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

Supervised Consumption Rooms in Canada

Posted 08-June-17

New legislation was passed in the Canadian parliament in May to simplify the process of setting up supervised consumption rooms for injecting drug users. Speaking in parliament in support of the bill, government health minister Jane Philpot said: “We need to create an environment that encourages communities that want and need these sites to apply for them. I can assure the House that Bill C-37 and the revised amendments our government is proposing will ensure that communities that want and need these sites do not experience unreasonable delays in their efforts to save lives.” The preceding Conservative government had introduced 26 criteria under The Respect for Communities Act 2015 for setting up safe consumption sites which, according to The Guardian, had prevented communities from following the example of Insite in Vancouver, British Columbia, the first supervised consumption room in North America. The new legislation replaces these requirements with five criteria set out by the Canadian Supreme Court when it rejected the Conservative government’s case for closing Insite. The factors are impact on crime rates, local conditions indicating need, regulatory structure in place to support the facility, resources available to support its maintenance, and expressions of community support or opposition. Two new safe consumption sites are set to open in Montreal and the government said it would also expedite another 18 applications from 10 cities.

Sources:

https://www.theguardian.com/world/2017/may/21/canada-opioid-crisis-supervised-drug-injection-sites

https://openparliament.ca/bills/42-1/C-37/   

https://beta.theglobeandmail.com/news/national/montreal-gets-federal-approval-for-two-supervised-injection-sites/article34978907/?ref=http://www.theglobeandmail.com&service=mobile

National Smoking Ban in the Philippines

Posted 08-June-17

An executive order signed by the president Rodrigo Duterte bans smoking in public places across the Philippines.  Offenders face a maximum penalty of four months in jail and a fine of 5,000 pesos (US$100).  The order also covers existing bans on tobacco advertisements, promotions or sponsorship. These are subject to fines of up to 400,000 pesos (US$8000) and a maximum jail sentence of three years.  Designated smoking areas not larger than 10 square metres will be set up for adults only and must be at least 10 metres from building entrances and exits. Members of the public are invited to join a Smoke Free Task Force to help carry out the provisions of the order and apprehend and charge offenders in their areas. The ban replicates an ordinance Duterte created in 2012 when he was mayor of Davao City.  The executive order does not cover non-tobacco products, but the Department of Health is considering regulating the use of e-cigarettes, according to The Philippine Star.

Sources:

https://www.theguardian.com/world/2017/may/19/philippines-president-bans-smoking-in-public-with-offenders-facing-jail

http://www.philstar.com/headlines/2017/05/23/1702634/doh-seeks-regulation-e-cigarettes-vapes

WHO Report on Smoking in China

Posted 08-June-17

A new report by the World Health Organization (WHO) on smoking in China, The Bill China Cannot Afford, says that “China is the epicentre” of the global epidemic of tobacco-related harms and “thus lies at the heart of global efforts to stop it.” According to the report, China is the world's largest producer and consumer of tobacco, with an estimated 315 million smokers. In 2014, 44% of the world's cigarettes were smoked in China. The report also estimates that the economic cost of tobacco use in China was 350 billion yuan ($57 billion) in 2014, more than 0.5% of GDP, and that one million people die of tobacco-related diseases in China every year.  With most of the health and economic costs being borne by poor and vulnerable people in China, the report suggests that this will threaten Chinese President Xi’s goal of eradicating poverty in China by 2020 unless immediate action is taken.

Sources:

http://www.wpro.who.int/china/publications/2017_china_tobacco_control_report_en.pdf?ua=1

http://shanghaiist.com/2017/04/18/smoking_kill_200_million.php

Standardised Packaging Begins in the UK

Posted 08-June-17

Regulations requiring tobacco packaging to be uniformly green and carry images of the harmful effects of smoking came into effect in the UK in May. All packs of cigarettes must contain at least 20 cigarettes so the packs are large enough for the health warnings that cover 65% of the front and back of the package. Brand names are restricted to a standard size, font and colour. Packaging of hand-rolled tobacco must also be in the same colour and pouches must contain a minimum of 30g of tobacco. E-cigarettes are also subject to the regulations, with tank sizes restricted to no more than 2ml and the nicotine strength of liquids to no more than 20mg/ml. The tanks must have a health warning on the front and back reading: “This product contains nicotine which is a highly addictive substance.” The new rules also include a ban on menthol cigarettes from 2020 as well as promotional statements such as “this product is free of additives” or “is less harmful than other brands.”

