European parliament imposes tough restrictions on e-cigarettes

European Parliament Imposes Tough Restrictions on E Cigarettes

on February 27, 2014

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Plan approved to ban e cigarette ads by mid 2016 in the European Union’s 28 nations. The advertising prohibition approved by the European Parliament matches the existing ban on ads for tobacco products. The new rules also call for e cigarettes to carry graphic health warnings. The amount of nicotine would be limited to 20 milligrams per milliliter, similar to ordinary cigarettes. Governments around the globe are grappling with how to regulate e cigarettes, which turn nicotine infused propylene glycol into an inhalable vapor. As sales of e cigarettes have ballooned, the debate over the public health implications has intensified. The U.S. Food and Drug Administration is expected to issue regulations for the devices soon, and some U.S. cities already have banned e cigarettes in public places. The New York Times

Food labels would get larger font calorie counts and more realistic portion sizes under an Obama proposal. The proposal, being officially unveiled today, would significantly revise nutrition labels for the first time in 20 years. It aims to make it easier for consumers to decipher unhealthy ingredients in packaged foods. The proposed labels wouldn’t take effect for at least two years. Industry groups are expected to push for changes, and the proposal is open to a 90 day comment period before being finalized. The FDA took the unusual step of also printing up an alternate new label that could help gauge whether the public wants more robust changes. Nutritional labels have remained essentially unchanged since 1994, except for an addition in 2006 of heart risky trans fats. The Wall Street Journal

Report underscores how little is known about health consequences of the nation’s gas drilling boom. The assessment, published in the journal Environmental Science & Technology, said «despite broad public concern,» there have been «no comprehensive population based studies of the public health effects» of the drilling boom that began a decade ago due to advances in fracking and other drilling techniques. The report examined available research on shale gas drilling and concluded that many studies analyzed the level of pollutants in the air or water, but didn’t track how the exposures are connected to local health trends, even though energy production releases toxic chemicals. «You’re not going to find anything if you don’t look,» one of the authors said. The Center for Public Integrity/InsideClimate News/The Weather Channel

U.S. Canadian agency calls for limits on the use of fertilizer around Lake Erie. The aim is to reduce the amount of phosphorus entering the water and creating a blanket of algae each summer, threatening fisheries, tourism and even drinking water. The agency, the International Joint Commission, said fertilizer swept by rains from farms and lawns was a major source of phosphorus in the lake. It recommended that crop insurance be tied to farmers adoption of practices that limit fertilizer runoff, and that Ontario, Ohio and Pennsylvania ban most sales of phosphorus based lawn fertilizers. The proposals are likely to encounter strong opposition from the agricultural industry and fertilizer manufacturers, which already have asked a U.S. appeals court to block regulation of farm related pollution along the Chesapeake Bay. The New York Times

Thirteen workers at underground nuclear waste dump in southeastern New Mexico test positive for radiation exposure. Managers of the government site near Carlsbad initially said not any of the 139 employees working above ground when an accidental leak of toxic particles occurred on Feb. 14 were exposed to radioactive contaminants. That assessment was based on external testing of the workers’ skin and clothing. But new analyses of biological samples taken from the workers showed that 13 were in fact exposed to radioactive particles. A U.S. Energy Department official said it would be «premature» to «speculate on the health effects of these preliminary results or any treatment that may be needed.» He did not give details on the level of contamination detected. Reuters, The Associated Press

Sen. Rand Paul puts a hold on President Obama’s choice for surgeon general, citing the nominee’s views on gun violence. In a letter explaining his position, the Kentucky Republican said the nominee, Dr. Vivek Murthy, «has disqualified himself from being Surgeon General because of his intent to use that position to launch an attack on Americans right to own a firearm under the guise of a public health and safety campaign. Although Paul criticizes Murthy s position that doctors should ask patients about guns in their homes, medical associations and children’s advocacy groups have taken similar stances. Despite Paul’s opposition, new filibuster rules will allow the Senate to take a confirmation vote on Murthy. ThinkProgress, The Washington Post

Compiled by Stuart Silverstein

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Sweeping new tobacco regulations approved in europe, including ban on menthol

BRUSSELS BRUSSELS (AP) European lawmakers approved sweeping new regulations governing the multibillion dollar tobacco market on Tuesday, including bigger drastic health warnings on cigarette packs and a ban on menthol and other flavorings to further curb smoking. They stopped short, however, of tough limits on electronic cigarettes.

