Published since 1884 by the Society for the Study of Addiction.
Editor-in-Chief, Robert West

We welcome suggestions and contributions from our readers. Send your material to John Witton, News and Notes Editor, Addiction, National Addiction Centre PO48, 4 Windsor Walk, London SE5 8AF. Fax +44 (0)20 7848 5966;
e-mail john.witton@kcl.ac.uk

San Francisco Voters Support Flavoured Tobacco Products Ban

Posted 15-Jun-18

CNN News reports that San Francisco voters approved Proposition E that bans the sale of flavoured tobacco products, including menthol cigarettes and flavoured vaping liquids, on 5 June.  A ban on flavoured tobacco products was passed by San Francisco’s Board of Supervisors in June 2016, but opponents of the measure gathered enough signatures to qualify a ballot referendum on the issue. According to CNN News, filings with the San Francisco Ethics commission recorded that the tobacco company R.J. Reynolds contributed US$12 million to the campaign against the measure, while former New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg contributed more than US$3 million in support of it. The American Lung Association was among the organisations supporting a ban and stated "San Francisco's youth are routinely bombarded with advertising for flavored tobacco and e-cigarettes every time they walk into a neighborhood convenience store. It's clear that these products with candy themes and colorful packaging are geared towards teens."

Source:

https://edition.cnn.com/2018/06/06/health/san-francisco-flavored-cigarettes-proposition-e/index.html

NIH Halts Alcohol Industry Funded Study

Posted 18-Jun-18

The National Institutes of Health (NIH) announced on 15 June that it plans to end funding for a study of moderate alcohol consumption and cardiovascular health following concerns first raised by The New York Times and Wired, and also voiced by a number of academics and politicians, over the alcoholic beverage industry’s role in the study. The decision followed an investigation by the NIH’s Advisory Committee to the Director (ACD) of how the funding for the study was raised, whether NIH employees sought those funds in ways that violated NIH policies and whether the study was still worth pursuing.  According to the NIH, the decision to end its funding was based “on concerns about the study design that cast doubt on its ultimate credibility.  This includes whether the study would effectively address other significant consequences of moderate alcohol intake, such as cancer.” The ACD also noted that there were “significant process irregularities” in the funding process for the study which “undermined the integrity of the research process.” A further report from the NIH Office of Management Assessment concluded that a small number of National Institute of Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism employees had violated NIH policies in soliciting gift funding and “circumvented standard operating procedures” when obtaining funds for the study.

Source:

https://www.nih.gov/news-events/news-releases/nih-end-funding-moderate-alcohol-cardiovascular-health-trial

Opioid Prescriptions Falling in US

Posted 15-Jun-18

A progress report from the American Medical Association Opioid Task Force records that the number of opioid prescriptions in the US fell by 22 percent from 2013 to 2017. The report “urges physicians to continue to make judicious prescribing decisions to ensure comprehensive, compassionate pain care and to talk with their patients about safe storage and disposal of all unused and unwanted medications.”   The report also says that physicians have increased access to naloxone and that prescriptions for naloxone more than doubled in 2017.

Source:

https://www.end-opioid-epidemic.org/wp-content/uploads/2018/05/AMA-2018-Opioid-Report-FINAL.pdf

Women Feel Empowered by Alcohol Ban in Indian State

Posted 15-Jun-18

Alcohol prohibition was introduced in Bihar, India’s third most populous state, on 1 April 2016. Introducing the ban, Bihar's Chief Minister, Nitish Kumar, said the ban was a response to action by women's groups in the state. “Women in the state started an anti‐liquor campaign,” said Kumar when he announced the ban, and added, “Increasing liquor consumption was a major cause for domestic violence, particularly against women, and had contributed to a rise in crimes.” The Indian Express reports that women in the state say that the ban has led to a decline in the incidence of domestic violence, and has improved family finances.  The Indian Express observes that prohibition was among a series of political actions undertaken to increase the Chief Minister’s support by women.

