ASH Daily News for 21 December 2018
Merry Christmas and Happy New Year, from everyone at ASH
- Councils respond to cut in public health grants allocation
- Victory for open justice in judgment ordering disclosure of tobacco industry evidence
- PHE set to relaunch smokefree health harms campaign
- South East: Home visit scheme to help pregnant mothers stop smoking shows positive results
- Marlboro-maker Altria takes $12.8bn stake in Juul
- Study: Bidi smoking costs India an annual £9bn in ill health and early death
Link of the week
- Royal College of Psychiatrists position statement: The prescribing of varenicline and vaping (electronic cigarettes) to patients with severe mental illness
Councils respond to cut in public health grants allocation
Responding to yesterday’s (Thursday 20th November) written ministerial statement confirming a cut to councils’ public health grants, Chairman of the Local Government Association’s Community Wellbeing Board, Cllr Ian Hudspeth, said:
“Today’s announcement confirms that councils’ public health budgets will continue to face significant spending reductions. The Government has announced an extra £20 billion for the NHS, but is now taking vital money away from the services which can be used to prevent illness and the need for treatment later down the line.
“Cutting the public health budget is incredibly short-sighted and will undermine our ability to improve the public’s health and to keep the pressure off the NHS and social care. Many councils will be forced to take tough decisions about which services have to be scaled back, or stopped altogether, to plug funding gaps. It is vital that the Government uses the 2019 Spending Review to deliver truly sustainable funding for public health in local government.”
Source: LGA News, 20 December 2018
Editorial note: Yesterday’s announcement confirms cuts to the public health budget previously announced in the 2015 Comprehensive Spending Review. The public health grant, which funds local authorities’ public health budgets, is being cut by £531 million between 2015/16 and 2019/2020.
LGA – Spending Review and Autumn Statement 2015: On the Day Briefing
The Huffington Post – Government ‘Sneaks Out’ £85m Cut To Public Health On Last Day Before Parliamentary Recess
Victory for open justice in judgment ordering disclosure of tobacco industry evidence
Following the tobacco industry’s unsuccessful legal challenge to the lawfulness of the regulations introducing plain packaging for cigarettes and hand-rolled tobacco products in the UK in May 2016, Robert Eckford, Associate Director of the Campaign for Tobacco Free Kids (CTFK), applied to the Court for the disclosure of a number of the court documents including expert reports and witness statements filed by the tobacco industry.
ASH then made detailed submissions in support of CTFK’s application for the disclosure of these documents. In his judgment of 20th December 2018, the now Lord Justice Green granted the application for the disclosure of the documentation to CTFK and therefore into the public domain.
In giving judgment the Judge stressed the importance of the principle of open justice, stating that: “The starting point of all true justice is that it should be done and be seen to be done in public. It is difficult to understate the importance of transparent justice. It is fundamental to democracy.”
He summarised his reasons for granting the application for disclosure as:
• The documents raise issues relating to public safety and health;
• The issue of standardised packing is an issue of broad continuing importance to the international community;
• The evidence, or material similar to it, is still being advanced by the tobacco industry in the UK and in other jurisdictions, according to ASH;
• Conclusions arrived at in the Judgment about this evidence are better understood with the actual evidence itself being available in the public domain;
• Wider transparency might thereby assist other interested persons, countries and courts to form their own views about the merits or otherwise of the competing arguments;
• There were no grounds cited at the time of the litigation to justify preserving the secrecy of the documents in issue and none arise now;
• It is not relevant that the litigation is at an end
Commenting on the judgment, ASH Chief Executive Deborah Arnott said: “This important judgment represents a further defeat for the tobacco industry and will make it much harder for them to peddle their wholly discredited arguments against the plain packaging of cigarettes in other parts of the world.”
Source: Leigh Day, 21 December 2018
See also: Lord Justice Green’s Judgement
PHE set to relaunch smokefree health harms campaign
Public Health England will launch the Smokefree Health Harms campaign on 28 December 2018.
Now in its seventh year, the campaign encourages smokers to stop smoking in the New Year, by highlighting the immediate, irrefutable, personal harm from every cigarette.The campaign will run throughout January 2019.
