ASH Daily News for 18 December 2018


  • Study: Rise in cigarette prices following introduction of plain packaging
  • Scotland: Popcorn and vape kits help inmates with smoking ban


  • E-cigarette use among US teens rises, study says
  • Opinion: How Paraguay dumps billions of illicit cigarettes on the global market



Study: Rise in cigarette prices following introduction of plain packaging

Following, the introduction of plain cigarette packaging there was an increase in the sale price of leading brands, new research suggests. A study by Stirling University found that the price of top-selling cigarettes increased by almost 5% – or an extra 38p on a pack of 20 – in the 18 months after the legislation was introduced. The price of hand-rolling tobacco also rose by about 8%, or 91p on a 30g pack.

Researchers said their findings were at odds with tobacco companies’ predictions that plain packaging, which became mandatory in May last year, would lead to lower prices and greater affordability.

Study author, Dr Nathan Critchlow, said: “Tobacco companies were strongly opposed to plain packaging. They appeared adamant that, if the policy was implemented, brands would only be able to compete on price, which would result in lower prices, greater affordability and, consequently, increased consumption. Our study, however, provides early evidence that these concerns of lower prices appear to be unfounded. We found that, as well as the sale prices, recommended retail prices also increased. This suggests that tobacco companies instigated the price rises – and that their predictions of falling prices and rising affordability were intended to deter the government from implementing the policy.”

Source: The Guardian, 18 December 2018

Addiction: Pricing of tobacco products during, and after, the introduction of standardised packaging: An observational study of retail price data from independent and convenience (small) retailers in the United Kingdom

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Scotland: Popcorn and vape kits help inmates with smoking ban

Inmates in the Scottish prison, HMP Kilmarnock, have been given candyfloss, popcorn, sweets and puzzle books to help them to cope with the new smoking ban in prisons, which has been in place since November 30. In addition to the free vaping kits offered to all Scottish prisoners, inmates at HMP Kilmarnock received a ‘goodie bag’ of treats to help alleviate any discontent and discomfort arising from the ban.

Prior to the ban, the smoking rate among Scottish prisoners was substantially higher than for the wider population.

The Scottish Prison Service said: “Smoking is a real issue in prisons and rates of passive smoking, which affects staff and other prisoners, are extremely high. Prisons are not just a living environment but a working environment for our staff. These diversionary activities are being made available in conjunction with NHS support as therapeutic means to help people cope.”

Source: The Times, 18 December 2018

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E-cigarette use among US teens rises, study says

A recent study at the University of Michigan has found that the number of teenagers who report having recently used an e-cigarette increased substantially between 2017 and 2018.

The researchers used data from the Monitoring the Future survey which asked 45,000 students across the US if they had used an e-cigarette within the last 30 days. The percentage of 12th grade students, typically aged 17-18, who reported vaping nicotine rose to 21% from 11% in 2017.

Over the same period the percentage of 12th grade students who reported smoking in the last 30 days fell from 9.7% to 7.6%. Overall, there was no increase in youth cigarette smoking in this period.

Source: BBC, 17 December 2018

Editorial Note: The latest evidence from the UK shows that only 2% of under-18s use an e-cigarette once a month or less, with use almost exclusively confined to current or former smokers. The sale of e-cigarettes to under-18s is prohibited under UK law.

See also: ASH Factsheet Use of e-cigarettes among young people in Great Britain

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Opinion: How Paraguay dumps billions of illicit cigarettes on the global market

Benoit Gomis, research associate at Simon Fraser University’s Global Tobacco Control Research Programme discusses the role of national and international tobacco manufacturers in the illicit tobacco trade:

“Paraguay’s illicit trade in tobacco products was originally seeded by British American Tobacco (BAT) and Philip Morris international (PMI). Starting in the 1960s, both companies used Paraguay as a transit hub to illegally access the protected markets of Argentina and Brazil. The substantial market and supply system that these companies developed for cheap smuggled brands, in turn, created a lucrative business opportunity for manufacturers in Paraguay.

Between 1995 and 1998, [Paraguayan cigarette] manufacturing grew exponentially to over 12 billion sticks annually, despite consumption stagnating. Between 1999 and 2003, after Brazil’s introduction of [a 150%] export tax, Paraguayan cigarette production expanded even further, doubling to almost 27 billion sticks by 2003, about eight times the domestic consumption. This increase can be largely attributed to the illicit trade, as legal exports remained limited.

The key company behind this expansion was Tabesa. Founded in 1994 by siblings Horacio and Sarah Cartes, Tabesa is today one of Paraguay’s largest companies. By the late 2000s, Tabesa had become a major supplier of illicit tobacco products across Latin America and increasingly beyond.

The case of Paraguay demonstrates the long shadow cast by transnational tobacco companies, whose practices have had devastating consequences in terms of public health, weak governance, corruption and organized crime.”

Source: The Conversation, 16 December 2018

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