Sources:

https://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/worldnews/asia/india/12018930/Alcohol-ban-third-largest-Indian-state-of-Bihar-to-begin-next-year.html

http://indianexpress.com/article/explained/prohibition-in-bihar-why-nitish-kumar-says-no-to-liquor-5197752/

Global Progress on Tobacco Reduction Uneven

Posted 15-Jun-18

Writing in the foreword of the second edition of the World Health Organization’s (WHO’s) Global Report on Trends in the Prevalence of Tobacco Smoking, Svetlana Axelrod, Assistant Director-General for Noncommunicable Diseases and Mental Health, says that at the global level countries are on track to achieve a 22 percent reduction in tobacco use by 2025. However, this reduction is less than the global reduction target of 30 percent agreed under the Noncommunicable Diseases Global Action Plan 2013-2020.  The Americas is the only region set to meet the 30 percent reduction target although the US is not on track to meet the target due to litigation on plain packaging and lags in taxation, according Vinayak Prasad of the WHO’s tobacco control unit and reported by Reuters. Douglas Bettcher, director of the WHO’s Prevention of Noncommunicable Diseases Department, said that industrialized countries were making faster progress on tobacco reduction than developing countries.  “One of the major factors impeding low- and middle-income countries certainly is countries face resistance by a tobacco industry who wishes to replace clients who die by freely marketing their products and keeping prices affordable for young people,” Bettcher said in a press briefing.

Sources:

http://apps.who.int/iris/bitstream/handle/10665/272694/9789241514170-eng.pdf?ua=1

https://www.reuters.com/article/us-health-smoking/smoking-down-but-tobacco-use-still-a-major-cause-of-death-disease-who-idUSKCN1IV2W2

Coca-Cola Launches Its First Alcoholic Drink in Japan

Posted 15-Jun-18

International Business Times reports that Coca-Cola has launched three lemon flavoured alcopops in Japan. The drinks are modelled on Japan’s Chu-Hi drinks. Jorge Garduño, Coca-Cola's Japan president, said “We haven’t experimented in the low alcohol category before, but it’s an example of how we continue to explore opportunities outside our core areas.” Chu-Hi, an abbreviation for shochu highball, has been marketed as an alternative to beer in Japan, and has been particularly popular with female drinkers. Chu-Hi is usually a mix of local shochu alcohol, usually distilled from rice, barley, sweet potatoes, buckwheat, or brown sugar, and a range of fruit flavours. The Coca-Cola products range from 3 percent to 8 percent alcohol.

Source:

http://www.ibtimes.com/coca-cola-launching-chu-hi-its-first-alcoholic-drink-130-years-japan-2660526

EMCDAA Briefing on Cannabis and Driving

Posted 15-Jun-18

The European Monitoring Centre for Drugs and Drug Addiction (EMCDDA) has published a policy briefing, Cannabis and Driving: Questions and Answers for Policymaking. The briefing provides an overview of current knowledge and the latest developments and is based on the evidence presented at the Third International Symposium on Drug-impaired Driving, which took place on 23 October 2017 in Lisbon.

Source:

http://www.emcdda.europa.eu/publications/joint-publications/cannabis-and-driving

FDA Acts on Juul E-cigarettes

Posted 15-Jun-18

According the The Economist Juul e-cigarettes make up 60 percent of e-cigarette sales in the US and have become a youth fashion. A Juul e-cigarette is a device that looks like a flash drive, is small enough to hide in one hand and comes in a variety of flavours, including ‘Classic Tobacco’ and ‘Crème Brûlée’. In April the Federal Drug Agency (FDA) said that it had issued warning letters to 40 retailers that it says violated the law preventing sales of vaping devices to anyone under 21. The FDA also demanded that Juul Labs submit company documents about the marketing and research, particularly concerning youth appeal, behind its products. The agency’s commissioner, Dr. Scott Gottlieb, said “We don’t yet fully understand why these products are so popular among youth,” adding “but it’s imperative that we figure it out, and fast. These documents may help us get there.”   

Sources:

https://www.economist.com/united-states/2018/05/26/juuling-is-popular-perhaps-too-much-so?utm_content=social-ygkx8&utm_medium=social&utm_source=SocialMedia&utm_campaign=SocialPilot

https://www.nytimes.com/2018/04/24/health/fda-e-cigarettes-minors-juul.html

Heavy Death Toll in Bangladesh's War on Drugs

Posted 15-Jun-18

In May 2018  the Prime Minister of Bangladesh, Sheikh Hasina, declared a “War on Drugs” in response to the growth of methamphetamine use in the country. By the end of the month 13,000 people had been arrested and more than 130 people had been killed, according to local media reports and nongovernmental organizations. Government claims that those killed had died in gunfights with security forces have been countered by allegations from the families of victims who say these were extrajudicial killings. Human Rights Watch has called on the Bangladesh government to order an independent investigation into the deaths.  UN High Commissioner for Human Rights, Zeid Ra’ad Al Hussein, said on 6 June, “I am gravely concerned that such a large number of people have been killed, and that the Government reaction has been to assure the public that none of these individuals were ‘innocent’ but that mistakes can occur in an anti-narcotics drive,” adding “Such statements are dangerous and indicative of a total disregard for the rule of law. Every person has the right to life. People do not lose their human rights because they use or sell drugs. The presumption of innocence and the right to due process must be at the forefront of any efforts to tackle crimes.”

