ASH Daily News for 20 September 2016



  • Number of smokers in England drops to all-time low
  • Stoptober campaign returns with Facebook Messenger bot to motivate smokers to quit
  • E-cigarette research: Flavourings and higher voltage increase toxicity
  • US: E-cigarette maker NJOY files for bankruptcy
  • South Africa: Big tobacco ‘infiltration’ of intelligence detailed in Sars pair’s book
  • US: Tobacco giant Philip Morris to pay $45 million to Arkansas smokers
  • US: Think tank says WHO tobacco treaty a threat to public health

Number of smokers in England drops to all-time low

The number of smokers in England has fallen to its lowest level, with just one in six adults now lighting up, according to new official figures, which also show a recent collapse in sales of cigarettes.

Just 16.9% of adults in England now smoke, according to the latest data from Public Health England. Its health experts also revealed that widespread use of e-cigarettes, nicotine patches and gum helped 500,000 smokers last year kick the habit – the highest number on record.

The statistics show that, bar two small blips, smoking prevalence has declined continuously and dramatically over the past 50 years by about two-thirds. In 1974, over 50% of men in Britain were smokers; that had fallen to just 19.1% in England in 2015. Similarly, just over 40% of women smoked back then; last year it was only 14.9%.

Deborah Arnott, chief executive of ASH, said: “The continuing decline in smoking prevalence is a tribute to many years when successive governments have implemented comprehensive and progressive tobacco control strategies, including tax rises, mass media campaigns, anti-smuggling measures, smoke-free laws, advertising bans, and last but not least getting rid of tobacco displays and glitzy tobacco packaging.”

However, Ash is very concerned that government funding for mass media campaigns – which are proven to be effective at prompting people to try to quit – has fallen sharply from almost £25m in 2009-10 to just £4m in 2016-17. ASH is calling on ministers to reverse that trend, increase investment in such initiatives and publish a new tobacco control strategy, to replace the one that expired at the end of 2015.

See also:
West has lowest rate of smoking in the country as levels fall to record low, Plymouth Herald
More and more Yorkshire people are giving up fags, Minster FM [includes video]
Number of smokers in England falls to record low, The Independent
Smoking rates at lowest point on record, ITV
Smoking rates in England fall to lowest on record, BBC News
Smokers left out in the cold as number of quitters soars, The Times (£)
Smoking rates across England at LOWEST level on record with Stoptober round the corner, The Express
Number of smokers in England drops to an all-time low with just one-in-six adults lighting up, Daily Mail

Source: The Guardian – 20 September 2016
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Stoptober campaign returns with Facebook Messenger bot to motivate smokers to quit

Stoptober, the annual 28-day mass quit smoking campaign from Public Health England and Freuds, is back for a fifth year and is using Facebook – including a new Facebook Messenger bot – as its key social channel.

A widespread PR campaign and partnership programme, devised by Freud Communications, will be supported by a range of celebrity ambassadors including former cricketer Phil Tufnell, Strictly Come Dancing judge Craig Revel Horwood, former Atomic Kitten member Natasha Hamilton and Sky Sports presenter Chris Kamara.

The campaign to encourage the UK’s seven million smokers to quit runs as usual through October, though there is a new tool for 2016 – the Stoptober Facebook Messenger bot. Those attempting to quit smoking can message the bot for free, instant practical support whenever a craving hits or to provide motivation at any low points.

See also:
Stoptober returns for fifth year of encouraging smokers to quit, Northumberland Gazette
Quitting smoking sweeps the nation as Stoptober returns, Public Health England press release

Source: PR Week – 20 September 2016
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E-cigarette research: Flavourings and higher voltage increase toxicity

Roswell Park Cancer Institute scientists report that several flavourings added to electronic cigarettes impact the toxicity of the devices and that, among the tested flavors, strawberry was the most toxic. The researchers also confirmed an earlier finding that increasing the battery output voltage of these devices significantly increases toxicity. The study has been published online ahead of print in the journal Tobacco Control.

Source: Medical Xpress – 19 September 2016
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US: E-cigarette maker NJOY files for bankruptcy

NJOY, one of the biggest electronic cigarette makers, has filed for bankruptcy protection on Sept. 16 in Delaware federal court. NJOY was valued at $1 billion in 2013.

The filing comes just five months after new federal regulations from the Food and Drug Administration threaten the fast-growing multibillion-dollar industry that includes tobacco giants Altria and Reynolds, which own MarkTen and Vuse, respectively.

Source: Christian News Today – 20 September 2016
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South Africa: Big tobacco ‘infiltration’ of intelligence detailed in Sars pair’s book

A cache of stored electronic data shows how deeply the tobacco industry has penetrated and manipulated intelligence and law-enforcement agencies in South Africa.

Johann Van Loggerenberg, the former head of a crime-busting unit at the South African Revenue Service (Sars), and former Sars spokesman Adrian Lackay are throwing a spotlight on complicity between state officials and private business in criminal activities in a new book‚ Rogue: The Inside Story of SARS’s Elite Crime-busting Unit.

Van Loggerenberg and other managers were forced to resign after being implicated‚ wrongfully they say‚ in a scandal over a “rogue unit” operating at Sars. They wrote the book to present their side of the story.

The book documents secretly recorded conversations with handlers‚ industrial espionage‚ the sabotaging of competitors’ business interests‚ secret payments from a multinational company and the “brief yet damaging relationship” between Van Loggerenberg and a lawyer‚ Belinda Walter.

See also:
Former taxmen lay bare SA’s industrial sabotage, Times Live

Source: Times Live – 19 September 2016
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US: Tobacco giant Philip Morris to pay $45 million to Arkansas smokers

Arkansas is the first state to successfully settle a class action lawsuit against tobacco giant Philip Morris. As a result some smokers could receive a share of the $45 million settlement.

Source: KY3 – 19 September 2016
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US: Think tank says WHO tobacco treaty a threat to public health

US think tank Reason Foundation has published a brief critiquing the WHO’s “hostility” to tobacco harm reduction and outlining the consequences of this as a threat to public health.

The brief contrasts the WHO’s opposition to less harmful nicotine-containing products (e-cigarettes) with its support for harm reduction in other contexts. It also questions the legitimacy of this approach in view of the agency’s commitment to empowering people to improve their own health.

Authored by Julian Morris, Reason Foundation’s vice president for research, the document analyzes the work of the Framework Convention on Tobacco Control (FCTC).

Morris argued that a key problem with the FCTC is that it is beholden to the idea that the only way to reduce smoking is for smokers to “quit or die”.

Source: Medical Observer – 19 September 2016
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