ASH Daily news for 18 May 2015
May 18, 2015
- Former UK tax chief under fire for joining smoking lobbyists
- New laws to punish litter louts ‘must be sped up’
- Manchester City FC probe star over secret smoking sessions
- SARS drama spills over into the UK
- Australia: Tobacco industry threatens to launch super-cheap cigarettes as officials want more power to seize illicit tobacco
- Australia: Tobacco industry misrepresenting illegal market to stop excise increase, expert says
- Australia: E-cigs pose threat to ‘susceptible’ young
- US: Eugene, Oregon, weighs downtown smoking
- Canada: Whistler Blackcomb to celebrate World No Tobacco Day with new smokefree policy
Former UK tax chief under fire for joining smoking lobbyists
Health campaigners are furious that the former head of HM Revenue and Customs has taken a role with a powerful lobbying organisation that campaigns against tobacco taxation. Dave Hartnett, who stepped down as permanent secretary of tax at HMRC in 2012, became a director of the International Tax and Investment Center (Itic), a Washington-based organisation that is accused of promoting the interests of “big tobacco”, in 2013.
Clear the Air, a Hong Kong pressure group, said Harnett should have declared the role. The advisory committee on business appointments (Acoba) has confirmed that he did not seek its permission, as would normally happen when a senior civil servant takes a prominent role within two years of leaving Whitehall. Hartnett insists that he did not need permission for the unpaid role as nominal director. Documents show Hartnett chaired meetings for Itic in October 2013. He has also given talks and is due to speak at one of its conferences next month.
“Itic is paid by the tobacco industry to lobby governments against policies to cut smoking,” said Deborah Arnott, chief executive of health charity ASH. “I’m shocked that Mr Hartnett seems to be happy to allow his status as a former permanent secretary to be used by a tobacco industry front group that promotes addiction, disease and premature death.”
– Former UK tax chief under fire for joining smoking lobbyists, MSN NewsSource: The Observer, 17 May 2015
New laws to punish litter louts ‘must be sped up’
The Yorkshire Post is adding its voice to calls to speed up the implementation of new rules that would make it easier for councils to punish those who allow litter to be thrown from their cars.
Food packaging, bottles and cans and cigarette ends thrown from car windows are the biggest contributor to litter around roads and verges, especially in rural areas, the Campaign to Protect Rural England (CPRE) said.
It campaigned for six years for legislation within the Environmental Protection Act 1990 to be amended so that local councils no longer had to prove exactly who threw litter from a vehicle in order to issue a fine.
The amendment was confirmed in the Anti-social Behaviour, Crime and Policing Act 2014, but now officials at the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Defra) have brought the process to a halt by commissioning further research to see whether the new regulations are needed.Source: Yorkshire Post – 16 May 2015
Manchester City FC probe star over secret smoking sessions
Manchester City has launched an inquiry after one of its top players placed tin foil in a room’s smoke alarm so he could have a secretive cigarette.
The discovery was made by maintenance staff checking alarms in players’ rooms at the Etihad Campus.
Officials are thought to have identified a first-team star they believe was responsible.Source: The Sun – 16 May 2015
SARS drama spills over into the UK
The controversial SA Revenue Service (SARS) drama is spilling over into the UK, where police are now investigating whether secret payments made to confidential informants in South Africa broke bribery laws.
At the centre of the drama is one of the world’s largest tobacco companies, British American Tobacco (BAT). Last year, it emerged that BAT had paid Pretoria attorney Belinda Walter to feed them intelligence on the illicit tobacco trade in South Africa. Others, however, claim that Walter was paid for information on some of BAT’s competitors in South Africa, including one of Walter’s own clients, Carnilinx Tobacco Company.
On Thursday, two of Carnilinx’s directors, Kyle Phillips and Adriano Mazzotti, held a nearly four-hour meeting with at least four investigators from different divisions of the City of London police.
Carnilinx, a member of the Fair-Trade Independent Tobacco Association (Fita), and a particular rival of BAT laid a complaint with both UK and South African police.
Thursday’s meeting is understood to have been requested by UK police, who followed up on the complaint. After the meeting, Phillips confirmed an investigation was under way.
“It’s being taken very seriously in the UK,” Phillips said. “The allegations they are investigating include bribery and corruption – it’s covering a wide range of issues.”
British police are said to not only be investigating the fact that BAT made payments to informants such as Walter, but also how the payments were made.Source: Fin 24 – 17 may 2015
Australia: Tobacco industry threatens to launch super-cheap cigarettes as officials want more power to seize illicit tobacco
The tobacco industry has threatened to launch super-cheap cigarettes costing just $9 a pack in response to a growing black market in cheap, illegal tobacco, which health officials claim they are powerless to seize.
The NSW Cancer Council has criticised the move by the tobacco industry as a desperate attempt to attract new smokers. NSW Labor says the government must “get serious” about tackling smuggled tobacco, after a rise in illegal sales at retailers throughout Sydney.
NSW Health has told a review of tobacco laws that its inspectors have detected increased sales of illicit tobacco, which is packaged without health warnings and is sometimes blatantly labelled “illegal tobacco”.Source: Sydney Morning Herald – 17 May 2015
Australia: Tobacco industry misrepresenting illegal market to stop excise increase, expert says
An expert in tobacco control says action is needed to curb illegal tobacco use in New South Wales are incorrect.
British American Tobacco Australia (BATA) said it commissioned research which found 14.5 per cent of tobacco consumed in Australia was illegal.
BATA is considering introducing make-your-owns, at $9 for a pack of 25 cigarettes, to curb the trend.
But Dr Becky Freeman from the University of Sydney said government surveys showed illegal tobacco use fell between 2007 and 2013, and has accused the tobacco industry of distorting figures.Source: ABC News – 18 May 2015
Australia: E-cigs pose threat to ‘susceptible’ young
Australia’s gains in stopping young people smoking could be undone by e-cigarettes, a public health expert warns.
“If manufacturers of e-cigarettes are wrong about the harmless nature of the small amounts of nicotine in their products, millions of young people may be susceptible,” says Simon Chapman, of the University of Sydney.
Writing in the Medical Journal of Australia, Professor Chapman says the tobacco industry knew “how essential new cohorts of young smokers are to its very survival as an industry”.Source: Daily Mail/AP – 18 May 2015
US: Eugene, Oregon, weighs downtown smoking
The Eugene City Council on Wednesday is set to discuss whether it should ban smoking on downtown sidewalks and in other outdoor public places, such as the Park Blocks and Broadway Plaza.
City ordinances already outlaw smoking in workplaces and outside the entrances of buildings throughout Eugene, including downtownSource: The Register-Guard – 17 May 2015
Canada: Whistler Blackcomb to celebrate World No Tobacco Day with new smokefree policy
On May 31, 2015, the British Columbia ski resort of Whistler Blackcomb will celebrate World No Tobacco Day by introducing a new smoke-free policy. The policy will prohibit smoking anywhere on Whistler Blackcomb property, including lift lines, chairlifts, gondolas, ski runs, hiking trails, valley base areas, parking lots, Whistler Mountain Bike Park trails and all Whistler Blackcomb bar and restaurant locations, including patios.
Whistler Blackcomb’s new smoke-free policy will apply to both guests and staff.Source: Ski Industry News – 17 May 2015