Source :

https://www.hrw.org/news/2018/06/06/bangladesh-suspend-deadly-war-drugs

Record Opium Harvest in Afghanistan

Posted 15-Jun-18

The latest United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime’s  Afghanistan Opium Survey 2017 found that  opium cultivation in Afghanistan reached a record high in 2017, with an estimated 328,000 hectares of opium cultivation, compared with 201,000 hectares in 2016. The report also observes that the harvest led to a rapid increase in the illegal economy in the country and estimates that the opiate economy was worth between US$4.1 to 6.6 billion in 2017, or 20 to 32 percent of GDP, exceeding by far the value of Afghanistan's licit exports of goods and services in 2016.

Source:

https://www.unodc.org/documents/crop-monitoring/Afghanistan/Opium-survey-peace-security-web.pdf

Alcohol Minimum Unit Pricing Introduced in Scotland

Posted 04-May-18

Alcoholic products will now cost a minimum of 50p per unit in Scotland after legislation, passed in 2012 but then faced with a number of legal challenges, came into effect on 1 May.  High-strength white cider and cheap own-brand vodka and whisky are expected to have the largest rise in prices.  The Holyrood reports that the Scottish Government’s First Minister, Nicola Sturgeon, said: “It’s no secret that Scotland has a troubled relationship with alcohol. There are, on average, 22 alcohol-specific deaths every week in Scotland, and 697 hospital admissions and behind every one of these statistics is a person, a family, and a community badly affected by alcohol misuse. Given the clear and proven link between consumption and harm, minimum unit pricing is the most effective and efficient way to tackle the cheap, high strength alcohol that causes so much damage to so many families.” The legislation will expire after the sixth year of implementation unless the Scottish Parliament votes for it to continue. A review clause in the legislation requires Scottish Ministers to present a report to the Scottish Parliament on the impact of minimum unit pricing after five years of operation. 

Sources:

https://www.holyrood.com/articles/news/alcohol-minimum-unit-pricing-comes-effect-scotland

http://www.healthscotland.scot/health-topics/alcohol/evaluation-of-minimum-unit-pricing/mup-evaluation-overview?platform=hootsuite

FDA Advisory Committee Supports Cannabis-based Medicine

Posted 04-May-18

CNN reports that in April a Food and Drug Administration (FDA) advisory panel recommended FDA approval of a cannabis-derived prescription medicine, Epidiolex.  Epidiolex is a childhood epilepsy drug developed by GW Pharmaceuticals and contains cannabidiol (CBD). It is used to treat severe seizures in patients aged 2 years and older caused by rare forms of epilepsy called Dravet Syndrome (DS) and Lennox-Gastaut Syndrome.  The panel wrote that “The risk-benefit profile established by the data in the application appears to support approval of cannabidiol.” If approved by the FDA, Epidiolex would be the first medicine derived from the cannabis plant to be approved by the FDA.

Source:

https://edition.cnn.com/2018/04/19/health/fda-committee-marijuana-drug-epilepsy-bn/index.html

The Hague Bans Public Smoking of Cannabis

Posted 04-May-18

The Guardian reports that The Hague has become the first Dutch city to ban the smoking of cannabis around its city centre, central railway station and major shopping areas. A spokesperson for the mayor’s office said the “many complaints” from residents and visitors about the strong smell of cannabis, and the noise from its users, had prompted the ban.

