ASH Daily News 11 September 2017



UK

  • Anti-smuggling proposal ‘may let tobacco industry in by back door’
  • Stoptober campaign focuses on building community support
  • Wales: One of Gower’s most popular beaches looks to go ‘smokefree’

International

  • Bangladesh: British diplomat lobbied on behalf of big tobacco
  • Sweden: E-cigarettes containing nicotine linked to arterial stiffness
  • Ireland: Health minister refuses to meet with tobacco lobbyists

 

UK
Anti-smuggling proposal ‘may let tobacco industry in by back door’

Tobacco campaigners are concerned that new draft proposals from the European commission for a system to prevent cigarette smuggling may let the industry in by the back door.

The European commission’s proposals say an organisation or company can be considered independent if it gets no more than 20% of its income from the tobacco industry. Campaigners say they fear this may still let the tobacco industry have control over any tracking and tracing system.

Deborah Arnott, chief executive of health charity ASH, said: “We’re delighted that the EU is consulting on the regulations needed to put in place a European-wide tracking and tracing system for tobacco products, which is vital to prevent Big Tobacco from facilitating smuggling of its products.”

“We need to go through the draft regulations with a fine-tooth comb, but from an initial look we already have some concerns. It’s possible that Codentify, Big Tobacco’s tracking and tracing system, might fit the bill because it has been transferred to a third party. So it might look financially independent, despite the fact it’s an industry product which is run by former tobacco company executives. For a tracking and tracing system to be fully effective it has to be truly independent of Big Tobacco – that’s the bottom line.”

Source: The Guardian, 8 September 2017
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Stoptober campaign focuses on building community support

Stoptober, which encourages smokers to go smokefree for 28 days, launches on 1 October and the Department of Health and Social Care is again backing the annual campaign from NHS England which last year saw 2.5 million smokers attempt to quit.

Stoptober is based on the insight that if someone can stop smoking for 28-days, they are five times more likely to quit for good.

This year’s campaign is focusing on supporting community stop smoking groups. Smokers are invited to attend a free one hour taster session and to take a smoking buddy with them.

Source: Manx, 8 September 2017
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Wales: One of Gower’s most popular beaches looks to go ‘smokefree’

Swansea could be set to have its second ‘smokefree’ beach in a bid to discourage young people from smoking. A public consultation has now been launched asking for views on the introduction of another smokefree beach at popular Langland Bay.

Mark Child, cabinet member for health and wellbeing in Swansea said: “The launch of a smokefree beach at Caswell Bay has been a great success. There has been a noticeable reduction in cigarette litter at the beach which tells us that those visiting the beach are getting on board with the health campaign, and the beach environment has improved. The aim is to encourage adults not to light-up at the beach because of the damage it does to health and the potential bad habits it might encourage children to get involved.”

Source: Wales Online, 10 September 2017
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International
Bangladesh: British diplomat lobbied on behalf of big tobacco

Alison Blake, the British high commissioner to Bangladesh, has been accused of lobbying on behalf of British American Tobacco (BAT) after it sought her help in a long-running battle with the country’s revenue authorities.

Health organisations and transparency campaigners, both in the UK and in Bangladesh, say that it breaches strict World Health Organisation rules on lobbying.

Deborah Arnott, chief executive of the health charity ASH, said: “The Foreign Office has instructed all its diplomats not to act as tobacco company lobbyists. Indeed they are supposed to assist tobacco companies in complying with foreign government laws or regulations, not try and overturn them. This case is particularly egregious as BAT has enlisted the British high commissioner to pressurise the Bangladesh government to overturn a legal decision handed down by the courts.

“This is a company currently under investigation by the UK’s Serious Fraud Office over allegations of bribery in east Africa, so what on earth is a senior diplomat doing acting as its lobbyist?”

Source: The Guardian, 9 September 2017
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Sweden: E-cigarettes containing nicotine linked to arterial stiffness

A study in Sweden found that vaping devices containing nicotine could cause a stiffening of the arteries, as well as an increased heart rate and blood pressure.

The scientists recruited 15 healthy volunteers to take part in the experiment, none of whom had used e-cigarettes before.

Editorial Note:

In response to the study, Dr Tim Chico, Reader in Cardiovascular Medicine & consultant cardiologist, University of Sheffield, said: “Electronic cigarettes are certain to have some health effects, and it is very important that non-smokers do not start using them erroneously thinking that they are harmless. However, the key question is whether they are as harmful as conventional cigarettes, and this seems very unlikely, particularly if they are used as a bridge to quitting all cigarettes completely. Although it is important to understand the effects of electronic cigarettes, this should not detract from the fact that smoking conventional cigarettes reduces life expectancy by ten years and causes chronic diseases that devastate quality of life.”

Professor Peter Hajek, Director of the Tobacco Dependence Research Unit, Queen Mary University of London (QMUL), said: “This [arterial stiffness] is a well-known stimulant effect of nicotine that has little relevance for health. Drinking coffee has the same effect, only greater and longer lasting (as does watching a dramatic football match).”

Source: The Guardian, 11 September 2017
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Ireland: Health minister refuses to meet with tobacco lobbyists

Catherine Byrne, a junior minister at the Department of Health, has refused to meet tobacco lobbyists, citing World Health Organisation (WHO) guidance on tobacco control.

Byrne, whose remit is health promotion, said she was refusing to meet all industry lobbyists because “meeting even one would open a hornet’s nest”. The junior minister has also declined to meet representatives of the vaping and drinks industries.

Source: The Times, 10 September 2017
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