The European Parliament vote in Strasbourg came after months of bitter debate and an unusually strong lobbying campaign by the tobacco industry, which decries the regulations as disproportionate and limiting consumer freedom. The Parliament dismissed many of the industry’s arguments, agreeing on a slightly watered down version of the proposed legislation.

The lawmakers voted to impose warning labels with the inclusion of gruesome pictorials, for example showing cancer infested lungs covering 65 percent of cigarette packs and to be shown above the brand logo. Current warning labels cover only 30 40 percent of packages.

The legislature still must reach a compromise with the 28 European Union governments on certain points before the rules can enter into force. Diplomats say a deal could be struck by the end of the year.

The new rules were viewed by the World Health Organization and EU health officials as an important milestone but not the end of their quest to stop people from smoking and keep teens from ever picking up a cigarette.

Smoking bans in public, limits on tobacco firms’ advertising, and other measures over the past decade have seen the number of smokers fall from an estimated 40 percent of the EU’s 500 million citizens to 28 percent now. Still, treatment of smoke related diseases costs about 25 billion euros ($34 billion) a year, and the bloc estimates there are around 700,000 smoking related deaths per annum across the 28 nation bloc.

Legislators also voted for new limits on advertising for electronic cigarettes, but rejected a measure that would have restricted them to medical use only. The battery operated products, which are enjoying a boom in the United States and many European countries, turn nicotine into a vapor inhaled by the user and are often marketed as a less harmful alternative to tobacco. Many health experts say e cigarettes are useful for people trying to quit or cut down on nicotine.

Armando Peruga, a tobacco control expert at WHO in Geneva, said regulating e cigarettes wouldn’t necessarily be a bad thing and that WHO is currently evaluating their safety and effectiveness. «We do think e cigarettes could be useful, but we need more information. We have not yet ruled them out. We do think they could be helpful for some smokers.»

Linda McAvan, a member of the European Parliament and Britain’s opposition Labour Party, said she expects tougher rules on electronic cigarettes down the line, saying that most EU governments want them. «We want to make sure they aren’t marketed as gateway products for young people.»

The European Parliament also voted to ban additives and flavorings like chocolate or vanilla, starting three years after the legislation will come into force, and five years later for menthol, possibly in 2022. Opponents argued fruity or other pleasant aromas entice novices to smoke. Lawmakers also banned small packages said to entice young smokers, but rejected a ban on slim cigarettes popular with women.

«We are not telling Europeans what to do, but we don’t want the industry to mislead the young,» McAvan stressed. «We want tobacco products that look and taste like tobacco. There won’t be any more lipstick or perfume style cigarettes packets,» she added.

Prime Minister Enda Kenny of Ireland wrote a fervent appeal to lawmakers on Monday, saying «Every year, more Europeans die from smoking than from the combined total of car accidents, fires, heroin, cocaine, murder and suicide.»

Lobbying against the measure was led by Philip Morris International Inc., which owns several brands such as Marlboro and said the new legislation was «deeply flawed.» It condemned what it called «oversized graphic health warnings and pack standardization.»

The vote «failed to take into account the views of millions of EU citizens, including our employees, retailers, tobacco growers and adult consumers who will be impacted by these measures,» the company said in a statement.

Philip Morris, with $8.5 billion of sales and 12,500 employees in Europe, has also claimed the regulation could result in up to 175,000 job losses and lost tax revenues of 5 billion euros ($6.8 billion) per year.

Leftists broadly favored the new regulations, joined by many conservatives concerned about the costs to national health care systems of smoking related treatment. The package was adopted in a 560 92 vote with 32 abstentions.

Charlton reported from Paris. Maria Cheng in London contributed to this report.

