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China will become the world’s first country to regulate all synthetic cannabinoid substances, in a bid to get ahead of new variations whose chemical properties are not yet subject to regulation, the country’s drugs control office said on Tuesday.

Synthetic cannabinoids are lab-made drugs originally designed to produce similar effects to cannabis, but which are often far stronger and carry a greater health risk, Deng Ming, deputy director of China’s National Narcotics Control Commission, said at a briefing.

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E-cigarettes “undoubtedly” reduce risks compared to traditional cigarettes and have a place in the EU’s plan to fight cancer. However, these products should not enjoy “lighter” regulation and Europe should treat them with the same vigilance as tobacco products, MEP Michèle Rivasi told EURACTIV in an interview. “I see no reason why the electronic cigarette and its products should benefit from tax reductions or exemptions,” she said.

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In the light of the global pandemic, there have been calls to abolish, repurpose or revitalize the World Health Organization. I am firmly in the revitalize camp. Naturally, most of the hindsight has focused on the WHO’s response to infectious diseases. In April 2021, Covid-19 deaths are approaching 3 million worldwide. However, according to the WHO, tobacco-related deaths exceed 8 million annually. So what would new thinking on the WHO’s approach to tobacco policy look like? Here is my seven-point reform plan.

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After the global spread of severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2 (SARS-CoV-2), research has highlighted several aspects of the pandemic, focusing on clinical features and risk factors associated with infection and disease severity. However, emerging results on the role of smoking in SARS-CoV-2 infection susceptibility or COVID-19 outcomes are conflicting, and their robustness remains uncertain. In this context, this project aims at quantifying the proportion of SARS-CoV-S antibody seroprevalence, studying the changes in antibody levels over time, and analyzing the association between smoking status and infection using seroprevalence data.

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It sounds like a Massachusetts public health miracle. In 2007, nearly one-quarter (23.6 percent) of cigarette smokers in the Bay State were 18-24 years old. By 2017, that number had plunged by a whopping 68.6 percent. Just 7.4 percent of cigarette users were under age 25 — an all-time low.

But then, youth smoking began to rebound, shooting back up to 10 percent in 2018 before leveling out above the previous lows. A state that had led the way in reducing smoking among young people is suddenly getting left behind as rates in other states continue to fall.

What happened?

Massachusetts launched a war on vaping.

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The Government’s recently released raft of proposals may well be the kick we need to make the Smokefree 2025 goal.

The Smokefree Aotearoa 2025 Action Plan includes limiting the sale of tobacco to specific R18 shops or pharmacies, the reduction of nicotine in products, and a ban on cigarette filters. If that’s not drastic enough, a potential “smokefree generation policy” could outlaw cigarette sales to 18-year-olds from 2022, meaning anyone born after 2004 would be unable to buy tobacco.

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On May 7, Congressman Raja Krishnamoorthi of Illinois reintroduced his END ENDS Act—a federal bill that would cap e-cigarette nicotine levels at 20 milligrams per milliliter.

The intention was clear: The Ending Nicotine Dependence from Electronic Nicotine Delivery Systems Act—“END ENDS”—seeks to decrease the nicotine concentrations in vapes in order to make them less “addictive” and appealing to teenagers.

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Aurora officials are considering a six-month moratorium on any new stores that sell alternative tobacco products, including vaping materials.

The moratorium ordinance would “hit the pause button” on any new such facilities until the city can find how to best regulate the products, said Ald. Edward Bugg, 9th Ward.

Bugg asked the city’s law department to look at the situation after three new stores featuring alternative tobacco products, including vaping materials, opened in the 9th Ward, within one-third of a mile of each other.

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Bantam Vape, LLC, has recently announced that its premium e-liquid products are now available for purchase at AVAIL Vapor, LLC’s specialized brick-and-mortar shops and website. Bantam is a manufacturer of artisanal flavours which are built from scratch using only high-quality ingredients. The brand is adamant about their quality and transparency standards, in fact they have employed the SENTRI℠ track and trace system, with which one can simply enter the batch number of an e-liquid bottle to check the content quality.

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Altria Group Inc. continues to invest in innovative tobacco products. 

CEO Billy Gifford announced that the tobacco company acquired the remaining 20 percent of the on! oral nicotine pouches global business it did not own for approximately $250 million.

"When we made the initial 80-percent acquisition in 2019, the oral nicotine pouch category in the U.S. was rapidly growing off of a small base," Gifford said during Altria's first-quarter 2021 earnings call, held April 29. "Subsequently, on! nicotine pouch growth has exceeded our original estimates." 