Sources:

https://www.theguardian.com/world/2018/apr/16/the-hague-bans-marijuana-smoking-in-city-centre

https://www.citylab.com/life/2018/04/the-hague-bans-public-cannabis-consumption/558335/

INCB Calls for More Treatment and Prevention

Posted 04-May-18

The  2017 annual report of the International Narcotics Control Board (INCB), released in March,  seeks to commemorate the seventieth anniversary of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. The INCB draws attention to the “protection of the rights of people impacted by drug use disorders and emphasize[s] the importance of non-discriminatory access to treatment, rehabilitation and social reintegration services” and urges governments to provide more treatment for people with drug use disorders. “As parties to the international drug control treaties, Governments are required to provide treatment services to people affected by addiction,” the report states. Insight Crime observes that the INCB report is an indication of a move away from its advocacy of traditional counternarcotics policies. The INCB argues that spending on drug dependence treatment “is much less expensive than criminal justice interventions” and can generate savings on healthcare costs and the justice system. The report also looks at both the therapeutic use of cannabinoids and the opioid epidemic and castigates countries that have introduced cannabis legalization. The report also calls for Afghanistan, with help from the international community, to make more effort in addressing the illicit drug economy in the country.

Sources:

https://www.incb.org/documents/Publications/AnnualReports/AR2017/LAUNCH/Pressrelease_2017.pdf

https://www.incb.org/documents/Publications/AnnualReports/AR2017/Annual_Report/E_2017_AR_ebook.pdf

https://www.insightcrime.org/news/analysis/un-drug-control-board-emphasizes-prevention-treatment-in-new-report/

Report on Cannabis Legalization in Uruguay

Posted 04-May-18

A report from the Brookings Institution and the Washington Office on Latin America (WOLA) think tank, Uruguay’s Cannabis Law: Pioneering a New Paradigm, describes the progress of Uruguay’s cannabis legalization. The report observes that Uruguay has established a “robust regulatory and administrative program.” To improve Uruguay’s legalization programme the report suggests that the country should improve access to financial institutions for cannabis-related businesses and widen the points of cannabis sales beyond the current pharmacy distribution network.

Source:

https://www.brookings.edu/wp-content/uploads/2018/03/gs_032118_uruguaye28099s-cannabis-law_final.pdf

New Tobacco Atlas

Posted 04-May-18

The Sixth edition of The Tobacco Atlas, co-authored by the American Cancer Society (ACS) and Vital Strategies, provides details of the scale of the global tobacco epidemic and outlines successes in tobacco control policies. The report estimates that tobacco use caused over 7.1 million deaths worldwide in 2016, while the combined profits of the world's biggest tobacco companies exceeded US $62.27 billion in 2015.  The sixth edition of the atlas has new chapters on regulating novel products such as e-cigarettes, partnerships, tobacco industry tactics and countering these tactics.

Source:

https://tobaccoatlas.org/wp-content/uploads/2018/03/TobaccoAtlas_6thEdition_LoRes_Rev0318.pdf

Global Fund Suspends Partnership with Heineken

Posted 04-May-18

In January 2018 the Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria and Heineken announced their agreement to enter into a partnership to tackle infectious diseases in Africa. According to a press release Heineken would “lend its expertise…to support the Global Fund in better reaching specific demographic groups that are most at risk of HIV, tuberculosis and malaria.” The announcement prompted worldwide protest.  The NCD Alliance, which describes itself as a worldwide network of over 2000 organizations from more than 170 countries working together to combat non-communicable diseases, together with IOGT International and the Global Alcohol Policy Alliance, wrote an open letter “to respectfully urge [them] to immediately end this partnership.” NCD and other critics of the partnership pointed out that alcohol is a major risk factor for tuberculosis and HIV and that entering into a partnership with the alcohol industry presented a  conflict of interest.  Representatives of Global Fund donor governments Norway and Sweden also voiced their opposition to the plans. On 29 March the Global Fund suspended its partnership with Heineken. The suspension was based on reports of Heineken’s use of female beer promoters in Southeast Asia and, more recently West Africa, in ways that exposed them to “sexual exploitation and health risks.”

