Clear The Air News Tobacco Blog Rotating Header Image

August 31st, 2015:

Philip Morris rolls out iQOS smokeless smokes

Download (PDF, 657KB)

Electronic cigarette effectiveness and abuse liability: predicting and regulating nicotine flux


Electronic cigarettes (ECIGs) comprise an aerosolized nicotine delivery product category that provides consumers with probably unprecedented control over extensive features and operating conditions, allowing a wide range of nicotine yields to be obtained. Depending on the combination of such ECIG variables as electrical power input, geometry, liquid composition, and puff behavior, ECIG users can extract in a few puffs far more or far less nicotine than with a conventional combustible cigarette. These features of ECIG design and use present challenges for public health policy, central among which is the question of how to regulate nicotine delivery. In this commentary, we propose a conceptual framework intended to provide a convenient approach for evaluating and regulating the nicotine emitted from ECIGs. This framework employs nicotine flux to account for the total dose and rate at which nicotine reaches the user, 2 key factors in drug abuse liability. The nicotine flux is the nicotine emitted per puff second (e.g., mg/s) by a given ECIG design under given use conditions, and it can be predicted accurately using physical principles. We speculate that if the flux is too low, users likely will abandon the device and maintain conventional tobacco product use. Also, we speculate that if the flux is too high, individuals may suffer toxic side effects and/or the device may have higher-than-necessary abuse liability. By considering ECIG design, operation conditions, liquid composition, and puff behavior variables in combination, we illustrate how ECIG specifications can be realistically mandated to result in a target flux range.


Introduction Electronic cigarettes (ECIGs) aerosolise a liquid that usually contains propylene glycol and/or vegetable glycerine, flavourants and the dependence-producing drug, nicotine, in various concentrations. This laboratory study examined the relationship between liquid nicotine concentration and plasma nicotine concentration and puffing behaviour in experienced ECIG users.

Methods Sixteen ECIG-experienced participants used a 3.3-Volt ECIG battery attached to a 1.5-Ohm dual-coil ‘cartomiser’ loaded with 1 mL of a flavoured propylene glycol/vegetable glycerine liquid to complete four sessions, at least 2 days apart, that differed by nicotine concentration (0, 8, 18 or 36 mg/mL). In each session, participants completed two 10-puff ECIG-use bouts (30 s puff interval) separated by 60 min. Venous blood was sampled to determine plasma nicotine concentration. Puff duration, volume and average flow rate were measured.

Results Immediately after bout 1, mean plasma nicotine concentration was 5.5 ng/mL (SD=7.7) for 0 mg/mL liquid, with significantly (p<0.05) higher mean concentrations observed for the 8 (mean=17.8 ng/mL, SD=14.6), 18 (mean=25.9 ng/mL, SD=17.5) and 36 mg/mL (mean=30.2 ng/mL; SD=20.0) concentrations; a similar pattern was observed for bout 2. For bout 1, at 36 mg/mL, the mean post- minus pre-bout difference was 24.1 ng/mL (SD=18.3). Puff topography data were consistent with previous results and revealed few reliable differences across conditions.

Discussion This study demonstrates a relationship between ECIG liquid nicotine concentration and user plasma nicotine concentration in experienced ECIG users. Nicotine delivery from some ECIGs may exceed that of a combustible cigarette. The rationale for this higher level of nicotine delivery is uncertain.

WHO welcomes introduction of new tobacco Advertising changes in China

Reducing the glitz and glamour of smoking to lower tobacco-related deaths

BEIJING, 31 August 2015 –Advertising of tobacco products is akin to marketing death and disease. That is why new restrictions on tobacco advertising in China, which come into effect from 1 September are to be warmly welcomed, the World Health Organization (WHO) said today.

“WHO strongly supports the introduction of new restrictions on tobacco advertising contained in China’s revised Advertising Law which take effect this week,” said Dr Bernhard Schwartländer, WHO Representative in China.

“Banning all forms of tobacco advertising, promotion and sponsorship is one of the most cost-effective measures Governments can take to protect the public from the harms of addiction to tobacco use,” Dr Schwartländer said.

