514 e-Letters

  • Developing Smoke Free Policies in Specialist Settings – the nexus of policy and practice.


    Despite 20 years of sustained engagement and reductions in smoking prevalence rates globally, smoke free policy implementation remains inconsistently applied in low- and middle-income countries where there are high smoking prevalence rates and where >80% of the 1.3 billion smokers reside.1-2 Merrit’s study3 is a stark reminder that despite the forward steps of the Framework Convention on Tobacco Control,2,4-5 variations in achieving smoke free policies in specialist settings persist. Acknowledged challenges in implementing smoke free hospital policies include a lack of data, inadequate reporting, and reduced prioritisation of tobacco control at governmental level.1,3 The lack of an intersectional lens and co development with communities continues with policy development. 6

    Inconsistencies in application of smoke free policies are balanced by reporting of positive implementations demonstrating improvements in some hospital systems evidenced by reductions in smoking rates and improved access to smoking cessation services underpinned by longitudinal data. 7-9

    Previously, Chan 10 indicated that ‘tobacco use … threatens development in every country on every level and across many sectors — economic growth, health, education, poverty and the environment — with women and children bearing the brunt of the consequences’, - this continues today intensifying the impact of the social, structural and commercial determinants of health and n...

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  • E-cigarettes as consume products do not "help smoking cessation"

    He et al cite (ref 43 in their paper) our meta-analysis of the association between e-cigarette use and smoking cessation [1} to support the statement, "[e-cigarettes] have demonstrated potential in recent years in helping smoking cessation." Quite the contrary, the abstract of this paper concludes, "As consumer products, in observational studies, e-cigarettes were not associated with increased smoking cessation in the adult population."

    A subsequent meta-analysis [2] concluded the same thing.

    Both these meta-analyses include the other paper (ref 44 in their paper) He et al cite to support their statement that e-cigarettes assist smoking cessation [3].

    The authors need to accurately represent the literature and stop promoting the myth that e-cigarettes as consumer products increase cigarette smoking cessation. They also need to correct their paper to avoid perpetuating the literature.


    1. Wang RJ, Bhadriraju S, Glantz SA. E-cigarette use and adult cigarette smoking cessation: a meta-analysis. Am J Public Health 2021;111:230–46. doi:10.2105/AJPH.2020.305999

    2. Hedman L, Galanti MR, Ryk L, et al. Electronic cigarette use and smoking cessation in cohort studies and randomized trials: a systematic review and meta-analysis.
    Tob Prev Cessat 2021;7:62.

    3. Zhuang Y-L, Cummins SE, Sun JY, et al . Long-term E-cigarette use and smoking cessation: a longitudinal study w...

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  • Response -- Rodu inquiry


    Regarding the first two questions, the analyses were based on the public use data from both the PATH Study and the MCS, with links to their archives, and the PATH study sample was drawn from the original cohort, the replenishment cohort, and the shadow cohorts (see 1st and 2nd paragraphs of Methods Section). Regarding the remaining questions, please note that our stated goal was to make the MCS and PATH analytical samples as comparable as possible when testing our hypotheses using both cohorts (3rd paragraph of Methods section). As we note in the limitations section (5th paragraph of Discussion section), the MCS had relatively limited items on e-cigarette use and tobacco smoking compared to PATH. The MCS did not assess other combustible tobacco product consumption in early adolescence, nor did MCS measure the sequencing of early adolescent tobacco and e-cigarette use (noted in the limitation section). Also, MCS youth answered survey questions about ever using e-cigarettes from 2015 to 2016 (3rd paragraph of Methods section), which gave us limited variability to test for a wave x e-cigarette interaction in both datasets.

  • Methods questions


    I respectfully request answers to the following questions:

    1. Was public use or restricted PATH data used. This is important, since Table 2 contains a cell, n=7, that is not generally approved by NAHDAP.