Sources:

https://www.theguardian.com/business/2017/may/19/stricter-cigarette-packaging-rules-come-into-force-in-uk

http://ash.org.uk/media-and-news/press-releases-media-and-news/all-tobacco-packs-on-sale-will-be-in-standardised-plain-packs-from-20th-may-2017/

Medical Cannabis Available in Pharmacies in Chile

Posted 08-June-17

Pharmacies in Chile's capital, Santiago, began selling cannabis-based medicines to patients with their doctor’s authorization in May.  Chile legalized the use of medical cannabis in 2015 but patients had only been able to obtain it by importing it or from a limited number of dedicated farms set up by a charity in the country.  Reuters reports that the Canadian cannabis producer and distributor Tilray will be supplying the medical cannabis products in partnership with a local company, Alef Biotechnology, which is licensed by the Chilean government.

Source:

http://www.reuters.com/article/chile-marijuana-idUSL1N1IC22S

US Government Reverses Its Plan to Cut Office of National Drug Contol Policy Budget

Posted 08-June-17

The US government has backed down from its plans to cut back drastically its funding for the Office of National Drug Control Policy (ONDCP) after pressure from Republican and Democrat legislators. In response to initial plans to cut the ONDCP budget by 95%, Republican Senator Chuck Grassley and Democrat Senator Dianne Feinstein led a bipartisan letter which urged the administration "to protect ONDCP and maintain the long-standing and effective programs that prevent and fight against the scourge of drug abuse.”  The government now proposes a $369 million budget for the ONDCP in 2018, amounting to a 5% cut.

Source:

http://www.politico.com/story/2017/05/23/trump-budget-drug-control-office-cuts-238720

Recreational Cannabis Use Approved by Vermont, USA Legislature

Posted 08-June-17

Both Vermont’s House of Representatives and its Senate have approved a bill that would allow adults aged 21 and over to buy and use cannabis. The measure would mark the first time cannabis has been legalized by legislation in the US rather than through a state ballot initiative. Governor Phil Scott vetoed the bill, citing concerns about public safety and health. But Scott said he was "offering a path forward" and wants the bill to have increased penalties for driving under the influence of cannabis and for providing cannabis. Scott also wants the bill to include money for regulation, enforcement and education.

Sources:

http://uk.reuters.com/article/us-vermont-marijuana-idUKKBN1862RQ

http://money.cnn.com/2017/05/24/news/vermont-marijuana-legalization/

Drug Tests Trial for Welfare Recipients in Australia

Posted 08-June-17

Announcing Australia’s 2017-18 budget in May, Federal Treasurer Scott Morrison said that a drug test trial will be conducted on 5,000 current welfare recipients. Beginning in 2018, the trial will take place at three sites and will last for two years. Any welfare recipients that test positive for drugs, including ecstasy, methamphetamine and cannabis, will have their regular payments locked onto a cashless card that can only be used for "essential living expenses." Those who fail the tests more than once will be referred to medical professionals for assessment and treatment.  The Guardian reports that the Australian Council of Social Service chief executive, Cassandra Goldie, said: “This is further demonising of people on social security, people on the lowest incomes in the country.”

