ASH Daily News for 1 July 2016



  • British American Tobacco vows to investigate child workers in Bangladeshi farms

    British American Tobacco (BAT), the world’s second biggest cigarette company, vowed on Thursday to investigate some of its supply farms in Bangladesh after a Swedish campaign group uncovered the use of child workers to grow and process tobacco.

    Swedwatch, which surveyed three tobacco farming districts in Bangladesh, said it found child labour was “widespread” in farms supplying BAT and its local subsidiary British American Tobacco Bangladesh, jeopardising their health and education.

    “The report urges BAT and other tobacco companies to remove the ‘smokescreens’ over their supply chains by publishing impact assessments and third party audits, and to take immediate action to protect people and the environment,” Swedwatch said.

    BAT, has reportedly asked Swedwatch for details of the farm locations where children were said to be working so the company can investigate further and act if necessary.

    Source: Yahoo News 30 June 2016

  • Continuing to make smoking a thing of the past

    Chief Executive of ASH Scotland, Sheila Duffy, has called on MSPs to provide robust and well-resourced action to tackle smoking throughout this Parliament.

    Writing for The Scotsman Ms Duffy says that the Scottish Government has set a target of a “tobacco-free generation” by 2034, defined as a 5% smoking rate, with a more immediate target for this Parliament, of getting the smoking rate down to 12% by 2021, this requires sustained and targeted action.

    “Reduced smoking-related admissions would lead to annual savings of between £100 million and £170m from NHS budgets, to be spent on other priorities. Scotland’s economy will benefit, with employers hit by 1 million fewer sick days each year. The poorest fifth of communities will gain an extra £100m of disposable income every year,” Ms Duffy writes.

    She goes onto argue that: “In this session of the Parliament we need to see clear recognition that tobacco use is part of the problems faced by people with mental health issues, and a commitment that stop smoking support should be offered as part of the care provided. We need robust, well-resourced action from police, trading standards and others to keep tobacco out of the hands of our children and illicit tobacco out of our communities.

    There is a long way to go on Scotland’s journey towards being tobacco-free in 2034. But the evidence is clear that a tobacco-free generation will not just be healthier, but wealthier and fairer too.”

    Source: The Scotsman 30th June 2016

  • A breath of fresh air: Smoking ban begins in all outdoor dining areas in South Australia

    Smoking will be banned from all alfresco dining venues in South Australia, starting from Friday, 1st July. The new rules which applies to pubs, clubs, cafés, restaurants and fast food outlets comes into force after years of campaigning to try and protect the public from second hand smoke.

    Chief executive of Cancer Council SA, Lincoln Size, said: “We believe that South Australians of all ages should be able to enjoy alfresco dining areas without putting their health at risk from second hand smoke.”

    Those caught smoking in outside areas will be given a $200 fine while businesses will be fined $1,250. Cigarettes, cigars, pipes, shisha, hookah and water pipes all fall under the no-smoking ban. Mr Size said 21 people in South Australia are killed as a result of smoking every week and the ban will help de-normalise the behaviour.

    Source: This is money 1st July 2016

  • New Zealand: Marking five years of smokefree prisons

    On 1 July 2011, tobacco products, matches and lighters became unauthorised items in New Zealand prisons.

    Ms Judith Collins said: “I was Minister of Corrections at the time and I asked Corrections to ban smoking in prisons because I was deeply concerned about both the health risks of second-hand smoke and the safety risks of lighters and matches. Prior to the ban around two-thirds of the prison population, or 5700 prisoners were smokers – triple the rate of smoking in the community at the time.”

    Since matches and lighters were banned, fires and arson incidents have significantly decreased, from 76 in 2010/11 to four in 2014/15, protecting both prisoners and prison staff.

    “Banning smoking was the right thing to do, and I am incredibly proud of the way that Corrections implemented this policy,” Ms Collins says.

    Source: NZ NewsUK 1 July 2016

  • New Zealand moves closer to standardised packaging

    Associate Health Minister, Peseta Sam Lotu-Iiga says the Government has taken another step to save lives by reducing the harm caused by tobacco in New Zealand, with the Smoke-free Environments (Tobacco Plain Packaging) Amendment Bill passing its second reading.

    “Standardised packaging will make a measureable difference to smoking rates in New Zealand, just as it has done in Australia. There is now strong evidence that standardised packs reduce the appeal of tobacco products and discourage people from smoking,” Mr Lotu-Iiga says.

    Draft regulations have now been put out for consultation and the Government has committed to reviewing all submissions prior to deciding when and how standardised packaging will be implemented.

    Source: NZ NewsUK 30th June 2016

  • Chicago’s tobacco buying age increases

    The minimum age to buy cigarettes in Chicago jumps from 18 to 21 years old on Friday, 1st July, thanks to an ordinance to increase the city’s tobacco-buying age that passed Chicago’s City Council in March.

    “Thanks to our ongoing effort to shield our children from the harms of tobacco products, youth smoking in Chicago is on the decline, helping people to lead healthier lives and live longer,” said Mayor Rahm Emanuel said in a statement this week. “We have consistently fought to protect our youth from being targeted by the tobacco industry with marketing and products designed to lure youth.”

