Four members have resigned from the U.S. Food and Drug Administration’s (FDA) Tobacco Products Scientific Advisory Committee (TPSAC), and three new ones have joined. The FDA made the changes to comply with a court ruling that requires the agency to address certain members’ alleged conflicts of interests.
On July 21, 2014, Judge Richard Leon of the United States District Court for the District of Columbia ordered the FDA to reconstitute the TPSAC. Judge Leon issued his ruling in a 2011 lawsuit that alleged in part that certain members of TPSAC had conflicts of interest that violated ethics law.
TPSAC members Claudia Barone, Joanna Cohen and Suchitra Krishnan-Sarin, along with Chairman Jonathan Samet, have resigned or their terms on TPSAC have been terminated.
The new members are Pebbles Fagan, Gary A. Giovino and Thomas E. Novotny. The FDA is working to fill the remaining vacancy. All future TPSAC meetings will continue as planned.
In a statement, Mitch Zeller, director of the FDA’s Center for Tobacco Products, said that, while the FDA disagrees with the court’s decision, the agency has no option but to comply.
“This is a loss for the FDA and for public health,” he wrote. “Under other circumstances, there would be strong reasons for the agency to consider a waiver or authorization that would allow these individuals to continue their valuable service. However, in light of Judge Leon’s ruling, we do not believe we are able to exercise our discretion to consider this option at this time.”
The 2014 ruling is the same one that bars the FDA from using TPSAC’s 2011 Menthol Report.
A New Zealand public health expert says that evidence from Australia shows that standardized tobacco packaging has worked almost like a vaccine against tobacco use in children and young people.
According to a story by Martin Johnston for the New Zealand Herald, Robert Beaglehole, a University of Auckland emeritus professor, is one of a number of individuals and organizations lobbying the government to bring its standardized tobacco packaging bill back to parliament for a final vote.
The health select committee last year supported the bill but the government delayed bringing it back pending the outcome of the challenges being made against Australian standardized packaging legislation.
But those lobbying the government say that the decline in smoking seen in Australia since its standardized tobacco packaging law came into force in December 2012 means New Zealand can dally no longer.
‘Australian survey data shows the prevalence of daily smoking in those aged 14 or older declined from 15.1 percent in 2010, before the new law came into effect, to 12.8 percent in 2013,’ Johnston wrote.
The 2011 and 2012 figures were not given.
A cross-party working group has been set up within the European parliament to counter what is said to be the growing influence of tobacco companies.
According to Julie Levy-Abegoli writing for The Parliament Magazine, the group was put together by S&D [Progressive Alliance of Socialists & Democrats] deputy Gilles Pargneaux, at the behest of Paris councillor Pauline Delpech. Pargneaux is a vice-chair of parliament’s environment, public health and food safety committee and Delpech campaigns against the tobacco industry in France.
“Our main focus is to make sure the tobacco products directive is implemented in all member states,” Pargneaux was quoted as saying.
But he said the group would be looking also at “combating contraband, counterfeiting and cross-border shopping”.
And he called for the enforcement of article 5.3 of the World Health Organization’s Framework Convention on Tobacco Control, which ‘requires all parties, when setting and implementing their public health policies with respect to tobacco control, to act to protect these policies from commercial and other vested interests of the tobacco industry in accordance with national law’.
Pargneaux accused tobacco companies of “spending a lot of money to keep tribunals off their back”, and said: “we know that by going after these firms, we are unlikely to make many friends”.
The number of young people in Canada who have tried vaping is higher than the number of young smokers, according to a story by Amy Thatcher for CMAJ citing recently released government statistics.
Canadian Tobacco, Alcohol and Drugs Survey figures show that among those 15-19 years of age, 20 percent have tried vaping while 11 percent smoke.
Only nine percent of Canadians aged 15 and older have tried an electronic cigarette, which seems to imply what everybody knows – young people are more adventurous than older people are.
“We’ve never had a snapshot like this,” said Margaret Bernhardt-Lowdon, executive director of the Manitoba Lung Association.
She called the rates of youth experimentation with electronic cigarettes “concerning”, and would like to see a ban on sales of these products to minors.
Electronic cigarettes are not regulated as are tobacco products, and therefore don’t have restrictions related to age, use in public spaces or advertising.
On the other hand, it is not legal to sell electronic cigarettes containing nicotine in Canada, though these types of product are available.
The Dutch company E-njoint has launched a vaping product that, its says, is infused with an authentic cannabis taste and smell, provides a mild high, but may be smoked in countries where it is illegal to smoke cannabis.
‘Because the E-njoint contains no THC, CBD, nicotine, tar or toxins it’s completely legal, but still gives smokers a high-like feeling,’ according to a company press note.
‘The terpenes used to create the E-njoint Cannabis Flavor have been custom-tailored to provide a variety of effects on the user, such as muscle relaxation, mood enhancement, alertness promoting and more.
‘All ingredients are natural and are used extensively in the food and beverage industry. The ingredients are non-toxic and perfectly legal worldwide.
‘Also the cannabis flavoured E-njoint can enhance the effects of real cannabis and reduce the dose used at the same time. Studies have shown that when terpenes are consumed in conjunction with real cannabis, the effects of the cannabis are dramatically enhanced, thus reducing the dose of cannabis the smoker needs to use to achieve his desired relief.
‘For customers who do not consume cannabis, the E-njoint Cannabis Flavor provides a safe, legal alternative that still promotes good times.’
E-njoint said that it expected to cause a small revolution in the smoking world with its new formulation.
The Global Forum on Nicotine’s inaugural Vaping Advocate of the Year Awards have gone to Jens Mellin, a consumer advocate and blogger from Germany, and Professor Bern Mayer, of the University of Graz, Austria.
Mayer is said to have used his background in science, health and academia to promote the cause of vaping as a tobacco harm reduction strategy.
The Forum is due to be held on June 5 and 6 at the Marriott Hotel in Warsaw, Poland, and the awards are scheduled to be presented at the Forum’s Pre-conference Vape Meet and Party, which will be held in the Marriott Complex’s Wook Restaurant, starting at 19.30 on June 4.