Issue 195  |  2 May 2012

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Guest Editorial

by Angela Francis, Chief Executive
The Asthma Foundation

Asthma Awareness Week is the 30 April – 6 May with Balloon Day on Friday, 4 May. In New Zealand over 600,000 Kiwis have asthma including one in four kids. Our message is 'Let's keep our kids out of hospital!'

Of concern, childhood asthma causes 550,000 lost school days every year and it is the leading reason for children under five being hospitalised. The numbers are staggering. It is estimated asthma costs New Zealand $825 million every year in direct and indirect costs.

One of our consistent challenges is securing long term funding in order to continue the work that we do. Many of our supporters do not realise that we do not receive government funding. This year, the Foundation introduced a new campaign – Dance 4 Asthma. Aaron Gilmore, as Ambassador for the Asthma Foundation, choreographed and produced a dance video with the Asthma Foundation team. It was fun to make and showed that if we can do it, anyone can! (Watch the video on YouTube). Aaron had asthma as a child and can remember having shortness of breath and the frustration this brings, especially with doing anything physical like dancing.

For Asthma Awareness Week, we, and our affiliated Asthma Societies and Trusts have worked hard, up and down the country, to raise awareness and understanding of asthma and its effects on families in our community.

At the Asthma Foundation we are continuing our focus on prevention. We are lobbying government to address the social determinants of health including tackling overcrowding and cold, damp homes which are known to cause respiratory illness and admissions to hospital.

As members of the Smokefree Coalition, we network with all organisations to support and inform government's commitment to making Aotearoa New Zealand Smokefree by 2025.

We can only continue the work that we do through the support we receive from New Zealanders!

IN THIS ISSUE:

Key: Free trade won't snuff plain smokes

New Zealand has not signed any free trade agreement that will stop plans to sell cigarettes in plain packaging, Prime Minister John Key says.

That's despite threats by a consortium of American organisations who issued a statement over the weekend claiming tobacco firms' logos and branding were protected by laws and international treaties.

The US Chamber of Commerce and several other organisations said the tobacco industry had "legitimate trademark protection and branding".

Associate Health Minister Tariana Turia last week announced a ban on branded packets as part of a bid to get New Zealand smokefree by 2025.

The move was aimed at preventing young people getting hooked on smoking rather than deterring existing smokers.

Key said this morning that New Zealand had not signed up to any free trade agreement that would leave the country open to a legal challenge over plain packaging of cigarettes.

"We retain sovereign rights for lots of things and if we want to have the sovereign right that says 'if you want to bring cigarettes into New Zealand they have to be plain packaging' ... I haven't seen anything yet that tells me our law would prevent us from doing that."

New Zealand was yet to sign up for the Trans Pacific Partnership agreement.

People could test their rights in court but that did not mean they were correct, Key told TVNZ's Breakfast show.

Moves by the Australian Government to introduce plain packaging from December have led to a battle in the High Court.

The American statement was also signed by the TransAtlantic Business Dialogue, the Emergency Committee for American Trade, the National Association of Manufacturers, the United States Council for International Business and the National Foreign Trade Council.

The Government here will introduce legislation once a public consultation exercise is complete.

Stuff, 23 April 2012

Turia: Launch of Tobacco Control Research Turanga

Launch of Tobacco Control Research Turanga and WERO Whānau End Smoking Regional Whanau Ora Challenge

Hon Tariana Turia
Associate Minister of Health
26 April 2012

I want to thank Te Whānau o Waipareira – and in particular this wonderful Whānau Centre Health Clinic in hosting this launch.

I am delighted to congratulate Dr Marewa Glover and Associate Professor Chris Bullen – the co-directors of Tūranga – and of course the key change-makers and decision-leaders who are included in this multi-institution, multi-disciplinary network.

This is a brilliant week to be launching the Tobacco Control Research Tūranga as part of the long-term vision of achieving a smokefree Aotearoa by 2025. It has been a week of extremes – of aspirations and allegations, as discussion has raged around tobacco reform.

Just one week ago I announced that Cabinet has agreed, in principle, to introduce a plain packaging regime in alignment with Australia, but this is subject to the outcome of a public consultation process to be undertaken later this year. One might have thought the world had fallen.

Over-night the United States Chamber of Commerce joined with a consortium of business groups, telling the New Zealand Government that this ill-advised and arbitrary measure, could have a "possible impact on New Zealand exports such as dairy and wine, should other governments feel emboldened to take similar measures".

