ASH Daily news for 07 March 2016



  • HMRC hails huge cut in UK tobacco fraud
  • Charity chief accused of ‘complicity’ in bid to limit voluntary sector lobbying
  • Health campaign targets over-40s
  • Ministry of Justice ordered to publish report on smoking in prisons
  • E-cigarette inventor fumes at Welsh Government over vaping ban plan
  • Formaldehyde exposure from 3 e-cigarette formats tested well below WHO quality guidelines
  • Cambodia: Ban on public smoking approved
  • Zimbabwe: Tobacco prices to go up

    HMRC hails huge cut in UK tobacco fraud

    HM Revenue and Customs says it has halved the size of the UK’s illicit cigarette market and cut that for illicit hand-rolling tobacco by a third.

    The agency has announced that, working with other enforcement bodies between April and September last year, it seized more than 600m illicit cigarettes and 137 tonnes of hand-rolling tobacco, with a combined tax value of £232m. Almost 200 people were prosecuted and 100 convicted of tobacco excise fraud during that period.

    Source: The Observer – 05 March 2016

    Charity chief accused of ‘complicity’ in bid to limit voluntary sector lobbying

    The chairman of the Charity Commission has been accused of actively helping a leading critic of charities who inspired a controversial new law curbing their activities.

    Documents released under the Freedom of Information Act reveal that William Shawcross urged a trustee on his commission to meet Christopher Snowdon, head of lifestyle economics at the Institute of Economic Affairs (IEA), a free-market thinktank that receives funding from the tobacco industry and has taken money from at least two oil company giants in the past. Snowdon is the author of a 2012 discussion paper, Sock Puppets: How the Government Lobbies Itself and Why, which argued that government grants should not be used by charities to lobby politicians, as this meant that “government funds the lobbying of itself”.

    IEA research was used by the government to justify a new “anti-advocacy clause” that will be inserted into all government grants for charities, prohibiting the money from being spent on lobbying.

    Leaders of charities and voluntary organisations say Shawcross has been “active and complicit” in creating the clause, which they claim will allow corporations to influence public debate without opposition.

    Health experts fear that big tobacco played a key role in lobbying for the clause’s insertion.

    “We know the tobacco industry funds the IEA to do its dirty work and has been trying for years to undermine public health charities,” said Anna Gilmore, professor of public health at the University of Bath and director of the Tobacco Control Research Group. “In other words, the IEA is the tobacco industry’s sock puppet here. This policy change will only serve to increase corporate influence while silencing those acting in the public interest.”

    Labour MP Sir Kevin Barron has written to Shawcross, asking whether the commission should investigate the IEA.

    Source: The Observer – 05 March 2016

    Health campaign targets over-40s

    Unhealthy middle-aged people must improve their lifestyles if they want to enjoy a healthy retirement, a new government campaign is warning.

    Public Health England’s One You campaign is urging the over 40s to drink less, exercise more, eat better and give up smoking. It is the first national campaign to specifically target this group.

    Currently more than two-fifths of those aged 45 to 64 are living with an illness or disability in England.
    The campaign will warn those in middle-age that unless they change their ways they could die early or face a retirement blighted with ill-health.

    See also:
    – Unhealthy lifestyle ‘responsible for 40% of deaths in country’, ITV
    – PHE launches One You, PHE

    Source: BBC News – 07 March 2016

    Ministry of Justice ordered to publish report on smoking in prisons

    The Ministry of Justice has been warned it could face High Court action from the Information Commissioner after it failed to publish a report on smoking in prisons after a series of Freedom of Information Act requests.

    The Commissioner – Britain’s information watchdog – found the MoJ was in breach of the law over withholding the report.

    In a decision, published on the ICO’s website, it states: “The Commissioner’s Decision is that the MoJ breached section 10 of the Freedom of Information Act in that it failed to provide a valid response within 20 working days.”

    In the ruling on February 8, it formally ordered the MoJ to publish the report.

    Source: Mirror – 05 March 2016

    E-cigarette inventor fumes at Welsh Government over vaping ban plan

    The inventor of the e-cigarette has criticised Welsh Government plans to ban vaping in some public spaces.

    Originally Health Minister Mark Drakeford hoped to restrict e-cigarettes in all enclosed public and work places bringing it into line with the smoking ban by the end of 2016.

    But the Welsh Government scaled back the plans to a list of public places including public transport and pubs which serve food in the face of opposition pressure last year.

    On Tuesday Ministers hope to extend this list to include cinemas, amusement parks, zoos, museums, sporting grounds and play areas, as the restrictions are voted on in the Senedd.

    But Hon Lik, inventor of the e-cigarette, criticised Professor Drakeford for going ahead with the controversial measure. In a letter, the pharmacist from Shenyang in north-east China, says banning their use in public places would be “wrong”.

    Source: Daily Post – 04 March 2016

    Formaldehyde exposure from 3 e-cigarette formats tested well below WHO quality guidelines

    A new study, by Dr Sandra Costigan, Principal Toxicologist for electronic cigarettes at British American Tobacco, shows that the daily exposure to formaldehyde from three different types of e-cigarettes is well below the levels considered safe by the World Health Organisation (WHO) – at less than a sixth of the indoor air quality standard.

    In this study, Costigan measured the formaldehyde produced in the aerosol of three types of vaping products: a rechargeable ‘cig-a-like’ device; a refillable open tank system, also called a clearomiser, and a closed modular system with variable voltage.

    Lab-based vaping robots were programmed so that they produced vapour in a realistic way and the formaldehyde levels in this vapour were measured.

    The results from this study show that even heavy use of these products still only results in daily formaldehyde exposure that is less than one sixth of the exposure from breathing indoor air that complies with WHO air quality standards.

    The results were presented at the annual conference of the Society for Research on Nicotine and Tobacco in Chicago.

    Source: Medical News Today – 04 March 2016

    Cambodia: Ban on public smoking approved

    The Council of Ministers yesterday approved a sub-decree prohibiting smoking or tobacco usage in public places and put in place fines for offending individuals and businesses.

    The sub-decree, which comes 11 months after the law on tobacco control was passed by the National Assembly, bans the consumption of tobacco products at the workplace and public areas, such as restaurants, hotels and public transport.

    Individuals found violating this ban will face a fine of 20,000 riel ($5), whereas establishments will have to pay 50,000 riel ($12.50) if they fail to put up no smoking signs or are caught providing customers with ashtrays.

    Source: KI Media – 05 March 2016

    Zimbabwe: Tobacco prices to go up

    Global tobacco production is expected to drop by around 100 million kilogrammes, a development that will result in local prices going up during this marketing season, a senior Government official has said.

    The 2016 tobacco marketing season will open on March 30, while contract sales will start the following day. Agriculture, Mechanisation and Irrigation Development Minister Dr Joseph Made said tobacco production in other countries was affected by the poor rainfall.

    Source: All Africa – 05 March 2016