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May 26th, 2016:

New Zealand To Hike Cigarette Prices To $20 A Pack Under New Budget Plan

The New Zealand government released its annual budget plan Thursday, hitting hard smokers as well as industries that contribute to pollution, the Associated Press (AP) reported.

Over the next four years, the government reportedly plans to hike tobacco taxes by 46 percent in a bid to eliminate smoking from the country by 2025.

Once the taxes are in place, a pack of 20 cigarettes will cost about 30 New Zealand dollars ($20). According to the AP, this trumps most countries in terms of pricing.

The tax plan was pushed by the Maori Party. The party’s co-leader Te Ururoa Flavell reportedly said it was the right thing to do, even if it would cost his constituents more money. It has been reported that indigenous Maori have a relatively high smoking rate.

“What I do know is that there are so many of our young women, because research tells us that, who are dying because of cancer,” Flavell said.

“I’m happy in my heart. If I can save more than one life, I would have done my job,” he added.

In an attempt to reduce its greenhouse gas emissions by 30 percent from 2005 levels by 2030, the budget plans to eliminate a subsidy for polluting businesses that was introduced to help them after the 2008 global financial crisis.

Following this, these businesses will need to pay more for releasing polluting gases.

Although the budget includes increases in spending for health, low-income housing and schools, the opposition says the government has failed to address a housing crisis in parts of the country.

“What was needed today was a clear plan to build thousands of affordable homes, lift wages and fix our creaking public services,” leader of the opposition Andrew Little reportedly said, adding: “Instead we have a government still focused on those at the top while most New Zealand families miss out.”

SA set to join global plain cigarette packaging trend

THE South African Government is preparing a Draft Bill to introduce plain packaging of tobacco products. The Cancer Association of South Africa (CANSA) welcomes this stand against tobacco use.

The Cancer Association of South Africa (CANSA) supports the call from the Secretariat of the World Health Organisation (WHO) Framework Convention on Tobacco Control that requires tobacco products to have plain packaging and graphic warning signs.

The purpose of plain packaging is to make tobacco products less attractive by preventing its use for advertising. Graphic warnings will show the harmful effects of smoking.

Plain packaging restricts the use of logos, colours, brand images and promotional information. The UK, Northern Ireland and France have all passed laws enforcing plain packaging as from May 2016.

CANSA also points out that that tobacco consumption in Australia decreased by 13 percent since plain packaging was introduced three years ago – a strong indication that it helps to reduce smoking.

Protecting public health

In a 2015 news release, the WHO confirmed that there was a worldwide decline in the use of tobacco and an increase in numbers of non-smokers. Governments were however urged to intensify their action to dramatically reduce consumption of tobacco products in order to protect public health.

In 2016, the European Court of Justice, based in Luxembourg approved sweeping new rules requiring plain cigarette packs, banning menthol cigarettes and regulating theelectronic cigarette market.

Problems caused by smoking

Tobacco originated in the Americas, and the first European to discover smoking was Christopher Columbus. By the 1600s the use of tobacco had spread across Europe and the British Isles.

The “active” ingredient in tobacco is nicotine which is a highly addictive drug. Withdrawal from nicotine can cause anxiety, depression and irritation, headaches and sleep problems.

Smoking lowers life expectancy, and the following are some of the most common examples of diseases/problems caused by smoking:

· Lung cancer

· Other types of cancer

· Blindness, cataracts and macular degeneration

· Chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD)

· Heart disease

· Stroke

· Asthma

· Reproductive problems

· Premature birth

· Diabetes

According to the American Lung association each year more than 480 000 people directly or indirectly die from tobacco use, which makes it the number one cause of preventable death in the US.

In the 1960s, almost half of the US population were smoking, but more than a decade earlier important studies started appearing in the medical literature highlighting the dangers of smoking.

The 1964, the Surgeon General’s report and subsequent others made the public aware of the dangers of smoking, and despite efforts by the tobacco industry to keep its clients, the percentage of Americans who smoke dropped from 42 percent in 1964 (at its peak) to 18% in 2014.