British American Tobacco immediately set up a twitter account to communicate their views on tobacco related matters.

And Imperial Tobacco came out and said there was no evidence that plain packaging will help stamp out smoking.

But it was not all doom and gloom. Because as quick as the attack came, just as quick was the response.

Where there was one twitter account, there now became three – two new accounts reacting and rejecting the tobacco industry claims.

Read more.

Turia: Opening ceremony for the 2012 Smokefree Rockquest and Smokefree Pacifica Beats

Prime Minister, Ministerial colleagues, distinguished guests,

Twenty five years ago, a first year teacher fresh out of teachers college, sat in his music prefab and dared to dream.

Day after day students would find their way to his room; letting out their frustrations on the drum kit; picking up the trumpet and having a blast.

For some of them, teachers just didn't seem to get them. For others, the only thing that interested them at school was playing around with sound.

For all of them, music was the gift that expressed best who they were.

The teacher wondered – how could these students do what they loved most – and yet still be challenged beyond their comfort zones, to be the very best that they could be?

From those initial musings, Smokefree Rockquest was born.

Since its inception in 1989 more than 35,000 of our most talented musicians have taken up that opportunity to live their dreams.

And so firstly today, I mihi to Pete Rainey and Glen Common, for the courage to dream; the commitment to make their vision come alive and the incredible investment they have given to our young people.

Your efforts to connect with our young talent, and to motivate them to create their own music, has taken off on such a scale that now more than ninety percent of secondary schools and wharekura participate each year in more than 25 events from Kaitaia to Invercargill.

I have to say that 'Tariana Turia' and 'Rock music' is not generally an association people make. And I'm certainly not about to grab a lead guitar and dispel any doubts you may have about my credentials for this role.

Read more.

Tobacco industry outrage shows progress

Iain Lees-Galloway, Associate Health (Alcohol and Drugs) Spokesperson: Media statement, 20 April 2012

Squeals from the tobacco industry about a law change which will enforce plain packaging in New Zealand, simply reinforce the move is a step in the right direction, says Labour's Associate Health Spokesperson Iain Lees-Galloway.

His comments follow news of the tobacco industry's backlash against government plans to enforce the plain packaging of tobacco products from July this year.

"The tobacco industry has a long history of supporting measures it knows won't reduce smoking rates and fighting those that will," Iain Lees-Galloway said.

"I called for New Zealand to move to plain packaging in 2011, so it comes as no surprise to me that the tobacco industry is crying wolf about the government's most recent proposal.

"In fact, the more noise they make, the more I am convinced we are on the right track.

"Labour made swift progress in government, getting smoking out of workplaces, out of bars and restaurants and increasing excise tax. We also put in place quit programmes to ensure people who wanted to quit smoking were supported.

"I am pleased to see this government is following in our footsteps. Tobacco companies need to understand that the days of tobacco regulation dividing Parliament are over. We are united in the fight to make New Zealand smokefree by 2025.

"Tobacco companies might have plenty of money and an army of lawyers, but as in Australia, New Zealand will continue to resist attempts to put the health and wellbeing of New Zealanders second to profiteering."

Tobacco tax resources

January 2012 was the last of the recent tobacco tax increases. With the budget due on 24 May, now is the time to put the pressure on for more increases. Increasing tax is the most effective and achievable measure to reduce tobacco consumption. The recent increases saw more quitting and reduced cigarette consumption.

Tobacco companies responded to the last increases by increasing their budget ranges, and undercutting each other. Substantial increases are required to prevent these tactics and we recommend no less than 50 percent.

To help encourage further tax increases, there are two new resources you can use to get involved.

For the first, you can visit www.taxtobacco.org.nz to email relevant cabinet members. The email tool lets you write your own message or choose from a selection of pre-written paragraphs calling for a 50 percent increase.

For the second, ASH has taken delivery of some tax postcards (see examples) to send to John Key, Bill English, Tony Ryall and Tariana Turia. If you would like a batch please email with your postal address and let ASH Director Ben Youdan know how many you need. There is a limited supply.

Please ensure people include their name and contact on the cards as anonymous ones are not much use! They do not require stamps and can go straight in the post box.

Ruth Malone tobacco endgames presentations

You are warmly invited to attend the following events with Professor Ruth Malone.

