Monthly Archives: January 2014

Impact of the Plain Packaging Reforms on Tobacco Use

The November 2013 study Mr Argent referred to was conducted by London Economics, a UK economic and policy consultancy firm, and commissioned by Philip Morris International, which sells branded cigarettes in 180 markets. London Economics surveyed Australian adults three times: between July and October 2012, before the new regulations began; in March 2013, three months after their full implementation; and in July 2013. The November report was “an interim assessment” of the firm’s analysis of the impact of plain packaging on smoking prevalence.

The study did not directly address the impact of plain packaging on potential new smokers, despite this being the government’s stated policy priority. It found that the largest group of tobacco consumers, those who smoke daily, fell from 20.4 per cent of the adult population before plain packs became mandatory to 19.5 per cent three months afterwards. The number of daily smokers then rose to 20 per cent in July 2013. Respondents who said they were weekly but not daily smokers initially fell, then returned to the pre-implementation level of 2.1 per cent. “Less than weekly” smoking fell from 2.3 per cent to 1.9 per cent and then rose to 2.2 per cent.

The study also found the number of people who claimed never to have smoked increased from 45.6 per cent in the second half of 2012 to 46.6 per cent in July 2013. Those numbers represent a reduction of 0.4 per cent in the number of Australian adults smoking daily and a 1 per cent increase in the number of adults who had never smoked (suggesting more of those turning 18 do not smoke). The report’s authors said that “from a statistical perspective, none of these changes were different from zero”.

They conclude that “over the timeframe of the analysis, the data does not demonstrate that there has been a change in smoking prevalence following the introduction of plain packaging and larger health warnings…” The second report Mr Argent referred to was a study of the sale of illicit tobacco in Australia. It was conducted by accounting firm KPMG and commissioned by Imperial Tobacco, British American Tobacco and Philip Morris.

The report estimated that the overall level of tobacco consumption in Australia was 17.4 million kilograms in the year to June 2013, the same level as the year before. It said consumption of legal products fell from 15.3 million kilograms to 15.1, while consumption of illicit products increased correspondingly. The KPMG report did not evaluate the impact of the plain packaging reforms on consumption.

Imperial Tobacco, which produces cheap Davidoff cigarettes, recently argued against the introduction of plain packaging in Britain, stating “following the introduction of standardised packaging in Australia, smoking prevalence has not been affected”.

It cited the KPMG report’s finding that overall consumption had remained stable. However, Imperial Tobacco’s submission, dated January 10, urged the UK government to postpone deciding on plain packaging legislation because there was insufficient evidence about the impact of the Australian reforms. It noted that the latest national statistics from Australia covering smoking prevalence were for the end of 2012 and there had been no data or anecdotal evidence on youth smoking rates in Australia after 2011.

“We are not aware of any national statistics from Australia… covering the period since standardised packaging was mandated,” the submission said. “We consider this to be an essential requirement for a proper assessment of the policy’s impact.” The Australian Government was planning a review on the plain packaging measures in December 2014 “and we would expect other governments to wait until this review has been conducted before making any decisions,” it said.

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Posted by on January 28, 2014 in Tobacco News


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Children Exposure to Tobacco smoke

Overall, 17 percent of the children were readmitted to the hospital for asthma or wheezing within one year of their first admission. Of the children with complete tobacco exposure information, 35 percent had been exposed to tobacco smoke according to their caregivers. However, 56 percent of them had been exposed based on cotinine levels in their blood, and 80 percent of them had high enough cotinine exposures in their saliva to show they had been exposed at least secondhand to tobacco.

In fact, 39 percent of the children whose caregivers said children didn’t have tobacco exposure had cotinine detected in their blood. In addition, 70 percent of the children whose caregivers reported no tobacco exposure had cotinine detected in their saliva. The researchers did not find that children were more or less likely to be readmitted to the hospital if their caregiver had reported tobacco exposure, but the results differed for those with cotinine in their blood or saliva.

Children whose blood samples contained cotinine had 1.6 times greater odds of being admitted to the hospital again within a year of their first hospital visit, compared to children without cotinine levels in their blood. Children whose saliva samples contained cotinine had 2.4 times greater odds of readmission to the hospital for asthma or wheezing, compared to children without cotinine in their saliva.”We found that secondhand smoke exposure was common among children admitted for wheezing or asthma,” the researchers concluded.

They found that being readmitted to the hospital for asthma or wheezing was specifically linked to tobacco exposure detected by cotinine levels in the blood or saliva. However, parent or other caregiver reports of exposure to tobacco smoke for the child did not predict whether a child could expect to be readmitted to the hospital or not. Having children’s blood or saliva tested for levels of cotinine may therefore offer insights into whether the child’s asthma or wheezing may require later hospitalization.

This study was published January 20 in the journal Pediatrics. The authors reported no potential conflicts of interest. The research was funded by the National Institutes of Health, a Flight Attendance Medical Research Foundation Young Clinical Scientist Award and the National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences.

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Posted by on January 21, 2014 in Tobacco Facts


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South Deerfield adopts stricter policies regulating sale of tobacco products

Smoking tobacco products has gotten tougher in town with the Board of Health implementing stricter policies prohibiting the sale of tobacco in pharmacies, banning blunt wrap sales and restricting smoking in the Town Office. The Board of Health adopted the policies last fall that took effect earlier this month. The town follows many communities across the state that have adopted similar policies to protect the public from second-hand smoke and discourage children from buying tobacco items.

The first regulation, effective Jan. 1, restricts cigar packaging and bans the sale of blunt wraps and the sale of tobacco in health-care institutions such as pharmacies, and caps the number of tobacco permits. The new policy restricts retailers from selling cigars unless is contained in an original package of at least four which are sold at the market retail price or at $5, whichever is higher. The restriction is meant to discourage children from purchasing cigars. The restriction does not apply to cigars costing $2.50 or more, retail tobacco stores and people who sell or distribute cigars commercially to another person who sells or distributes cigars commercially.

The sale of blunt wraps is no longer allowed in Deerfield either. It is a ban in addition to the existing prohibition of out-of-package sales of cigarettes, self-service displays of tobacco products and nicotine delivery product vending machines.

In addition, no health care institution in town is allowed to sell tobacco or nicotine delivery products. This includes a pharmacy or drug store. Any violator would be fined $100 for the first offense. A business that violates the regulation a second time within 36 months would receive a $200 fine and the tobacco permit would be suspended for seven business days. For a third violation within 36 months, a business owner would be fined $300 and the tobacco permit would be suspended for 30 business days.

The second regulation, effective Jan. 3, expands the statewide workplace smoking ban locally to Deerfield Town Offices and includes a smoking restriction on playgrounds and athletic fields within 20 feet of municipal buildings, in private clubs, and anywhere local food permits are in effect. The regulation’s intent is to protect the health of the employees and general public in Deerfield.

The policy already bans smoking in town-owned property and rights of way during times when they are used for events permitted by the town, public transportation and bus and taxi waiting areas, nursing homes and hotels, motels, inns, and bed and breakfasts. An owner or manager in control of a building or vehicle that violates this regulation would be punished with a $100 fine on first violation, $200 for a second violation within two years and $300 for a third or subsequent violation within two years of the second offense.

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Posted by on January 14, 2014 in Tobacco News


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