Sources:

https://www.theguardian.com/australia-news/2017/may/10/budget-2017-drug-testing-will-demonise-australians-on-welfare-experts-say

https://theconversation.com/helping-drug-users-get-back-to-work-not-random-drug-testing-should-be-our-priority-77468?utm_source=twitter&utm_medium=twitterbutton

Australia Plain Packaging Laws Upheld at WTO

Posted 22-May-17

Bloomberg News reported in May that Australia’s laws on plain packaging of cigarettes and other tobacco products have been upheld by a dispute resolution panel at the World Trade Organisation (WTO) following challenges from a number of countries including several major tobacco exporters. A confidential draft of the WTO ruling accepted Australia’s argument that its Tobacco Plain Packaging Act 2011 did not violate trade law because it qualifies as a legitimate public health measure, according to Bloomberg News. The WTO's final ruling is not expected until July and the parties to the ruling, which include Cuba, the Dominican Republic, Honduras and Indonesia, will then be permitted to appeal the decision, according to WTO rules.

Sources:

https://www.bloomberg.com/news/articles/2017-05-04/wto-said-to-uphold-australia-s-ban-on-cigarette-logos  

http://www.worldtrademarkreview.com/Blog/detail.aspx?g=8ac77409-af50-4b21-bca1-30f70d250e9c

FDA's Standards for E-cigarette and Cigar Industries Delayed

Posted 22-May-17

In May 2016 the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) issued a rule that extended its authority under the Tobacco Control Act to enable it to regulate all tobacco products including e-cigarettes and cigars for the first time. The Washington Post reports that the US government has now delayed enforcement of the rule. Any deadlines established under the rule have been postponed as a result of this move, according to FDA officials.  Cigar manufacturers will not have to submit their plans for putting dependence risk warnings on their products, as originally planned by the FDA under the rule. Information on what ingredients are contained in e-cigarettes and cigars will not have to be submitted in August. Interstate commerce of Modified Risk Tobacco Products, including those with the label of “light,” “low” or “mild”, will not be banned as of that date. According to The Washington Post, court filings show that the rule has been challenged by Department of Justice legal representatives, together with the e-cigarette and tobacco industry, to give “new leadership personnel” at the Health and Human Services “additional time to more fully consider the Rule and issues raised in this case.”

Sources:

https://www.fda.gov/newsevents/newsroom/pressannouncements/ucm499234.htm

https://www.washingtonpost.com/politics/fda-suspends-enforcement-of-stricter-standards-for-e-cigarette-cigar-industry/2017/05/02/be7e557a-2ed6-11e7-9534-00e4656c22aa_story.html?utm_term=.837e3a73884a

Bill to Legalize Medical Cannabis Use Passed in Mexican Congress

Posted 22-May-17

Reuters reports that a bill to allow the use of cannabis for medical purposes was passed in Mexico’s lower House of Congress on 28 April 28, with 371 votes in favour and seven against. The bill had already passed in the Mexican senate in the previous December with a similarly overwhelming majority.  A statement on the House’s website said: "The ruling eliminates the prohibition and criminalization of acts related to the medicinal use of marijuana and its scientific research, and those relating to the production and distribution of the plant for these purposes."

Sources:

http://www.reuters.com/article/us-mexico-marijuana-idUSKBN17U2ZJ

http://www5.diputados.gob.mx/index.php/esl/Comunicacion/Boletines/2017/Abril/28/3577-Diputados-aprueban-uso-medicinal-de-la-cannabis-sativa-indica-y-americana-o-mariguana

Good Samaritan Drug Overdose Act Passed in Canada

Posted 22-May-17

The Good Samaritan Drug Overdose Act received Royal Assent and became law in Canada in May. The Act is intended to counter the fear among overdose witnesses that a call to emergency services may bring police involvement. Under the Act, people who call emergency services for themselves or another person suffering an overdose, as well as anyone who is at the scene when emergency help arrives, will be exempt from charges of simple possession of a controlled substance. The Act also exempts from charges those people who are on a probation order, serving a conditional sentence or who are on parole.

Source:

http://www.newswire.ca/news-releases/good-samaritan-drug-overdose-act-becomes-law-in-canada-621367873.html

US Office of National Drug Control Policy Budget Under Threat

Posted 22-May-17

According to the New York Times the US government proposes to cut the budget of the Office of National Drug Control Policy (ONDCP) by about 95 percent, from US$388 million to US$24 million. The Office of Management and Budget (OMB) has proposed budget cuts for fiscal year 2018 that would cut 33 employees, half of the ONDCP’s staff. The OMB also propose to eliminate grant programmes administered by the ONDCP. These programmes include the High Intensity Drug Trafficking Areas (HIDTA) program and the Drug-free Communities Support Program, with the OMB stating that these grants are "duplicative of other efforts across the Federal government and supplant State and local responsibilities."

