ASH Daily News for 16 May 2019



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UK

  • Conservative MP’s linked to tobacco industry funded thinktank
  • Turning cross-sector aspirations into population health reality
  • Call for total ban on smoking at Hertfordshire County Council premises

International

  • Judge orders FDA to speed up review of e-cigarettes

UK

Conservative MP’s linked to tobacco industry funded thinktank

The British Medical Journal (BMJ) has revealed that no fewer than 25 serving Conservative MPs, including several leadership candidates, are connected to the free market think tank, the Institute for Economic Affairs (IEA) which receives funding from the tobacco industry. MPs listed include Dominic Raab, David Davis and Owen Paterson.

The BMJ says the IEA is responsible for a series of attacks on public health initiatives including policies aimed at reducing childhood obesity. Between them, IEA trustees Neil Record and Sir Michael Hintze, have given a total of £166,000 in cash or hospitality to 30 MPs and £4.3 million to the Conservative party since 2002.

While the IEA keeps its funding sources private, British American Tobacco has confirmed that it funds the IEA. In the past, the organisation has also taken money from the gambling, alcohol, soft drinks and sugar industries.

Jon Trickett MP, Labour’s shadow minister for the Cabinet Office, said “it stinks” that so many Conservative MPs are deeply engaged with these organisations, which frequently advocate policies that run counter to public health.

He added: “The Institute of Economic Affairs should come clean on who funds it, and Conservative politicians should publically distance themselves from the tobacco industry.”

Source: The Scotsman, 16 May 2019

BMJ: Big tobacco, the new politics, and the threat to public health. 2019

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Turning cross-sector aspirations into population health reality

The Local Government Chronicle recently hosted a roundtable discussion to reassess how the health service interacts with local government, in light of the focus on population health outlined in the Long Term Plan. The roundtable, which was sponsored by NHS England, included senior decision makers from the NHS and local government.

Jacquie White, director of system development at NHS England, is responsible for supporting the creating of integrated care systems across the country and leads the NHS’s work on population health. She reaffirmed the commitment set out in the Long Term Plan to “take the willingness, the enthusiasm, the commitment to want to work together to improve population health, and actually use population health management as the way to do business”.

Panellists highlighted the challenge of ensuring that the NHS and local authorities are using the same concepts and language when talking about public health. Jim McManus, director of public health at Hertfordshire County Council, said that: “I think the role of place and the role of fundamental things like housing and economic development and all those other things needs to be described. How many clinicians really understand the important value of decent housing for mental and physical health?”

John Middleton, president at the Faculty of Public Health, advocated a focus on the basics, centering reform on aims which all parts of the system would share: “I want to see people living healthily as long as possible. I want to see the NHS enabling people to recover from treatable illness, and preventing illnesses that can be prevented. I want to see the whole system enabling people with long term conditions not to be disabled by those, so they’re able to live with those problems as long as they can.”

That was, he said, “a health issue and a social care issue and a housing issue – it’s a whole raft of intervention and help”.

Tim Elwell-Sutton, Assistant director of strategic partnerships at the Health Foundation, highlighted the potential for health and wellbeing boards to “be the forum for bringing together real cross-sector partnerships at the level of place” if they are given more power over spending and made more accountable for health inequality targets.

“That the Long Term Plan wasn’t specific about how such targets are tackled was a possible opportunity, he suggested. “I’d love to see that being a joint accountability, across local government and NHS, rather than it being one or the other. Because I think one of the problems with collaboration is that the NHS responds to national accountable targets while local government is responding to local issues, and you just end up at cross purposes.”

Source: Local Government Chronicle, 29 April 2019

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Call for total ban on smoking at Hertfordshire County Council premises

A leading Hertfordshire councillor has raised the possibility of a total ban on smoking on all council premises. Since 2007, it has been illegal to smoke in any enclosed or substantially enclosed workplace in the UK.

Hertfordshire County Council’s executive member for public health and prevention Cllr Tim Hutchings has signalled he would like to look at a complete ban on smoking on all county council premises, outside as well as in. That would mean an end to all official or unofficial smoking areas on council land and around council buildings. The proposals could extend to all council-owned premises, including offices, museums and libraries.

Source: Watford Observer, 16 May 2019

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International

Judge orders FDA to speed up review of e-cigarettes

A federal judge has upheld a lawsuit by public health groups calling on the Food and Drug Administration to begin reviewing thousands of e-cigarettes on the US market. The ruling handed down Wednesday (15 May) in Maryland district court states that the agency shirked its legal duty when it postponed reviewing all US vaping products by several years. The FDA now has 30 days to submit plans for moving forward with product reviews.

The American Academy of Pediatrics, Campaign for Tobacco-Free Kids and other groups filed the federal lawsuit in Maryland last year. The groups say the lack of FDA oversight has led to a rise in vaping among teenagers.

The FDA gained authority to regulate the e-cigarettes in 2016, but it has allowed thousands of products to remain on the market without formal rules or product standards. The agency says that both FDA staff and manufacturers need more time to prepare for regulation.

Wednesday’s ruling follows a decision last September, when a federal judge said the FDA must move ahead with adding graphic warning labels to cigarette packs. The FDA was required to take that step under a 2009 law, but the process has been bogged down by legal challenges from tobacco companies.

Source: ABC News, 15 May 2019

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