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

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

Religious Use of Ayahuasca Permitted in Montreal Churches

Posted 04-May-18

Vice notes that to two Montreal religious groups were granted exemptions in June 2017 by Health Canada to allow them to import and serve ayahuasca to their members.  Ayahuasca is otherwise banned in Canada because it contains dimethyltryptamine (DMT) and harmaline, two prohibited hallucinogens. One of the religious groups, the  Santo Daime Church, Céu do Montréal, Eclectic Center of the Universal Flowing Light of Montreal, Canada, has been campaigning the right to import and serve ayahuasca in its religious rituals since 2000.  According to the CÉU website the Santo Daime is a spiritual practice founded in the Brazil in the 1930s with ayahuasca as its sacrament. Under the exemption, the supply of ayahuasca to the Montreal groups is to come from a legitimate, registered Brazilian Santo Daime Church.

Sources:

https://www.vice.com/en_ca/article/d35w5j/two-montreal-religious-groups-can-now-legally-import-ayahuasca  

http://chacruna.net/how-ayahuasca-church-received-religious-exemption-canada

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/

Minimum Unit Price for Alcohol in Scotland

Posted 19-Mar-18

BBC News reports that following a public consultation the Scottish government has recommended that the minimum price for a unit of alcohol should be set at 50 UK pence (€0.56; US$0.69).  A 50 pence minimum price was proposed in the original legislation passed by the Scottish parliament in 2012. The proposed 50 pence unit price will be presented to the Scottish parliament before it comes into force in May 2018. Scottish Health Secretary Shona Robison said “With alcohol on sale today in some places at just 16p per unit, we have to tackle the scourge of cheap, high-strength drink that causes so much damage to so many families. This move will save thousands of lives.”

Sources:

http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-scotland-scotland-politics-43197384

https://www.thespiritsbusiness.com/2018/02/scotland-sets-minimum-unit-price-for-alcohol/

Smoking Ban under Threat in Austria

Posted 19-Mar-18

In February Austrian government MPs presented a bill which would continue to allow smoking in bars and restaurants.  A smoking ban was due to come into force on 1 May but the Freedom Party of Austria (FPÖ) made dropping the ban a condition of entering a coalition government with the Austrian People’s Party (ÖVP) after elections in 2017.  The ÖVP and its leader and Austrian Chancellor Sebastian Kurz supported the ban under the previous government but Kurz said his party is bound by the coalition agreement to repeal the ban. The FPÖ leader, Heinz-Christian Strache, said his party opposed the ban because it infringes on "freedom of choice" and also said that repealing the ban would protect "smokers, non-smokers and restaurant owners" whose businesses could be adversely affected by a ban. In response the Vienna Chamber of Physicians and Austrian Cancer Aid jointly launched a formal government petition calling for the ban to be retained which had gathered over 200,000 signatures by the end of February.  The Austrian parliament must hold a debate on any petition that has 100,000 signatures.

Sources:

https://www.reuters.com/article/us-austria-politics-smoking/popular-push-for-austrian-smoking-ban-gathers-pace-idUSKCN1G42JR

https://medicalxpress.com/news/2018-02-austria-mulls-pro-smoking-bill-protests.html

http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-europe-43057842

Tobacco Products in Plain Packaging on Sale in Ireland

Posted 19-Mar-18

Tobacco products in plain packaging with prominent health warnings have begun to be introduced into retailers in Ireland as part of the country’s Tobacco Free Ireland programme and in line with the Public Health (Standardised Packaging of Tobacco) Act 2015. Ireland became the fourth country in the world to introduce plain packaging for tobacco products in September 2017 but any products already manufactured by that date were allowed to be sold for another year.

Source:

https://www.irishtimes.com/news/health/plain-cigarette-packaging-hits-shelves-across-republic-1.3401752

American Cancer Association Statement on E-cigarettes

Posted 19-Mar-18

E-cigarettes are less harmful than tobacco cigarettes, according to a statement issued by the American Cancer Association (ACA) and reported in the San Diego Union-Tribune.  The ACA statement continues that “Some smokers, despite firm clinician advice, will not attempt to quit smoking cigarettes and will not use FDA approved cessation medications.  These individuals should be encouraged to switch to the least harmful form of tobacco product possible; switching to the exclusive use of e-cigarettes is preferable to continuing to smoke combustible products.” The ACA also recommends further research and adds that “the FDA should assess whether e-cigarettes help to reduce tobacco-related morbidity and mortality, and the impact of marketing of e-cigarettes on consumer perceptions and behavior.”

