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December, 2014:

New NY law requires childproof packaging for liquid nicotine

The measure follows the nicotine-poisoning death of a toddler

Liquid nicotine sold in New York must be packaged in childproof containers under terms of a new law signed by Gov. Andrew Cuomo yesterday. The measure also bans the sale of liquid nicotine to those under 21 in New York City and under 18 in the rest of the state.

New York banned the sale of electronic cigarettes to minors in 2010, but did not explicitly ban the sale of the liquid nicotine, according to a news release from the governor’s office.

“This action will help combat nicotine addiction by keeping it out of the hands of minors, as well as prevent a heartbreaking accident that can occur if a child is exposed to this potentially dangerous substance,” Cuomo said. “I am proud to sign this legislation into law and thank the sponsors for their work on this much-needed initiative.”

The measure follows the death of a one-year-old Fort Plain, N.Y., toddler who died after swallowing liquid nicotine.

Assemblywoman Linda B. Rosenthal (D-Manhattan), who sponsored the bill, cited the boy’s death as a reason why the law was needed.

“The accidental death of the one-year-old boy from Fort Plain, N.Y. as a result of liquid nicotine poisoning, the first of its kind in the nation, makes clear the need for this kind of common-sense legislation,” Rosenthal said in a statement.

Highly toxic

Liquid nicotine, often known as electronic liquid or e-liquid, is a composite of nicotine and other chemicals. Concentrated liquid nicotine is highly toxic, even in small doses, and if ingested, liquid nicotine may cause tremors, vomiting, seizures, and potentially, death. For infants and children, ingesting liquid nicotine is particularly lethal.

According to a 2014 Centers for Disease Control Report, the number of calls to poison control centers involving liquid nicotine rose from one per month in September 2010 to 215 per month in February 2014. More than half of the calls (51.1%) involved children under age 5.

Do larger graphic health warnings on standardised cigarette packs increase adolescents’ cognitive processing of consumer health information and beliefs about smoking-related harms?

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Uruguay Takes on London Bankers, Marlboro Mad Men and the TPP

12 December 2014

Michael Meurer

What the hell is happening in tiny Uruguay? South America’s second smallest country, with a population of just 3.4 million, has generated international headlines out of proportion to its size over the past year by becoming the first nation to legalize marijuana in December 2013, by welcoming Syrian refugees into the country in October 2014 and by accepting the first six US prisoners resettled to South America from the Guantánamo Bay prison on December 6, 2014.

Outgoing President Jose Mujica, a colorful former Tupamaros rebel who was imprisoned and brutally tortured by the military during the era of the disappeared in the 1970s under US-supported Operation Condor in Uruguay, Chile, Argentina and other nations of the Southern Cone, is a favorite media subject and has been at the center of these actions.

Yet an even larger story with deeper historical roots and global implications is unfolding simultaneously in Uruguay with minimal media attention. Uruguay has spent the last decade quietly defying the new transnational order of global banks, multinational corporations and supranational trade tribunals and is now in a fight for its survival as an independent nation. It is a rich and important story that needs to be told.


Half of Hong Kong’s elderly smokers die from related diseases, says study

16 December, 2014

Elizabeth Cheung

Study of over-65s in city reveals that ‘alarming’ number succumb to cancer and other illnesses, prompting call for another rise in tobacco tax

Half of Hong Kong’s elderly smokers aged over 65 die from related illnesses such as lung cancer and cardiovascular diseases, a study has found.

The world’s largest research project on smoking among the elderly was conducted by the University of Hong Kong and the Department of Health.

Researchers spent 11 years between 2001 and 2012 studying 65,510 elderly people aged over 65 from 18 health centres under the health department.

They found that among all elderly smokers, one in every two, were killed by smoking-related diseases. Given that there were a total of 6,235 male and female smokers in the study, about 3,117 people died because of smoking.

Lung cancer risk for the elderly was increased by 421 per cent, and 63 per cent in cardiovascular diseases, when compared with non-smokers, the study said.

The World Health Organisation has stated that tobacco kills around six million people around the world every year.