Sources:

https://ncdalliance.org/sites/default/files/201802_Global%20Fund%20Heineken%20Joint%20letter_signed_web.pdf

https://ncdalliance.org/news-events/news/meeting-is-first-step-towards-ending-global-fund%E2%80%99s-ill-advised-heineken-partnership-though-concerns-remain

https://www.theglobalfund.org/en/news/2018-03-29-global-fund-suspends-partnership-with-heineken

Academic Freedom under Threat in Brazil

Posted 13-Apr-18

One of the early researchers into the potential medical benefits of cannabis, Elisaldo Luiz de Araujo Carlini, emeritus professor of pharmacology at the Federal University of São Paulo and director of the Brazilian Centre for Information on Psychotropic Drugs, came under investigation by Brazilian authorities for an alleged “drug apology” in February. According to Nature, Brazilian authorities questioned Professor Carlini in relation to a cannabis symposium he had organised in 2017 and his invitation to Geraldo Antonio Baptista, the founder of Brazil’s first Rastafarian church and a convicted drug trafficker, to speak at the conference.  Baptista was imprisoned in 2013 and sentenced to 14 years in prison for a drug trafficking offence, but Professor Carlini said that he had requested that Baptista be given temporary leave from prison to attend the symposium.  The Times Higher Education Supplement reports that State Prosecutor Rosemary Azevedo da Silva, who requested opening the case against Professor Carlini, said that the researcher’s invitation to Baptista suggested “indignation” and provided “strong evidence of apology to crime.” While Professor Carlini has not been charged with any offence, the investigation prompted   more than 50 Brazilian scientific societies to sign a petition in support of Professor Carlini. Critics of the investigation say that it threatens academic freedom at a time when funding for scientific research in Brazil has been severely cut. The BBC reports that Professor Carlini said, “I have always been against the condemnation of cannabis as a dangerous drug. It has increasingly been acknowledged as a good medicine and its positive effects have widely been described by the scientific community, specially in multiple sclerosis and epilepsy.  I feel like I have to talk about what I believe, and I have never spoken a single word in support or against cannabis recreational use [so] what was my crime? I can go to jail because of that.” 

Sources:

https://www.nature.com/articles/d41586-018-02842-0

https://www.timeshighereducation.com/news/top-brazilian-researcher-faces-marijuana-apologist-claims

http://www.bbc.com/portuguese/brasil-43176883?ocid=socialflow_facebook

Austrian MPs Cancel Planned Smoking Ban

Posted 13-Apr-18

MPs in Austria voted in March to cancel a planned smoking ban in bars and restaurants. A blanket ban of separately ventilated smoking sections in bars and restaurants was agreed by the previous government and due to come into force on 1 May. More than 540,000 Austrians signed a petition supporting the ban. Opposition MPs criticized the parliamentary vote. According to The Telegraph Pamela Rendi-Wagner, a former health minister from the centre-Left Social Democrats (SPÖ), said that the government was “betraying the health of our children,” adding “no country has taken a backwards step on protecting non-smokers until today. It shows an ignorance that is second to none.”  The MPs also voted to raise the minimum age for buying cigarettes from 16 to 18 and introduced fines of up to €1,000 (US$1,241; £870) for smoking in a car if anyone under the age of 19 is present.

Sources:

https://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/2018/03/22/austrian-mps-vote-drop-smoking-ban/

https://www.independent.co.uk/news/world/europe/austria-smoking-ban-mps-restaurants-bars-tobacco-lung-cancer-a8269516.html

Parliament of Victoria Publishes Drug Law Inquiry Report

Posted 13-Apr-18

The Parliament of Victoria in Australia has published an extensive 680-page report into the state’s drug laws and their effectiveness.   The Parliament’s Law Reform, Road and Community Safety Committee was also asked to investigate best practice in this area from around the world, which led to visits to Europe and South and North America by committee members. The Chairman, Geoff Howard, writes in his foreword that the report “comprehensively explored the key areas of prevention, law enforcement, treatment and harm reduction, and acknowledges the need for a more effective drug response framework, one that prioritises health and community safety.” Drawing on 230 submissions and supported by over 2000 references, the report makes 50 recommendations for reform to Victoria’s drug laws and policies to move the state away from its current criminal law focus on illicit drug use.

Sources:

https://www.parliament.vic.gov.au/images/stories/committees/lrrcsc/Drugs_/Report/LRRCSC_58-03_Full_Report_Text.pdf

http://www.news.com.au/lifestyle/health/inquiry-into-drug-laws-in-victoria-recommends-exploring-legal-cannabis/news-story/eb33e1d64b2ccc1c656e254d37fa73c2