Professor Malone is Editor-in-Chief of Tobacco Control, an Editorial Board member of the British Medical Journal, founder of the Nightingales (a USA based group of nurse activists who engage in civil action to expose the tobacco industry) and Professor and Chairperson, Department of Social and Behavioural Sciences, and the Institute for Health Policy Studies, School of Nursing, University of California, San Francisco.

1. Ten things every nurse should know about tobacco companies OR How researching 70 million pages of company documents led me to buy stock in Philip Morris

This seminar will appeal to those interested in:

  • nurse advocacy action and social change
  • using research to support social change
  • tobacco industry tactics
  • researching the tobacco industry.

Monday 7 May, 2-3 pm. You can attend this seminar either personally or online.

Find out more.

2. Tobacco endgames: What they are, why they are needed, and why tobacco industry de-normalisation is essential for achieving them

How can we achieve the government's bold vision of a smokefree New Zealand by 2025? The ASPIRE Research Consortium, the Tobacco Control Research Turanga and Action on Smoking and Health (ASH) will present with Professor Malone.

Tuesday 8 May, 4-6 pm.

Find out more.

Turanga PhD Scholarship

Want to help halve smoking prevalence in New Zealand by 2020?

Work on one of the world's most challenging public health issues of our time. Join an innovative programme involving leading academics and researchers from across New Zealand.

The New Zealand Tobacco Control Research Turanga has one PhD scholarship to award.

The Tobacco Control Research Turanga PhD Scholarship is valued at $25,000 (tax-free) per annum plus tuition fees for up to three years.

Application deadline now extended to 31 May 2012.

For further information and an application form, contact Candy Eason.

POPLHLTH 753 – Tobacco Control: principles and practices postgraduate course

This course is held at the University of Auckland – Tamaki Campus.

It presents an overview of theory and research developed within public health and epidemiological contexts that are related to tobacco control. Students will review major theoretical issues and will consider current trends and future challenges to Tobacco Control.

Topics covered will relate to three main themes:

  • reducing initiation
  • interventions to reduce smoking related harm
  • smoking cessation and treatment of nicotine dependency.

The course will take place during Semester 2, 2012 from 9am – 5pm.

Please apply no later than Monday 4 July.

More information.

Health Improvement and Innovation Resource Centre resources

The following resource is available via the Health Improvement and Innovation Resource Centre website:

Recent research

Click the links below each piece for more information.

Plain tobacco packaging: a systematic review

This systematic review was commissioned to provide a comprehensive overview of evidence on the impact of plain packaging in order to inform a public consultation on the issue.

http://phrc.lshtm.ac.uk/project_2011-2016_006.html

Support for a tobacco endgame and increased regulation of the tobacco industry among New Zealand smokers: results from a national survey

The purpose of this study was to examine the prevalence of smoker support for a ban on cigarette sales in 10 years time and increased regulation of the tobacco industry, and to investigate the independent associations of support for these measures.

http://tobaccocontrol.bmj.com/content/early/2012/04/24/tobaccocontrol-2011-050324.abstract?papetoc

Asking the right questions to ascertain early childhood second-hand smoke exposures

Second-hand smoke is associated with a myriad of adverse health outcomes. Therefore, it is essential for clinicians to ask precise questions about exposures, particularly for children. We present four questions that incorporate several locations of exposure and provide a more comprehensive account of children's smoke exposures than maternal smoking alone.

www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0022347612002430

The balancing act: experts' opinions about the relative resourcing of tobacco control efforts for the general population versus disadvantaged populations

Despite the persistent socioeconomic gradient associated with smoking, little is known about how to 'close the gap'. This study explored views of those with expertise in tobacco control about the appropriate balance of tobacco control resourcing between the general population and disadvantaged groups.

http://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/10.1111/j.1465-3362.2012.00454.x/abstract

Impact of smoking cessation on incidence of diabetes mellitus among overweight or normal-weight Japanese men

Cigarette smoking predicts incidence of diabetes, but smoking cessation leads to higher short-term risk in overweight and long-term risk in both. Preventing smoking is superior to smoking cessation, and is very important for avoiding diabetes. This study assessed the impact of smoking cessation on incidence of diabetes among overweight or normal-weight Japanese men.