From 1 September, it will be prohibited to advertise tobacco products in mass media, public places, on public transport, and outdoors in China. Distribution of any form of tobacco advertising to minors will also be prohibited. Previously, billboard advertising and advertising in some public places was allowed.

“We particularly welcome the revised law’s emphasis on protecting young people from tobacco advertising. This is crucially important: most smokers start up when they are young, and young people are especially susceptible to tobacco marketing. Stopping young people from starting smoking when they are young is almost like a vaccine – it is protecting them for life,” said Dr Schwartländer.

“The implementation of China’s new restrictions on tobacco advertising is another important step forward for China in tackling high rates of tobacco use, and in China meeting its obligations under the WHO’s Framework Convention on Tobacco Control (WHO FCTC),” Dr Schwartländer added.

The WHO FCTC calls for a comprehensive ban on all forms of tobacco advertising, promotion and sponsorship. The Guidelines to the WHO FCTC – adopted by all Parties including China – state that the comprehensive ban should apply to ‘all forms of commercial communication or action … with the aim, effect, or likely effect of promoting a tobacco product or tobacco use either directly or indirectly’.

“Having this new law on the books is a terrific step forward. WHO now looks forward to seeing it comprehensively enforced – so that all forms of tobacco advertising, including in shops and at other tobacco retail points of sale – are banned,” Dr Schwartländer said.

Advertising at retail points of sale is used by the tobacco industry to target young people. According to survey data from China Centre for Disease Control and Prevention (China CDC), 4 per cent of Chinese adults say they noticed tobacco advertisements in stores in the previous 30 days. When asked the same question, more than 40 per cent of teenagers age 13 to 15 said they had noticed tobacco advertising at retail points of sale – a tenfold difference.

“Enforcing a comprehensive ban on all forms of tobacco advertising – including in all public places – has the potential to save millions of lives. WHO will be closely monitoring the enforcement effort to ensure that all forms of tobacco advertising are consigned to the dustbin of history, where they belong,” Dr Schwartländer concluded.

China is the world’s largest producer and consumer of tobacco products. There are more than 300 million smokers in the country – with 28.1% of adults, and more than half of all adult men, regular smokers. Among 13-15 year olds, 11.2% of boys smoke. More than 1 million people die from tobacco-related illness every year – around 3000 people every day. In addition, over 700 million people are routinely exposed to second-hand smoke, which kills approximately 100,000 people every year.



北京,2015年8月31日 – 烟草产品广告无异于死亡和疾病的营销广告。正因为此,世界卫生组织(世卫组织)今天表示热烈欢迎中国9月1日生效的对烟草广告的新限制。





“中国对烟草广告实行新的限制,是向降低高吸烟率、更好地履行世卫组织《烟草控制框架公约》(WHO FCTC)规定义务所迈出的重要一步,”施博士补充道。






Bill to regulate e-cigarettes clears California legislative hurdle

Earlier, a bill to raise California’s cigarette tax by $2 per pack was introduced in the state Senate, a hike that supporters say would curb smoking deaths and critics argue would place an unnecessary burden on consumers and small businesses.

California is looking to restore its reputation for agenda-setting tobacco regulation with measures to raise the smoking age to 21, triple per-pack taxes and regulate e-cigarettes the same as conventional products.

Restrictions and taxes in California and elsewhere could chill the growth of that segment and drive people back to conventional cigarettes, which are more harmful, said Glenn Kassel, a board member for the association who founded Freedom Smokeless, which makes components of smokeless products. New York is first with $4.35 a pack.

A rally for the $2-per-pack tax was held Wednesday subsequent to the Capitol by the Save Lives California coalition, made up of teams such because the California Medical Affiliation, the American Most cancers Society, the American Lung Affiliation and the Service Staff Worldwide Union.