The situation in South Africa:

According to a study published in the South African Medical Journal (2010) smoking causes an estimated eight percent of adult deaths in South Africa.

There has been a drop in the prevalence of smoking which has been mainly attributed to sharp increases in cigarette prices. Cessation rates have however, remained low.

Elize Joubert, CANSA’s CEO, reports that the South African Government is preparing a Draft Bill to introduce plain packaging of tobacco products and that CANSA welcomes the stand the country is taking against tobacco use.

In a recent paper, Professor Gerard Hastings, a tobacco control researcher from the Institute for Social Marketing at the University of Sterling confirms that according to studies plain packaging reduces appeal of tobacco products, especially among young adults.

Joubert adds that cigarette smoking isn’t the only harmful way of using tobacco, and that hubbly bubblies, e-cigarettes and smokeless tobacco like snuff and chewing-tobacco are also bad for one’s health.

She concludes by warning smokers against subjecting other people to second-hand smoke, which is also harmful. CANSA encourages people to reduce their cancer risk by quitting smoking and enjoy the benefits of a healthier lifestyle.


E-cigarettes blamed for blowing up in smokers’ faces

Serious injuries occurred in some cases; one man lost an eye

Traditional cigarettes are really bad for you, but at least they don’t blow up in your face, as e-cigarettes have been doing lately. In one of the most recent cases, an Albany, N.Y., man said his e-cig blew up and knocked him to the ground.

“Like a M80 bomb went off in my mouth,” Kenneth Barbaro said. “When I hit the button, I saw a huge yellow light. The next thing I know, I’m on the floor and my arms are paralyzed.”

Barbaro was hospitalized with burns to his hands, knocked-out teeth, and a splt tongue, he said in a televised report.

“When it blows up in your face, you’re not having a good time,” he said in a televised news report.

More serious

In an even more serious case, an e-cig exploded on April 15, tearing through a man’s eye, smashing two cheekbones, and starting a fire. Joseph Cavins, now blind in one eye, has filed a lawsuit against vaping retailers and distributors, Courthouse News Service reported.

He said he was working at his computer when his vaping device exploded, hitting him in the eye, then hitting the ceiling, and finally landing on top of the computer, where it started a fire.

Cavins, a public school counselor, underwent seven hours of surgery. Doctors removed his left eye and performed surgery to fix broken bones in his face and to repair his sinus cavity.

The problem, according to Cavins’ lawsuit, is that the batteries in vaping devices have “an inherent risk of fire and explosion,” exacerbated by what it says is the cheap construction and poor design of many of the devices.

If the temperature inside the lithium-ion battery builds up high enough, it can cause an explosion that propels the battery “like a bullet or rocket,” Cavins’ suit says.

Several similar cases have been reported in recent months.

Tracking the Global Tobacco Epidemic Among Youth

Tobacco use is a leading preventable cause of morbidity and mortality worldwide with nearly 6 million deaths caused by tobacco use every year. Cigarette smoking is the most common form of tobacco use in most countries, and the majority of adult smokers initiate smoking prior to the age of 18. Limiting access to cigarettes among youth is one strategy to curb the tobacco epidemic by preventing smoking initiation and reducing the number of new smokers.

Map of countries where the Global Youth Tobacco Survey has been conducted.

Map of countries where the Global Youth Tobacco Survey has been conducted.

Surveillance of tobacco use among youth is a critical step in stemming the epidemic of tobacco globally. CDC’s tobacco control program has played a critical role in assisting countries around the globe in collecting essential information. The Global Tobacco Surveillance System (GTSS), a collaborative venture between U.S. CDC’s Office on Smoking and Health, WHO, and other external partners, is globally recognized as the standard for conducting adult and youth tobacco use surveillance and tracking key indicators consistently across countries. A key aspect of GTSS is the Global Youth Tobacco Survey (GYTS), the largest youth surveillance system in the world. The GYTS conducts surveys of children aged 13-15 years enrolled in school and has been operational in more than 180 sites. Since 2012, a standard protocol has been followed by 91 sites producing consistent and comparable data.