Source:

https://www.nytimes.com/2017/05/05/us/politics/white-house-proposes-cutting-drug-control-office-funding-by-95.html?_r=0

Opposition to Smoking Ban in Japan

Posted 22-May-17

In 2010, the International Olympic Committee (IOC) agreed with the World Health Organization to promote a smokeless Olympics. But according to Reuters a bill to ban smoking indoors across Japan for the 2020 summer Olympics and Paralympics in Tokyo has been opposed by politicians, the restaurant industry and Japan Tobacco. A bill from Japan’s Health, Welfare and Labor ministry, which aims to restrict smoking in public places, is opposed by about 90 per cent of the members of Japan’s ruling Liberal Democratic Party (LDP) who argue it would put bars and restaurants out of business. The ministry revised its initial plan after opposition to allow smoking indoors in spaces around 30 square metres, as long as adequate ventilation is installed. Nevertheless the Liberal Democratic Party's (LDP) health committee, whose support is essential to introducing the bill in parliament, refuse to meet ministry officials to discuss the bill, saying the revised bill is too strict. The committee chair, Naomi Tokashiki, acknowledged there should be protection against second-hand smoke, but that Japan's cultural emphasis on good manners and sensitivity to others would be enough. "I believe Japanese people really are considerate of others," she said. "It's more important for us to trust people than enact a really repressive law." The Mainichi reports that the new national stadium being planned for Tokyo is to be completely smoke-free, although the Japan Sport Council (JSC) said dignitaries might be allowed to smoke in VIP rooms.

Sources:

http://uk.reuters.com/article/us-japan-smokingban-idUKKBN17X2J8

https://mainichi.jp/english/articles/20170331/p2a/00m/0na/003000c

Report on the Global Drug Market

Posted 22-May-17

A report from Global Financial Integrity (GFI) estimates that the illicit drug market has an annual global value of between US$426 billion and US$652 billion. GFI, a US-based non-profit research organization, produces value estimates of major illegal markets and advises governments on policy responses. The report, Transnational Crime and the Developing World, estimates the overall size of criminal markets in 11 categories: the trafficking of drugs, arms, humans, human organs, and cultural property; counterfeiting, illegal wildlife crime, illegal fishing, illegal logging, illegal mining, and crude oil theft. Mainly using data from the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime World Drug Reports, GFI estimates that drug trafficking is the second most valuable transnational crime after counterfeiting.  

Source:

http://www.gfintegrity.org/wp-content/uploads/2017/03/Transnational_Crime-final.pdf

Report on Smoking in China

Posted 22-May-17

The Bill China Cannot Afford: Health Economic and Social Costs of China’s Tobacco Epidemic is a new report co-authored by the World Health Organization (WHO) and United Nations Development Programme (UNDP). The report says that China is the world’s largest producer and consumer of tobacco, estimating that 44% of the world’s cigarettes are smoked in China. Dr Bernhard Schwartländer, WHO Representative in China, said: “If nothing is done to reduce these numbers and introduce more progressive policies, the consequences could be devastating not just for the health of people across the country, but also for China’s economy as a whole. The rapid increase in costs associated with tobacco use in China is unsustainable, the report reveals, estimating the total annual economic cost in 2014 at RMB 350 billion (USD 57 billion), an increase of 1000% since 2000.”

