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June Roundup

June Roundup

July 1, 2018

It’s been a busy month in America as far as legislature goes on the vaping community. At the end of May, San Francisco put a ban on flavoured e-liquids in an attempt to discourage teenagers from picking up vaping. This month, the Californian county of San Mateo is trying to do the same. The ban has been criticised as a ban on e-liquids for the sake of preventing a younger demographic from using them should be irrelevant as it’s already illegal to sell to under 21s.

Further tension has been growing in the US market, which many are attributing to the American Master Settlement Agreement – created in 1998, it was designed to protect cigarette companies from tobacco harm court cases with $206 billion available for 46 states. The issue is the agreement has five years left, and many states that used the funds have put it into infrastructure and some even back into the tobacco industry. There were no clauses on how the money should be used and many feel it would have been best spent on tobacco harm reduction and supporting people who were suffering from health complications due to tobacco use.

Many states took out bonds in order to get access to the funds, meaning twelve of the states involved opted to defer repaying the money for 50 years as well as tying the bonds to tobacco sales. As smoking is declining this has resulted in many states penalising things like vaping, making a safe alternative to smoking less attractive and affordable for would-be ex-smokers. California is one such state doing this and with the likes of San Francisco starting to ban flavoured e-liquids it’s vape users who are suffering for this legislature.

Similarly, in Philipstown New York, on the 20th of June a six-month moratorium on vape shops was implemented. The Highlands Court is now looking to use this time to make more a more permanent prohibition law preventing any new vape stores from opening.

On a more positive note – Kentucky, a state with one of the highest smoking rates in the US, has increased tax on cigarettes. Previously only charging 0.60c for a packet, where the norm is between $1.00 and $2.50 across the rest of the country, will now be raised to $1.10. E-cigarettes and other nicotine replacement therapies will not be included in this tax increase.

Down Under, Australia still has its ban on the sale of e-cigarettes, but more doctors are cottoning on to the benefits of prescribing the devices to current smokers as a cessation aid. Despite good success rates of smokers in the UK using vaping as a viable method to quit conventional cigarettes, only 1% of the population in Australia vapes and, of the 2.4 million daily smokers, only 30% have ever even tried an ecig once. One doctor, Karen Counter, disagrees with the resistance to giving smokers the option to try vaping due to health concerns “I feel it’s my duty of care. We can’t sit around and watch people die, waiting for 100 percent perfect evidence.” As such, she’s set up a joint venture in which people can fill in an online form and get a vape pod for $10 that will be delivered by post. She hopes that, in making safer and more regulated options available, smoking numbers will decline and so will tobacco related illnesses in Australia.

When it comes to using nicotine in vaping devices, new research and criticism has argued the previous theory that gradually dropping your nicotine levels over time may be counterintuitive. The logic behind this stemmed from concern over the chemicals used in e-liquid. Whilst widely considered a much safer alternative than smoking with significantly less byproducts than smoking, reducing the use of vapes full stop was better than maintaining the habit. Ex-smokers who still had a strong nicotine dependence would need more frequent and longer pulls on an ecig to get their required dose. Nicotine itself was not as much of a concern but there is still some contention over the long-term effects of heavy vaping. As such, maintaining a higher level e-liquid would mean less exposure to vapour whilst still helping keep them off more harmful combustion smoking. 

The latest reports from Stanford Medicine have found that nicotine use can have a positive therapeutic effect on a variety of inflammatory diseases. Whilst the use of tobacco products are known to exacerbate the likes of Alzheimer’s, Parkinson’s and inflammatory bowel disease, nicotine on its own interacts with receptors in the human brain to positive effect. There’s ongoing research in developing small-molecule therapeutics that will target these receptors to help alleviate the symptoms and issues associated with inflammatory diseases including rheumatoid arthritis, inflammatory bowel disease and MS.

Finally, over in Scotland, new legislation will not only increase the number of places that will be smoke free, but also make it illegal to smoke within 15 metres of the designated non-smoking areas. This is a part of ongoing changes to help drop the current level of smokers from 17.1% of the population to 5% by 2034. No-smoking zones will soon include hospitals, jails, school grounds and even in designated residential buildings and spaces.

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