ASH Daily news for 01 December 2015



  • British American Tobacco accused of bribing senior politicians to sabotage anti-smoking laws
  • Wales: Inquiry fails to decide whether the National Assembly should ban e-cigarettes
  • Poor countries increasingly targeted by tobacco marketing
  • BAT – Imperial deal ‘likely’
  • US: Higher cigarette taxes linked to fewer infant deaths
  • Parliamentary Questions

    British American Tobacco accused of bribing senior politicians to sabotage anti-smoking laws

    An investigation by the BBC has alleged that British American Tobacco paid bribes to government officials in a bid to undermine the UN’s global anti-smoking treaty.

    The allegations by whistle-blowers from the company, supported by court documents, relate to the company’s operations in several African countries. Paul Hopkins, a former BAT employee, claims that he broke the law for the tobacco firm.

    Under the UK Bribery Act, British companies can be prosecuted for bribery which takes place overseas. Anti-smoking campaigners are demanding the Serious Fraud Office (SFO) launch a criminal investigation into BAT.

    Deborah Arnott, chief executive of Action on Smoking and Health, said: “Panorama’s shocking evidence must be investigated without delay. If true, it is hard to imagine any more disgusting act for a British company than to pay decision makers in Africa to prevent legislation being passed to protect children and young people from a future of addiction, disease and premature death caused by smoking.”

    She added: “We will be writing to the Government to demand that a criminal investigation under the Bribery Act is launched at once.”

    See also:
    Tobacco giant ‘paid bribes’ to protect sales in Africa – The Times (£)
    British American Tobacco accused of bribing government officials – The Guardian
    British American Tobacco accused of paying bribes in Africa – International Business Times
    Panorama: The secret bribes of big tobacco – BBC

    Source: The Independent, 30th November 2015

    Wales: Inquiry fails to decide whether the National Assembly should ban e-cigarettes

    An inquiry has failed to decide whether the National Assembly should ban electronic cigarettes in enclosed public places.

    The health and social care committee report revealed a split broadly down party lines, with Labour Assembly Members backing a ban in the face of opposition from the Welsh Conservatives and the Liberal Democrats.

    The Welsh Government wants to ban the use of electronic cigarettes in enclosed public and work places under the Public Health Bill, with health minister Mark Drakeford arguing that it would prevent the re-normalising of smoking and would assist in the enforcement of already existing smoke-reforms.

    But members of the committee were unable to reach a consensus on whether to support the ban or not.

    See also:
    E-cigarette restriction plan leaves AMs divided – BBC
    Assembly Members still unsure whether banning smoking e-cigarettes is a good or bad idea – South Wales Argus
    To ban or not to ban? Health committee undecided over e-cigs – ITV

    Source: Wales Online, 30th November 2015

    Poor countries increasingly targeted by tobacco marketing

    A new study has found that with falling sales in richer nations, the tobacco industry has increasingly marketed their product in the developing world, where restrictions on promoting smoking are more relaxed.

    The study, which looked at tobacco marketing in 462 communities spread across 16 countries, was published by the Bulletin of the World Health Organization.

    Data on cigarette promotion was collected since 2005, when a global convention on tobacco controls, including marketing bans, came into force for nations that had signed on.

    The study found that “people living in poor countries are exposed to more intense and aggressive tobacco marketing than those living in affluent countries”.

    Report contributor Anna Gilmore, director of the Tobacco Control Research Group at the University of Bath, said the tobacco industry’s marketing is designed to drive up smoking among children and adolescents.

    Source: AFP, 1st December 2015

    BAT – Imperial deal ‘likely’

    According to the financial services firm, Wells Fargo Securities, a deal between British American Tobacco (BAT) and Imperial Tobacco Group (ITG) is “very probable,” based on a detailed market share and leverage analysis it performed.

    Source: Tobacco Reporter, 30th November 2015

    US: Higher cigarette taxes linked to fewer infant deaths

    According to a new study published in the journal Pediatrics, higher taxes and prices for cigarettes are strongly associated with lower infant mortality rates in the United States.

    Researchers found that for every $1 tax increase per pack of cigarettes, about two infant deaths were averted each day. Overall, there was an estimated 3.2 percent decrease in annual infant mortality rates, or 750 fewer infant deaths per year, associated with the tax increase, the study revealed.

    Source: Medical Xpress, 1st December 2015

    Parliamentary Questions

    PQ1: Electronic Cigarettes 

    Steve McCabe Labour, Birmingham

    To ask the Secretary of State for Health, what (a) the Government’s policy is and (b) guidance his Department has issued on the use of e-cigarettes as an alternative to smoking; and if he will make a statement.

    Jane Ellison, The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Health

    The Government believes that vaping/using e-cigarettes is significantly less harmful than smoking tobacco products. Evidence suggests that smokers can substantially benefit their health by fully substituting the use of e-cigarettes for smoking. Public Health England has been working with Local Stop Smoking Services encouraging them to be open to the use of e-cigarettes, where clients choose to use them to support their quit attempts, alone or alongside other nicotine replacement therapies and the behavioural therapy that the services offer.

    The first e-cigarette was licenced by the Medicines and Healthcare products Regulatory Agency earlier this month. The Government continues to encourage applications for licensed medicinal products to enable both general practitioners and Local Stop Smoking Services to prescribe products which have demonstrated that they meet appropriate standards of safety, quality and effectiveness.

    Source: Hansard Citation: HC Deb, 30 November 2015, cW