 Sources:

http://www.sandiegouniontribune.com/business/biotech/sd-me-cancer-vaping-20180222-story.html

https://www.cancer.org/healthy/stay-away-from-tobacco/e-cigarette-position-statement.html

Homicide Rate Increases in Coca Crop Substitution Programme Areas in Colombia

Posted 19-Mar-18

A new report from Colombia’s Ideas for Peace Foundation (Fundación Ideas para la Paz – FIP) estimates that homicide rates in municipalities where coca crop substitution programmes were implemented following the Peace Accords increased by 33 percent between 2016 and 2017.  According to the report, homicide rates in areas that had started the crop substitution programme rose from 41.1 per 100,000 inhabitants to 54.7 in 2017. Homicide rates in municipalities with coca crops but without the substitution programme also increased, from 35.5 per 100,000 inhabitants to 39.5 in 2017. Municipalities without coca crops had a decrease in homicide rates between 2016 and 2017. In its analysis of the FIP report, InSight Crime observes that the pressure from armed criminal organizations on coca growers and fighting between these groups continue to impede the progress of the substitution programmes.

Sources:

http://cdn.ideaspaz.org/media/website/document/5a8c323f55cf7.pdf

https://www.insightcrime.org/news/analysis/criminal-violence-threatens-colombia-coca-drug-crop-substitution-program-report/

EU Fails to Meet Framework Convention on Tobacco Control Obligations

Posted 19-Mar-18

Corporate Europe Observatory (CEO) has published a report with details of how tobacco industry lobby groups met European Commission tax department officials and attempted to weaken the European Commission’s policy on tobacco product taxes. CEO is a research and campaigning organization that works to reveal the influence of corporations on European Union (EU) policy making. Through Freedom of Information requests the Tobacco Investigations Desk of CEO obtained reports of meetings between tobacco industry lobbyists and European Commission tax officials in 2016 and 2017 when the EU was considering a revision of the 2011 directive on tobacco taxes. This review was undertaken in the light of the emergence of e-cigarettes and other new tobacco and nicotine products. CEO points out that the meetings mark a failure of the EU to meet its obligation under Article 5(3) of the World Health Organization (WHO) Framework Convention on Tobacco Control, to which the EU is a party. Article 5(3) of the Convention requires that public bodies take a proactive approach, rather than a reactive or passive one, to ensure transparency when interacting with the tobacco industry. Following its review the European Commission recommended in January 2018 that no changes be made to the EU Directive governing the taxation of tobacco products.  The CEO laid a complaint with the European Ombudsman, Emily O’Reilly, and in her annual report the Ombudsman found that the European Commission’s current practice regarding Article 5(3), with the exception of its Directorate-General for Health and Food Safety, “was unsatisfactory and inadequate.”

Sources:

https://corporateeurope.org/power-lobbies/2018/02/eu-tax-officials-open-door-tobacco-lobbyists

https://www.ombudsman.europa.eu/cases/followup.faces/en/87679/html.bookmark

https://www.tax-news.com/news/EU_Shelves_Plan_To_Amend_Tobacco_Tax_Directive____76267.html

Northern Territory in Australia Introducing Minimum Unit Pricing

Posted 19-Mar-18

The Australian Broadcasting Corporation (ABC) reports that the Northern Territory (NT) will become the first Australian jurisdiction to introduce minimum unit pricing on alcohol.  The move is a response to an alcohol review commissioned by former NT Supreme Court chief justice Trevor Riley.  The NT Attorney-General Natasha Fyles said that the NT government would introduce a minimum Australian$1.30 unit price for all alcoholic beverages and hopes to have the minimum unit price in place by 1 July 2018. According to ABC, Natasha Fyles said that the price of beer would not be affected because it is already being sold at a higher price nor would the cost of spirits be affected, but added “it will get rid of that cheap wine, we see wine that costs less than a bottle of water… and that is just not acceptable." 