Source:

http://www.wpro.who.int/china/mediacentre/releases/2017/20170414-tobacco-report/en/

Legislation to Legalize Cannabis Introduced in Canada

Posted 22-May-17

The Canadian government introduced legislation in April to establish a “strict legal framework” for the production, sale, distribution and possession of cannabis for recreational use. Under the proposed Cannabis Act adults would be allowed to possess up to 30 grams of dried cannabis or its equivalent in public, share up to 30 grams of dried cannabis with other adults and buy cannabis or cannabis oil from a provincially regulated retailer. Adults would also be permitted to grow up to four plants per residence for personal use, as well as make legal cannabis-containing products at home. The Toronto Sun reports that MP Bill Blair, who is leading on the legislation for the government, expects the legalized cannabis system to be in place by June 2018. Under the new Act it would remain illegal to import cannabis and cannabis products, and to export them without a valid permit. Permits may be issued for certain purposes, such as medical cannabis and industrial hemp. Provinces, territories and municipalities in Canada will be allowed to tailor the new rules for their own jurisdictions and permitted to set their own licensing, distribution and retail sales rules.

Sources:

http://www.torontosun.com/2017/04/13/what-to-expect-from-the-liberals-marijuana-bill

http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/2017/04/13/canada-introduces-legislation-allow-recreational-use-marijuana/

US commission on opioid addiction

Posted 10-Apr-17

The New York Times reports that a Presidential Executive Order of March 29th established the  President's Commission on Combating Drug Addiction and the Opioid Crisis. The Commission’s mission is to study the scope and effectiveness of the Federal response to drug addiction and the opioid crisis and to make recommendations to the President for improving that response.  Among the Commission’s objectives are: to assess the availability and accessibility of addiction treatment services and overdose reversal in the US and identify areas that are underserved and to identify and report on best practices for addiction prevention, including healthcare provider education and evaluation of prescription practices, and the use and effectiveness of state prescription drug monitoring programmes. The Commission will submit a report containing its final findings and recommendations by 1 October 2017. The Commission will be chaired by Chris Christie, Governor of New Jersey, who made addiction a central policy issue for his administration in New Jersey.    

Sources:

https://www.nytimes.com/aponline/2017/03/29/us/politics/ap-us-trump-christie.html

https://www.whitehouse.gov/the-press-office/2017/03/30/presidential-executive-order-establishing-presidents-commission

Cigarette tax increase in California

Posted 10-Apr-17

Following the majority vote in California on 8 November in favour of Proposition 56 to raise cigarette taxes in the state, a new law will raise the prices of cigarettes in California by as much as 40 per cent. The rise will also be applied to e-cigarettes. This tax rise is the biggest since the state began taxing cigarettes in 1959, according to the Daily Breeze. The expected revenue from the tax is US$1 billion to US$1.4 billion in the 2017-18 fiscal year, although that may decrease over time, according to the California Legislative Analyst’s Office. The revenue will be used to administer the tax, increase health-care spending on low income Californian residents, and fund more doctors, prevention programmes and research into tobacco-related diseases, according to the legislation.

Source:

http://www.dailybreeze.com/government-and-politics/20170331/why-the-cost-of-cigarettes-just-went-up-in-california

Uruguay to sell cannabis in pharmacies

Posted 10-Apr-17

Cannabis for recreational use will be sold over the counter in pharmacies in Uruguay from July. The 2013 law that legalised cannabis in Uruguay requires buyers to sign up to a national registry. Those who register must be Uruguayan citizens or permanent residents and can purchase up to a maximum of 40 grams per month. The price will be US$1.30 per gram. The cannabis will be produced in state-supervised fields. The law also allows users to grow their own at home, or join cooperative clubs that farm it. According to BBC News, many pharmacists in Uruguay have doubted the financial benefits of selling a cost-controlled product and only 16 pharmacies have signed up for the scheme so far. Presidential aide Juan Andres Roballo said there would be a public health campaign before the registry is opened.

Source:

http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-latin-america-39522345

Social science and health policy

Posted 10-Apr-17

The Campaign for Social Science was launched in 2011 by the Academy of Social Sciences to promote social science to the UK Government and the wider public. A new report from the campaign, The Health of People, examines how social sciences can help improve population health around such behaviours as binge drinking, smoking and obesity. The report argues that many previous attempts to change behaviour, such as the provision of guidelines or information, were based on what the report calls “common sense” assumptions about how people behave and were unlikely to elicit behaviour change. In contrast, social sciences can provide models and methods for a more coherent approach to behaviour and behaviour change by paying attention to the physical and social context of the target behaviour, physical and psychological capability and people’s motivational processes.  The report’s recommendations include establishing a strategic coordinating body to support multidisciplinary health research and its translation into policy and practice; the creation of ‘implementation laboratories’, linking research, clinical care and policy to understand what works and improve uptake of effective interventions; and adopting a new ‘social consent model’ linking health and social data to improve the quality of NHS services and patient experiences.

