News and Notes


  • Peter Miller,

  • Molly Jarvis,

  • Louisa Strain


The World Health Organization has issued a report describing the various tobacco industry practices that interfere with tobacco control policy [1]. In November 2008, 160 nations agreed to guidelines under the WHO Framework Convention on Tobacco Control (FCTC), to protect their public health policies from the interference of the tobacco industry. The report is intended to provide background information to assist in implementing these guidelines, and describes how the tobacco industry has used economic power, lobbying, marketing and media manipulation to discredit scientific research and influence governments in order to increase tobacco sales. The report also describes how the industry uses philanthropy to to create a positive public image under the guise of corporate social responsibility. The new FCTC guidelines call on governments to reject partnerships with the tobacco industry and avoid investing in the industry or allowing the industry to be represented on tobacco control bodies. This comes at the same time as news of the tobacco industry front group ‘The Tobacco Retailers Alliance’ attempting to terrify small shop keepers around changes in advertising tobacco in shops. The group was exposed as a tobacco industry front organisation last autumn when they were caught covertly lobbying British MPs against government health policy.



The Tobacco and Primary Medical Services Bill was introduced before the Scottish parliament in February. The bill calls for the ban of tobacco displays in shops, the prohibition of cigarette vending machines and a register of tobacco retailers. Other proposed measures include on-the-spot fines for retailers who sell to under-18s and sales bans against retailers who continually sell to underage smokers. The Guardian reports that the bill is expected to receive cross-party support in the devolved Scottish parliament in Edinburgh. Stage 1 of the bill is due to be completed by 25 September 2009. Details of the bill can be found at


According to a new study [1] from researchers at the Karolinska Institute in Stockholm, Sweden, more than a third of patients who took part in an eight-week smoking cessation programme before and after planned surgery were able to give up and most of them were still smoke free after a year. They also experienced half as many complications after surgery as the patients who did not receive help to give up smoking.



The New Mexico Department of Health has issued its first licence to a non profit organisation to produce and distribute medical cannabis to certified patients in the Department's Medical Cannabis Program. Not-for-profit organisations are allowed to produce up to 95 mature plants and seedlings as well as a usable inventory of medical cannabis to meet the needs of patients in the program. Patients in the Medical Cannabis Program can also apply to produce up to four mature plants and 12 seedlings for their personal use. So far, the Department has approved 23 patients to be their own producers. Once a condition is approved, anyone with that medical condition can apply to the Medical Cannabis Program. The 14 current qualifying conditions are: cancer, glaucoma, multiple sclerosis, damage to the nervous tissue of the spinal cord with intractable spasticity, epilepsy, HIV/AIDS, painful peripheral neuropathy, intractable nausea/vomiting, severe anorexia/cachexia, hepatitis C infection currently receiving antiviral treatment, Crohn's disease, Post-traumatic Stress Disorder and Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis (Lou Gehrig's disease). Hospice patients may also be eligible.

Since the Medical Cannabis Program began on the 1 July 2007, the Department of Health has approved 250 patient applications.



The UK National Treatment Agency (NTA) has developed a guide in conjunction with the British Psychological Society (BPA) to help drugs workers make better use of ‘talking therapies’ to support drug misusers overcoming dependency. This is the first guide of its kind aimed specifically at those working with drug misusers, and explains how different psychosocial approaches can be delivered effectively. The key evidence-based psychosocial interventions that are discussed in detail include motivational interventions and behavioural couples therapy. The guide was written by Stephen Pilling, Kathryn Hesketh and Luke Mitcheson of the BPS, Centre for Outcomes, Research and Effectiveness (CORE); and the Research Department of Clinical, Educational and Health Psychology of the University College London.

A full copy of the toolkit: ‘Psychosocial interventions in drug misuse: a framework and toolkit for implementing NICE-recommended treatment interventions’ is available on the NTA website at:


The Dallas Morning News reports that the Texas Senate has voted 23-7 to approve a bill that allows local state health agencies to run needle-exchange programs to help curb the spread of HIV and other blood-borne diseases among injection drug users. Texas is currently the only US state that prohibits needle-exchange programs. The Senate was scheduled to vote on the bill one more time before it can proceed to the House for consideration.