The bill says 40,000 Californians die from tobacco-related illness each year. But because of the influence of the tobacco industry, our tobacco tax is among America’s lowest, at 87 cents per pack. Speaking to the L.A. Times, President of the Howard Jarvis Taxpayers Association Jon Coupal said “at a time when state revenue has recovered and the governor says there is even a surplus, there is no reason for a tax increase”.

As a result of tax and charge will increase require the help of two-thirds of lawmakers in each homes of the Legislature, Democrats in search of to boost taxes will need assistance from their GOP colleagues.

If the Legislature fails to enact the tax, he said, the poll results showing 67 percent support for the measure may not mean much if the issue goes to the ballot and voters are bombarded by negative advertising paid for by Big Tobacco.

Normally, these bills would all pass through the Senate Governmental Organization Committee before heading to a floor vote.

Most Republicans opposed the measure, but Sen. Cathleen Galgiani of Stockton and Richard Roth of Riverside broke with their colleagues on some of the measures. Leno, S-San Francisco. “The rate at which middle and high school students are picking up e-cigarettes – before having smoked anything else in their lives – is alarming”.

E-cigarettes typically contain nicotine and the vapor consists of several chemicals, Leno said. The legislation will also make sure e-cigarettes are covered under the 1994 Stop Tobacco Access to Kids Enforcement (STAKE) Act, which has successfully reduced illegal sales of cigarettes to children. Mike McGuire, D-Healdsburg, that would let local governments impose their own tobacco taxes.

We got an FOI request from Big Tobacco – here’s how it went

Tobacco companies have requested survey data on young people’s smoking habits in the UK and in Australia. Gerard Hastings from University of Stirling says when an FOI request from Philip Morris arrived, it stretched his unit almost to breaking point.

In a world where knowledge is power, information is the antidote to oppression. We citizens must know what those at the top are doing if we’re going to hold them to account. That’s why freedom of information (FOI) legislation is a vital element of any functioning democracy; it helps rebalance power.

As the preamble to the UK’s Freedom of Information Act 2000 enthuses:

“This White Paper marks a watershed in the relationship between the government and people of the United Kingdom.”

But voters are not the only ones making use of FOI; big business has also spotted an opportunity. The latest examples come from tobacco multinational British American Tobacco making FOI requests in Australia for data from surveys about plain packaging for tobacco products.

This is perverse given corporations are among the most powerful entities on earth – far bigger than many countries. World Bank data shows that, in 2011, over 60% of the 175 largest global economic entities were companies not countries, and that this concentration of power is growing rapidly.

Sadly, it seems, whatever the noble intentions of FOI, those with power want to hang on to it.

In Big Tobacco’s crosshairs

“Making an FOI request” sounds benign enough, but its effects on individual recipients can be traumatic. Six years ago, my colleagues and I had our own experience of this very unwelcome sort of attention, when another tobacco multinational, Philip Morris, decided it wanted access to our research unit’s teen smoking study.

The first we knew of what was to befall us was a peremptory letter from the global law firm Clifford Chance. It demanded a vast array of information, including “all primary data”; “all questionnaires”; “all interviewers’ handbooks and/or instructions”; “all data files”; “all record descriptions” and “all information relating to sampling, data collection, handling of non-response and post-stratification weighting and analysis”.

The letter was framed as a request, but warned us that “under the Act” we were “obliged to respond within 20 working days”. The “or else” was left to our imagination.

At an anxious meeting with the university lawyers, we were advised that we had either to provide the information or, relying solely on the terms of the Act, explain why we would not. And that the repercussions for not doing so were just as serious as the letter implied.

This meant a massive amount of work auditing hundreds of files on what was already a decade-long study. Our response, arguing the material was confidential because we had promised the young people we surveyed that it would only be used by bona fide academic researchers, ran to 60 pages.

If at first you fail…

Clifford Chance immediately challenged it and the matter went to the Scottish Information Commissioner for adjudication. The commissioner ruled the initial request illegitimate because the name of the client had not been disclosed.

So, we needn’t have bothered.

Completely unabashed, Philip Morris declared itself, then made a new FOI demand and the whole stressful process began again. So it went on, for two very long years.

