ASH Daily News for 01 November 2016



  • Regular e-cigarette use remains low among young people
  • Tracker funds are investing savings in tobacco and fossil fuels
  • High rates of smoking among people with mental health conditions shown by local authority
  • What the law says about smoking breaks
  • USA: New grant for researcher studying e-cigarettes
  • Thailand: Tobacco law loophole under review

Regular e-cigarette use remains low among young people

Increasing numbers of teenagers are experimenting with e-cigarettes and are aware of the devices but regular use remains low according to new data released by ASH.

Results from the ASH/YouGov Smokefree Youth Survey 2016, based on responses from 2,311 young people aged 11-18, found that only 5% of teenagers had not heard of e-cigarettes, down fom 30% in 2013, while 9% of teens reported to have tried the devices ‘one or twice’ up from 6% in 2014.

Significantly regular use of the devices remains rare with only 2% of young people reporting using e-cigarettes more than once a month.

Sarah Williams, ASH Director of Policy, said: “Although more young people are trying electronic cigarettes and many more young people are aware of them, this has not led to widespread regular use or an increase in smoking.”

Source: On Medica – 31 October 2016
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Tracker funds are investing savings in tobacco and fossil fuels

A new report has revealed how Britain’s small investors are channelling savings into tobacco, coal and oil investments without realising it.

The report produced by ethical investment group, Castlefield Advisory Partners highlights how UK tracker funds (which have become very popular due to their cheap rates compared to ‘actively managed’ funds) are investing heavily in tobacco and fossil fuels.

According to Castlefield, the six biggest tracker funds aimed at small investors have a combined £504m invested in British American Tobacco (BAT). The UK’s biggest tracker fund, the £5 billion Vanguard FTSE UK All Share, holds more than £200 million worth of BAT shares and 11% of the £5 billion of investments are in oil and gas companies.

Encouragingly the researchers found that the majority (61%) of investors want their money to make a positive change to society and the environment, and see ethical funds as a smart investment which is more likely to succeed long term.

Source: The Guardian – 29 October 2016
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High rates of smoking among people with mental health conditions shown by local authority

From today, 1st November 2016, it will be possible to see the shockingly high rates of smoking among people with serious mental health conditions within each local authority in England.

The Local Tobacco Profiles, managed by Public Health England (PHE), show a range of indicators on tobacco use including by socio-economic group, rates of smoking among pregnant women, and smoking attributable hospital admissions. PHE has now mapped smoking prevalence by serious mental illness to the local profiles.

In England as a whole, 40.5% of adults with a serious mental illness are smokers, which is more than twice the rate among the general population (16.9%). Rates of smoking among people with a serious mental illness range from 27.2% in Harrow (west London) to 52.3% in Kingston-upon-Hull.

Source: Public Health England – 01 November 2016
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What the law says about smoking breaks

Smoking breaks can be a cause of friction in the workplace, with non-smokers getting frustrated that they get fewer breaks simply because they don’t smoke.

However, the truth is that employees over the age of 18 are only entitled to one break during their working day. The ‘rest break’ allows employees to take one 20 minute break if they work for more than six hours. This break does not have to be paid and employers can mandate when their staff take this break as long as it is taken in one go sometime in the middle of the day.

Smoking breaks therefore, have no legal status and it is up to employers to reach and maintain sensible arrangements with their staff.

Source: Liverpool Echo – 31 October 2016
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USA: New grant for researcher studying e-cigarettes

Nearly 7 in 10 cigarette smokers are looking for a way to quit and e-cigarettes are fast becoming the most popular aid to quit attempts. A researcher at the Oklahoma Tobacco Research Centre has been awarded a $3 million grant by the National Cancer Institute to study the impact of e-cigarette use on smoking rates over 5 years.

The research will assess how effective varying types of e-cigarette are in helping smokers make the switch from tobacco to vaping products and what impact switching has on smokers’ exposure to carcinogenic chemicals and cancer risk.

Source: Scienmag – 31 October 2016
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Thailand: Tobacco law loophole under review

The Excise Department may ask the government to allow the legal import of e-cigarettes and waterpipes, which would be taxed like cigarettes according to Director-General Somchai Poolsavasdi.

The Department is considering a loophole in tobacco laws which do not define these products as types of tobacco related goods. Under the Tobacco Act 1966, tobacco products are defined as those made from tobacco leaf only, hence, it cannot govern e-cigarettes or water pipes which do not contain tobacco.

While new ways of smoking and vaping have been available on markets worldwide for several years, it is illegal to import such items into Thailand, resulting in them being smuggled. Redefining these products in law would allow them to be legally imported and taxed, both increasing government revenue and decreasing illicit trade in tobacco and related products.

Source: Bangkok Post – 31 October 2016
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