ASH Daily News for 19 October 2016



  • Leeds health boss plays down illicit tobacco fears in city
  • Systematic review of health and behavioural outcomes of smoking cessation interventions in prisons
  • Australia: Government won’t reveal tobacco case costs
  • Kenya: BAT fights State over new tough smoking rules
  • USA: California voters asked to triple tobacco tax
  • Netherlands: Government to ban decorations on cigarette packaging

Leeds health boss plays down illicit tobacco fears in city

Leeds’s most senior public health official has said the availability of illicit cigarettes is not on the rise after a report claimed they are “incredibly easy to obtain” in the city. Dr Ian Cameron, Leeds City Council Director of Public Health, was responding to the results of a two-day study of illicit tobacco in Leeds by former Metropolitan Police detective Will O’Reilly (funded by the tobacco industry).

Dr Cameron said: “The good news is that official figures show the illicit tobacco trade in the UK is not rising, as the tobacco industry and its front groups routinely claim.”

He added: “Effective enforcement action by HM Revenue and Customs and Border Force nationally, and action at the European and local levels too, has helped halve the level of illicit tobacco in the UK since 2000. The tobacco industry’s latest myth is that standardised packaging of cigarette products could increase illicit trade: this is, of course, false. The bottom line is, tobacco smuggling can be fought while we also cut smoking rates.”

Source: Yorkshire Evening Post – 19 October 2016
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Systematic review of health and behavioural outcomes of smoking cessation interventions in prisons

A systematic review examined the impact of smoking cessation interventions, including smoking bans, on prisoners and prison staff. The authors concluded that while there is limited evidence to inform tobacco control policies in custodial settings, outcomes of this review suggest that cessation programmes/bans can be an effective mechanism to interrupt prisoner smoking behaviour when properly enforced

Source: Tobacco control – doi:10.1136/tobaccocontrol-2016-053297
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Australia: Government won’t reveal tobacco case costs

A crossbench senator is threatening to take the health department to an independent tribunal if it keeps refusing to reveal how much it spent fighting tobacco giant Philip Morris over plain packaging laws.

Nick Xenophon wants to know what it cost taxpayers to defend the case, but the department insists it needs to be kept secret.

The international Permanent Court of Arbitration last year rejected the company’s case, unanimously agreeing with Australia’s argument it had no jurisdiction to hear the claim.

The company tried to argue the plain packaging laws breached foreign investment protections the Australian government guaranteed in its trade agreement with Hong Kong, which contains an investor state dispute settlement (ISDS) mechanism.

The head of the health department, Martin Bowles, said the government doesn’t want to show its hand because it’s still trying to claim costs against Philip Morris.

Source: AAP – 19 October 2016
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Kenya: BAT fights State over new tough smoking rules

BAT is appealing against the Government’s 2014 tobacco control law including the requirement for pictorial health warnings and the ban on smoking in public places.

The cigarette maker also complained that a 2 per cent tax imposed on cigarettes was vague as the industry players were not told whether it would be imposed on the final product or on the raw material.

Source: KTN News – 19 October 2016
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USA: California voters asked to triple tobacco tax

California voters are being asked to approve a measure that would more than triple the tax on cigarettes in the elections on 8th November.

Since voters approved dramatic state tax increases on cigarettes in 1988 and again in 1998, California smoking rates have dropped, as has tobacco tax revenue.

Health activists hope to further stunt tobacco use and replenish tax revenue for California’s overburdened and struggling social healthcare system.

Under Proposition 56, voters will be asked to approve a $2 per pack tax hike and become just the fifth state to tax e-cigarettes.

Source: Courthouse News Service – 18 October 2016
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Netherlands: Government to ban decorations on cigarette packaging

Tobacco companies will soon no longer be allowed to sell cigarette packets in the Netherlands that have decorative elements on them, State Secretary Martin van Rijn of Public Health announced on Tuesday.

This forms part of a set of measures from the Netherlands and European Union aimed at making smoking less attractive.

From July 1st next year cigarette packages containing “holograms, sparkles, shiny and glamorous colours, embossing or expressions referring to a specific theme such as a World Cup or King’s Day” will be banned in the Netherlands.

Packages may also not contain elements that suggest “sound-, light-, smell and taste effects, such as a characteristic odour or ink that lights up when you open the package”. Only packaging with matte and smooth finishes will be allowed.

Source: Christian News Today – 19 October 2016
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