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January 3rd, 2017:

Revealed: 90% of vaping shops served a child in a sting operation

An undercover trading standards operation found 90 per cent of vaping shops visited in Sandwell sold nicotine-inhaling products to an underage volunteer.

Out of ten shops visited by the volunteer for Sandwell Trading Standards, nine sold them products containing nicotine, such as e-cigarettes and e-liquids.

Council Trading Standards officers are advising retailers to be vigilant and responsible when selling e-cigarettes and liquid nicotine, applying the same checks as they do to the sale of any other age-restricted products.

In response to the investigation’s findings, cabinet member for public health and protection, Councillor Preet Gill, said: ”Clearly this is an unacceptable result. It’s important that retailers have procedures in place to ensure they do not break the law.

“Research suggests that e-cigarettes could act as a gateway to smoking tobacco cigarettes and the long-term health effects of using an electronic cigarette are still unknown.”

Bob Charnley, Trading Standards and Licensing manager, said: “It’s our job to protect children by ensuring that businesses are aware of the changes in law and understand their responsibility to ensure such products are not sold to minors.”

He added: ”We have written to all the offending businesses reminding them of their legal obligations and that a further failure may result in enforcement action such as a criminal prosecution.”

This is despite it having been illegal to sell nicotine-inhaling products to anyone under 18 from October 1, 2015.

Retailers caught flouting the law could face a fine of up to £2,500, as well as a criminal record.

It has not yet been revealed which shops were caught out in the sting in Sandwell.

The ASH (Action on Smoking and Health) charity, which seeks to cut tobacco use, said about 2.8m adults in Great Britain use e-cigarettes. That is up from 700,000 four years ago. Users include 1.4m smokers and 1.3m former smokers.

But only 15 per cent of the public surveyed that e-cigarettes are ‘a lot less harmful’ than smoking.

Anybody who is unclear about the law should contact Sandwell Trading Standards on 0121 569 6580.


Nicotine’s Highly Addictive Impact on Youth Underestimated

Although smoking trends among youth have shifted in recent years from tobacco cigarettes to e-cigarettes, the highly addictive culprit nicotine remains constant, a fact that should be underscored in discussion of risk with youth and their parents.

“I think most people realize nicotine is addictive, but I don’t know if there’s an understanding of just how addictive it is – particularly for youths,” said Lorena M. Siqueira, MD, MSPH, lead author of a new report on nicotine, addiction, and youth that was released by the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP).

“People think, for instance, only having a few cigarettes a week may be fine and they can quit any time, but they don’t realize that they are already well on their way to dependency,” Dr Siqueira, a member of the AAP Committee on Substance Use and Prevention, told Medscape Medical News.

The report was published in the January issue of Pediatrics.

Evidence shows that the earlier in life a person is exposed to nicotine, the less likely they will be able to quit using tobacco and the more likely they will consume increasingly greater quantities.

The vast majority of tobacco-dependent adults – up to 90% – started smoking before age 18 years. The authors also point out that the earlier a child starts smoking, the greater the risk of continuing to smoke in adulthood.

Approximately two thirds of children who smoke in sixth grade, for example, become regular smokers as adults. In comparison, 46% of youth who begin smoking in the eleventh grade go on to become regular smokers as adults.

In addition, compared to adult smokers, youths require more attempts to quit smoking before being successful. In addition, only about 4% of smokers aged 12 to 19 years have been shown to successfully quit each year, the authors report.

Although e-cigarettes are marketed as a tool for smoking cessation, there is no strong evidence to support these claims, the authors note.

In fact, research, including a study published in JAMA Pediatrics in 2014, indicates that e-cigarettes, which contain nicotine, encourage, rather than discourage, tobacco use in youth.

Since that study’s publication, a number of other studies have shown similar harms, the study’s coauthor, Stanton A. Glantz, PhD, of the Center for Tobacco Research and Education at the University of California, San Francisco, told Medscape Medical News.

“There are now seven published longitudinal studies showing that youths who initiate smoking with e-cigarettes are about three times more likely to be smoking conventional cigarettes a year later,” he said.

“So clearly, e-cigarettes are acting as a gateway to conventional cigarette smoking.”

Instead of making quitting easier, e-cigarettes make it harder, Dr Glantz added.

“What the evidence shows is youths who use e-cigarettes are much less likely to stop smoking than youths who don’t use e-cigarettes, so not only are they not beneficial, as promoted, or even useless, they actually [work against] cessation.”

Among key attractions to e-cigarettes – and arguments that adolescents are likely to raise with parents ― is the idea that at least they are not as harmful as tobacco, Dr Siqueira said.

“It’s not unlike the prescription drug epidemic – adolescents think, ‘If my grandmother takes it, then it must be safe,’ so this is sort of the same thing,” she said.

The report also notes that e-cigarettes are not without toxic hazards of their own. Accidental poisonings associated with e-cigarette use have increased from one per month in 2010 to 215 per month in 2014, including one death.

“The take-home message is that there’s no arguing that nicotine is highly addictive, and it’s not just in cigarettes but it’s in all of these other products that are being cleverly marketed to youths to include ingredients and flavors to increase the palatability,” she said.

A new report from the University of Michigan’s Monitoring the Future study shows some encouraging trends regarding e-cigarettes. According to the study, after gaining popularity earlier in the decade, the percentage of US teens who use e-cigarettes declined for the first time from 2015 to 2016. The percentage of adolescents who used e-cigarettes in the past 30 days declined from 16% to 13% for 12th graders, from 14% to 11% for 10th graders, and from 8% to 6% among 8th graders; each change was statistically significant.

The report had even more encouraging news for cigarette smoking. The levels of smoking among 8th-, 10th-, and 12th-grade teens are the lowest they have been since annual tracking began 42 years ago.

“Since the peak year in 1997, the proportion of students currently smoking has dropped by more than three quarters — an extremely important development for the health and longevity of this generation of Americans,” principal investigator Lloyd Johnston, PhD, University of Michigan, Ann Arbor, said in a release.

The authors have disclosed no relevant financial relationshps. Dr Glantz has received research funding from the National Institutes of Health and from the Truth Initiative, a tobacco use prevention nonprofit organization.

FDA probes dangers of exploding e-cigarette batteries

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration is probing the dangers of exploding batteries in e-cigarettes, following dozens of reports of devices that have combusted, overheated or caught fire and sometimes injured users.

The agency announced a two-day public meeting for April, according to an online posting.

The Associated Press reported last month that 66 explosions were identified by the FDA in 2015 and early 2016.

E-cigarettes are hand-held devices that vaporize liquid nicotine. Their safety has not been extensively studied and there’s no scientific consensus on whether they help reduce rates of cigarette smoking.

Last year the FDA announced it would begin to regulate the fast-growing industry, requiring makers of e-cigarettes to submit their devices and ingredients for review for the first time.

What are the new laws on cigarette and tobacco packaging and why are companies like Marlboro being stripped of their branding?

Familiar brands are soon to be a thing of the past with new laws set to come into force this year

CIGARETTES and tobacco products have already been hidden away behind the counter in an effort to stop people taking up smoking and help them quit the dangerous habit.

And this year new laws come into force meaning packets will lose their colourful packaging – including iconic brands such as Marlboro.

Here’s what the new laws mean and why they are being brought in.

Why plain cigarette packaging?

The aim of the laws are simple – to cut the number of people taking up smoking by making it less appealing to children and young people.

According to Cancer Research, two-thirds of smokers start before the age of 18 – the beginning of an addiction which will kill up to 2 in 3 long-term smokers.

Two-thirds of smokers start before they are 18, according to Cancer Research

Several studies have shown standard packs change attitudes and beliefs around smoking by reducing its appeal and making health warnings more prominent.

It is also believed to stem myths that some lighter-coloured packs are less harmful as they contain lower tar.

Standard packs also appear to be supported by most people, with a survey by YouGov in January 2015 revealing 72% support for standard packs compared to just 15% against.

When will the law come into force?

Technically, the law came into force on May 20 2016, but companies were given a 12-month grace period to sell their old packs and bring in standardised packaging.

From May this year, anyone caught selling non-plain packs will face severe penalties.

Has it been introduced anywhere else?

Australia has had standardised packs since December 2012, and figures suggest smoking has declined since then.

The number of daily smokers is reported to have fallen by 3% since 2010 to just 13% of the population.

France has also banned branded packs, with laws coming into force on January 1.

What will new plain cigarette packs look like?

All packs will be a single colour “opaque couche” – a muddy green – described as the world’s ugliest colour.

Brand names will be written in standard font, size and location on the pack, with health warnings covering at least 65% of the box, on the front, back and top.

And there will be no side-sliding packs.

Are there any other changes?

Menthol cigarettes are being banned from 2020, as well as 10-packs because the boxes are too small to carry a big enough health warning.

Rolling tobacco will only be allowed in packs of 30g or more.

How have tobacco companies reacted?

Four of the world’s biggest tobacco firms launched a last-ditch legal bid against the move, but it failed.

They claimed the new regulations violated several UK and EU laws and would destroy their property rights by making products indistinguishable from each other.

They also claimed there was a lack of evidence that plain packaging would deter smokers.

Smokers’ rights group Forest also said the new rules “treat adults like children and teenagers like idiots”.

Philip Morris International, British American Tobacco, Imperial Tobacco and Japan Tobacco International appealed the laws in the High Court last year.

But Mr Justice Green dismissed all their grounds, saying: “The regulations were lawful when they were promulgated by Parliament and they are lawful now in the light of the most up-to-date evidence.”

Future of BAT’s Planned Nicotine Inhaler in Question

British American Tobacco ends the supplier deal for its long-delayed Voke inhaler

British American Tobacco PLC terminated the supplier agreement for its long-delayed Voke nicotine inhaler, which the tobacco giant had promoted as setting it apart in the growing market for cigarette alternatives.

BAT in 2014 received a medicinal license for Voke from the U.K.’s Medicines and Healthcare Products Regulatory Agency, marking the first time a product from a major tobacco company had been licensed by a Western government.

Voke isn’t an electronic cigarette—it doesn’t heat liquid, use a battery or create vapor—meaning BAT expected it to be unaffected by regulations targeting such devices.

The product, meant to be sold as a cigarette-sized stick in a box containing 20 nicotine refills, was billed as a safer alternative to cigarettes—in the same way as nicotine gum or patches—and one that could be prescribed by doctors.

BAT, which licensed distribution, manufacturing and marketing rights to Voke from closely held patent developer Kind Consumer Ltd., had said it expected the product to be launched in the U.K. by the end of 2015. The London-based tobacco giant has delayed the launch several times, however.

On Tuesday, drug-delivery-device maker Consort Medical PLC said BAT was terminating its entire supply deal for Voke, effective immediately, which was a contractual right if the product hadn’t been commercially launched by the end of 2016.

The companies remain in “constructive dialogue” about the future of Voke, Consort said. A BAT spokeswoman declined to comment on whether the deal’s termination meant Voke was being permanently shelved. Kind Consumer also declined to comment.

In an interview in December, Kingsley Wheaton, BAT’s head of next-generation products, described Voke as “a very complex and challenging product to miniaturize at speed” and said the company was “still working through the many manufacturing challenges of Voke.”

Analysts hadn’t expected Voke to be a significant revenue driver for BAT, but they had seen the product as diversifying the Dunhill and Lucky Strike owner’s offerings within the market for cigarette alternatives.

Consort’s shares were down 3.3% in recent London trading, while BAT’s were down less than 0.1%. Consort said the termination didn’t materially affect its performance expectations for the fiscal year ending in April.

— Denise Roland contributed to this article.