“The result is alarming and deserves our attention … if the elderly quit smoking, we found that their survival rate can be largely improved,” said Professor Lam Tai-hing, chair professor of HKU’s school of public health.

The team said that the risk of lung cancer can be reduced by 30 to 50 per cent when elderly people quit smoking for 10 years.

Stopping smoking also brought instant benefits – blood pressure would be lowered in 20 minutes, blood oxygen would get back to normal in eight hours, and respiration and physical function would improve in three days, the study said.

Quitting before 50 could reduce the risk of dying in the next 15 years by half. “It is better to quit before age 40 or even before 30,” said Lam.

Currently there are some 270,000 smokers aged 50 or over in Hong Kong, with those in their 50s consuming 13.8 cigarettes per day – the highest among all age groups. Researchers suggested an increase in tobacco tax to encourage elderly people to quit the habit.

A WHO report in 2009 stated that tobacco tax increases were the “single most effective way to decrease tobacco use”. It suggested tax should make up 70 per cent of the tobacco price. The local tax is now around 69 per cent.

“The tobacco tax must be raised, even just slightly,” said Lam. “The greater the increase, the better the effect [in smoking cessation].”

While the local smoking prevalence rate in 2012 was 10.7 per cent, the Hong Kong government has set a target to reduce that to 5 per cent by 2022.

Life in the balance for elderly smokers

December 17, 2014

Elderly smokers have a 50 percent chance of dying from smoking-related diseases, the results of an 11-year study show.

Researchers from the University of Hong Kong’s Li Ka Shing Faculty of Medicine and the Department of Health, studied 65,500 elderly people, aged over 65 from 18 elderly health centers, since 1998, to find the association between smoking, quitting and mortality.

Of the 65,500, 42,900 were female and 22,600 were male.

Of the male interviewees, 42 percent were former smokers and had already quit, 38 percent were non-smokers and 20 percent were current smokers. Of these, 30 percent died during the study period. Of the women, 88 percent never smoked, 8 percent were former smokers and 4 percent were current smokers.

Eleven percent of the men died from lung cancer, 25 percent from cardiovascular diseases and 64 percent from other causes.

Nine percent of the women died lung cancer, 31 percent of cardiovascular disease and 60 percent from other causes.

The study found that compared to non-smokers, the risk of lung cancer increased four times and mortality from cardiovascular diseases doubled.

“Among all elderly smokers, there were 44 deaths per year out of every 1,000 persons, while it was 22 deaths out of 1,000 persons for non-smokers,” Lam Tai-hing, chair professor of HKU School of Public Health, Li Ka Shing Faculty of Medicine, said.

“Many have the misunderstanding that since they’ve been smoking for a long time the damage has already been done,” Lam added.

“Others say that since they are still fine at 80, there is no problem, but this is not true.”

Antonio Kwong Cho-shing, chairman of the Council on Smoking and Health, said there are 645,000 smokers in Hong Kong, with those aged 50-59 accounting for the highest average daily consumption of cigarettes.


Australian adult smokers’ responses to plain packaging with larger graphic health warnings 1 year after implementation

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An analysis of the tobacco industry’ attempts to ‘break the health silo’

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NY toddler dies after drinking liquid nicotine in e-cig refill

Incidents of nicotine poisoning have surged with the popularity of e-cigarettes

A toddler in New York is the latest apparent victim of a new household hazard — liquid nicotine refills for e-cigarettes. Police in Fort Plain, N.Y., said they answered a call concerning an unresponsive child. The child was taken to a local hospital and died a short time later.

Sgt. Austin Ryan of the Fort Plain police said investigators were told the child drank from a bottle containing liquid refills for e-cigarettes.

Though shocking, such accidents are becoming increasingly common. Earlier this year, it was reported that a CDC study published in the agency’s Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report found that calls to poison control centers for nicotine ingestion by children shot up from 1 per month in September 2010 to 215 per month this past February. And, the report says, the number of calls per month involving conventional cigarettes did not show a similar increase during the same time period.

The New York General Assembly recently passed a measure requiring child-resistant containers on e-cigarette refills, which are often flavored with fruit and other sweet substances attractive to children.

