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China brings in restrictive tobacco advertising rules

| September 4, 2015

China’s revised advertisement law, which came into force on Tuesday, bans tobacco product advertising in the mass media, in public places, and on public transportation.

The new law, which was approved by the Standing Committee of the National People’s Congress in April and which targets also the way in which products other than tobacco are advertised, prohibits advertisements that target minors and specifically bans tobacco advertising in schools and educational materials.

It bans also the use of tobacco brand logos and trademarks in support of other products and services.

Two months before the ban was due to come into force, dire warnings were issued about how tobacco advertising in China was still visible in nearly half of all tobacco stores.

At that time, the China Daily said the fact that many retail outlets were still displaying tobacco advertising pointed to the challenge that could await enforcement of the comprehensive tobacco advertising ban.

But the implementation of anti-tobacco regulations in China is regularly foreshadowed by warnings that the rules will be ignored because they will not be enforced.

And on this occasion, warnings were being issued even as the regulations came into force, according to a Reuters report in the Independent newspaper.

Anti-smoking advocates were said to have praised the changes, but warned that some parts of the law could be abused by the country’s powerful tobacco monopoly, which they said had pushed back against a series of ambitious anti-smoking measures.

“They can’t stop it, but they can create a headache,” said Bernhard Schwartlander, the World Health Organization’s representative in China, referring to the country’s anti-smoking campaign.

“The problem is the language that has been chosen; the interpretation of those words sometimes opens room for discussion, which the tobacco industry will try to use,” he added.

No room for tobacco smokers in New York state

| September 4, 2015

Hotels and motels in New York might no longer be able to offer smoking rooms if a bill proposed by state lawmaker Ken Zebrowski is passed, according to a CNN/Money story.

The measure, which was introduced last week, was brought about because of Zebrowski’s personal experience.

“I travel and spend a lot of time in hotel rooms,” Zebrowski was quoted as saying. “I’ve noticed that if you’re above, below or next to a smoking room, the smoke readily travels through the ventilation system.”

Zebrowski said the legislation was in line with the current focus on improving public health.

“It’s important to protect people when they’re in an enclosed environment and they’re subject to the behavior of others, as in a hotel or motel room,” he said. “Venting systems just aren’t sufficient to clear the air.”

The assemblyman said also that smokers had become accustomed to going outside to smoke.

Although he has just made the proposal, Zebrowski thinks he will receive support within the legislature, especially since he is not someone who has heavily targeted smoking in the past.

He said the American Lung Association and POW’R Against Tobacco, a local anti-tobacco group, had given him their support. And in a statement, the lung association said the ban would help not only hotel guests but workers as well.

If the bill passes, New York would join four other states that prohibit smoking in hotel rooms: Michigan, North Dakota, Vermont and Wisconsin.

Several national chains such as Marriott, Westin and Hilton already ban smoking in all of their locations.

Smokeless use up among US high school athletes

| September 4, 2015

US high school athletes who play on sports teams smoke tobacco products at a lower rate than non-athletes, but use smokeless tobacco at a higher rate, according to a study published by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDCP) in yesterday’s Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report.

In a press note issued through USNewswire, the CDCP said that data from national Youth Risk Behavior Surveys (YRBS) had shown that while current use of combustible tobacco products (cigarettes and cigars) had dropped from 2001 (31.5 percent) to 2013 (19.5 percent) among all high school students, current use of smokeless tobacco had remained unchanged among non-athletes (5.9 percent) and had increased among athletes (10.0 percent to 11.1 percent).

The data was said to show a relationship between the number of sports teams on which an athlete played and his or her tobacco use. Athletes who played on multiple sports teams used smokeless tobacco more and combustible tobacco less. During 2013, the prevalence of smokeless use was 5.9 percent, 10.2 percent, 11.5 percent and 12.5 percent among students participating respectively in zero, one, two, or three or more sports teams. But combustible tobacco use was 21.3 percent, 19.6 percent, 17.1 percent, and 15.8 percent among students participating respectively in zero, one, two, or three or more sports teams.

‘The lower use of combustible tobacco products might result from athletes’ awareness of how smoking can hurt athletic performance,’ the press note said. ‘The higher use of smokeless tobacco suggests athletes may perceive these products as harmless, socially acceptable, or perhaps even as a way to boost athletic performance. However, smokeless tobacco contains nicotine and cancer-causing chemicals and may increase the risk of death from heart disease and stroke. Notable athletes with a history of smokeless tobacco use have been diagnosed with or died from oral cancer.’