We are a university research unit of a dozen people and our funding comes from charitable and public sources. We have no spare capacity. This work had to be done in the evening and at weekends; the worrying was done in the wee small hours.

It stretched us almost to breaking point, and we were left thinking that this was precisely the intention. Our research is a nuisance to tobacco companies. It has shown that advertising does pull children into smoking, that plain packaging discourages uptake, and that in-shop displays are enticing.

It has helped the Scottish and UK governments devise protective legislation, such as the ban on tobacco advertising.

The people prevail

But our attempts to use our suspicions about Philip Morris’ nefarious intentions as a reason for refusing the request got nowhere.

The identity of the applicant is irrelevant in FOI. The fact that this was not a request from “the people of the United Kingdom” but a powerful multinational producing an addictive and lethal carcinogen, mattered not a whit.

Fortunately, “the people of the United Kingdom” are more discerning than Westminster policymakers. They felt the tobacco industry’s record of addicting children and then killing one in two of those who don’t escape their clutches did matter. And that its right to information therefore comes way behind the child’s right to privacy and good health.

When the press publicised the story of the FOI request, the outcry was immediate and cacophonous. An editorial in the Daily Record captured the mood as only a tabloid can:

“Hell should freeze over before a cigarette company is given help to kill more of our fellow Scots.”

We have heard no more from Philip Morris.

It seems FOI does indeed give power to the people, but not quite in the way policymakers intended. And that if power is to be redistributed, it has to be taken away from those at the top as well as given to those at the bottom.

Jury still out on the impact of vaping on your health

Vaping is less harmful than lighting up the real thing, but there’s still not enough good evidence showing that it’s harmless

There’s no question e-cigarettes, also known as vaporizers, are growing in popularity. Many people see vaporizing, or vaping, as an alternative to using traditional cigarettes — and potentially as a tool to help people quit smoking. Vaping is less harmful than lighting up the real thing, but there’s still not enough good evidence showing that it’s harmless.

The first e-cigarette was introduced just over a decade ago. The devices are made up of three components: a cartridge for e-liquids, which may contain nicotine and flavourings; a heating device to generate vapour, which the user inhales; and a battery. Manufacturers have already introduced multiple generations of e-cigarettes. The fact that the technology is relatively new and changes quickly hampers research into the safety of these devices and their utility as smoking cessation aids.

Originally, e-cigarettes looked just like the real thing, and had red LED lights at the end that lit up when users took a drag. Some people even called them “cig-alikes.” Now, they come in variety of different colours and styles and no longer resemble their paper-rolled, tobacco filled counterparts. A new term that’s gaining popularity is Electronic Nicotine Delivery System, or ENDS.

Health Canada hasn’t approved e-liquids containing any nicotine for sale in this country, but that doesn’t mean you can’t buy them. Even the e-liquids that don’t contain nicotine may not be safe.

Some of these “juices” are flavoured with diacetyl, which is known to be toxic when ingested or inhaled in large quantities. Determining the long-term effects of the various chemicals in e-liquids is just one active area of study when it comes to vaping.

My research focuses on tobacco dependence and treatment, including two recent studies involving vaping. One study looked at how effective e-cigarettes are in alleviating cravings for traditional cigarettes. We found they were effective, but only for a short time. The second study involved people enrolled in a free smoking cessation treatment program involving nicotine replacement therapy and counselling. That research found that people using e-cigarettes during treatment were less likely to have quit three and six months after enrolling in the program. Both cases require further research.

Within the tobacco research and control community, vaping remains a polarizing issue. Some of my colleagues believe vaping will spell the end of traditional cigarettes and think the health-care community should be encouraging people to switch to e-cigarettes. Other colleagues believe vaping will renormalize cigarette smoking and undo the progress made through tobacco control efforts over the last 20 years. I think that more high quality research is needed to resolve this issue.

To further complicate matters, many tobacco companies have bought the smaller e-cigarette companies, and are heavily promoting their battery-operated alternatives. For tobacco companies, this has the potential not just to recoup the lost revenue from falling cigarette sales, but it may also be a new way to get new people hooked on their products.