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  • You’ll Be Less Anxious

    Even though smokers may believe taking a long drag on a cigarette can help to calm nerves, a British study published earlier this year suggests that quitting can actually decrease anxiety more over the long term. «People who achieve abstinence experience a marked reduction in anxiety whereas those who fail to quit experience a modest increase in the long term,» researchers wrote in the British Journal of Psychiatry study, as reported by CBC News. Similarly, a 2010 study in the journal Addiction showed that perceived stress decreased for people who quit smoking for a year after hospitalization for heart disease, Reuters reported.

  • Your Mouth Will Thank You

    Quitting the habit could dramatically decrease your risk of dental problems like cavities and gum disease, and even more dangerous conditions like oral cancer, according to a study from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. HealthDay reported that compared with former smokers, smokers have a 1.5 times higher risk of developing at least three oral health conditions.

  • Your Sex Life Will Be Better

    Here’s a bedroom related reason to quit smoking studies have suggested a link between smoking and decreased sex drives for both men and women. Studies published in 2008 in the Journal of Sexual Medicine showed that nicotine can affect even nonsmoking men’s and women’s sexual arousal. And if that’s not enough to convince you, well, there’s also this.

  • You’ll Save Your Skin

    If you want your skin to be at its best, then you’re better off quitting cigarettes. WebMD points out that smoking affects skin tone, promotes sagginess and, of course, causes those wrinkles around the lip area. However, the American Society for Aesthetic Plastic Surgery notes that just a month and a half after quitting smoking, your skin will already begin to look better.

  • You’ll Have More Locks

    If you love your hair, maybe it’s time to put the cigarettes down. Research has linked smoking with an increased risk of male pattern baldness. BBC News reported in 2007 on a Archives of Dermatology study, showing even after taking into account other hair loss risk factors like age and race, heavy smoking (at least 20 cigarettes daily) raised the risk of baldness. And a 2011 study showed that smoking, stress, drinking and genes were all risk factors for baldness, WebMD reported.

  • Your Mood Will Improve

    Here’s a pretty good benefit Stopping smoking could make you a happier person, according to research from Brown University. Researchers there found that smokers were never happier than when they were quitting smoking, even if they went back to smoking afterward. According to a news release The most illustrative and somewhat tragic subjects were the ones who only quit temporarily. Their moods were clearly brightest at the checkups when they were abstinent. After going back to smoking, their mood darkened, in some cases to higher levels of sadness than before.

  • You’ll Have More Birthdays

    Stopping smoking may help women live a decade lon
    ger than they would have if they had continued lighting up, according to a 2012 study in The Lancet. Researchers also found that the more the women smoked, the higher their risk of premature death, with even «light» smokers (those who smoked just one to nine cigarettes a day) having a doubled risk of death compared with non smokers. «If women smoke like men, they die like men but, whether they are men or women, smokers who stop before reaching middle age will on average gain about an extra ten years of life,» study researcher Professor Sir Richard Peto, of the University of Oxford, said in a statement.

  • You’ll Improve Your Pregnancy Chances

    If you’re trying to conceive, one of the best things you can do is to quit smoking, research shows. NBC News reported that women smokers have a 60 percent higher chance of being infertile, compared with nonsmokers. Smoking is also linked to more spontaneous miscarriages, according to NBC News.

  • You’ll Enjoy Food More

    If you don’t like bland food, then don’t smoke, research suggests. A small 2009 study of Greek soldiers shows an association between smoking and «fewer and flatter» taste buds, according to a statement on the research.

  • Your Colds Won’t Be As Bad

    Mild cold symptoms could take on a more serious form for smokers, according to a study from Yale University researchers. The findings, published in 2008 in the Journal of Clinical Investigation, showed an overreaction of the immune systems of cigarette smoke exposed mice when exposed to a virus similar to the flu. «The anti viral responses in the cigarette smoke exposed mice were not only not defective, but were hyperactive,» study researcher Dr. Jack A. Elias, M.D., said in a statement. «These findings suggest that smokers do not get in trouble because they can’t clear or fight off the virus they get in trouble because they overreact to it.»

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