With much anticipation, Love Island is back on screens in the UK on Monday – with last year’s smoking ban still in full force. After criticism in 2017 about the frequency with which contestants were smoking, the producers changed things up – creating a designated area for smokers where they wouldn’t be filmed. The same principle applies this year, with a “smoking shelter” with no cameras set up where contestants can go if they need a cigarette. In previous years e-cigarettes were also offered but it seems likely vaping will be kept off-screen in the same way.
Following a smoking ban in 15 of Scotland’s prisons, the air quality has improved on average by 81%. Previously, inmates were allowed to smoke in their cells providing they kept their doors closed. Now, smoking within the building is completely off limits. Inmates were prepared for the change with quit smoking support from the NHS.
Over in Ireland, Juul has launched just under a year after reaching England. The vaping giant expanded into their 10th nation to target the 830,000 smokers with their pod devices. Juul currently holds more than a 70% market share in the US but have struggled to gain the same traction in the European market.
Juul have also recently raised issue with the 20mg maximum nicotine strength in Europe, saying it’s less effective than the 30mg or 50mg strength they have available in the States. Whether or not there’s potential for this limit to change in the UK remains unclear. The only factor that may influence their nicotine limit here is Brexit and with the date being pushed out as far as it has been we won’t know for certain for at least another 6 months.
May has been a busy month in America for the tobacco industry. An increasing number of states are increasing the legal age to purchase tobacco products to 21. Maryland is the next on the list with Texas proposing the age increase too. While Texas is considering Tobacco 21, they announced that the military would not be included in this.
Kentucky cultivates a large amount of American tobacco, but majority senate leader Mitch McConnell has introduced legislation to raise the age to 21 there too. There’s been some contention over the legislation as, unlike Texas, the law would include military personnel in the tobacco ban. Many argue it’s unfair for enlisted men and women to not have access when they’re able to join at age 18 but are unable to smoke if they choose.
With all of these changes, both conventional tobacco products and e-cigarettes fall under the tobacco classification. The main concern across the board for many is the increase in popularity of vaping amongst the youth in America.
Canada have made moves to try and reduce the uptake in smoking by introducing plain packaging for all tobacco products. Following Australia’s example, as of November all cigarette cartons will have a uniform shape and be “the world’s ugliest colour,” a shade of brown-green. From 2015 to 2017, Canada experienced a 3% increase in tobacco users aged 15 plus. The initiative was created to help reach their target of a 5% drop in tobacco users by 2035.
Philip Morris has been criticised on two accounts in the past month. The first issue originated from their influencer marketing campaign on Instagram. Despite the launch of their IQOS heat-not-burn device having launched in the US after FDA approval just last month, they’ve been promoting it on social media for a while. The main point of contention was the fact that the influencers in question were under the age of 25. While 18 is the legal smoking age in most countries, the concern is more related to the audience of the younger Instagrammers and what kind of age demographic their posts were seen by. Since discovering the age of one of the influencers in question is below their internal minimum standard of 25, Philip Morris have suspended the campaign.
The second criticism the tobacco giant faced in May was their life insurance discount policy. Philip Morris now also operate an insurance company, Reviti, which offers a discount if smokers attempt to quit using their newly FDA-approved heat not burn IQOS. At present, there is still little research as far as how much safer heated tobacco is than when it’s burned in a cigarette. Despite this, they offer a 25% discount on life insurance policies if customers use their own IQOS for three months to attempt to quit smoking. If they quit for a whole year, their life insurance will be cut by 50%, putting it in line with the cost of a non-smokers policy. However, when it comes to more researched options like vaping (or the use of competitors products), they only offer a 2.5% discount.
The final update for the US this month is that the FDA has been sued for its slow moves to test e-cigarettes. A federal judge has sided with a number of health organisations to take the executive department to court over what has been deemed as taking too long to look at the safety and efficacy of vaping.
The FDA was granted control over regulating e-cigarettes back in 2016. Since then, we’ve seen the huge growth of Juul and thousands of other brands and models have hit the market too. With the major concern stemming from the popularity amongst teenagers, organisations like Campaign for Tobacco-Free Kids argue they may “hook a new generation” on nicotine. Previously, the FDA required all e-cigarette brands to submit products for review by 2022, this has now been brought back to 2021. The result of the case was that the FDA were found to not be fulfilling their duty with the judge commenting that the lack of action was “so extreme as to amount to an abdication of its statutory responsibilities.”