The number of people “lighting up” electronically nearly doubles each year. If the trend continues, vaping could overtake smoking one day. As the demand for these products grows, so does the need to find out all we can about their benefits and risks.

Dr. Laurie Zawertailo is an assistant professor in the Department of Pharmacology and Toxicology. She is also a scientist in the Addictions Program at the Centre for Addiction and Mental Health.

Doctors’ Notes is a weekly column by members of the University of Toronto’s Faculty of Medicine. If you have a question or comment for one of our experts, email .

Vaping Facts

  • The first vaporizing e-cigarette was invented in Beijing in 2003 by a pharmacist, Hon Lik, who hoped to quit his own smoking habit.
  • Imperial Tobacco, which sells its products in 160 countries, bought the patents for Hon’s invention in 2013
  • Disposable vaporizers were introduced in Canada in 2007
  • The World Health Organization called for a ban on the use of e-cigarettes in public places and work places last August
  • In May, Ontario passed a law banning the sale of e-cigarettes to anyone under the age of 19, banning vaping in smoke-free areas, and regulating the promotion and display of e-cigarettes
  • In Canada, it’s illegal for companies to market their vaporizers by claiming e-cigarettes are an effective way to quit smoking or to suggest it’s a safer alternative
  • More than 460 brands of vaporizers are sold worldwide
  • The global market for e-cigarettes is estimated to reach a value of $3 billion this year

The promised ‘transparency’ around TTIP has been a sham

Sven Giegold

The most important documents about the TTIP talks are unavailable to us MEPs as well as the public – and it suits big business to keep it that way.

Are you concerned about the implication of the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (TTIP)? Don’t worry! Only this month, the EU trade commissioner Cecilia Malmström promised another offensive on TTIP transparency: even more documents from the negotiations would be made available.

Her promise was put to the test only a few days later: the corporate transparency nerds of Corporate Europe Observatory finally received documents on exchanges between the tobacco lobby and the Brussels institution concerning TTIP and the EU-Japan trade talks. The punchline of the story? Most of the documents were redacted. An exercise in black humour, in the most literal sense possible. A picture of the blackened documents received thousands of shares and likes on social media since.

This rather amusing episode demonstrates the secrecy that still pervades the trade deals. Certainly, the EU commission has responded to the wave of criticism by civil society organisations against TTIP. A long list of documents, which they had previously kept secret, was published on its website. But the most important TTIP documents are still unavailable. No one knows what the US government is really asking from Europe. This is why many positive as well as negative claims cannot be substantiated, and exaggerations from supporters and adversaries of TTIP dominate the debate. Wikileaks’s offer of a €100,000 reward for the first person to leak the most secret documents is therefore highly welcome.

We shouldn’t make the mistake of focusing too much on TTIP alone, though: not even the EU’s negotiation mandates for most ongoing bilateral trade negotiations are public.

Wikileaks’s offer of a €100,000 reward for the first person to leak the most secret documents is welcome.

Unfortunately, most politicians in the European parliament are as much in the dark as ordinary citizens. We MEPs may get access to a few more documents in the parliament’s reading room than those searching the EU commission’s website. Nevertheless, the most important ones containing the demands of the US government are kept secret, even from MEPs. Even worse, although there are thousands of pages of documents, readers are not allowed to take any notes. Non-native English-speaking MEPs are further deterred by highly technical trade-law jargon. And while we could employ staff who are better trained to read the documents, they are not allowed to access the reading rooms. Therefore, the right of access to documents for MEPs is largely a sham. A real understanding of what is going on is only achieved through the actual publication of documents.

Green MEPs have consistently demanded that full transparency of trade negotiation should be made a precondition for their progress. I simply do not understand that – in particular – conservative, liberal and socialist colleagues applaud the continuation of negotiations that they cannot effectively control.

In order to regain credibility and public trust, the European Commission should end secrecy in trade negotiations and publish all important documents and in particular all negotiation mandates.

