ASH Daily News for 20 December 2016



  • Scotland: Strategies to stop smoking must look beyond the health message
  • Bolton: Health Harms campaign encourages smokers to quit this Christmas
  • USA: FDA drops boxed warning on smoking cessation drug
  • USA: ASH marks 50th anniversary
  • California: CalPERS votes to broaden ban on tobacco investments
  • Parliamentary Questions

Scotland: Strategies to stop smoking must look beyond the health message

Writing for The Herald John Watson, deputy chief executive of ASH Scotland, calls for greater support for smokers looking to quit.

The Scottish Government has the aim to be tobacco-free by 2034, but crucially this is defined as a smoking rate of 5%, which does not mean that nobody will smoke. Currently the smoking rate in Scotland stands at around 21% suggesting this goal could be some way off.

Funding for NHS Stop Smoking Services will be important, but with many smokers coming from disadvantaged backgrounds and paying high costs of tobacco, Mr Watson argues we need to look beyond health messages and to involve poverty and equality interests.

Given the costs of smoking are so high, he asks why is stop-smoking support not a central concern for debt advice services and citizens advice bureaux? And with smoking so intricately bound up in mental health problems, and the single biggest factor in this group dying 10-20 years early, he asks why is nicotine management not at the heart of support provided to this group?

“To make Scotland tobacco-free, as both government and people wish, it’s time to integrate stop-smoking support across the wide range of support services.”

Source: The Herald – 17 December 2016
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Bolton: Health Harms campaign encourages smokers to quit this Christmas

Public Health England has launched its Health Harms campaign this month to remind smokers of the harms caused by tobacco use.

Andrea Crossfield, Chief Executive of Healthier Futures, a regional health promotion organisation, said: “Quitting smoking is the single best thing you can do for your health. If you stop smoking even a week before Christmas, by December 25 your blood oxygen and carbon monoxide levels will both have returned to normal. Breathing becomes easier and energy levels increase, and your ability to taste and smell is improved. It will also save money which could go towards a magical Christmas next year or enjoying more every day pleasures with your family throughout 2017.”

Anyone looking to quit is advised to seek the support of a local stop smoking service.

Source: This is Lancashire – 20 December 2016
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USA: FDA drops boxed warning on smoking cessation drug

The US Food and Drug Administration has approved updates to Pfizer’s champix (varenicline) labelling including the removal of a ‘black box’ warning of serious neuropsychiatric effects.

The removal of the boxed warning is based on the outcomes of EAGLES (Evaluating Adverse Events in a Global Smoking Cessation Study), the largest ever smoking cessation clinical trial in patients with and without a history of psychiatric disorders.

Source: PBR Regulatory Affairs – 19 December 2016
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USA: ASH marks 50th anniversary

ASH, in the US, is marking its 50th anniversary in 2017 with calls to end the tobacco epidemic and save 6 million lives worldwide every year.

Executive Director Laurent Huber has set out a vision for a tobacco-free world achieved by:

  • Holding the tobacco industry, including corporate executives, accountable for the death and disease they cause;
  • Changing the way the world thinks and works so that everyone – governments, businesses and the public, work toward the same goal; and
  • Working to end the commercial sale of tobacco.

Source: Action on Smoking and Health – 19 December 2016
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California: CalPERS votes to broaden ban on tobacco investments

The California Public Employees’ Retirement System (CalPERS) voted on Monday to broaden its restrictions on tobacco investments, opposing a recommendation by the pension fund’s staff to reinvest in the controversial asset.

CalPERS is the USA’s largest public pension fund and despite calls to lift a 16 year ban on tobacco investments, the Board voted to extend the ban to externally managed portfolios and affiliated funds.

Source: Yahoo Finance – 19 December 2016
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Parliamentary Questions

PQ1: Stop Smoking Services
Bob Blackman Conservative, Harrow East
To ask the Secretary of State for Health, what plans his Department has to help to encourage the spread of best practice for stop smoking services.