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Between 45.7 and 50.4 per cent of Bulgaria's youth use tobacco products, the Smoke Free Life Coalition said, quoting a survey by the BlueLink Foundation. The study analyzed data collected through two nationally representative polls conducted by Exacta Research Group in the 18-35 age group in September and December 2020.

The results show that a vast majority of 70 per cent of young people do not approve of tobacco use and support policies to limit that. Many regard smoking as a considerable problem which has to be addressed with serious measures.

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[...] the UK now has an unrelated and probably unintended opportunity: to evolve into the model for tobacco control. No longer under the EU’s Tobacco Products Directive, the country can potentially improve its already-empathetic stance on smoking cessation and transform into the world leader in tobacco harm reduction (THR). The government aspires to be “smoke-free” by 2030—an objective typically understood as getting adult smoking rates below 5 percent—and THR advocates have seized on the chance to push for fresh regulations to arrive at that target. [...]

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For everyone, there’s nothing in life more certain than death and taxes. Yet if you are a smoker the risk of death and pain of taxation increases by orders of magnitude, often thanks to ill-conceived government action. Joining us today to talk about the U.S. approach to vaping and its macabre commitment to death and taxes is the writer, researcher and vape activist Lindsey Stroud, from the Taxpayers Protection Alliance.

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Parents, school principals, youth centres and researchers have sounded the alarm bell about the rise in young people taking up e-cigarettes across the country.

The devices, also known as vapes, are a relatively new phenomenon compared with traditional smoking, leaving some schools and communities unsure about how to properly address the issue. The use of electronic cigarettes (e-cigarettes) is commonly known as vaping and refers to battery-powered devices that heat a liquid to deliver vapour for users to inhale, similar to smoking traditional cigarettes.

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In its budget statement, the federal government announced that it would introduce a special excise levy on vaping products in 2022. At the present time no such levy is imposed, even though several provincial governments have introduced levies on each millilitre sold (e.g. Nova Scotia) or special sales taxes (e.g. British Columbia).

Tobacco and nicotine are viewed by society as sin goods. We lump them loosely with alcohol, cannabis, gambling and so forth. We call them sin goods because they can cause damage to our health if consumed to excess and sometimes if consumed just in small amounts.

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Electronic cigarettes, or e-cigarettes, are devices that deliver nicotine-containing aerosol and were used by 2.8% of American adults in 2017. Many people who smoke cigarettes have used e-cigarettes for smoking cessation, and the general consensus among health providers is that while vaping is not harmless, it is less harmful than smoking. To try to reduce youth e-cigarette use, the Commonwealth of Massachusetts imposed a 75% excise tax on nicotine-containing vaping products and banned the sale of all flavored tobacco products, including combustible tobacco, effective June 1, 2020. [...]

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As kids went back to school in the fall of 2019, parents, educators, public health experts and lawmakers were growing more concerned by the day. A string of “e-cigarette or vaping product use-associated lung injuries,” or EVALI, was appearing across the United States, and no one—not even the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC)—had a handle on what was happening.

Eventually, in November, the CDC belatedly identified a “very strong culprit”: vitamin E acetate, a compound that had been found as an adulterant in illicitly manufactured THC cartridges. That is, not nicotine vaping products. [...]

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Secondhand electronic cigarette (e-cigarette) aerosol (SHA) might impair indoor air quality and expose bystanders. This study aims to investigate exposure to SHA in controlled conditions of enclosed settings simulating real-world scenario. An experiment was performed in a car and in a room, in which SHA was generated during a 30-minute ad libitum use of an e-cigarette. The experiment was replicated on five consecutive days in each setting. [...]

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Pakistan is one of 15 countries worldwide with a heavy burden of tobacco-related ill-health. Despite considerable tobacco control efforts, the smoking incidence in the country is not decreasing fast enough. Which is why tobacco harm reduction needs to be an additional measure complementary to the existing tobacco control efforts in the country. Advances in science and technology have enabled the development of better alternatives to smoking, presenting a huge opportunity for improving public health, if acted upon.

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An article on the World Bank Group pointed out that while the tobacco taxation policy practiced in Kazakhstan in 2003-2013 resulted in increased tobacco excise revenues, it was evidently not effective in terms of public health, as it did not lead to a decrease in cigarette consumption. In 2014, tobacco excise taxes were drastically increased and tobacco affordability substantially reduced, and this resulted in a decline in tobacco sales and smoking prevalence in the country. However, in 2015-2019 the nation returned to a policy of moderate tax increases.