Source: Dallas Morning News, 19 March 2009


The French national assembly has voted to approve a new bill drafted by the government to tackle the problem of ‘le binge drinking’ amongst French youth. The new legislation, which must now be approved by the senate, would raise the minimum age for purchasing alcohol and tobacco from 16 to 18, as well as banning so-called ‘open bars’ which offer unlimited drinks for a fixed entry price, and prohibiting the sale of alcohol at service stations between 6pm and 8am. The law would also allow mayors to ban takeaway sales of alcohol in their areas between 8pm and 8am.

Source: The Guardian, 13 March 2009


The European Monitoring Centre for Drugs and Drug Addiction (EMCDDA) has released a collection of narratives from women facing drug-related problems in Europe—Women's voices: experiences and perceptions of women facing drug problems. It is estimated that around one in four drug users entering treatment is female, and that women account for one in five drug-related deaths. Yet most drug services today are designed with male drug users in mind, as they remain the predominant client group. Epidemiological studies routinely collect quantitative data on gender differences in drug use (e.g. prevalence, mortality), but far less is published on the qualitative aspects of female drug problems. This EMCDDA thematic paper presents quotations gleaned from interviews with women in eight countries. Through these testimonies, the paper illustrates how qualitative research can provide glimpses into the experiences and perceptions of women facing drug issues that statistics alone cannot provide.

The paper is available to download in PDF format at:


35th Annual Alcohol Epidemiology Symposium of the Kettil Bruun Society, 1–5 June 2009, Copenhagen, Denmark. Website:

12th European Federation of Therapeutic Communities Congress ‘Eyes on the Future’, 2–5 June 2009, World Forum Convention Centre, The Hague, The Netherlands. Website:

National Conference on Tobacco or Health, 10–12 June 2009, Phoenix Convention Centre, Phoenix, Arizona, USA. Website:

The College on Problems of Drug Dependence (CPDD) 71st Annual Meeting, 20–25 June 2009, John Ascuaga's Nugget Casino Resort, Reno/Sparks, Nevada, USA. Website:

2009 UK National Smoking Cessation Conference, 22–23 June 2009, Novotel London West Hotel and Convention Centre, UK. Website:

19th Annual Symposium of the International Cannabinoid Research Society, 8–11 July 2009, Pheasant Run Resort, St. Charles, Illinois, USA. Website:

International Narcotics Research Conference, 12–17 July 2009, Benson Hotel, Portland, Oregon, USA. Website:

Third Summer Institute on Alcohol, Drugs and Addiction, 12–24 July 2009, Graduate School of Social Sciences at the University of Amsterdam, Netherlands. An intensive two-week summer programme that seeks to provide an interdisciplinary approach to the study of addiction and to promote opportunities for international networking among participants. Deadline for applications is 1 May 2009. Website:

International Society of Addiction Journal Editors (ISAJE) 2009 Meeting, 24–27 September 2009, Hotel Riviera & Maximilian's, Trieste, Italy. Website:

European Science Foundation-Linköping University Conference on The changing use and misuse of Catha Edulis (khat) in a changing world: tradition, trade and tragedy, 5–9 October 2009, Scandic Linköping Väst Hotel, Linköping, Sweden. Website:

6th Annual Conference of the International Network on Brief Interventions for Alcohol Problems (INEBRIA): Breaking New Ground. Baltic Centre for Contemporary Arts, Gateshead, UK, 7–9 October, 2009. Website:

33rd Annual Association for Medical Education and Research in Substance Abuse (Amersa) National Conference, 5–7 November 2009, DoubleTree Hotel, Betheseda, MD, USA. Website: or contact Doreen MacLane-Baeder, email:

Kettil Bruun Society thematic meeting: Episodic heavy drinking amongst adolescents, 10–12 December 2009, Nijmegen, the Netherlands. Deadline for abstracts 1 July 2009, deadline for papers 1 November 2009. Website: Registration and call for abstracts: Contact: Jacqueline Berns,

News and Notes welcomes contributions from its readers. Send your material to Peter Miller, News and Notes Editor, Addiction, National Addiction Centre PO48, 4 Windsor Walk, London SE5 8AF. Fax +44 (0)20 7848 5966; e-mail

Conference entries should be sent to Molly Jarvis at . Subject to editorial review, we will be glad to print, free of charge, details of your conference or event, up to 75 words and one entry only. Please send your notification three months before you wish the entry to appear.