News in brief: Menthol cigs weren’t Kool for public health; Eco-friendly inhaler now on PBS; Australian 4D lung project gets big funding boost

Menthol cigarettes responsible for 378K premature deaths

The “crisp, clean taste of menthol” introduced into cigarettes in the early-mid 20th Century was likely responsible for an extra 10.1 million smokers, 378,000 premature deaths and three million life-years lost.

Research has shown that the overall US smoking prevalence declined markedly from 33.2% in 1980 to 13.7% in 2018.

However the study projected that, in the absence of menthol cigarettes, smoking prevalence would have declined further to 11.1%.

It said menthol had a multiplier effect on smoking rates – teens and young adults who experimented with menthol cigarettes were more likely to become regular smokers and less likely to quit than those who experimented with non-menthol cigarettes.

“Other things being equal, the decrease in smoking cessation due to menthol cigarettes makes up about 56% of the total number of smoking-related deaths and 65% of the cumulative life years lost due to menthol, while the increase in smoking initiation attributed to menthol cigarettes is responsible for 44% and 36% of the excess deaths and life years-lost due to menthol, respectively.”

Tobacco Control

Breath easy: inhaler devices are becoming more eco-friendly

Swapping COPD and asthma patients over from their current Respimat inhaler (Spiriva and Spiolto) to a new reusable inhaler will save millions of the plastic devices reaching landfill.

The new inhalers which have been added to the PBS this week can be used with up to six cartridges.

“This has the potential to reduce the number of inhalers that a patient discards each year from 12 to just two, meaning that the more than 170,000 Australians treated with Spiriva Respimat or Spiolto Respimat need no longer dispose of up to 1.7 million inhalers annually,” Boehringer Ingelheim said in a statement.

As well as being designed to limit the environmental impact of single use inhalers, the new inhalers also have other improved features such as easier loading, better grip and a larger dose indicator.

A QR code on the pack direct patients to five educational videos on topics including how to use their inhaler and how to change the medication cartridges.

MRFF invests in functional analysis of kids’ lungs

Novel 4D lung imaging has received a funding boost of almost $29 million from the Frontier Health and Medical Research program of the MRFF.

The funding has been awarded to the Australian Lung Health Initiative (ALHI), a partnership between 4D Medical, Monash University, the University of Adelaide, and the South Australian Health and Medical Research Institute.

A statement from the Federal health Minister Greg Hunt said 4D Functional Diagnosis was a new frontier in lung health for children that will deliver revolutionary lung scanners that are safe, rapid, and easy to use.

“The scanners will allow functional analysis of lung health and can be immediately applied to managing COVID-19, establishing Australia at the forefront of lung science, and kick-starting a high-value, high-tech industry.”

4D Medical’s XV lung ventilation software was TGA and FDA listed last year.

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