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Nicotine wars continue…

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E-cigs in China


A study by the Society for Research on Nicotine and Tobacco, and published in Oxford Academic, has found that awareness of e-cigarettes is high among Chinese middle school students, but use remains very low.

The study examined data from the Global Youth Tobacco Survey, which was completed by 155,117 middle school students (51.8 per cent boys, and 48.2 per cent girls) in China.

About 45 per cent of the middle school students had heard of e-cigarettes, but only 1.2 per cent reported using e-cigarettes in the last 30 days. Among those who had never smoked, e-cigarette users were more likely to intend to use a tobacco product in the next 12 months than non-users, and more likely to say that they would enjoy smoking a cigarette.

E-cigarette use was associated with previous experimentation with cigarette smoking, having noticed tobacco advertising in the past 30 days, having close friends who smoke, and thinking tobacco helps people feel more comfortable in social situations and makes young people look more attractive.

The study concluded that e-cigarette use among youth in China remains low, but awareness is high; e-cigarette use was associated with increased intentions to use tobacco; and enhanced prevention efforts are needed to target e-cigarette use among youth.

Chinese youths use e-cigarettes as a tobacco product rather than an aid to quitting. Among never-smokers, e-cigarette users were more likely to have intentions to use a tobacco product in the next 12 months, more likely to use a tobacco product offered by their best friends, and more likely to enjoy smoking a cigarette than non-users.


Plain packs in legal win

Australia has won a landmark ruling on tobacco plain packaging laws, with a panel of judges at the World Trade Organization (WTO) rejecting arguments brought by Cuba, Indonesia, Honduras, and the Dominican Republic against the legislation.

ABC News reported last month that Honduras says it will appeal the decision, claiming that there are errors in the ruling.

The WTO panel said Australia’s plain packaging laws contributed to improving public health by reducing use of and exposure to tobacco products, and rejected claims that alternative measures would be equally effective.

The win for Australia effectively gives a green light for other countries to roll out similar laws. It could also have implications for alcohol and junk food packaging.

Australia’s law goes much further than the advertising bans and graphic health warnings seen in other countries.

Introduced in December 2012 by the Gillard Government, the law bans logos and distinctive-coloured cigarette packaging in favour of drab olive packets that look more like military or prison issue, with brand names printed in small standardised fonts.

Studies have shown that the law is an effective measure in stopping people from smoking.


E-cigs in the USA

An Open Access article published in the British Medical Journal reports that, despite an apparent overall decrease in e-cigarette use in the USA, there are indications that JUUL, a sleekly designed e-cigarette that looks like a USB drive, is increasingly being used by youth and young adults.

However, the extent of JUUL’s growth and its marketing strategy have not been systematically examined.

A variety of data sources were used to examine JUUL retail sales in the USA and its marketing and promotion. Retail store scanner data were used to capture the retail sales of JUUL and other major e-cigarette brands for the period 2011–2017.

A list of JUUL-related keywords was used to identify JUUL-related tweets on Twitter; to identify JUUL-related posts, hashtags, and accounts on Instagram, and to identify JUUL-related videos on YouTube.

In the short three-year period 2015–2017, JUUL has transformed from a little-known brand with minimum sales into the largest retail e-cigarette brand in the USA, lifting sales of the entire e-cigarette category.

Its US$150 million retail sales in the last quarter of 2017 accounted for about 40 per cent of e-cigarette retail market share.

While marketing expenditures for JUUL were moderate, the sales growth of JUUL was accompanied by a variety of innovative, engaging, and wide-reaching campaigns on Twitter, Instagram, and YouTube, conducted by JUUL and its affiliated marketers. 

The discrepancies between e-cigarette sales data and the prevalence of e-cigarette use from surveys highlight the challenges in tracking and understanding the use of new and emerging tobacco products.

In a rapidly changing media environment, where successful and influential marketing campaigns can be conducted on social media at little cost, marketing expenditures alone may not fully capture the influence, reach, and engagement of tobacco marketing.


Paris bans smoking in parks

France 24 International News reports that Paris city officials have introduced a new measure to ban smoking in six public parks across the city.

The measure is part of a four-month experiment by the city to reduce smoking in public spaces.

Instead of issuing a ticket or fine, park staff will be tasked with informing tobacco users that smoking is no longer allowed on the premises.

A 2013 study of similar bans in selected parks and beaches in Canada found that, although tobacco use significantly decreased after a 12-month observation period, no venue remained 100 per cent smoke-free.