www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0168822712001192

Fertility in men born from mums that smoked during pregnancy

The purpose of this study was to assess whether prenatal exposure to smoking is associated with impaired reproductive health in exposed men. Men who have been exposed to maternal smoking in utero have smaller testes and impaired semen quality as compared to non-exposed men, suggesting toxic effects on Sertoli and/or germ cells. According to meta-analyses there is only a weak or no association with fetal exposure to smoking and the incidence of testicular germ cell cancer, cryptorchidism, or hypospadias.

www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/22499223

Cigarette packet warning labels can prevent relapse: findings from the International Tobacco Control four-country policy evaluation cohort study

This study provides the first longitudinal evidence that health warnings can help ex-smokers stay quit. Ex-smokers should be encouraged to use pack warnings to counter urges to resume smoking. Novel warnings may be more likely to facilitate this.

http://tobaccocontrol.bmj.com/content/early/2012/04/12/tobaccocontrol-2011-050254...

Reach and effectiveness of mailed nicotine replacement therapy for smokers: six-month outcomes in a naturalistic exploratory study

There are important inequities in smoker access to clinic-based smoking cessation services. Low barrier high-reach interventions are proposed as solutions to these inequities. The objective of this study was to determine the effectiveness of free nicotine replacement therapy (NRT), brief advice and self-help materials on quit attempts and six-month quit rates in motivated smokers

http://tobaccocontrol.bmj.com/content/early/2012/04/25/tobaccocontrol-2011-050303...

Smokers ashamed of habit: study

Smokers are more worried about the stigma of their habit than their health, with research showing they are increasingly likely to hide their addiction and feel guilty about it.

http://au.news.yahoo.com/thewest/lifestyle/a/-/lifestyle/13494172/smokers-ashamed...

The potential impact of smoking control policies on future global smoking trends

In this study the authors develop projections for global smoking prevalence for the years 2020 and 2030 with and without the implementation, starting in 2010, of the World Health Organisation's recommended multipronged approach to tobacco control known as the MPOWER policy package

http://tobaccocontrol.bmj.com/content/early/2012/04/19/tobaccocontrol-2011-050147.abstract?papetoc

Smokefree shorts

Where possible, links to full articles are provided below each story.

New Zealand

Tobacco retailers flawless in underage sting

A cigarette sting in Marlborough and Nelson failed to find a single retailer selling to underage buyers. The Nelson Marlborough Public Health Service put 47 retailers to the test in operations carried out in Nelson-Tasman on April 18 and in Marlborough on April 19.

Marlborough Express, 26 April 2012

ASH say 2025 smokefree goal is attainable

VIDEO: Huge increases in the price of tobacco are on the cards with official documents indicating that a packet of cigarettes needs to cost $100 if New Zealand is to become smoke-free by 2025.

So is the 2025 target realistic and what else should the government be doing?

Ben Youdan from Action on Smoking and Health speaks to Firstline.

3 News, 23 April 2012

Editorial: Big tobacco's smoke screen

The fight against the ravages of tobacco continues. The latest skirmish is focused not on the tobacco itself but on the packaging in which it is sold, with the Cabinet agreeing to introduce a plain-packaging regime alongside that of Australia's.

Southland Times, April 2012

Lame, boring, filthy... how plain smokes look

The claim by New Zealand's main tobacco companies that plain packaging will not reduce the prevalence of smoking has been dismissed by a researcher who tested the concept.

New Zealand Herald, 23 April 2012

Candy cigarettes get Turia fired up

The sale of look-a-like lolly cigarettes, whose consumption by children is linked to becoming a smoker, has been condemned by Associate Health Minister Tariana Turia.

Lucky Lights bubblegum, Victory candy and other American brands of mock cigarettes are on sale in New Zealand, alongside the local Spaceman candy sticks – all quite legally.

The American brands are in packets that bear similarities to real cigarette packets and the bubblegum stick's wrapping makes it look like a cigarette with a filter.

New Zealand Herald, 1 May 2012

Complete smoking ban from New Zealand's second biggest landlord

The country's second biggest landlord, the Wellington City Council, has completely banned smoking in one of its newest housing complexes. The Council says the ban at the Regent Park apartments in the suburb of Newtown will help protect the homes.

Radio New Zealand, 19 April 2012

Cigarette plain packaging could come unstuck under secret trade deal

Plans to introduce plain packaging of cigarettes could come unstuck as a result of New Zealand's involvement in trade talks – which so far remain in secret. FIRST Union, a union involved in the TPP Watch campaign, said that the plain packaging of cigarettes was a significant measure in reducing harm caused by smoking, and congratulated Tariana Turia, and Hone Harawira before her, on this move.