Source:

http://www.abc.net.au/news/2018-02-27/nt-first-australian-jurisdiction-minimum-alcohol-floor-price/9488320

Australian Government Revives Drug Testing for Welfare Benefits Plan

Posted 19-Mar-18

Australian social services minister Dan Tehan announced in February that his government is re-introducing legislation to set up a trial to drug test new welfare recipients in Logan, Queensland; Canterbury-Bankstown, New South Wales; and Mandurah, Western Australia.  The government had removed drug testing trials from its broader welfare reform bill in December, due to fierce criticism from other political parties as well as community and professional groups.  Dan Tehan asked for support from the other political parties in Australia but according to Pro Bono Australia the Labor and Green parties still oppose the plan.

Source:

https://probonoaustralia.com.au/news/2018/02/government-revives-push-welfare-drug-testing/

Progress on the SALIS Digital Archive

Posted 19-Mar-18

Andrea Mitchell writes: The Substance Abuse Librarians and Information Specialists (SALIS) organization is continuing to develop an international digital archive of alcohol, tobacco and other drugs (ATOD) books and documents.  Anyone anywhere in the world with an internet connection now has access to borrow or browse those ATOD materials for free, by simply registering their name with the Internet Archive (IA).  In partnership with the IA, SALIS collects the books/documents and pays the IA to digitize them.  Thus far SALIS has raised nearly US$40,000 for this effort from the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism (NIAAA), the University of Toronto, the Joel and Maria Fort Foundation, the Hazelden Betty Ford Foundation, and most recently from the Society for the Study of Addiction and a crowd sourcing campaign. It costs approximately US$30 to digitize one book.  The SALIS Collection, as it is called, contains over 1900 items with a goal to reach 2500 by year’s end.  With the loss of more than 60 ATOD libraries and specialized databases over the past 18 years, SALIS’s mission is to preserve the ATOD literature and make it freely accessible in digital format. Contact the SALIS Home (salis@salis.org) for more information.

Afghan Heroin Lab Bombing Success Story Challenged

Posted 19-Mar-18

The US Department of Defense (DoD) started a bombing campaign against Taliban heroin laboratories in Afghanistan in November 2017 and has claimed that this military campaign has had a significant impact on the Taliban finances.  A DoD press briefing said that the campaign has led to a loss of US$80 million to heroin producers in Afghanistan and a US$16 million loss for the Taliban, which taxes the drug laboratories. Military Times reports that the DoD’s claims have been challenged by the Special Inspector-General for Afghanistan Reconstruction (SIGAR). In particular, a SIGAR report observes that the DoD has not clarified “whether future revenue per barrel is calculated using price data on the export of opium and heroin, or using higher values in consumer markets outside Afghanistan.” The DoD’s claims have been refuted in a paper by David Mansfield from the London School of Economics. The paper estimates that the opium destroyed in one of the raids would not be worth “millions of dollars,” as claimed by the Commander of US forces in Afghanistan, but “would have been worth at most $190,750 if converted to heroin and no more than $2,863 to the Taliban.”

Sources:

https://www.militarytimes.com/flashpoints/2018/02/05/doubts-rise-over-effectiveness-of-bombing-afghan-drug-labs/

http://www.lse.ac.uk/united-states/Assets/Documents/Heroin-Labs-in-Afghanistan-Mansfield.pdf

Cannabis Supply Models to Be Trialled in the Netherlands

Posted 19-Mar-18

The new centre-right coalition government in the Netherlands has agreed to a series of trials in 2018 to be conducted by six to 10 local councils which will regulate production in their areas and report the outcomes to central government. Four models of cannabis supply have been proposed for the trials, all with the aim of supplanting the criminal supply of cannabis to Dutch coffeeshops. According to The Guardian, the models are mass production by commercial companies or medical institutions, licensed production to supply directly customers ordering online, production by individuals enrolled in a social cannabis club, and production by coffeeshops for their own retail.

Source:

https://www.theguardian.com/society/2017/dec/27/dutch-councils-vie-to-participate-in-regulated-cannabis-project?CMP=Share_iOSApp_Other