ASH Daily News 12 Jul 2017

  • Sharp decline in local government funding for public health and tobacco control
  • How big tobacco has survived death and taxes
  • London: Council supports move to reduce illegal tobacco trade
  • Africa: The tobacco industry’s war for the African market
  • USA: Closing the gap between gay, heterosexual smokers
  • Australia: Doctors say Australia must embrace e-cigarettes
  • Parliamentary Question


Sharp decline in local government funding for public health and tobacco control

King’s Fund have published a blogpost on recent data regarding Public Health budgets in local authorities:

“The Department for Communities and Local Government has released new data on local authorities’ planned budgets for public health in 2017/18. Once inflation is factored in, this year’s national budget is worth around 5% less in real terms than it was in 2013/14. Over this time the population in England has also grown by around 3%, placing further pressures on public health budgets.

In terms of planned spending changes for 2017/18 compared to 2016/17 at a council level, the biggest losers by percentage are sexual health promotion and wider tobacco control, both facing cuts of more than 30%; stop smoking services and specialist drug and alcohol service for children and young people also face planned cuts of between 10 and 20%. Stop smoking services are one of the top four services in absolute planned cuts (£16 million).

We are now entering the realms of real reductions in public health services. This is a direct result of the reduced priority that central government gives to public health. It should be no surprise that local authorities are having to react as they are given the pressures on their public health and wider budgets with an estimated £5.8 billion overall funding gap by 2019/20.”

See also:
Royal Society for Public Health: RSPH deeply concerned by brutal cuts to public health budgets

Source: The King’s Fund, 12 July 2017
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How big tobacco has survived death and taxes

As part of its Deadly Business series, The Guardian looks at the methods of the tobacco industry.

In the US, health officials have predicted that smoking rates in America could drop to as low as 5% by 2050, well within the lifetime of someone born today. But while the percentage of Americans who smoke is on the wane, the US remains a market with huge potential. That’s because the population is rising, meaning that even as smoking rates decline in percentage terms, the actual number of smokers is relatively static at about 45 million people.

And then there are lower and middle income countries (LMICs). BAT increased its revenues in every region bar Asia-Pacific last year, with these countries doing more than their fair share of the heavy lifting.

Those who manage big tobacco companies are handsomely rewarded. When fellow directors are included, the 14-strong BAT boardroom enjoyed a combined $18m (£14m) payday in 2016. BAT’s board earn their money as much for their network of connections as they do for their hard work. Chairman of BAT, Richard Burrows, is a former governor of Bank of Ireland, while senior independent director Kieran Poynter is a managing partner of Big Four accountancy PricewaterhouseCoopers and previously advised the UK’s Treasury.

Source: The Guardian, 12 July 2017
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London: Council supports move to reduce illegal tobacco trade

Croydon Council has announced that it will be supporting a new campaign to prevent illegal tobacco being distributed across London. The campaign was initiated by London Councils, London Trading Standards, and health professionals across the city.

Their ambition is for the public to become more aware of the implications of purchasing illegal tobacco and offer advice on how to spot it. Awareness-raising roadshows will visit locations across London in July as part of the campaign to highlight the harm caused by the sale of illegal or cheap tobacco.

Councillor Hamida Ali, cabinet member for communities, safety and justice said: “Our team has had great results in tackling the problem of fake tobacco in Croydon. They work hard to advise businesses of their responsibilities, and take robust action to identify criminals who flout the law and bring them before the courts.

See also:

CTSI: London unites to stamp out illegal tobacco

Source: Your Local Guardian, 12 July 2017
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Africa: The tobacco industry’s war for the African market

British American Tobacco (BAT) and other multinational tobacco firms have threatened governments in at least eight countries in Africa demanding they axe or dilute the kind of protections that have saved millions of lives in the west, a Guardian investigation has found.

BAT, one of the world’s leading cigarette manufacturers, is fighting through the courts to try to block the Kenyan and Ugandan governments’ attempts to bring in regulations to limit the harm caused by smoking. Tobacco firms hope to boost their markets in Africa, which has a fast-growing young and increasingly prosperous population. In one undisclosed court document in Kenya, seen by the Guardian, BAT’s lawyers demand the country’s high court “quash in its entirety” a package of anti-smoking regulations and rails against what it calls a “capricious” tax plan.

Professor Peter Odhiambo, a former heart surgeon who is head of the government’s Tobacco Control Board in Kenya, told the Guardian: “BAT has done as much as they can to block us.”

Source: The Guardian, 12 July 2017
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USA: Closing the gap between gay, heterosexual smokers

LGBT people are more than twice more likely to use tobacco than heterosexuals. In a new paper published in the journal Society of Behavioral Medicine, researchers have developed policy recommendations to close the gap between LGBT and heterosexual smokers.

Many tobacco control programs target specific ages, ethnicities, and gender, but not sexual orientation, researcher Phoenix Matthews said. All media campaigns aimed at increasing education and outreach regarding tobacco prevention and smoking cessation treatment services should include specific messaging for gender and specific minorities, she said.

See also:

Society of Behavioural Medicine: Support Policies to Reduce Smoking Disparities for Gender and Sexual Minorities

Source: Medical Xpress, 11 July 2017
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Australia: Doctors say Australia must embrace e-cigarettes

Doctors who have become advocates for drug law reform say Australia must not “sacrifice” smokers who can’t quit by denying them a safer alternative.

They say Australia must follow the US and the UK and give smokers easy access to less harmful e-cigarettes – or nicotine vaping products – so they can get nicotine without the toxic smoke that does so much harm to the human body. E-cigarette devices are legal in Australia but the sale and possession of the nicotine used in them is illegal.

Dr Colin Mendelsohn, from the University of NSW, says Australia’s policy focus on abstinence when it comes to smoking is naive in the face of another option: harm reduction. “The reality is that many smokers are unable or unwilling to quit. We can’t just sacrifice them,” Dr Mendelsohn told a federal parliamentary committee.

Source: SBS, 12 July 2017
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Parliamentary Questions

PQ: Indoor and Outdoor Smoking

Lord Laird, Crossbench Peer
To ask Her Majesty’s Government what measures they are taking to reduce the level of smoking in both indoor and outdoor public places.

Lord O’Shaughnessy Lord O’Shaughnessy, Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Health
Legislation introduced in 2007 made it illegal to smoke in all public enclosed or substantially enclosed areas and workplaces. There are no current plans to introduce further smoke free legislation to outdoor places.

Local authorities can however, consider adopting more extensive no smoking policies locally. Local authorities are best placed to do this working with its local population to develop flexible plans that suit the local area.

Source: Hansard: HL Deb, 11 July 2017, cW