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Iran launches 5-year tobacco control policy
The head of the National Secretariat of Tobacco Control in Iran, Behsad Valisadeh, has launched a 5-year tobacco control plan aimed at bringing Iran in line with the World Health Organisation’s Convention on Tobacco Control. The plan will begin with a pilot scheme to make Qom city tobacco-free, meaning that its residents will be shielded from second-hand smoke. The scheme will then be rolled out to 63 further cities and villages.
Lithuania bans smoking on balconies
Lithuania has passed an amendment to the Law on Control of Tobacco, Tobacco Products and Related Products, banning residents of apartment blocks from smoking on their balconies if one other resident in that apartment block objects.
Costa Rica passes law to aid destruction of illegal runways
A new law, passed on 21 September 2020 in Costa Rica, will allow armed forces to enter private properties to locate and destroy private airstrips that are not licenced or otherwise authorised. The new law is intended to make it easier for Costa Rican forces to address increasing numbers of drug flights in the country. Prior to the new law, the authorities were aware of 141 illegal airstrips to which they were unable to gain access.
Michigan city decriminalises ‘natural’ psychedelics
The Michigan city of Ann Arbor has voted to decriminalise naturally occurring psychedelic drugs. The change will apply to ayahuasca, iboga, mushrooms, peyote, psilocybin and San Pedro cacti, all of which are Schedule 1 substances under US federal law. Police in Ann Arbor will be able to exercise discretion when dealing with people found in possession of such substances, with cultivation, possession and use now categorised as the lowest law enforcement priority.
South Korean treatment for teenage gambling increases 14-fold in 4 years
The state-run Korea Center on Gambling Problems has reported that the number of teenagers receiving treatment for gambling addiction increased from 71 in 2015 to 981 in 2019. Most (60%) were treated for sports gambling, with 35% receiving treatment for ‘mini game’ gambling in 2019. Nearly all cases related to online gambling.
Buenos Aires permits gambling hall operators to apply for online licences
The Lotería de la ciudad de Buenos Aires (LotBA), a local regulator in Buenos Aires, has approved a resolution to allow gambling hall operators to apply for online gambling licences. Previously gambling hall operators were barred from online gambling activities due to monopoly prevention laws. Betting shop operators will continue to be barred from online gambling provision.
Canada court rules injection clinic is exempt from federal drug laws
The Canadian supreme court has ruled that Insite, a safer injecting facility in Vancouver, will be allowed to stay open. The court ruled that the facility was exempt from federal laws because closing it would prevent people who use drugs from accessing health services and would be to the detriment of public health and safety. The clinic has been granted exemptions from possession and trafficking legislation since it opened in 2003. In 2008, the Canadian government announced that further exemptions would not be made. The present ruling means that the government must continue to exempt the facility from selected federal drug laws.
Dutch watchdog fines four tobacco companies
The Authority for Consumers and Markets (ACM), a Dutch competition watchdog, has fined four tobacco companies for breaching anti-competition rules. The fines were issued to British American Tobacco (BAT), Philip Morris, Japan Tobacco International (JTI), and Ven Nelle and ranged from €10.4m to €31.2m. The fines relate to the companies allegedly sharing information about future price changes. All four companies have filed objections with the ACM.
Wales bans smoking on side-lines of children’s football matches
The Football Association of Wales (FAW) has banned spectators from smoking on the side-lines of children’s football matches. The ban will apply to training sessions as well as to tournament matches. The move is intended to de-normalise smoking and will apply to 522 junior football clubs in Wales. Football coaches and club officials have been asked to enforce the ban.
US illicit prescription opioid use declines
Data presented at the Anesthesiology 2020 annual meeting suggest that illicit use of prescription opioids in the US has declined in recent years. Data from the National Survey on Drug Use and Health indicate that non-prescription use of opioid medication has declined by 26% over 11 years, from 4.9% in 2007 to 3.7% in 2018. There have been significant declines in the illicit use of prescription opioids every year between 2012 and 2018, apart from in 2015 when data recording methods were changed.
