E-cigarettes to assist in reducing smoking?

The Australasian Association of Convenience Stores (AACS) has joined a chorus of leading health experts, academics and researchers in calling for low levels of nicotine to be permitted in e-cigarettes to enable these products to benefit adult consumers wishing to cut down – or quit – smoking.

AACS was one of more than 40 bodies to recently make a submission to the Therapeutic Goods Administration calling for a change in how nicotine is classified under the Poisons Standard, so low concentrations of nicotine may be used in electronic cigarettes as a safer alternative to smoking.

AACS CEO, Jeff Rogut, said the change is important because it would recognise that e-cigarettes are a much safer alternative to smoking and have a real role to play in helping some smokers kick the habit.

“There is a groundswell of health professionals and experts from around the world calling for greater transparency and a proper framework to facilitate the sale of legal e-cigarettes in recognition that they are among the most widely used and effective products to help people quit smoking,” Mr Rogut said.

“E-cigarettes are one of a range of alternatives to reduce smoking and if they have the potential to help even a proportion of smokers to reduce or quit the habit, then we need to give them a chance to succeed. We urgently need to develop a framework for the responsible sale of e-cigarettes in Australia before the black market takes over.

“We risk being left behind in an international sense if don’t make these products available to people who could benefit from their use,” Mr Rogut said.

AACS support for control measures to ensure safe sale of e-cigarettes

Irrespective of any change in classification for nicotine as it relates to e-cigarettes, Mr Rogut said the AACS supports a range of control measures to ensure the safe legal sale of e-cigarettes.

These include restrictions in sales to minors, ensuring e-cigarettes and associated products are child tamper proof, contain an ingredients list, comply with quality standards and are manufactured and sold with strict safety standards in place.

“The AACS believes more, not less, alternatives are required to encourage people to quit smoking. More than just e-cigarettes, this extends to other safe stop-smoking products such as nicotine gums and patches as well,” Mr Rogut said.

“Convenience stores are proven responsible retailers of restricted products like lottery tickets and tobacco and are ideally placed to responsibly sellinge-cigarettes too, providing adult consumers a healthier, safer choice,” he said.

Earlier this year, Public Health England and numerous other UK public health organisations released a joint statement on developing a public health consensus on e-cigarettes, products they state “are the most popular quitting tool in the country with more than 10 times as many people using them than using local stop smoking services”.

Philip Morris International provides update on reduced-risk products

Earlier this week, Philip Morris International (PMI) released its first Reduced-Risk Product (RRP) Scientific Update, a regular publication on its research efforts to develop and assess a range of potentially reduced-risk alternatives to cigarettes.

The company says the update will provide scientists, regulators and others with a summary of PMI’s product development and assessment approach as well an overview of the latest studies, key peer-reviewed publications and presentations at scientific conferences.

Professor Manuel Peitsch, PMI’s chief scientific officer, said: “We are making significant efforts to develop and scientifically assess innovative products that generate a vapor in which harmful chemicals found in cigarette smoke are significantly reduced or eliminated while the taste, sensory experience and ritual characteristics of smoking are preserved as much as possible.

“Along with many public health experts, we believe innovative products backed up by solid science can play an important role to reduce the harm of smoking. Sharing our methodologies and findings allows feedback and review from external experts and regulators and can encourage further research in the field.”

PMI’s research utilises well-recognised practices of the pharmaceutical industry and is in line with guidance of the US FDA for Modified-Risk Tobacco Products (MRTPs).

The company employs more than 300 scientists who conduct research, including laboratory and clinical studies, as well as systems toxicology. The assessment program also includes studies on actual product use and correct understanding of product communications, as well as post-market research.

Michele Cattoni, PMI’s VP technology and operations, said: “Technological innovation is transforming our industry with a wide range of noncombustible nicotine products that have the potential to represent significantly reduced-risk alternatives compared to smoking. PMI has been, and will continue to be, a driving force in this transformation. Our ambition is that ultimately reduced-risk alternatives replace cigarettes to the benefit of smokers, society and our company.”

PMI’s has also established a dedicated website as part of the company’s ongoing efforts to share its latest findings.

PMI’s Reduced-Risk Products

In the update, PMI state that: “We recognise that cigarettes are a dangerous product, and it is well known that the best way to avoid the harms of smoking is never to start, or to quit. Nevertheless, based on the World Health Organization’s own predictions, there will be more than one billion smokers by the year 2025.1 Therefore, alternative products that significantly reduced risk of disease compared with cigarette smoking are a fundamental complement to the regulatory efforts aimed at reducing smoking prevalence.”

PMI is currently developing four product platforms – two with tobacco and two without tobacco – that reduce or eliminate the production of the harmful and potentially harmful constituents found in cigarette smoke.

“Our approach is based on the acknowledgment that innovative products will benefit public health if they meet two conditions: first, they must significantly reduce risk of disease compared with cigarettes; and, second, they must be acceptable enough to smokers to encourage them to switch to such reduced-risk alternatives.”

  1. Bilano V, Gilmour S, Moffiet T, d’Espaignet ET, Stevens GA, Commar A, Tuyl F, Hudson I, Shibuya K. (2015) Global trends and projections for tobacco use, 1990–2025: an analysis of smoking indicators from the WHO Comprehensive Information Systems for Tobacco Control. Lancet 385:966-76

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