As tempting as it may be to assume that this lack of transparency is solely an EU phenomenon, it is not. International deals have always been negotiated in darkness. This is why not even Europhobic governments such as the Conservatives in the UK have complained credibly about the lack of TTIP transparency. Otherwise it would become too evident that their own international negotiations are hidden behind the same veil of opacity. The European parliament continues to be the only important political space where representatives from different countries negotiate international law under the eyes of the public. This is a historic achievement in building international democracy, of which Europe can be truly proud.

Beyond the lack of transparency, the real trouble with TTIP and the EU’s multitude of bilateral trade deals is not in the method, but in substance. Europe should put its weight behind a multilateral trading system based on open markets, fairness, sustainability and democracy. An equitable reform of the World Trade Organisation rules is clearly better for business and ethics than lots of bilateral trade and investment treaties. It is a myth that the WTO will never progress. The WTO trade talks could succeed if EU member states were ready to end unfair privileges, such as unsustainable agricultural subsidies and an obsession with intellectual property rights even in the poorest countries.

TTIP, CETA and other bilaterals are much more than traditional trade agreements. They are deals aimed at harmonising or mutually recognising regulations and standards for goods and services. This touches the very heart of our democracies in Europe. Certainly international harmonisation of technical standards can enhance efficiency and cut red tape. A TTIP limited to technical standards and their application only could be positive.

But when it comes to values-based choices, democracies must be free to change the level of regulation. Unfortunately, TTIP and co are about the most valuable standards in our societies, such healthy food, stable financial markets or chemical safety. European democracy should be able to increase environmental, social and consumer rights without having to find agreement with trading partners or to put its own businesses into a competitive disadvantage.

Europe must remain free to develop the common market into a space of high standards for consumers, workers and the environment. Blocking this is likely to be the real motive behind the big business lobby’s obsession with TTIP and co. Europe is big enough to sustain a high level of social, consumer, health and consumer rights even in a globalising world. No transnational company wants to stop selling to the European common market. Therefore, Europeans hold in their hand a powerful tool for greening global business. This democratic tool we must not give up for the small potential benefits of bilateral trade deals negotiated behind a veil of secrecy.

E-cigarettes effects: 5 ways vaping can harm you

E-cigarettes are electronic vaping devices that have become a well-known alternative to traditional tobacco smoking. While others say that this is a healthier choice, a research on the topic shows otherwise.

E-cigarettes may not produce ash and real smoke but it doesn’t mean they’re safer. Here are five ways that vaping can harm you:

1.) E-cigarettes have toxic chemicals

For those hoping that e-cigarettes are safer than tobaccos, think again. A study from the German Cancer Institute revealed that there eight different chemicals involved in many types of e-cig liquids including formaldehyde.

To back this up, the American Lung Association also issued a statement on their findings about e-cigarettes.

“In 2009, the FDA conducted lab tests and found detectable levels of toxic cancer-causing chemicals, including an ingredient used in antifreeze, in two leading brands of e-cigarettes and 18 various cartridges,” the agency wrote in their website, “A 2014 study found that e-cigarettes with a higher voltage level have higher amounts of formaldehyde, a carcinogen.”

In addition, secondhand emission of e-cigarettes has found to contain carcinogenic substances such as benzene, formaldehyde and nitrosamines.

2.) E-cigarettes are not regulated

In fact, according to, they are the least regulated of all non-tobacco alternatives. It also has no warning labels and is accessible to anyone of any age. In addition, the US Food and Drug Administration have not approved it as a suitable alternative for smoking tobacco.

3.) Liquid nicotine when drunk is poisonous especially to children

The liquid nicotine that is used for vaping in e-cigarettes is peddled in many varieties of flavors, smell and colors. This makes it appealing for unknowing children to taste or eat. According to the report by HealthDay, a teaspoon of this substance is considered to be deadly to children. Trace amounts of it can also cause nausea and vomiting that may land hem in the hospital.

In addition, liquid nicotine doesn’t come in childproof caps and people who vape don’t keep the bottles out of reach of children which makes them susceptible to danger.