    2. Was the PATH cohort drawn from Waves 1 and 4, with follow-ups to age 17 years as needed from the other waves?

    3. There were significant differences in youth smoking-vaping between Wave 1 (2013-14) and Wave 4 (2016-18) that might have affected the results. Was each wave analyzed separately as well as together?

    4. The analysis included a variable relating to “parent(s) smoking of cigarettes, cigars, or pipes.” Did the analysis include other combustible tobacco product consumption by the subjects themselves?

    5. Did the authors account for age at first smoking or vaping (public use, < 12 years and 12-14 years) or which product(s) had been used first?

  • “Harm reduction” as a complimentary tool for tobacco cessation in Latin America – a call for action.

    Pichon-Riviere et al concluded that the four tobacco control interventions analyzed could successfully avert deaths and disability and significantly ease the tobacco-attributable economic burden, but are not enough, as smoking remains a leading cause of health and economic burden in Latin America (1). According to the Global Burden of Disease Project (2), regardless of the relative decrease in tobacco prevalence in the last decades, age-standardized rates of deaths and DALYs for smoking-attributable diseases remain high in Latin America, a region hard hit by the epidemic (3). Unfortunately, in most of the countries in Latin America, there are other problems related to the main strategy to reduce tobacco consumption (i.e., taxation falls short of WHO recommendations) for example cigarettes remain affordable mainly due to the commercialization of illegal tobacco products and smuggled cigarettes, an important distractor for public health authorities, as the real number of users is hidden, access for younger people is easier and health risks are surely higher (4).
    In addition, as in not all countries among our region there are available pharmacological alternatives to help current smokers, cessation strategies may be adapted for novel products, and treatment recommendations for tobacco use disorder should be made within the context of a harm reduction framework wherein alternative product use may be the desired outcome (5). Also, nicotine e‐cigare...

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  • Addressing Tobacco Control in Psychiatric Settings

    I read with interest the article "Global tobacco advertising, promotion, and sponsorship regulation: what’s old, what’s new, and where to next?[1]" published in Tobacco Control. As a psychiatrist specializing in addiction treatment at Taoyuan Psychiatric Center in Taiwan, I wish to share our institution's experience in implementing a successful smoke-free hospital program, which may serve as a model for other psychiatric centers.

    Since 2014, Taoyuan Psychiatric Center has made significant progress in promoting a smoke-free environment through a comprehensive tobacco control program. Our program's objectives include creating a smoke-free hospital, increasing smoking cessation services for outpatients and inpatients, and improving patient smoking status documentation. Furthermore, we prioritize smoking cessation counseling for adolescents, pregnant women, and their families.

    In psychiatric settings, smoking cessation is crucial as tobacco use can influence the blood concentration of psychotropic medications, potentially destabilizing psychiatric symptoms. Assisting patients in quitting smoking not only lowers the risk of tobacco-related diseases but also contributes to stabilizing their psychiatric conditions.

    Our program encompasses various initiatives, including staff training, community tobacco harm prevention promotion, provision of second-generation smoking cessation treatments for outpatients and inpatien...

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  • Time-Dependent Changes in JUUL Pod Composition

    We acknowledge receipt of a private e-mail message from JLI regarding our paper (Yassine et al., 2022). Given the industry‘s long history of industry obfuscation, interference, and deception regarding research on tobacco products, we decided that the most transparent approach to the private e-mail that we received from an employee of a tobacco product manufacturer would be for us to report our results independently and respond to any public discussion of our work if and when it arose. Now that public discussion has arisen, we are pleased to respond to it.

    We very recently analyzed the menthol and nicotine content of samples of liquid from six menthol flavor pods purchased in 2020. Three of these were liquids extracted from the pods in June 2021 for our paper and had been stored since in sealed amber glass containers at 5°C in the dark. The other three pods had been stored in their original sealed packages and were taken from the same batches as the pods analyzed in June 2021. These unopened packages were stored in the dark at room temperature over the intervening 18 months. The data from this small sample demonstrate a 24% reduction in menthol content over that period (12.01±0.46 vs 9.15±0.22 mg/ml), which helps to explain the results we reported (Yassine et al., 2022). We also found a 5% reduction in nicotine content (62.47±0.63 vs 59.52±0.49 mg/ml), as well as discoloration of the liquid in the pods that were stored at room temperatur...

