From Action on Smoking and Health <[email protected]>
Subject ASH Daily News for 2 May 2024
Date May 2, 2024 12:04 PM
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** 2 May 2024

** UK

** Decline in smoking stalled after pandemic, study reveals (#3)

** Varenicline Supply Disruption Affects Quit Smoking Attempts (#6)

** ‘Unethical’ junk food packaging manipulates children into craving sweets, report claims (#4)

** Court closes Peterborough shop where 35,000 illicit cigarettes and 3,500 illegal vapes were found (#8)

** ‘It was instrumental to my early education’: fans share their memories of Reader’s Digest (#2)

** UK

** Decline in smoking stalled after pandemic, study reveals

A long-term decline in smoking has stalled since the Covid-19 pandemic, with smokers increasingly turning to roll-ups, researchers have found.

A study by University College London (UCL), funded by Cancer Research UK, found overall cigarette consumption fell by 22 per cent – from 13.6 cigarettes a day to 10.6 – between 2008 and October 2019.

However, the data from 57,778 adult smokers who took part in the monthly survey between January 2008 and September 2023, showed the decline paused between late 2019 and 2023.

Researchers suggested this could be attributed to more people working from home following the pandemic, leading to them taking more regular smoking breaks.

The study, published in Nicotine & Tobacco Research, found the average smoker had 14 cigarettes a day in 2008, falling to 11 by 2019 – a figure which has not changed.

But self-rolled cigarettes have overtaken factory cigarettes in popularity, with an average of 5.7 consumed daily by smokers, against 5.4 manufactured cigarettes.

Dr Sarah Jackson, lead author of the paper and principal research fellow at UCL’s Institute of Epidemiology and Health Care, said:“This 15-year study captures shifts in smoking behaviour, showing that while the average number of cigarettes smoked per day has fallen, this trend has stalled since 2019.

“People are increasingly opting to use cheaper hand-rolled tobacco over more expensive manufactured cigarettes, proving that consistency in taxation and regulation across all cigarette types is key.

“Some groups across England still smoke more heavily than others. It’s vital that smoking cessation services are made easily and equally available across the UK, so that those who want to quit smoking are given all the support they need to do so.”
Cancer Research UK called for Rishi Sunak’s legislation aiming to create a “smoke-free generation” to pass through Parliament “swiftly” in a bid to reduce cancer rates caused by smoking.

Mr Sunak’s Tobacco and Vapes Bill will raise the legal age for buying tobacco – currently 18 – every year by one year so that people born in or after 2009 will never legally be able to buy cigarettes.

The Bill cleared its first Commons hurdle last month, with MPs voting 383 to 67 to give it a second reading.

Source: The Telegraph, 2 May 2023

See also: Have there been sustained impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic on trends in smoking prevalence, uptake, quitting, use of treatment, and relapse? A monthly population study in England, 2017–2022 ([link removed])

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** Varenicline Supply Disruption Affects Quit Smoking Attempts

The trend in varenicline use has changed sharply since the treatment’s supply disruption in July 2021, say researchers, who found that its use had fallen by almost 70% year on year to December 2022. This is likely to hinder progress towards reducing smoking prevalence and smoking-related harm, they warned.

The new study, published in the journal Addiction, found that, before July2021, the proportion of past 6-month quit attempts using varenicline was stable at approximately 3.9%. In June 2021, the figure was 4.1%, but by December 2022, it had fallen to 0.8%.

Varenicline (Champix, Pfizer) is one of the most effective smoking cessation treatments. Its supply in England was disrupted in July 2021 due to nitrosamine impurities found by its supplier. In response to a Medicines and Healthcare products Regulatory Agency (MHRA) request, Pfizer recalled all stock as a precautionary measure due to the presence of levels of N-nitroso-varenicline above the acceptable level of intake set by both the European Medicines Agency (EMA) and the MHRA.

Dr Sarah Jackson, principal research fellow in the UCL alcohol and tobacco research group, and lead author, told Medscape News UK that the scale of impact of the supply disruption was a surprise.

“Assuming varenicline does not return to the market, we estimate this could result in about 8400 fewer people stopping smoking for at least 6 months and about 2000 more avoidable deaths each year,” she said.

Dr Olivia Bush, NHS strategic lead, Action on Smoking and Health (ASH), told Medscape News UK it was concerning to see evidence that the loss of varenicline from the market had meant fewer people were quitting smoking.

Bush hopes that generic forms of varenicline might be widely available in the UK soon, and said that prescribers should ensure their patients can get access when they are.

“While varenicline is one of the most effective treatments, a recent review found e-cigarettes and another medication called cytisine to be similarly effective,” Jackson said, and added that cytisine was new to the UK treatment offering and may be a good alternative to varenicline for people who don’t want to use e-cigarettes to quit.

