ASH Daily News 2 November 2017



UK

  • Local Government Association defends councils’ public health spending
  • An interview with tobacco control advocate Judith Longstaff Mackay
  • Claims that prison violence linked to smoking ban refuted

International

  • USA: Minnesota capital votes on tobacco control

Parliamentary Activity

  • Vaping debate in Westminster Hall
  • Parliamentary Questions

 

UK

Local Government Association defends councils’ public health spending

The Local Government Association (LGA) has responded to a report published by right-wing think tank TaxPayers’ Alliance (TPA), describing the report as “fundamentally flawed”.

The TPA’s report argues that public health spending is often not cost-effective. Responding to the TPA’s claims, a spokesperson for the LGA said: ‘It is indisputable that preventing ill-health is a far better use of taxpayers’ money than treating illnesses.

“It is wrong to ignore the benefits of public health spending in the context of costs to society. According to a systematic review of the available evidence, published online in the Journal of Epidemiology and Community Health, every £1 spent on public health saves on average £14 and in some cases, significantly more than that.”

Source: LocalGov, 1 November 2017
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An interview with tobacco control advocate Judith Longstaff Mackay

As part of its Observations series of interviews, the BMJ has spoken to Judith Longstaff Mackay, a tobacco control advocate who in 2009 won the BMJ’s Lifetime Achievement award for her work.

“Q: What single unheralded change has made the most difference in your field in your lifetime?

A: The World Health Organization’s Framework Convention on Tobacco Control, WHO’s only international health treaty. It’s now been ratified by over 180 countries, making it one of the fastest tracked UN conventions of all time. At a stroke, it united and committed governments in tackling the tobacco epidemic, and it prevented the tobacco industry from isolating and influencing those governments one by one.”

Source: BMJ, 1 November 2017
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Claims that prison violence linked to smoking ban refuted

It has been alleged that high levels of violence in prisons are linked to a move towards smokefree prisons. However the prison service refutes the claims, with the Prison Officers’ Association pointing to staff shortages.

A spokeswoman for the prison service said: “We have long been committed to a smokefree prison estate and this is being phased in over a long period of time. This phased introduction will reduce the risk to staff and prisoners of exposure to secondhand smoke and prisons will only become smokefree when it is appropriate to do so.”

Steve Gillen, general secretary of the Prison Officers’ Association, said that the introduction had gone well so far and that the increase in violence was a result of there being too few members of staff on the wings.

Source: The Times, 2 November 2017
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International

USA: Minnesota capital votes on tobacco control

The council of St Paul City, the capital of US state Minnesota, has voted to ban the sale of menthol cigarettes in convenience stores. Menthol cigarettes will now only be available to buy at adult-only tobacco shops.

Supporters of the legislation point out that flavoured tobacco can target young people.

Source: CBS Local, 1 November 2017
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Parliamentary Activity

Vaping debate in Westminster Hall

On Wednesday 1st November, a Westminster hall debate was held on the motion, “That this House has considered the matter of vaping.” A range of MPs delivered speeches. Excerpts from the debate have been included below.

Martyn Day (Linlithgow and East Falkirk) (SNP)
“How do we accurately advertise the benefits of this product to the people who would benefit from it—the 7 million smokers who are not vaping—without making it attractive and sexy to people who do not smoke at all? Finding that balance will be challenging.”

“ASH states that there are 3 million vapers across the UK, half of whom have given up smoking, and that about 97% of all vapers are either current smokers or ex-smokers. The information available suggests that vaping is not currently a gateway to tobacco products and that it helps people to stop smoking.”

Mrs Sharon Hodgson (Washington and Sunderland West) (Lab)
“It is welcome that e-cigarettes have been included as part of [the Tobacco Control Plan]. E-cigarettes, however, must never be seen as a silver bullet to achieve our vision of a smokefree society. E-cigarettes are a crucial player in the cessation landscape, but they are not the only player. It is important that we maintain the position set out by research and evidence from the World Health Organisation and in the Tobacco Control Plan that nicotine replacement therapy is four times more effective when prescribed by a doctor and monitored than when simply bought over the counter.”

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Health (Steve Brine)
“Let us be clear that quitting smoking and nicotine use completely is the best way to improve health, as was said in the opening remarks of the debate [on the Tobacco Control Plan]. However, the evidence is increasingly clear that e-cigarettes are significantly less harmful to health than smoking tobacco.”

“My Department will continue to work closely with the vaping sector through the Independent British Vape Trade Association. The Department does not work with the UK Vaping Industry Association because of its links to the tobacco industry.”

Source: Hansard, 1 November 2017
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Parliamentary Questions

PQ1: Smokefree prisons implementation
Lord Bradley, Labour
To ask Her Majesty’s Government what plans they have for a roll-out of a smoking ban in prisons.

Lord Keen of Elie, The Advocate-General for Scotland, Lords Spokesperson (Ministry of Justice)
There are now 66 prisons smokefree. The phased rollout now underway will reduce the risk to staff and prisoners of exposure to second hand smoke, whilst maintaining the safety and security of our prisons.

In every case, the decision on when to go smokefree is only taken after careful planning and preparation. The final decision is taken when each prison has met stringent checks to ensure that it is appropriate to do so and all necessary healthcare support is available to help prisoners give up smoking.

Source: HL Deb, 1 November 2017, cW
Link: TheyWorkForYou

PQ2: EU Tobacco Products Directive
Lord Palmer, Crossbench
To ask Her Majesty’s Government what assessment they have made of the potential impact on business resulting from the implementation, in their current form, of Articles 15 and 16 of the EU Tobacco Products Directive.

Lord Bates, The Minister of State, Department for International Development
The government is continuing to study the draft implementing legislation for Articles 15 and 16 of the EU Tobacco Products Directive and is discussing the drafts with the Commission and other Member States. We are aware of concerns raised by businesses affected and are working to try to ensure that the system adopted is effective, efficient and proportionate in tackling the trade in illicit tobacco products which puts public health at risk and avoids the payment of duty.

We will continue to assess the impact of the legislation and the timetable for implementation as the drafts develop, and we welcome and encourage those affected to continue to contribute their views and concerns.

Source: HL Deb, 1 November 2017, cW
Link: TheyWorkForYou