4.) E-cigarettes can trigger inflammation which is linked to chronic illnesses

In an article published in Science News, scientists have found that e-cigarettes have nanoparticles which can cause inflammation similar to heart disease, diabetes, stroke, and asthma.

5.) E-cigarettes are just as addictive as tobacco

According to Inquisitr, vaping won’t actually help you quit the habit. In fact, it helped them stay with their addiction.

“We found that there was no difference in the rate of quitting between smokers who used an e-cigarette and those who did not,” Dr. Pamela Ling of UC San Francisco’s Center for Tobacco Control Research and Education told the outlet.

E-cigarettes remain illegal

NO CHANGE: Despite conflicting reports, MOH is sticking by its view that they are dangerous.

Hariz Baharudin
Monday, Aug 31, 2015

The United Kingdom’s public health authority recently issued a report that said e-cigarettes are not only 95 per cent less harmful than regular cigarettes, but also have the potential to help smokers quit.

But despite this stand by Public Health England (PHE), Singapore’s Ministry of Health (MOH) is sticking by its view that e-cigarettes are dangerous and will remain illegal.

In response to queries by The New Paper, an MOH spokesman said that the ban on e-cigarettes in Singapore, which will take effect from Dec 15, “takes a high precautionary level of protection for the public’s health”.

According to MOH, the vapour from e-cigarettes still contains cancer-causing agents, which pose a real risk to both users and bystanders. “Additionally, we remain concerned that e-cigarettes could attract and harm a large number of new users (who may not necessarily be current smokers), get them addicted to nicotine, and hence potentially serve as a gateway to developing a smoking habit, particularly among our young,” the spokesman added.

The PHE finding suggests there is no evidence that e-cigarettes are acting as a gateway to smoking for children and non-smokers. In fact, the study suggests that the opposite is happening – e-cigarettes may be contributing to falling smoking rates among adults and young people.

The PHE study was released on Aug 19 and led by academics from King’s College London and Queen Mary University of London.

Its findings have not only been challenged by MOH, but also departs from those of other health bodies.

In 2014, the World Health Organisation released a report that backed stricter regulations for e-cigarettes and supported a ban on their use indoors and sale to minors.

Another recent study by researchers from the University of Southern California suggests that teens who tried electronic cigarettes might be more than twice as likely to move on to smoking conventional cigarettes. Moreover, a report published on Aug 29 in medical journal The Lancet has cast some doubt about PHE’s assertion that e-cigarettes are 95 per cent less harmful.

This claim, according to The Lancet, originated from a 2014 study in which at least three of its 11 authors had roles in the e-cigarette industry, with one of them having served as a consultant to e-cigarette distributor Arbi Group Srl.


This raises questions about PHE’s conclusions. The Lancet says PHE has “fallen short of its mission” to “protect and improve the nation’s health and well-being” by relying on an “extraordinarily flimsy foundation”.

Oncologist Dr Wong Seng Weng says that e-cigarettes are still largely misunderstood.

He said: “The discussion is that there is less harm, but some research says that fumes might be carcinogenic. There is not enough data to be safe.”

As for the assertion that e-cigarettes can help smokers quit, Dr Leong Choon Kit, a family physician from Mission Medical Clinic, said: “It does not solve the underlying problem of addiction. It’s like taking the easy way out without getting to the root.”

Managing director at MW Medical Centre, Dr Madeleine Chew, agreed with this. “Nicotine creates craving and dependence, which are not desirable traits in human beings,” she said.

However, at least one medical expert said that the situation is not so simple, as there is a chance that e-cigarettes could help people curb their tobacco addiction.

Psychiatrist Associate Professor Munidasa Winslow said: “Unfortunately both approaches are true. It can be a gateway to actual smoking, but it does help some with cigarette or tobacco addiction to stop or reduce their use. Unfortunately the jury is still out on whether there is any real benefit from using e-cigarettes.”