According to the 2012 U.S. Surgeon General’s Report on youth and young adults, exposure to tobacco advertising is one of the routes by which youth are exposed to tobacco products (3). The GYTS data collected between 2000 and 2014, in 174 sites show that youth aged 13-15 have reported exposure to advertisements about tobacco on T.V., videos or in movies in the past 30 days (range 15.2% in Albania in 2009 to 90.4% Paraguay in 2008). They also saw advertisements for tobacco products on billboards (2.2% in Madagascar in 2008 to 93.4% in Uruguay in 2007), and in newspapers or magazines (1.6% in Madagascar in 2008 to 88.0% in Paraguay in 2008). Not only did the students see tobacco advertised, they also reported being offered free cigarettes by a tobacco company (1.2% in Madagascar in 2008 to 48.2% in Singapore in 2000).

These data from GYTS demonstrate the value of surveillance. If we can measure it then we can do something about it. Challenges remain in tobacco use prevention and control among youth and GYTS data are an important source of information for countries to use in making decisions about tobacco control policy for this vulnerable population and to target prevention activities. Many sites have adopted and ratified the WHO’s Framework Convention on Tobacco Control (FCTC) to measure tobacco control and prevention efforts. We know from research that adoption of tobacco retail environment strategies to reduce and prevent marketing and sales of tobacco products to youth are critical to addressing youth initiation and use of tobacco products.

And, the majority of the sites for which data are reported have ratified the FCTC, Article 16 which recommends prohibiting sale of tobacco products to youth.

Norway to Detail Progress on Plain Packaging of Tobacco May 31

The Norwegian government will discuss the introduction of plain packaging for tobacco products next week, as the Nordic nation seeks to become the latest country to stamp out one of the last remaining vestiges of cigarette marketing.

The Norwegian health minister will present new research and provide an update on legislation to require the sale of cigarettes in packages without logos Tuesday in Oslo, the ministry said in a statement Thursday. On May 31 the World Health Organization celebrates World No-Tobacco Day, an annual event created in 1987 that publicizes the dangers of smoking.

Cigarette makers Philip Morris International Inc., Imperial Brands Plc and British American Tobacco Plc lost a fight against European Union curbs on their products in a ruling earlier this month that may pave the way for governments to impose plain packaging. The U.K. and Ireland together with France are the first European countries to back the measure, which tobacco companies claim violates their intellectual property rights.

Tobacco companies also lost a case in a U.K. court to suspend Britain’s plain packaging rules, which require smokes to be sold in drab packages with large health warnings.

Vaping Could Make Medical Pot Healthier

A new type of smoking called “cannavaping” — using e-cigarettes for vaping cannabis — may help people use marijuana for medical reasons, according to a small, early study.

Smoking conventional marijuana cigarettes may lead a person to inhale high amounts of the toxic contaminants that are released when marijuana is burned, the researchers said. In contrast, cannavaping might provide a way to avoid inhaling high levels of these contaminants, the researchers said. Among these contaminants are carcinogenic compounds called polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons, the researchers said.

Vaping involves heating a liquid to its boiling point and then inhaling the vapors; conventional smoking involves burning a substance, such as marijuana, and then inhaling the smoke.

“Vaporization should lead to a lower toxic burden than combustion [burning],” lead study author Vincent Varlet, an analytical chemist at the University Centre of Legal Medicine in Lausanne, Switzerland, told Live Science. “Vaporization constitutes a safer approach of cannabis administration than cannabis smoking.”

There are also devices available that can vaporize marijuana and are designed to sit on a tabletop, but e-cigarettes may be more user-friendly, the researchers said. Both e-cigarettes and tabletop vaporizing devices are likely to be less harmful than marijuana joints, the investigators said.

In the study, researchers looked at the plausibility and efficiency of cannabis vaping as an alternative to smoking the substance for medical reasons. The scientists extracted active compounds in marijuana called cannabinoids and made an oil that they concentrated in an e-liquid, which is a type of liquid used in e-cigarettes.