Paris shuts bars to prevent spread of COVID-19
All bars in Paris will be closed for two weeks from Tuesday 6 October 2020 following an increase in COVID-19 cases. The closure will not apply to bistros or restaurants where food is served with alcohol; however, those establishments will have to adhere to strict hygiene and social distancing rules and must shut before 10pm. Paris is now on ‘maximum alert’, meaning that the COVID-19 infection rate has exceeded 250 cases per 100,000 people.
Opioid use in India five times higher than in 2004
The World Drug Report published by the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC) estimates that opioid use in India has increased five times since a 2004 survey on drug use. The UNODC reported that, in 2018, around 2.1% of the population in India aged between 10 and 75 had used opioids in the past year. Opioid use was higher among men at around 4% compared with 0.2% among women. The UNODC estimated that there were around 7.7 million people in India with opioid use disorders.
Illicit alcohol deaths in Mexico
The Comisión Nacional contra las Adicciones (CONADIC) in Mexico has reported that over 200 people died from alcohol poisoning between May and July 2020. A recent increase in alcohol-related deaths has been linked to restrictions on legal alcohol purchases imposed to prevent COVID-19 transmission. A single batch of 97% alcohol made from sugar cane was associated with 21 deaths in Jalisco and Michoacán states.
Swaziland COVID-19 alcohol ban protest banned
Alcohol production and sales were banned in Swaziland in March 2020 as part of a range of measures to prevent the spread of COVID-19. Many of those measures have now been lifted but the ban on alcohol sales remains in place. A protest organised by the Swaziland National Liquor Association to submit a petition against the alcohol ban to the Prime Minister and to the South African High Commission was due to take place on 18 September but has also been banned.
Pubs reopen in Northern Ireland following COVID-19 lock-down
For the first time since March, alcohol-only pubs across Northern Ireland have been allowed to reopen. Previously, pubs were only permitted to open if alcohol was accompanied by food and was served outdoors, measures that were introduced to prevent the transmission of COVID-19. The easing of restrictions will allow approximately 600 establishments to re-open.
Australia to permit prescription e-cigarettes in 2021
The Australian Therapeutic Goods Administration (TGA) has announced that, from June 2021, vaping products will be available in Australia on prescription only. The regulatory change will apply to all nicotine products and therefore heated tobacco products, chewing tobacco and snuff will also potentially be available only on prescription. Current consumer regulations will remain in place, meaning that tobacco and some NRT products will remain available as over-the-counter purchases.
US Food and Drug Administration outlines new benzodiazepine warnings
The US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has issued new guidance about the information that must be displayed on benzodiazepine medication. The requirements mean that information about dependence, overdose and withdrawal must be displayed on all such medications to help inform physicians and patients. The new regulations will apply to all benzodiazepine medications including Xanax and Valium.
Cyprus to increase roadside drug testing
The Cyprus justice minister has announced that the number of drug tests for drivers will double from around 500 to 1,000 per year. Roadside screening for illicit substances will be conducted in public places and will be implemented alongside increased fines for selling or using drugs in drug-free zones (e.g. near schools).
Alcohol taxes increase in Sweden to fund defence strategy
Sweden’s Finance Minister has announced an increase in alcohol taxes to help fund the country’s defence agencies. Taxes on alcoholic beverages currently make up around 30% of the retail price. Although the exact increase is currently unknown, it is due to take effect in 2023. Taxes on alcohol, cigarettes and nicotine products are set to provide 20% of the total defence budget.
Number of medical cannabis patients doubles in Israel
Despite ongoing supply and regulatory challenges, the number of patients prescribed medical cannabis has doubled in Israel since 2018. As of August 2020, 31 companies have been granted permits to grow medical cannabis and five companies have been authorised to process and manufacture cannabis products for more than 70,000 patients.