The CDC report said that more than half (51.1%) of the calls to poison centers due to e-cigarettes involved young children 5 years and under, and about 42% of the poison calls involved people age 20 and older.

The analysis, which compared total monthly poison center calls involving e-cigarettes and conventional cigarettes, found the proportion of e-cigarette calls jumped from 0.3% in September 2010 to 41.7% in February 2014.

Poisoning from conventional cigarettes is generally due to young children eating them. Poisoning related to e-cigarettes involves the liquid containing nicotine used in the devices and can occur in three ways: by ingestion, inhalation or absorption through the skin or eyes.

Red flag

“This report raises another red flag about e-cigarettes — the liquid nicotine used in e-cigarettes can be hazardous,” said CDC Director Tom Frieden, M.D., M.P.H. “Use of these products is skyrocketing and these poisonings will continue. E-cigarette liquids as currently sold are a threat to small children because they are not required to be childproof, and they come in candy and fruit flavors that are appealing to children.”

“One teaspoon of liquid nicotine could be lethal to a child, and smaller amounts can cause severe illness, often requiring trips to the emergency department,” the American Association of Poison Control (AAPC) centers said recently.

Adults should use care to protect their skin when handling the products, and they should be out of sight and out of the reach of children, AAPC said. Additionally, those using these products should dispose of them properly to prevent exposure to pets and children from the residue or liquid left in the container.

The American Association of Poison Control Centers recommends the following steps:

Protect your skin when handling the products.

Always keep e-cigarettes and liquid nicotine locked up and out of the reach of children.

Follow the specific disposal instructions on the label.

If you think someone has been exposed to an e-cigarette or liquid nicotine, call your local poison center at 1-800-222-1222 immediately.

E-Cig Liquid Nicotine Linked To 1-Year-Old’s Death; Poison Control Centers Say FDA Should Move Forward With Regulations

E-cigarettes, with their reputation for being safer than regular cigarettes, have seen record gains in usage. Their use among middle and high school students more than tripled between 2011 and 2013, going from 79,000 to 263,000 students, according to an August study. And on Thursday, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) released a report showing that 10 states and the District of Columbia don’t restrict e-cig sales to minors, giving over 16 million children access to the devices and liquid nicotine. The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has stalled passing any sort of regulations on these products, and it’s because of this that a 1-year-old toddler from upstate New York died last week.

The toddler, from Fort Plain, N.Y., died last Tuesday after ingesting liquid nicotine. It’s believed he’s the first child in the U.S. to die from the product, which is sold in bottles, separate from the e-cigarette devices. After the child was found unresponsive, he was immediately taken to a hospital where he was pronounced dead, ABC News reported. Although the nicotine is commonly used for e-cigarettes, Fort Plain police didn’t specify in a statement whether it was associated with the device.

The child’s death brings to the forefront these regulation issues, which have largely gone under the radar since the FDA first proposed new ones in August. “One teaspoon of liquid nicotine could be lethal to a child, and smaller amounts can cause severe illness, often requiring trips to the emergency department,” the American Association of Poison Control Centers said in a statement on Friday, according to ABC News. “Despite the dangers these products pose to children, there are currently no standards set in place that require child-proof packaging.”

The Association also said that rates of nicotine exposure, either through ingestion, inhalation, or absorption through skin had risen since 2011, when there were only 271 exposures. As of Nov. 30, there had already been 3,638 exposures in 2014. “They’re not that difficult to get into,” Dr. Donna Seger, director of the poison control center at Vanderbilt University Medical Center, told ABC News. With many of these bottles containing colorful, flavored nicotine, such as chocolate, berry, and cotton candy, it’s no wonder kids see them and think they’re something else. Making the issue worse is that it’s not always clear how concentrated the liquid is with nicotine — they come in strengths ranging from 6 to 24 milligrams.

Nicotine poisoning has been associated with symptoms from nausea and vomiting to more dire conditions, such as a slowed heart rate, low blood pressure, seizures, lethargy, paralysis, and coma. According to ABC News, some states have begun implementing laws requiring child-resistant packaging. New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo is expected to sign one of these bills within the next few weeks.

The impact of the 2009/2010 enhancement of cigarette health warning labels in Uruguay

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