However, they found that the concentration of the oil they made in the study was not sufficient. About 100 puffs on an e-cigarette would have been needed to induce the same therapeutic effects as those provided by intravenous administration of THC, one of marijuana’s most powerful compounds, the researchers said. More research on the preparation and optimization of such liquid is needed, they said.

However, cannavaping might still one day provide a safer alternative to smoking cannabis, because it does not require heating the cannabis to the high temperatures reached when it is burned, the researchers found. That process leads to the inhalation of high levels of contaminants, the scientists found.

“Cannavaping appears to be a gentle, efficient, user-friendly and safe alternative method for cannabis smoking for medical cannabis delivery,” they wrote in the study, published today (May 25) in the journal Scientific Reports. [4 Myths About E-Cigarettes]

Cannavaping may also offer an alternative to ingesting marijuana by eating products such as brownies or candies. When marijuana is consumed in this way, it is metabolized before it enters a person’s bloodstream and its therapeutic ingredients may therefore become less active, Varlet said. This diluting effect does not occur with cannavaping, which allows the inhaled therapeutic compounds to enter the bloodstream directly, he said.

The researchers noted that they tested only one type of e-cigarette in the new study, and other brands that are available may produce different levels of certain impurities.

‘Cannavaping’ could see e-cigarettes used to deliver medicinal cannabis

Vaping medicinal cannabis would be healthier than smoking the drug with tobacco, researchers claim, and allow regular microdoses not possible with pills

Electronic cigarettes can be a safe and effective way to deliver cannabis for medicinal purposes, according to researchers in Switzerland.

Scientists at the University of Lausanne created cannabis-laden oils for e-cigarettes and found that vaping the infusions could deliver useful levels of the active ingredients found in cannabis.

The team claims that “therapeutic cannavaping”, would be healthier than smoking the drug with tobacco, and would allow users to have regular microdoses of the drug’s active ingredients throughout the day, which is not possible with pills containing cannabis extracts.

“This could be a great approach to using these kinds of cannabinoids,” said Vincent Varlet, who took part in the work. “The aim is not to get high, the aim is to get cured.”

Varlet and others used butane gas to extract the active substances, called cannabinoids, from cannabis to create concentrated butane hashish oil. They then tested how well the oil was atomised in e-cigarettes on the market.

Writing in the journal Scientific Reports, the researchers describe how e-cigarettes can deliver therapeutic doses of cannabinoids without getting people stoned. “Cannavaping appears to be a gentle, efficient, user-friendly and safe alternative method for cannabis smoking for medical cannabis delivery,” they say.

In the course of their experiments, the scientists found that butane hashish oil is not very soluble in the liquid refills used in commercial e-cigarettes, leading them to suspect that the risks of people abusing the drug through vaping are low.

“I think it’s a great idea, but this would be illegal in the UK,” said David Nutt, head of neuropsychopharmacology at Imperial College, London. In Britain, cannabinoids in vapable oil form would likely be considered “controlled drugs” under the Misuse of Drugs Act, or psychoactive substances under the Psychoactive Substances Act, which comes into force in the UK today. “I hope parliament makes cannabis a medicine soon,” Nutt added.

But Michael Bloomfield, a clinical lecturer in psychiatry at University College London, has concerns about vaping cannabis oil. “We really need more studies and to look at whether cannabis through e-cigarettes can be use for medicinal purposes,” he said. “From a harm reduction point of view, cannavaping sounds like it may be a good thing, but if this is going to be used as a medicine, it has to go through all the same checks and balances as other medicines.”

“Branding cannabis use through an electronic cigarette as ‘therapeutic cannavaping’ is worrying given that proper randomised controlled trials need to be conducted on any medical intervention to demonstrate their effectiveness, something that is currently lacking in much of the ‘medical marijuana’ market,” he said.

Another concern, he added, was the use of flavoured cannabis e-cigarettes that might become popular with younger people, who appear most at risk from some of the harms linked to heavy, long-term use of cannabis.