Source:

https://campaignforsocialscience.org.uk/healthofpeople

E-cigarettes legalised in New Zealand

Posted 10-Apr-17

The New Zealand government aims to make the country smokefree by 2025. In March the Associate Health Minister, Nicky Wagner, announced that the sale of nicotine e-cigarettes and e-liquid will be made legal and that the law is likely to come into force later in 2017. "Scientific evidence on the safety of e-cigarettes is still developing but there's a general consensus that vaping is much less harmful than smoking," Wagner said, adding, "This is an opportunity to see if restricted access to e-cigarettes and e-liquid can help lower our smoking rates, reduce harm and save lives."

 Source:

http://www.stuff.co.nz/manawatu-standard/business/90962129/Government-legalises-e-cigarettes-in-effort-to-make-New-Zealand-smokefree-by-2025

UK parliamentary report on licensing laws

Posted 10-Apr-17

The Guardian reports that a Committee from the parliamentary House of Lords has recommended minimum unit pricing (MUP) for alcohol in England if MUP is successful and reduces excessive drinking after its introduction in Scotland. The UK coalition government pledged in March 2012 to introduce MUP but backtracked on its plans in 2013. The House of Lords report also recommended a reform of how licensing decisions are made by local council committees after hearing evidence that some councillors were guilty of a “scandalous misuse” of their powers. The report proposes that the UK’s Licensing Act should be redrawn to abolish local authority licensing committees and give their role to planning watchdogs at councils instead. The committee’s chairwoman, Lady McIntosh of Pickering, said: “The planning system is well suited to dealing with licensing applications and appeals, and the interests of residents are always taken into account.”

Source:

https://www.theguardian.com/society/2017/apr/04/peers-back-minimum-price-per-alcohol-unit-if-scotland-scheme-works

http://www.parliament.uk/licensing-act-committee

Standardised packaging for cigarettes in Ireland

Posted 10-Apr-17

The Irish Independent reports that the Irish Minister of State for Health Promotion, Marcella Corcoran Kennedy, signed the commencement order in March giving effect to the standardised packaging provisions of the Public Health (Standardised Packaging of Tobacco) Act 2015. Standardised packaging and graphic health warnings for cigarettes will be enforced from September 2017. Remaining stocks that are on shelves at that date that are in traditional packaging can continue to be sold for one year.  Ms Corcoran Kennedy said: “Ireland has the lowest age of children starting to smoke among all the EU Member States and almost 80pc of smokers in Ireland start when they are children. Standardised packaging will reduce the attractiveness of tobacco products and forms a key part of Ireland’s strategy to reduce tobacco use, particularly uptake among children and young people.”

Source:

http://www.independent.ie/irish-news/health/cigarettes-will-be-sold-in-plain-packaging-with-graphic-health-warnings-from-september-35573182.html

First licence for growing medicinal cannabis in Australia

Posted 10-Apr-17

The first licence to grow and harvest medicinal cannabis in Australia has been granted by The Office of Drug Control (ODC) of the Australian Department of Health to Cannoperations Pty Ltd in Victoria.  Initially, the products will only be available in Victoria’s medicinal market. Processing of licences for other states and territories in Australia is currently underway.  Federal Minister for Health, Greg Hunt, said: “We are now making it easier to access medicinal cannabis products more rapidly, while still maintaining strict safeguards for individual and community safety.”  The government has authorised the importation and storage of medicinal cannabis from international sources for interim supply to patients as Australian sources continue to develop.

Source:

http://www.ibtimes.com.au/australian-company-granted-first-licence-commercially-grow-medicinal-cannabis-1547041