Health watchdog suing e-cigarette manufacturers

| September 3, 2015

The US non-profit health watchdog, Center for Environmental Health (CEH), said yesterday that the majority of the 97 electronic cigarettes and other vaping products tested had produced high levels of the cancer-causing chemicals formaldehyde and acetaldehyde, in violation of California safety standards.

The independent laboratory testing of products from two dozen electronic cigarette manufacturers were said to have found that 90 percent of the companies had at least one product that produced levels of one or both chemicals that were above the state’s safety limit.

One electronic cigarette had been found to produce a level of formaldehyde more than 470 times higher than the California safety standard.

The CEH report, ‘A Smoking Gun: Cancer Causing Chemicals in E-cigarettes,’ is said to outline the first-ever large sampling of ‘actual e-cigarettes and vaping products tested simulating real-world use of the products’.

It said that the tests had demonstrated ‘that the majority of e-cigarettes tested pose a serious cancer risk’

CEH said it was initiating legal action against the companies producing ‘the cancer-causing products’ for failing to warn consumers, as was required under California’s consumer protection law known as Proposition 65.

This follows CEH’s legal action earlier this year against e-cigarette makers for failing to warn consumers about the ‘risks from nicotine in e-cigarettes’.

“For decades, the tobacco industry mounted a campaign of lies about cigarettes, and now these same companies claim that their e-cigarettes are harmless,” said Michael Green, executive director of CEH.

“Anyone who thinks that vaping is harmless needs to know that our testing unequivocally shows that it’s not safe to vape.

“This is especially troubling given the reckless marketing practices of the e-cigarette industry, which targets teens and young people, and deceives the public with unfounded health and safety claims.

“Our legal action aims to force the industry to comply with the law and create pressure to end their most abusive practices.”

The full story is at:

Advertising watchdog warns over e-cigarette claims

| September 3, 2015

Consumers looking to try out electronic cigarettes need to be wary of the ‘flood of questionable ad claims on the Internet,’ according to the advertising watchdog, (

In a pres note issued through PRNewswire, said that it had examined more than 150 electronic cigarette sites, including those operated by wholesalers, retailers of major and minor brands, and independents.

Its review found that nearly two-thirds of the sites made one or more of the following ‘problematic claims’: the use of vaping products is safer than is smoking tobacco products; vaping products can be smoked anywhere; vaping products can help smokers quit their habit; and vaping products are cheaper than are traditional cigarettes.

“Consumers need to do their own independent research and not simply rely on the marketing claims made by these companies on their websites,” said executive director Bonnie Patten. said its review came as the US Food and Drug Administration was finalizing regulations for the industry. ‘Last year, the agency indicated it would be extending its oversight of tobacco products to e-cigarettes,’ the watchdog said in its press note. ‘Many online e-cigarette companies, however, are taking advantage of the regulatory gap to market their wares with a variety of suspect claims.

‘Half of the sites analyzed mention a health benefit even though the FDA maintains that the risks associated with e-cigarettes have not been fully studied. In addition, key reports have found the presence of harmful chemicals.’’s review found that 41 percent of the sites marketed e-liquids in ‘kid-friendly’ flavors such as ‘gummy bear,’ ‘fruit hoops,’ and ‘Bubble Yum’.

Closing in on the genetics of tobacco addiction

| September 3, 2015

Researchers at the Virginia Commonwealth University School of Pharmacy (VCUSP) have identified specific sets of genetic variants that are significantly associated with cigarette addiction, according to a story by Cynthia Mcmullen for Medical Xpress.

Pinpointing these genetic variants could eventually assist in identifying the biological mechanism behind nicotine addiction and in generating novel drug therapy targets to help people break their addiction to nicotine.

The study, “Deep Sequencing of Three Loci Implicated in Large-Scale Genome-Wide Association Study Smoking Meta-Analyses,” was published in August as an advanced online publication in the Oxford University Press journal Nicotine & Tobacco Research.

“We dug deeper into genes known to be associated with smoking,” said Shaunna L. Clark, Ph.D., research assistant professor, Center for Biomarker Research and Precision Medicine (CBRPM), VCUSP.

Previous large-scale, genome-wide association studies have identified three genes that are related to cigarette addiction, but the VCUSP-led study is the first to identify specific sets of genetic variants that might be responsible.

Researchers at the CBRPM sequenced the three genes and their adjacent regions to obtain a complete catalog of all the genetic variation that could be contributing to addiction.

Sequencing the entire gene allowed Clark and her colleagues to examine variants that other studies had not addressed, such as rare variants not commonly found in the population and regulatory variants that can increase or decrease gene expression.

“We found that the tendency toward nicotine addition is likely caused by many variants, each with a small effect,” Clark said. “Thus, multiple variants within the same gene are related to smoking.”

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