This weekly analysis provides an overview of the major tobacco harm reduction (THR) issues that grabbed space space in the mainstream international and national print and electronic media during the period between April 12-18, 2021.
During the week under review, 181 news items were monitored on the Internet-their majority (74) focusing on market news, followed by policy issues (17), research studies and surveys (15), and other miscellaneous topics (75). In Pakistan, a report about the observance of 'Quit Smoking Day' on the eve of Ramazan was published in five different newspapers (thenews.com.pk). EMRO did not feature in any news item.
New policies for tobacco control are being enforced in countries like New Zealand, where the government is expected to slash the amount of nicotine in cigarettes from 16 mg to 0.4mg per gram of tobacco. The bold new proposal is thought to be a world first (newshub.co.nz). However, the New Zealand Taxpayers' Union sees the proposal as a dangerous intervention that will make people smoke more cigarettes (scoop.co.nz). New Zealand is also looking to ban smoking for anyone born after 2004 in an effort to make the nation smoke-free by 2025 (fox8.com).
With the Covid-19 pandemic raging across the world, a new survey informs that 30% of Britain's smokers overall are lighting up more regularly due to rising stress levels while 10% of the respondents said they started smoking again after quitting (bloomberg.com). In Colorado, concerns are being expressed about flavored products driving the teen vaping epidemic in the midst of Covid-19 when students are already dealing with stress, anxiety, and depression (denverpost.com).
Globally, the conversation around vaping has lost sight of the millions of lives that can be saved through the unparalleled harm reduction opportunity that it offers. In this context, the Canadian Vaping Association has launched vapersvoice.ca, a national initiative that provides adult vapers a platform to share their story on how vaping helped them quit smoking. (globenewswire.com). On the contrary, the Canadian Paediatric Society has recommended that vaping should not be seen as or harm reduction strategy in youth, saying that doctors should instead assess their patient's motivation to reduce or quit vaping, and come up with a plan to do so (kake.com). A new systematic review by the University of California-San Francisco (UCSF) researchers looking into the relationship between e-cigarette use and smoking cessation, claims that e-cigarettes in the form of mass-marketed consumer products, do not help smokers quit (vapingpost.com).
Japan has emerged as a model country for tobacco harm reduction by reducing its cigarette sales by nearly a third in a span of three to four years since the introduction of non-combustible alternatives to cigarettes in 2014 (mb.com.ph). A new study conducted by Penn State College of Medicine and Virginia Commonwealth University states that e-cigarettes that deliver a cigarette-like amount of nicotine are associated with reduced smoking and reduced exposure to a major cancer-causing chemical, or carcinogen, in tobacco even with concurrent smoking (newswise.com). Teens who vape pot are at a greater risk of developing lung conditions compared to those who vape nicotine, smoke cigarettes or marijuana, states a recent study from the University of Michigan (wishtv.com).
In an interview published in the Los Angeles Times, the chief executive of Philip Morris International America Martin King has claimed that cigarettes can be out of the market completely in 10-15 years-"People will quit or, if they are still using nicotine, it'll be in a noncombustible way" (latimes.com). The Philippine College of Oral and Maxillofacial Surgeons (PCOMS), one of the biggest groups of dental professionals in the country, said that it respects the stance of some members who urged smokers to switch to non-combustible alternatives if they cannot quit (manilatimes.net).
Meanwhile, in Nebraska, The Truth Initiative is launching a social media campaign on TikTok called 'This is Quitting,' wherein TikTok influencers are being hired to share their own personal experiences of quitting on the social media (klkntv.com).
The World Health Organization claims its MPOWER package of data-drive tobacco control measures have helped protect up to 5 billion lives (who.int). It has also launched a new technical manual that provides countries with tobacco taxation strategies as a key component of building back better after COVID-19 and help finance health system recovery (mb.com.ph).