It is an offence to import, distribute or sell e-cigarettes here. Since 2011, the Health Sciences Authority (HSA) has prosecuted 10 people for selling such products. The penalty is a fine of up to S$5,000 for a first offence and a fine of up to $10,000 for a second or subsequent offence on each count.

Anyone with information on the illegal import, distribution or sales of e-cigarettes can call the HSA’s Tobacco Regulation Branch on 6684-2036 or 6684-2037

EU: Is your borough a no-TTIP zone? Make it happen

Local opposition offers new hope, writes KEVIN SMITH

POLITICIANS in both Brussels and Westminster have taken great pains to try to brush off people’s many concerns about the toxic EU-US trade deal being pushed through. But a new front is emerging in the battle against the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (TTIP). This front is harnessing the energy of grassroots groups to push local councils to oppose the corporate power grab TTIP represents. In Britain and across Europe, TTIP-free zones are popping up.

It may be seen as a purely symbolic gesture to get your local council to declare itself a TTIP-free zone. After all, these councils don’t have a direct say in whether or not the deal would be passed. But there is political value in creating pressure in this manner — it’s a powerful expression of grassroots opposition that MPs and MEPs might otherwise not be exposed to.

But TTIP-free zones help highlight the effect TTIP would have on the powers of local councils. TTIP could also affect existing powers granted to local authorities such as planning. The decision of Lancashire County Council to deny planning permission for fracking in the local area is the sort of decision that would be harder to make under TTIP — first because such a decision could be challenged in the corporate courts of the Investor-State Dispute Settlement system, and second because of the pressure to “harmonise” energy regulations.

The provision of local public services and procurement could also be affected. Current EU rules allow for environmental and social considerations in awarding contracts. For example, local governments can decide to buy only fairtrade or organic produce. Local authorities are also allowed to ensure that procurement benefits small and medium-sized businesses in the area. For instance, a number of cities, including Manchester and Glasgow, have become sustainable food cities and are trying to use more locally sourced, sustainable food in the public sector.

This could all be threatened under TTIP because the European Commission, keen to access US local markets by getting rid of “Buy America” schemes across the Atlantic, has said it wants TTIP to open local procurement to greater competition. This means that procurement could be constrained far more by price alone — giving US multinationals more access to markets at the expense of the local economy and the environment. Official EU estimates are that TTIP will induce a 25-50 per cent liberalisation of government procurement.

So it’s not surprising that in a short space of time, 19 local councils across Britain have, to some extent, declared themselves TTIP-free zones, including Sheffield, Glasgow and Bradford city councils. Chas Booth, a Green Party councillor for Leith, Edinburgh, which is one of those 19 councils, said: “In Edinburgh, we are proud of initiatives such as the Edinburgh Guarantee, which aims to ensure employment or training for school leavers. Likewise the Edible Edinburgh initiative aims to encourage local and seasonal food. These are just two of the possible targets from corporate lawyers if TTIP goes through unchallenged.”

And it’s not just Britain that’s worried. In Austria, Germany, France and Belgium there are significant numbers of TTIP-free zones being declared by local authorities. When negotiators in Brussels leave their meetings they immediately walk out into the Brussels municipality which is itself a TTIP-free zone. There are 39 no-TTIP councils in Spain and a good covering in northern Italy. This is a Europe-wide movement of local resistance to the corporate power grab that TTIP represents.

There still a long way to go. There are over 400 local councils of different kinds in Britain, so there are a lot of opportunities for local groups concerned about TTIP to raise the issue. Fortunately Global Justice Now has worked with public-sector union Unison to produce a campaign pack consisting of briefings, posters, leaflets, badges, stickers and a sample motion for you to use asking your local council to become a TTIP-free zone. They’re free and can be ordered from

The biggest threat of TTIP has always been to democracy — the threat that corporations could have more say about what we eat, what we wear and how we structure our societies. So it’s fitting that one of the most exciting forms of resistance happening right now is happening within local democracy, which is less impeded by the corporate lobbying that’s so prevalent in Brussels and Westminster. Get in touch with your local councillors about becoming a TTIP-free zone and let us know how you get on.