Source: Medscape, 1 May 2024

See also: Impact of the disruption in supply of varenicline since 2021 on smoking cessation in England: A population study ([link removed])

Read Here ([link removed])

** ‘Unethical’ junk food packaging manipulates children into craving sweets, report claims

Food companies are using bright colours and cartoon characters in an “unethical” effort to manipulate children into wanting the sweets and crisps they make, a report has claimed.

Bite Back, a campaign group that is part of the chef Jamie Oliver’s empire, asked nutrition experts to analyse 262 sweet food products sold in the UK with packaging likely to appeal to children made by the 10 biggest food companies.

The research, by Action on Salt, a group of food experts based at Queen Mary University of London, found that:

78% of products were deemed unhealthy because of their fat, salt or sugar content.

67% of those featuring a character were unhealthy.

80% of products used bright colours as well as fun patterns and lettering to attract children’s attention.

Bite Back said: “Some businesses are using child-appealing packaging to push unhealthy products to children. Offenders include Kinder Surprise, M&Ms, Randoms and Monster Munch Giants – all hiding behind colourful, child-appealing wrappers while stuffing their products with sugar and fat.”

Oliver said: “Whether it’s through fun characters, bright images or exciting new shapes, these switched-on companies are choosing them because they know they will capture young minds.

“This trick … is yet another way companies are bombarding kids with unhealthy junk food.”

The survey found that all 58 child-appealing products made by Mondelēz International – which owns the Cadbury, Oreo, Milka and Dairylea brands – were unhealthy. All 22 made by Ferrero contained large amounts of fat, salt or sugar too, Bite Back found.

James Toop, the chief executive of Bite Back, asked ministers to “introduce new regulations to restrict these sinister tactics by junk food giants, as we are sleepwalking into a preventable health crisis”.

Source: The Guardian, 2 May 2024

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** Court closes Peterborough shop where 35,000 illicit cigarettes and 3,500 illegal vapes were found

A court has taken the rare step of closing a Peterborough store for 3 months after two raids in August last year and in January of this year seized 35,000 illicit cigarettes and 3,500 illegal vapes. EuroFood in Lincoln Road, Millfield, has been closed for three months following an investigation by Peterborough City Council’s trading standards team.

The closure order was granted at Peterborough magistrates’ court last Thursday (Thursday) following raids by trading standards, resulting in the seizure of approximately 35,000 illicit cigarettes and 3,500 illegal vapes.

Police and trading standards said they had received “multiple reports” from the public concerning illegal vapes and tobacco being sold at the premises.

Joanne Smith, consumer protection team leader for Cambridgeshire and Peterborough Trading Standards said: “The order has an instant and substantial impact on EuroFood. It is the first time we have used such an order for illicit tobacco, and it sends a clear message to the organised crime gangs behind these crimes that the sale of illicit tobacco products in Peterborough will not be tolerated.”

Source: Cambs News, 28 April 2024

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** ‘It was instrumental to my early education’: fans share their memories of Reader’s Digest

Announcing the magazines closure, editor-in-chief Eva Mackevic wrote on LinkedIn that after “86 wonderful years” readers digest was closing because it “just couldn’t withstand the financial pressures of today’s unforgiving magazine publishing landscape”.

These have long been challenging times for magazine sales with many titles falling by the wayside, but the collapse of Reader’s Digest is a particularly dramatic one.

Founded in the US in 1922 by DeWitt Wallace and Lila Bell Wallace as a roundup of diverse stories from various magazines, it became a huge and rapid success.

A British edition was launched in 1938; almost 50 other international editions would follow, making it one of the biggest-selling monthly publications in the world, and a ubiquitous presence in libraries and dentists’ waiting rooms everywhere. At its peak in the 1970s, the title had 17 million subscribers in the US, its homespun columns such as “Laughter: the Best Medicine” and “Humour in Uniform” proving so enormously lucrative that its Manhattan HQ was hung with paintings by Picasso, Monet and van Gogh. In its heyday in the 1950s, it famously took on the tobacco companies by drawing links between smoking and lung cancer.

Such glory days are long gone, however. Reader’s Digest sold 1.1m copies in 2000; from there, the figures fall precipitously to 2016, when it sold just 106,000. That year, it stopped publishing sales figures.

In part the title was vulnerable because of its very nature as a digest of diverse content, says Abi Watson, a senior research analyst at media specialists Enders Analysis. In the digital media revolution, she says, “the brands and the magazines that have done well tend to be those that are specialist” – what she terms a “flight to niche” content.

Source: The Guardian, 30 April 2024
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