NIAAA and Alcohol Industry Funding of Research

Posted 13-Apr-18

Using emails and travel vouchers obtained under the Freedom of Information Act, as well as interviews with former US National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism (NIAAA) staff, a New York Times article traces how senior staff at NIAAA conducted a campaign to obtain funding from the US alcoholic beverage industry for a US$100 million study of the health effects of moderate alcohol consumption which is now underway.  The New York Times observes that this fund-raising for research may have violated US National Institutes of Health (NIH) policy which “prohibits employees, either directly or through another party, from requesting or suggesting donations to the NIH or to any of its components, of funds or other resources intended to support activities.” According to The New York Times the alcohol industry donations to the research project are being channelled through the Foundation for the National Institutes of Health (FNIH), a nongovernmental body that raises funding for NIH research and manages the partnerships between NIH researchers and private donors. The alcohol industry donors were expected to be kept at “arm’s length” through this mechanism and not to play any role in the research or to communicate with the scientists, said Julie Wolf-Rodda, Director of Development for FNIH. However, the NIH Director, Francis Collins, said that “there may have been some inappropriate discussions that went on between people working at NIH unbeknown to me and the beverage industry” before the NIH signed a memorandum of understanding with the FNIH. The Washington Post reports that Collins has set up an inquiry by a group of advisers to determine whether “any improprieties were committed” when the study was being set up.

Sources:

https://www.nytimes.com/2018/03/17/health/nih-alcohol-study-liquor-industry.html

https://policymanual.nih.gov/1135

https://www.washingtonpost.com/national/health-science/nih-will-examine-ethics-of-its-study-on-the-health-effects-of-a-daily-glass-of-wine/2018/03/20/db8f2806-2c78-11e8-b0b0-f706877db618_story.html?utm_term=.ebe37a59a8df

Australian Parliamentary Report on E-cigarettes Published

Posted 13-Apr-18

The Australian Parliament’s House of Representatives Standing Committee on Health, Aged Care and Sport published a report on e-cigarettes in March. The committee examined whether e-cigarettes could assist in reducing the number of smokers in Australia, the health effects of e-cigarettes, legislative and regulatory responses to e-cigarettes and the appropriate regulatory framework for e-cigarettes and personal vaporisers in Australia. While the report concludes that there is not a sufficient justification for Australia to legalise nicotine E-cigarettes, the chairman of the inquiry, together with two of the seven other members of the committee, dissented from the report’s conclusion. Writing in his foreword, the Committee’s chairman, Trent Zimmerman, said “If long term smokers who have been unable to quit smoking tobacco cigarettes switch to E-cigarettes, thousands of lives could be saved.”  But the Deputy Chair of the committee, Steve Georganas, when presenting the majority committee report to parliament, said "Until science experts say there is no impact on health we should be very cautious in this area."  The committee recommended that the Australian National Health and Medical Research Council fund an independent and comprehensive review of the health effects of e-cigarettes, which should be updated every two years.

Sources:

http://parlinfo.aph.gov.au/parlInfo/download/committees/reportrep/024115/toc_pdf/ReportontheInquiryintotheUseandMarketingofElectronicCigarettesandPersonalVaporisersinAustralia.pdf;fileType=application%2Fpdf

https://www.theaustralian.com.au/news/latest-news/mps-split-on-health-of-ecigarettes/news-story/e5c5bd9457825736d30c61305c130a75

White House and US Senate Plans to Tackle Opioid Crisis Published

Posted 13-Apr-18

The White House issued the President’s Initiative to Stop Opioid Use and Reduce Drug Supply and Demand in March. The plan is based on the recommendations of the final report of the President’s Commission on Combating Drug Addiction and the Opioid Crisis, which was published in November 2017. The initiative seeks to “Reduce drug demand through education, awareness, and preventing over-prescription; Cut off the flow of illicit drugs across our borders and within communities; Save lives now by expanding opportunities for proven treatments for opioid and other drug addictions.” Among the plan’s aims are to cut the number of opioid prescriptions dispensed by one-third within three years. The New York Times noted that government officials “were vague about how the prescriptions would be reduced” and that “the plan says little about how addiction treatment would be expanded.” Roll Call reports that the Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions Committee released a discussion draft bill to address opioid addiction in April. The bill would give the Food and Drug Administration the authority to require drug manufacturers to package drugs such as opioids in blister packs to limit overprescribing for patients who may only need a smaller supply of their prescribed drug. The bill would also require drug manufacturers to give patients a way of disposing of excess drugs as part of their packaging. The US House of Representatives Energy and Commerce Committee and the Senate Finance Committee are also preparing draft legislation to tackle the opioid epidemic, according to Roll Call.