PHE has developed printed and digital resources available to download and order free of charge on its Campaign Resource Centre.
Source: Pharmacy Business, 20 December 2018
See also: PHE – Campaign Resource Centre
South East: Home visit scheme to help pregnant mothers stop smoking shows positive results
A ‘home visits’ scheme in Thanet and the coastal areas of Dover, Folkestone and Deal in Kent, where specialist advisers visit pregnant women who smoke in the home, test their carbon monoxide levels and deliver smoking cessation advice, has proved to be very effective.
The scheme has been running for 1 year. In this time, quit rates have reportedly improved from 5% to 55%. The scheme is now to be rolled out across the whole of Kent as a result of its success.
Source: ITV News, 20 December 2018
Marlboro-maker Altria takes $12.8bn stake in Juul
Marlboro cigarette maker Altria is buying 35% of San Francisco-based Juul Labs, a $12.8bn (£10bn) minority stake. The move comes following developments earlier in the month, including Altria’s $1.8bn investment in a Canadian cannabis producer Cronos and an announcement that Altria would discontinue some of its own e-cigarette brands. Altria said in a statement the Juul stake was preparation “for a future where adult smokers overwhelmingly choose non-combustible products over cigarettes”.
Juul is the US market leader in e-cigarettes, and the Altria deal is expected to give it more prominent distribution in convenience stores and other traditional retail channels. Juul will also get access to Altria’s marketing and distribution, including prized shelf space in convenience stores, and Altria’s lobbying power and regulatory influence.
In return, Altria will get one-third of the seats on Juul’s board, upon antitrust clearance. Altria will not, however, get a controlling stake, leaving Juul operationally independent. Altria will also be subject to a so-called standstill agreement under which it may not increase its stake beyond 35%. The cigarette maker also agreed not to sell the shares for six years. Altria executives said the deal has provisions that would prevent competitors from buying a large stake, but that nothing bars Juul from partnering with other companies internationally.
Source: The New York Times, 20 December 2018
Bloomberg – Altria Invests $12.8 Billion in E-Cigarette Maker Juul
BBC News – Marlboro-maker Altria takes stake in Juul e-cigarette firm
Study: Bidi smoking costs India an annual £9bn in ill health and early death
Bidi smoking cost India 805.5 billion rupees (approximately £9bn) in ill health and early deaths in 2017 alone, finds research published in the journal Tobacco Control.
Bidi (small, inexpensive cigarettes made from unprocessed tobacco wrapped in leaves) is very popular in India, accounting for most (81%) of the tobacco smoked with 72 million regular users over the age of 15. Despite its impact on the nation’s health, it has been taxed at a rate that is a fraction of that applied to cigarettes, says the researcher.
Nearly one in five households in India faces “catastrophic expenditures” due to healthcare costs, with more than 15 million people pushed into poverty because of spending on tobacco and associated health costs. Dr. Rijo M John, the study’s author said “Despite overwhelming evidence on the effectiveness of taxing tobacco products, taxation as a tool to regulate bidi smoking has been highly underutilised in India… Allowing bidi consumption to continue unhindered would make income distribution even more regressive, as the poor will continue to bear a disproportionately large share of economic costs from bidi smoking due to their higher bidi smoking prevalence,”.
Source: Medical Xpress, 20 December 2018
Link of the week
Royal College of Psychiatrists position statement: The prescribing of varenicline and vaping (electronic cigarettes) to patients with severe mental illness
The Royal College of Psychiatrists published its position statement on the prescribing of varenicline and e-cigarettes to patients with severe mental illness earlier this week.
Key points from the statement include the fact that smoking rates amongst people with severe mental illness are substantially higher compared with the general population, and that “psychiatrists are well placed to help them stop smoking”. The statement adds that “psychiatrists should give more consideration to prescribing varenicline” and that “psychiatrists should advise their patients that ECs [e-cigarettes] are an effective option for some people to give up smoking and are substantially safer than continued tobacco use. All mental health providers should have policies in place that facilitate the safe and effective use of ECs.”