ASH Daily News for 03 March 2017



  • MPs’ pensions invested in tobacco companies and the oil industry
  • Royal Bournemouth Hospital reluctant to ban smoking due to road safety concerns
  • British American Tobacco chief confident of e-cigarette push
  • China: Shanghai bans indoor smoking increasing the pressure for a national ban
  • USA: FDA criticised for failing to protect public from misleading claims on Natural American Spirit Cigarettes

MPs’ pensions invested in tobacco companies and the oil industry

MPs’ pensions are being paid through investment in the tobacco and oil industry alongside companies MPs themselves have accused of avoiding taxes.

The Parliamentary Contributory Pension Fund’s (PCPF) investments have never been public, but it has been revealed that millions of pounds have been invested in tobacco company British American Tobacco (BAT), which received approximately £5.59 million in 2016. This is alongside investment in companies such as BP, Shell and mining firm Rio Tinto.

Caroline Lucas MP, co-leader of the Green Party, who has long campaigned for the investments to be made public said the investment strategy was “deeply questionable” and that in the case of tobacco investments there was “no excuse” for profiting from “one of the greatest public health crises of our time”.

Action on Smoking and Health (ASH) said the revelations about tobacco investments were disturbing because they were fuelling “so much preventable illness and misery”.

“A large majority of MPs and peers understand the terrible damage that smoking does and support strong action to cut smoking rates,” said Deborah Arnott, ASH’s Chief Executive. “I understand that fund trustees have a duty to get a good return from their investments, but this can be achieved without supporting an industry that causes so much preventable illness and misery.”

Source: The Independent – 02 March 2017
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Royal Bournemouth Hospital reluctant to ban smoking due to road safety concerns

Smokers will still be allowed at Royal Bournemouth Hospital (RBH) to avoid ‘compromising their safety’.

Despite strong calls from Public Health England (PHE) for all hospital trusts to become completely smokefree, managers at RBH are concerned that people would be forced to smoke by roads increasing their risk of being run over.

Richard Renaut, RBH chief operating officer, said: “We currently have a number of designated smoking areas across the Trust – if we ban smoking on our grounds all-together, as we have previously tried, it pushes staff, patients and visitors to smoke close to the main roads around the hospital which compromises their personal safety, especially at night.”

Deborah Arnott, chief executive of ASH, said: “Smoking is still the leading cause of preventable premature death in Britain killing nearly 100,000 people a year compared to less than 2,000 who die from road traffic accidents. The single most important change that smokers can make to improve their health is quit – Bournemouth should be doing more to support quitting not facilitating smoking.”

She added that National Institute for Health and Care Excellence (NICE) guidance clearly stated that all hospital premises including the grounds should be smokefree as part of a comprehensive approach to helping smokers quit.

Source: Bournemouth Daily Echo – 03 March 2017
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British American Tobacco chief confident of e-cigarette push

British American Tobacco’s (BAT) Chief Executive Nicandro Durante has rejected the suggestion that the company is playing catch-up to rival Philip Morris International in the market for next generation tobacco products.

It follows the announcement last week that BAT will be expanding its next-generation products division with the aim to quadruple the number of markets in which it is selling e-cigarettes by 2019.

Source: The Financial Times – 02 March 2016
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China: Shanghai bans indoor smoking increasing the pressure for a national ban

Shanghai has become the latest major Chinese city to ban smoking in enclosed public spaces including public venues, workplaces and public transport.

Smokers who break the ban can be fined up to 200 yuan (29 U.S. dollars), and venue owners may be fined up to 30,000 yuan. This latest ban has added pressure for national action.

Deputies to the 12th National People’s Congress (NPC) and members of the 12th National Committee of the Chinese People’s Political Consultative Conference (CPPCC) meeting in Beijing this week, have indicated that they will push for a national ban to be introduced later this year.

Source: China Daily – 03 March 2017
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USA: FDA criticised for failing to protect public from misleading claims on Natural American Spirit Cigarettes

The US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has been criticised for a ‘wholly inadequate’ agreement with Santa Fe Natural Tobacco Company, owned by RJ Reynolds, over the marketing of Natural American Spirit Cigarettes.

Under the agreement the company has to remove the terms ‘natural’ and ‘additive-free’ from product labels, advertising and promotional materials. However it will be permitted to continue to use ‘Natural’ as part of the brand name and includes the possibility of using the statement: “Tobacco Ingredients: Tobacco and Water”, continuing the deception that this product is safer because it does not contain additives. The agreement does not address use of the word organic.

“This FDA/Santa Fe Natural Tobacco Company agreement is a gift to the tobacco industry, permitting R.J. Reynolds to continue the highly misleading, and very possibly legally fraudulent, marketing and labeling of American Spirit cigarettes,” said Robin Koval, CEO & President, Truth Initiative. “Our research shows that a majority of Natural American Spirit smokers incorrectly believe that their cigarettes are safer than other cigarettes. This agreement does little to address those widespread and highly dangerous misperceptions.”

Source: The Truth Initiative and Campaign for Tobacco Free Kids – 02 March 2017
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