ASH Daily News 10 April 2017

  • How tobacco firms flout UK law on plain packaging
  • Switch to vaping to reduce fire death risk warns London Fire Brigade
  • South East: Solent ferry fire prompts Wightlink smoking ban
  • Scotland: Research suggests links between youth vaping and smoking
  • Japan needs smokefree legislation says WHO
  • USA: Smoker suits against Reynolds clear legal hurdle


How tobacco firms flout UK law on plain packaging

A tobacco industry source has revealed that the companies are using a range of tactics to get round new laws on packaging and marketing which come into force next month.

One strategy is sticking competitive price labels on packs, this is designed to motivate cost conscious poorer smokers but is already illegal according to legal advice obtained by health charity Action on Smoking and Health.

The whistleblower, under the pseudonym Martin Sempah who used to work for Imperial Tobacco, said that all branded tobacco stock currently on sale would have been produced before 20th May 2016, and that following 20th May 2017 all cigarettes sold or manufactured in the UK will have to be in standardised packaging.

“Price with cigarettes is massive,” Sempah said. … “The issue for Imperial was that from 20th May 2016 until 20th May 2017 they’d have branded packs out there but no way of controlling the price on them.”

The solution was to employ a separate agency, in Imperial’s case Clipper, to add promotional price stickers to the packets’ cellophane wrappers, a practice known in the trade as “stickering”, that, according to Sempah, involved “millions and millions” of packs and which the tobacco firms insist is not in breach of the regulations because it is not part of the manufacturing process.

ASH has written to Imperial and three other major tobacco companies – BAT PMI and JTI – stating that it is aware they have been employing similar strategies. Peter Oliver, a barrister at Monckton Chambers, suggests the strategy breaches the regulations which state that cigarette packets must be wrapped in cellophane that is “clear and transparent” and must not be “coloured or marked”.

“Once again, the tobacco companies seem to be stretching the law to snapping point,” said Deborah Arnott, chief executive of ASH. “They have already wasted thousands of legal hours and millions of pounds in fees trying to get the standardised packaging rules scrapped and failed miserably. Now it seems they are trying to get round the rules, by adding stickers to cigarette packs after the 20 May 2016 and claiming that this is not part of the production process. But, as our legal opinion confirms, such claims are false and the behaviour unlawful. We would like to see appropriate enforcement action taken against any tobacco manufacturer engaged in this practice without delay.”

According to Sempah this is one of a number of strategies the industry is employing to get round the new regulations and maintain some brand recognition.

Source: The Observer, 9th April 2017
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Switch to vaping to reduce fire death risk warns London Fire Brigade

Analysis by the London Fire Brigade has found that switching from tobacco to vaping can greatly reduce the risks of fatal fires. While cigarettes remain the biggest of cause of fatal fires there have been no recorded deaths or injuries (in London) as a result of vaping or e-cigarette fires.

Over the past three years the London Fire Brigade has recorded just 14 fires caused by e-cigarettes compared to over 3,500 smoking related fires. Smoking has been the third largest cause of accidental dwelling fires for the past five years in the capital but the single largest cause of death according to the Brigade’s data.

London Fire Brigade’s Assistant Commissioner, Dan Daly, said: “Our preference is that you stop smoking altogether but if you must smoke, vaping holds fewer fire risks than cigarettes as butts, ash and matches are often carelessly discarded which can lead to fires. In terms of general fire risk, e-cigarettes do present a safer option than ordinary cigarettes but remember, just like a phone or laptop, if you use the wrong power source to charge it, this can also cause a fire.”

See also: Fire death risk cut by vaping rather than smoking, study finds

Source: FIRE, 7th April 2017
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South East: Solent ferry fire prompts Wightlink smoking ban

A smoking ban is being imposed on Ferries after it emerged that an on-board fire was started in a cigarette bin.

The fire started on the deck of the St Faith vessel sailing from Portsmouth to Fishbourne on the Isle of Wight in January. Wightlink said it was now banning smoking in all areas of its vessels.

Chief executive Keith Greenfield said the smoking ban would mean a “healthier, safer and cleaner” service. “We’ve been considering this policy for some months especially as most other public transport is smoke free. But the recent fire on St Faith, which started in a cigarette bin on an outside deck, confirmed that we should move forward and become a smoke-free ferry service.”

The smoking ban will be introduced on 18th April 2017.

Source: BBC News Hampshire, 7th April 2017
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Scotland: Research suggests links between youth vaping and smoking

Research conducted at the University of St Andrews has claimed that teenagers who would not otherwise have been tempted by real cigarettes are experimenting with new vaping technology, and then moving on to tobacco.

The researchers interviewed over 33,000 pupils, aged 13 to 15, for the Scottish Adolescent Lifestyle and Substance Use Survey. The study found that 26% of e-cigarette users were only using those devices while the other 74% were dual using tobacco and e-cigarettes.

Editorial note:
Linda Bauld, Professor of Health Policy at the University of Stirling commenting on the research, said: “It is important to monitor tobacco and e-cigarette use and this Scottish survey provides valuable data. However, nothing in this survey or indeed any other survey in Scotland suggests that experimentation with e-cigarettes is increasing adolescent cigarette smoking. Tobacco use amongst young people in Scotland is at an all-time low, at a time when e-cigarette experimentation has risen. If these devices were causing young people to smoke, youth prevalence would be going up or at least would have stalled.”

See also:
Public Health: The Scottish adolescent e-cigarette user: profiling from the Scottish Schools Adolescent Lifestyle and Substance Use Survey (SALSUS)

Source: The Times, 10th April 2017
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Japan needs smokefree legislation says WHO

The World Health Organization (WHO) has said that Japan needs to ban smoking in public places if it wants to successfully host the Tokyo Olympics and promote tourism.

Japan has no binding law controlling secondhand smoking but is coming under increasing pressure to implement one ahead of the 2020 Games.

The Japanese health ministry is preparing legislation to limit secondhand smoking, but faces strong opposition from smoking lawmakers and the tobacco industry. WHO and the International Olympic Committee agreed in 2010 to promote a smokefree Olympic Games, and all host nations have since achieved that goal.

Source: Yahoo New Zealand, 10th April 2017
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USA: Smoker suits against Reynolds clear legal hurdle

On Thursday 6th April, the Florida Supreme Court ruled that thousands of law suits could continue against R. J. Reynolds tobacco company. The judgement follows a series of rulings on whether smokers can take out class action law suits against tobacco companies for damage smoking has done to their health, known as the Engle cases. States have also filed lawsuits against tobacco companies for the healthcare costs incurred by the state through treating smoking related disease.

The most recent judgement increases the likelihood that the US Supreme Court may choose to address the suit in a future session.

While in February 2015, R.J. Reynolds and Philip Morris International decided to settle most of the Engle cases concerning individual smokers, that settlement did not affect the state level cases where the companies have said they will continue to defend against those cases.

Source: McDowell News, 7th April 2017
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