Sources:

https://www.whitehouse.gov/briefings-statements/president-donald-j-trumps-initiative-stop-opioid-abuse-reduce-drug-supply-demand/

https://www.nytimes.com/2018/03/19/us/politics/trump-new-hampshire-opioid-plan.html

http://www.rollcall.com/news/policy/senate-panel-unveils-draft-bill-combat-opioid-addiction

European Alcohol Industry Response to Ingredient and Nutrition Labelling

Posted 13-Apr-18

In March 2017 the European Commission called for mandatory labelling of the list of ingredients and the nutrition declaration of alcoholic beverages and invited the alcoholic beverage industry to submit a self-regulatory proposal to the Commission. Trade associations representing wine, beer, spirits and ciders responded with a proposal in March 2018 in which they proposed that consumers could check a web link given on a bottle label or scan a digital machine-readable optical barcode on their smartphones to find calorie numbers and ingredients online. These proposals were rejected by 12 public health groups according to Politico. Mariann Skar, the General Secretary of the European Alcohol Policy Alliance, said “We do not have to go online to find information for milk or orange juice, why should we for wine?” while the European Consumer Organisation, BEUC, said “As consumers make shopping decisions in a matter of seconds, it is unrealistic to expect they will take a few minutes to check online how calorific wine or vodka is.”  Politico also reports that the industry proposal leaves the disagreement between the beer and spirits sectors about whether to label calories by serving or by 100 ml as required by the European Union’s Food Information to Consumers Regulation of 2011 unresolved. Politico notes that while the beer brewers accept the requirement because it is a third of the amount of beer people regularly drink in one glass, the spirits manufacturers do not, saying that a 100 ml label gives an unfair impression of calories for their products, since it is based on a volume much larger than a typical serving.

Sources:

https://ec.europa.eu/food/safety/labelling_nutrition/labelling_legislation/alcohol_en

https://www.politico.eu/article/alcohol-labeling-calories-battle-with-the-bottle-looms-for-brussels/

New Tobacco Initiatives from the FDA

Posted 13-Apr-18

US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) Commissioner Scott Gottlieb has issued three advance notices of proposed rulemaking (ANPRMs). The ANPRMs are part of the FDA’s  comprehensive plan on tobacco and nicotine regulation that was announced in 2017.  The first ANPRM seeks to explore a product standard that reduces nicotine levels in cigarettes to make them less addictive. The second ANPRM asks for comments on the role that flavours, including menthol, play in initiation, use and cessation of tobacco products. The ANPRM will also consider whether flavours in e-cigarettes and other vaping products can help adult smokers quit. The third new ANPRM seeks comments and data related to the regulation of premium cigars.  Scott Gottlieb has also announced that there will be a renewed focus on the evaluation and modernization of the FDA’s approach to medicinal nicotine replacement products. Gottlieb said “As we move forward with these efforts, we have an opportunity to more formally solicit feedback, and we’ll continue to foster a public dialogue to re-shape our country’s relationship with nicotine and seek public input on policies that will guide us toward a healthier future.”

Sources:

https://www.fda.gov/NewsEvents/Newsroom/PressAnnouncements/ucm601039.htm

https://www.fda.gov/NewsEvents/Newsroom/PressAnnouncements/UCM601690.htm

https://apnews.com/6773f62603764a68a2ec27764865ff10/US-regulators-renew-scrutiny-of-menthol,-tobacco-flavors

Child Labour Used in Zimbabwe Tobacco Farms

Posted 13-Apr-18

Human Rights Watch has published A Bitter Harvest: Child Labor and Human Rights Abuses on Tobacco Farms in Zimbabwe. The report is based on interviews with 125 people involved in tobacco production in Zimbabwe and finds that children who work on Zimbabwe’s tobacco farms can face serious risks to their health and safety through nicotine poisoning and toxic pesticides, as well as interference with their education.  Voice of People Today reports that the Zimbabwean Trade Union Congress Secretary-General, Open Moyo, said “We have seen an increase in child labor in the country, due to the 20 years of a weaker economy. Yes, we have laws, but Zimbabwe suffers from failure and poor awareness.”

Sources:

https://www.hrw.org/report/2018/04/05/bitter-harvest/child-labor-and-human-rights-abuses-tobacco-farms-zimbabwe

https://voiceofpeopletoday.com/hrw-zimbabwean-tobacco-farms-use-child-labor/