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  • Response to Clive Bates' critism of our article


    Clive Bates’ commentary on our paper repeats claims we previously addressed [1]. Here, we address seven points, the first is contextual and the remaining are raised in his letter.

    1. We note the failure of the author to acknowledge Māori perspectives, in particular their support for endgame measures, concerns in relation to harm minimisation [2] as outlined in his “all in” strategy, and ethical publishing of research about Indigenous peoples. [3]

    2. We reject the assertion that the basis of our modelling is “weak”. While there is uncertainty around the potential effect of denicotinisation, as this policy hasn’t been implemented, there are strong grounds to believe that it will have a profound impact on reducing smoking prevalence. This is based on both theory and logic (i.e., nicotine is the main addictive component of cigarettes and why most people smoke), and the findings of multiple randomized controlled trials (RCTs) showing that smoking very low nicotine cigarettes (VLNCs) increases cessation rates for diverse populations of people who smoke [4-7].

    Our model’s estimated effect on smoking prevalence had wide uncertainty, namely a median of 85.9% reduction over 5 years with a 95% uncertainty interval of 67.1% to 96.3% that produced (appropriately) wide uncertainty in the health impacts. The derivation of this input parameter through expert knowledge elicitation (EKE) is described in the Appendix of our paper. Univariate se...

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  • Strengthening Smoke-Free Laws and Compliance: Insights from Taiwan for Ethiopia and Beyond


    I am writing in response to the article "Smoke-free law compliance and predictive factors in Ethiopia: observational assessment of public places and workplaces" published in Tobacco Control. As a psychiatrist from Taiwan, I would like to commend the authors for shedding light on the low compliance rates of smoke-free laws in public places and workplaces in Ethiopia.

    The study's findings highlight the urgent need to strengthen smoke-free laws and promote compliance to reduce tobacco use and its related health consequences. As a country that has implemented comprehensive smoke-free laws for over a decade, Taiwan has faced similar challenges in enforcing the ban in indoor environments. However, our government has taken various measures to address non-compliance, including increasing penalties and expanding the scope of smoke-free areas.

    In addition to government efforts, collaboration between businesses, civil society organizations, and public health advocates is crucial in promoting compliance and a smoke-free culture. The Ethiopian government and civil society can learn from our experiences in Taiwan and other countries that have successfully implemented smoke-free laws.

    The study's findings provide a valuable framework for policymakers and public health advocates to address the challenges of enforcement and promote a smoke-free culture. I urge the Ethiopian government and civil society to work together to im...

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  • Multiple criticisms of this simulation


    I have published a summary critique of this modelling exercise on PubPeer. [1] This summarises concerns raised in post-publication reviews of this paper while it was in pre-print form by experts from New Zealand and Canada, and me. [2][3]

    By way of a brief summary:

    1. All the important modelled findings flow from a single assumption that denicotinisation will reduce smoking prevalence by 85% over five years. Yet the basis for this assumption is weak and disconnected from the reality of the market system being modelled.

    2. The central assumption is based partly on a smoking cessation trial that bears no relation to the market and regulatory intervention that is the subject of the simulation. Even so, the trial findings do not support the modelling assumption.

    3. The central assumption also draws on expert elicitation. Yet, there is no experience with this measure as it would be novel, and there is no relevant expertise in this sort of intervention. Where experts have been asked to assess the impacts, their views diverge widely, suggesting that their estimates are mainly arbitrary guesswork.

    4. The authors have only modelled benefits and have not included anything that might be a detriment or create a trade-off. The modelling takes no account of the black market or workarounds. These are inevitable consequences of such 'endgame' prohibitions, albeit of uncertain size. Though it may be challenging to mo...

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