Nicola Blackwood The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Health
A number of measures are in place to support the National Health Service and local public health services to help stop people smoking. Public Health England (PHE) will continue to commission the National Centre for Smoking Cessation and Training to provide free online training, briefings and service reviews to support commissioning and delivery of stop smoking services.

PHE will review and update the CLeaR tobacco control tool, which provides a self-assessment and peer review model for local areas to reflect on and develop their local tobacco control programmes, including stop smoking services.

PHE has also developed a Menu of Preventative Interventions to support local Sustainability and Transformation Plans, including actions to treat tobacco dependence among patients who smoke.
The new national alcohol and tobacco CQUIN (Commissioning for Quality and Innovation) indicator will support the NHS to record the smoking status of all inpatients and to offer smokers medication and referral.

PHE will continue to support local authorities to review the effectiveness of stop smoking interventions, particularly where they want to commission new quitting support models.

Source: Hansard – 16 December 2016
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PQ2: Stop smoking services
Bob Blackman Conservative, Harrow East
To ask the Secretary of State for Health, if he will make it his policy to require local authorities to provide stop smoking services.

Nicola Blackwood The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Health
The most recent data show that smoking rates among adults and young people are at their lowest ever level. This has been achieved through the implementation of a comprehensive tobacco control strategy, one element of which is the provision of evidence-based stop smoking services. Smoking rates vary considerably across the country and it is right that local councils have the flexibility to consider how best to respond to the unique needs of their local population.

Source: Hansard – 16 December 2016
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PQ3: Smoking and snus prevalence
Viscount Ridley Conservative
To ask Her Majesty’s Government what estimate they have made of the percentage of men in the UK aged 16 to 29 who (1) smoke cigarettes, and (2) use snus, on a daily basis.

Viscount Ridley Conservative
To ask Her Majesty’s Government whether they plan to include scientific evidence about the potential of snus as a smoking substitute in their Tobacco Control Plan.

Lord Prior of Brampton The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Department of Health
Statistics on daily smoking are not routinely gathered. In 2015, the Office of National Statistics Annual Population Survey 2015 showed that 17.6% of 18-19 year old men, 24% of 20-24 year old men, and 27% of 25-29 year old men were current smokers. No data is collected on snus use.
The Tobacco Control plan will provide a framework and call to action for wide ranging future work to further reduce the prevalence of tobacco use.

Source: Hansard – 19 December 2016
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PQ4: Illicit Trade Protocol
Martyn Day Scottish National Party, Linlithgow and East Falkirk
To ask Mr Chancellor of the Exchequer, what processes are required before the UK ratifies the World Health Organisation Protocol to Eliminate Illicit Trade in Tobacco Products?

Martyn Day Scottish National Party, Linlithgow and East Falkirk
To ask Mr Chancellor of the Exchequer, what recent representations the Government has received on the ratification of the World Health Organisation Protocol to Eliminate Illicit Trade in Tobacco Products.

Martyn Day Scottish National Party, Linlithgow and East Falkirk
To ask Mr Chancellor of the Exchequer, what recent discussions the Government has had with the tobacco industry on the ratification of the World Health Organisation Protocol to Eliminate Illicit Trade in Tobacco Products.

Jane Ellison The Financial Secretary to the Treasury
The Government fully supports ratification and implementation of the Illicit Trade Protocol, and the UK played a leading role in negotiating and agreeing the text. It is UK policy to have all necessary implementing legislation in place before ratifying any international agreement. While many of the requirements of the Protocol are already in place in the UK, the requirement for licensing of tobacco manufacturing machinery is still outstanding. The Government published draft legislation to implement this provision on 5 December 2016 as part of the draft Finance Bill 2017. Subject to Parliamentary approval, the text of the Protocol can be laid before Parliament as a Command Paper with an Explanatory Memorandum. Providing Parliament does not resolve against ratification then the UK can begin the formal ratification process.

HM Revenue and Customs has received a number of representations from MPs, MEPs and health lobbyist supporting early implementation and ratification of the Protocol. No discussions have been held with the tobacco industry on ratification, beyond those conducted as part of the recent consultation on implementation of licensing of tobacco manufacturing machinery.

Source: Hansard – 19 December 2016
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