help you stop smoking all together. I’d like to have a look at these claims and other issues surrounding vaping.

Because e-cigarettes are so new, we don’t have solid information about their long-term health effects, but we can make educated predictions from what we know about lung damage from other types of chemical exposure. E-cigarettes may reduce your exposure to the harmful chemicals connected to smoking tobacco, but they are exposing you to other harmful chemicals. These are connected to the breakdown of the chemicals (nicotine, propylene glycol, glycerin, and flavoring compounds) during heating. The vapor from e-cigarettes goes deep into the lungs and contains a soup of toxic compounds from the heating of the fluid to 450 degrees F or higher, breaking down and allowing the recombination of the component chemicals into an enormous variety of chemicals. These compounds are much more likely than not to damage the lungs, even in nicotine-free vaping.

As a tool to help a person stop smoking, e-cigarettes produce mixed results. There are a few reports of people successfully quitting the habit using e-cigarettes, but there are far more cases where people simply end up using them to replace tobacco use in situations where they cannot smoke. Sometimes people even end up consuming more nicotine per day than they were before they started using e-cigarettes. Another issue with e-cigarettes that I was surprised to learn about was injury due to battery faults. Every year, there are people who are injured by exploding e-cigarette batteries.

A big problem I’ve seen with e-cigarettes has to do with young people. Many of the flavors offered are enticing to young people and research has shown that young people who vape are five times more likely to try smoking cigarettes than those who do not vape.

With the invention of nicotine delivery systems such as e-cigarettes, more research is being done on the effects of nicotine exposure that does not involve tobacco. The news is not good. In 2015, a group of scientists reviewed 90 articles reporting on the effects of nicotine that excluded exposure through smoking. Even without exposure to the tar and other chemicals from tobacco smoke, exposure to nicotine is harmful to your body. That said, there is debate in the public health community about e-cigs. In England, they are being recommended alongside nicotine patches, gum, etc., as an aid for quitting smoking. While I am not ready to recommend them, I agree that it is hard to believe that they are worse than burning compost and sucking the smoke into your lungs. Cough. Gag.

As I have written in previous columns, nicotine damages your cardiovascular system and puts you at increased risk of strokes, heart attacks and arterial disease. Nicotine makes wounds heal more slowly, so if you are injured or have to have surgery, your recovery time will be longer than it ought to be. Nicotine in any form increases the risk of getting cancer.

My advice is if you don’t vape, don’t start. If you smoke cigarettes and want to stop, don’t use e-cigarettes as a way to wean yourself off of nicotine. Talk with your doctor about trying one of several proven methods of smoking cessation and give one a try.

Dr. Bob Riggs is a family medicine physician practicing at Kaiser Permanente’s Riverfront Medical Center. His column appears biweekly in The Spokesman-Review.

Swedish snus company sues Norwegian state over neutral packaging

Snus producer Swedish Match is taking the Norwegian state to court as it seeks an injunction to delay neutral packaging.

A change in Norwegian law requiring all tobacco products to be given neutral packaging is set to be tested in court.

That includes snus, a moist powder tobacco product related to dry snuff that is popular in Norway and Sweden. The product is consumed by placing under the upper lip for extended periods.

The law, which came in to effect on July 1st this year, means that packaging of snus, as well as of cigarettes, must now be neutral.

All tobacco companies must introduce neutral packaging on their products by July 1st 2018, the final deadline for doing so after the new law was introduced.

But the Swedish company wants a temporary injunction to be taken out over snus products, reports news agency NTB.

Swedish Match will meet representatives from Norwegian authorities in court on Monday over the issue.

The company claims that the requirement set down by the Norwegian government is in breach of EEC free trade rules, and that the deadline for the new packaging must therefore be delayed until the EEC issue has been resolved by an as-yet undefined trial.

“Regulation that constitutes such a strong intervention as standardised packaging is not in proportion to the possible health risks associated with snus,” Swedish Match spokesperson Patrik Hildingsson told newspaper VG earlier this year.

Norways’s minister for health Bent Høie told the newspaper that he was not surprised by lawsuits from tobacco companies in the wake of the regulation introduced on July 1st.

“They did it in Australia, France and the United Kingdom, and lost everywhere,” Høie told VG.

The general secretary of the Norwegian Cancer Society (Kreftforeningen) said that she was, like Høie, unsurprised at the decision of tobacco companies to pursue legal options.

“This is a well-known tactic used to challenge a political initiative to ensure fewer young people start using snus,” Anne Lise Ryel said in a press statement.

The number of young people smoking has reduced significantly over the last ten years, while the used of snus has increased, according to NTB’s report.

One third of young men and just under a quarter of young women currently used the product, according to the report, while over 10,000 young people start using it each year.