First Union, 20 April 2012

International

Plain cigarette packs about health – Australian Government

The Commonwealth of Australia says its plain tobacco packaging law is just an extension of long-running regulation of tobacco products. Four big tobacco companies are challenging the plain packaging laws, which will require all cigarettes and tobacco products to be sold in drab olive-brown packs from December.

They are arguing the laws effectively acquire their property, in the form of trademarks and logos, and are unconstitutional unless just compensation is paid.

Sky News, 19 April 2012

Cigarette packet branding to face consultation

The UK government is considering plans to strip all branding from cigarette packs sold in England in a bid to make smoking appear less attractive. Health Secretary Andrew Lansley has said the government did not work with tobacco companies as it wanted them to have "no business" in the UK.

BBC News Health, 13 April 2012

Dubai government to double price of cigarettes

The price of cigarettes in Dubai will double from August in line with new directions from the emirate's municipality. Tobacco products in the emirate are currently priced at an average AED8 (US$2.2), but will increase to AED16 as of this summer.

Arabian Business, 19 April 2012

Tobacco industry's legal challenge stumbles as death tops agenda

The tobacco industry's constitutional challenge to enforced plain packaging in Australia has hit a central problem: smoking kills.

After six hours of legal argument by the tobacco multinationals in the High Court yesterday, Chief Justice Robert French raised the question of whether previous cases cited by legal counsel to support the companies' case dealt with a product comparable to cigarettes.

Sydney Morning Herald, April 2012

Anti-tobacco TV ads help adults stop smoking, study finds

Anti-tobacco television advertising helps reduce adult smoking, according to a study by researchers at the University of Illinois at Chicago's Institute for Health Research and Policy – but some ads may be more effective than others.

EurekAlert, 19 April 2012

Tower burnt down due to cigarette butt

The massive fire that gutted Al Baker Tower 4 in the Taawun area of Sharjah earlier this year was caused by a cigarette butt, as was the case with the Kuwait Tower fire a year ago, officials have said.

The report from the Sharjah Police forensic laboratory on the causes of the fire has revealed another big risk smokers in residential buildings pose to neighbours.

According to the report, a smoker on the fourth floor disposed of a burning cigarette butt which landed on the balcony of apartment No 101 on the first floor.

Khaleej Times, 24 April 2012

Designer packs being used to lure new generation of smokers

Tobacco companies are designing cigarette packs to resemble bottles of perfume or with lids that flip open like a lighter to lure young people into smoking.

Recent research reveals the lengths to which the industry has gone to make its packs attractive to new generations of smokers as opportunities for promoting its products have been progressively reduced.

The Independent, 26 April 2012

Smoking ban on cards for beaches and parks

Irish Health Minister James Reilly wants to ban smoking in parks and on beaches in a bid to discourage children from taking up the habit. Opening the Irish Heart Foundation's Council on Stroke in Dublin yesterday, Dr Reilly said he did not want children to regard smoking as a normal practice.

Irish Examiner, 21 April 2012

Findings boost causal argument for smoking, depression

Current heavy smokers have a more than threefold increased risk for major depression, compared to former heavy smokers. And while the link between smoking and depression is well documented, the finding adds another twist to the debate between so-called "shared-vulnerability" and causal hypotheses about smoking and depression.

Family Practice News, 23 April 2012

QUOTABLE QUOTES

"Do men at tobacco companies have beards – or can they look at themselves in the mirror long enough to shave?"

In an attempt to present a human face for the company, British American Tobacco New Zealand has set up an official Twitter account. Unfortunately for them, the move seems to have backfired, and now the company is being asked some tough questions...

New Zealand Herald, 27 April 2012

"The government is also right to pursue its plan to introduce plain packaging. The howls of protest from the tobacco companies should reassure Associate Health Minister Tariana Turia, who is pushing the Government to meet the 2025 target, that she is on the right track."

Editorial, Dominion Post, 28 April 2012

"The New Zealand government wants to make the country smokefree by 2025, but I think it should be by 2020. 2025 seems a little short-sighted."

Kiwi comedian Rhys Darby on 7 Days, TV3, 27 April 2012

 

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