ASH Daily news for 04 May 2016


  • EU’s highest court upholds new law on cigarettes and electronic cigarettes

    Europe’s highest court today, 4th May, upheld the EU Tobacco Products Directive detailing new laws on standardising cigarette packaging and banning advertising of electronic cigarettes.

    “The court finds that, in providing that each unit packet and the outside packaging must carry health warnings … the EU legislature did not go beyond the limits of what is appropriate and necessary,” the court said in its decision.

    In coming to this judgement the court rejected legal challenges from Philip Morris International and British American Tobacco, meaning the Tobacco Products Directive will come into effect on 20th May 2016.

    The court’s validation of the Tobacco Products Directive bodes poorly for another case tobacco companies have brought against the UK government over its new law aimed at reducing the lure of smoking by forcing tobacco to be sold in standardised packaging. That law is also due to take effect this month.

    The press release from the Court of Justice of the European Union can be accessed here.

    Source: Euronews 4 May 2016

  • North East: Quit 16 campaign highlights the dangers of smoking

    Quit 16 by Fresh Smoke Free North East, has been highlighting the toll smoking-related cancers have on families within the region. Supported by Cancer Research UK, Quit 16 shared the stories of former smokers from across the region who have been affected by a smoking related cancer.

    Research following the campaign found that it had had a notable impact with around 16% of smokers who saw the campaign cutting down (around 53,000 smokers) and nearly 9% making a quit attempt (around 28,000 smokers).

    Ailsa Rutter, Director of Fresh says thousands of people in the North East are taking notice of the dangers while Abigail Brown, Head of Health Campaigns and Marketing at Cancer Research UK, adds: “Campaigns such as 16 Cancers really bring home the terrible damage to health caused by smoking. They play an important role in helping to reduce smoking and reminding everyone of the risks.”

    Source: Sun FM News 4 May 2016

  • Cheshire: Playgrounds go smokefree to save children

    Cheshire West and Chester Council has introduced a voluntary no smoking code called Play Smokefree across more than 120 play areas to deter children from taking up smoking.

    Cllr Louise Gittins, Cabinet Member for Culture, Leisure and Wellbeing said: “Smoking in children’s play areas can be a fairly common practice among teenagers and adults, and as such can be perceived by youngsters as a normal activity. A child who smokes just one cigarette doubles their chances of becoming a regular smoker by the age of 17. We want to use this voluntary code to de-normalise smoking in areas where children play and learn.”

    Source: Mid-Cheshire Independent 3 May 2016

  • Coventry: Smokers face £400 fine for dropping cigarette ends

    Dropping cigarette ends and packets in Coventry city centre could cost lazy smokers more than £400 each.

    A dozen people have been charged £200 and ordered to pay around £200 prosecution costs and a £20 victim surcharge after the city council took them to court following their refusal to pay a £75 on-the-spot fine.

    A crackdown by Coventry City Council has seen a huge rise in both fixed penalties and prosecutions, with just 36 fines handed out in 2010 raising a total of £2,875. By 2015 that had risen to 1,203 fines, raising £72,774.

    Source: Coventry Telegraph 4 May 2016

  • India: Supreme Court rules tobacco industry should implement stringent packaging warning

    In an ongoing argument between the Ministry for Health and tobacco companies the Supreme Court of India has ruled that the tobacco industry must comply with new rules requiring health warnings to cover 85% of tobacco packaging.

    The tobacco industry “should not violate any rule prevailing as of today,” the two-judge bench ruled. However, the judges further announced that the Karnataka high court will hear all pleas challenging the new rules.

    Smoking kills more than 1 million people a year in India, according to BMJ Global Health. The World Health Organization says tobacco-related diseases cost India $16 billion annually. The government backs the stringent new rules in the hope of cutting tobacco consumption.

    See also:
    The Mail Online: India’s top court says tobacco industry should follow stringent package warning rules
    The New India Express: Supreme Court says tobacco industry should follow stringent package warning rules

    Source: The Economic Times 4 May 2016

  • Citizens’ Petition on tobacco levy

    The petition of residents of the UK, presented by Rt Hon Kevin Barron MP:
    Declares that cuts to public health funding mean vital Stop Smoking Services are being closed down; further that these closures are preventing smokers accessing the most effective way to make them quit; and further that an online petition and an additional paper petition on this matter have received 16,112 signatures.
    The petitioners therefore request that the House of Commons urges HM Treasury to make the tobacco industry pay for the damage they cause by introducing a tobacco levy to help fund Stop Smoking Services and advertising campaigns to help people quit.

    Observations from the Exchequer Secretary to the Treasury (Damian Hinds):
    The Government thank the right hon. Member for Rother Valley (Kevin Barron) for his petition on introducing a levy on the tobacco industry to fund smoking cessation services. We also thank all the members of the public who have signed the petition. …

    The Government laid out their position on introducing a levy on the tobacco industry in the consultation response published last September. The Government do not believe a levy is an effective way to raise revenue or protect public health, particularly when we have already committed to maintaining the tobacco duty escalator until the end of the Parliament.

    Local Authorities will receive over £16 billion to spend on public health—including stop smoking services—over the next five years. This is in addition to what NHS England will continue to spend on vaccinations, screening and other preventive interventions.

    The Government remain committed to working towards their two fiscal goals on tobacco of raising revenue and protecting public health and will continue to make targeted interventions through the tax system. … The Department of Health will publish a new tobacco control plan later this year, which will ensure the Government’s wider strategy for tackling the harms caused by tobacco continues to strengthen and evolve.

    Source: Hansard 8 March 2016; Vol. 607, c. 246

  • Parliamentary Questions

    PQ1: Electronic cigarette data
    Barry Sheerman Labour/Co-operative, Huddersfield

    To ask the Secretary of State for Health, what data his Department collects on the number of people who use electronic cigarettes.

    Jane Ellison Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Health
    The Department does not collect any data on the number of people who use electronic cigarettes. The Department makes use of various data sources, including that published by the Health and Social Care Information Centre and the Office for National Statistics as an evidence base for policy making. This includes the Opinions and Lifestyles Survey for electronic cigarette use by adults and the Smoking, Drinking and Drugs survey for use by young people.

    Source: Hansard (Citation: HC Deb, 3 May 2016, cW)

    PQ2: Electronic cigarettes

    Barry Sheerman Labour/Co-operative, Huddersfield
    To ask the Secretary of State for Health, what representations he has received from academics and health experts on the health benefits and disadvantages of vaping.

    Jane Ellison Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Health
    The Department engages with a wide range of interested parties with views on e-cigarettes and vaping. The Department will continue to listen to all parties to inform our decisions as well as drawing on the reports such E-cigarettes – an evidence update published by Public Health England in 2015.

    Source: Hansard (Citation: HC Deb, 3 May 2016, cW)

    PQ3: Media Campaigns
    Jim Cunningham Labour, Coventry South

    To ask the Secretary of State for Health, how much his Department has spent on campaigns promoting the cessation of smoking in each of the last five years; and if he will make a statement?

    Jane Ellison Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Health
    Public Health England took over public health campaigns formerly run by the Department on 1 April 2013.

    The breakdown of spending on smoking cessation campaigns since 1 April 2013 is as below; all figures are rounded to the nearest £10,000 and include paid media spending (inclusive of agency commissions but excluding production costs and value added tax).
    2013-14 £7,640,000
    2014-15 £6,920,000
    2015-16 £5,300,000

    Source: Hansard (Citation: HC Deb, 3 May 2016, cW)