    Source: Chicago Press 30 June 2016

  • California: Cigarette tax initiative qualifies for November ballot

    An initiative that would raise the tax on a pack of cigarettes by $2 in California officially qualified for the 8th November ballot on Thursday, setting the stage for another expensive battle between the tobacco industry and public health advocates.

    The Secretary of State’s Office said Thursday that a random sample of petitions turned in showed the initiative has met the 585,407-signature requirement to be on the ballot.

    The last time California voters were asked to raise the cigarette tax, in 2006, the tobacco industry spent $66.6 million and defeated the initiative, whose supporters spent $14 million. Californians currently pay 87 cents in state taxes per pack of cigarettes. In comparison, New Yorkers pay $4.35 a pack.

    Source: LA Times 29 June 2016

  • Parliamentary Questions

    PQ1 Tobacco Smuggling

    Lord Rennard Liberal Democrat
    To ask Her Majesty’s Government, further to the answer by Lord Ashton of Hyde on 14 June (HL Deb, col 1099), what action they are taking in response to the practice by some companies of supplying low-tax foreign markets with more tobacco than they are capable of consuming, thereby facilitating their products being brought back to the UK and depriving HM Revenue and Customs of revenue.

    Lord Rennard Liberal Democrat
    To ask Her Majesty’s Government what progress HM Revenue and Customs has made in investigating in the UK tobacco companies that over-supply low tobacco-tax foreign countries, and what action has resulted from those investigations.

    Lord O’Neill of Gatley The Commercial Secretary to the Treasury
    The UK introduced stringent rules in 2006 requiring all UK Tobacco Manufacturers (TMs) to control their supply chains. These rules required them to take steps to avoid supplying cigarettes and/or hand rolling tobacco to persons who are likely to smuggle them into the UK or resupply them to other persons who are likely to do the same.

    Tobacco manufacturers can face penalties of up to £5m for failing to comply with the rules. HMRC action, in monitoring TM’s compliance, is reflected in a reduction in supplies of UK brand cigarettes to high risk markets of 20% since 2010. At the same time, supplies to those markets of UK brand hand rolling tobacco has reduced by 36%.
    Despite this success HMRC is not complacent. They continue to closely monitor the illicit market in the UK, which today is made up of a mix of unregulated brands, non UK brands, and counterfeit as well as genuine UK brands, to ensure the legislation is working. HMRC also robustly challenge TM’s supply chain policies and procedures to ensure their continued compliance with the rules.

    Source: Hansard (Citation: HL Deb, 29 June 2016, cW)

    PQ2 Loss revenue from smuggling

    Lord Rennard Liberal Democrat
    To ask Her Majesty’s Government what is their current estimate of the loss of tax revenue each year owing to tobacco smuggling.

    Lord O’Neill of Gatley The Commercial Secretary to the Treasury
    The 2014/15 tax revenue loss associated with illicit tobacco, including both cigarettes and hand rolling tobacco, is estimated to be £2.1 billion. Estimates of UK tax revenue losses are published every year. The latest estimates, for the years 2006/7 to 2014/15, are published in ‘Tobacco Tax Gap estimates 2014-15’.

    Source: Hansard (Citation: HL Deb, 29 June 2016, cW)

    PQ3 Supply of illicit tobacco

    Lord Rennard Liberal Democrat
    To ask Her Majesty’s Government what steps they plan to take to further reduce the capacity for tobacco wholesalers and retailers to supply illicit tobacco.

    Lord O’Neill of Gatley The Commercial Secretary to the Treasury
    The Government currently has no plans to introduce new measures specifically applicable to wholesalers and retailers to tackle the supply of illicit tobacco. However, HM Revenue and Customs has undertaken a public consultation on the implementation of Article 6 of the WHO Framework Convention on Tobacco Control Illicit Trade Protocol, part of which is concerned with consideration of the licensing of the supply chain for tobacco products. The consultation sought views from a wide range of stakeholders to help assess the potential benefits and impacts of introducing a scheme to help establish a clear evidence base for any decisions. The results of the consultation and the proposed next steps will be announced in due course.

    Source: Hansard (Citation: HL Deb, 29 June 2016, cW)

    PQ4: WHO Illicit Trade Protocol

    Lord Rennard Liberal Democrat
    To ask Her Majesty’s Government when they expect to ratify the WHO protocol on the illicit trade in tobacco.

    Lord O’Neill of Gatley The Commercial Secretary to the Treasury
    The Government is fully committed to implementation and ratification of the WHO Framework Convention on Tobacco Control Illicit Trade Protocol. The majority of the requirements of the Protocol are already in place in the UK. HM Revenue and Customs has recently consulted on the implementation of Article 6 of the Protocol, which includes the requirement to license tobacco manufacturing machinery. The Government will ratify the Protocol once we are satisfied that the legislation is in place to meet this requirement.

    Source: Hansard (Citation: HL Deb, 29 June 2016, cW)


  • Editorial note

    Further to yesterday’s article on electronic cigarette advertising, availabe to view here:, please see below for a link to the Government’s information page on electronic cigarette advertising: