ASH Daily News for 25 October 2016



  • ASH attempts to ween independent retailers off a reliance on tobacco
  • Philip Morris: World’s second largest tobacco company tells people to quit smoking
  • Anti-smoking experts to sue The Times for claims of tobacco payouts
  • Tobacco smuggler has land seized to help meet £4m public debt
  • USA: New study shows burden of cancer deaths from smoking
  • Burma: Tobacco companies get extra time to put graphic health warnings on their products
  • Parliamentary Questions

ASH attempts to ween independent retailers off a reliance on tobacco

Action on Smoking and Health (ASH) has launched a new report suggesting small, independent retailers need to reconsider their reliance on tobacco products.

‘Counter Arguments: How important is tobacco to small retailers?’ highlights the comparatively small profit margin that small retailers get from tobacco products, and illustrates that tobacco is perhaps not a significant driver of footfall with survey results showing that only 8% of transactions involve only tobacco compared to the 79% that include no tobacco products.

“Nearly half (45%) of smokers buy tobacco from corner shops, so for the tobacco industry it is essential that it puts a lot of effort into persuading retailers to maintain the profile of tobacco products,” says ASH’s Chief Executive Deborah Arnott. “Tobacco is a high-cost, low profit product and money spent on tobacco is money not available for other more profitable purchases. Our report invites retailers to see the long-term decline in smoking as an opportunity, not a threat.”

While the report has been criticised by the industry funded Tobacco Retailer Alliance, other organisations including the National Federation of Retail Newsagents (NFRN) have supported elements of the report. The NFRN have been urging retailers to move their cigarette gantries (which now have to be closed and cannot act as advertising) from pride of place behind the counter, a move ASH would support.

Source: The Grocer, 24th October 2016
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Philip Morris: World’s second largest tobacco company tells people to quit smoking

With smoking on the decline around the world, tobacco companies are racing to find new, alternative products which will feed nicotine addictions but without the deadly chemicals found in conventional cigarettes.

Researchers for Philip Morris are now working on a new range of ‘heat not burn’ products, including iQOS. Inside the mobile phone like case there is a heater, into one end of which you place miniature cigarettes called HEETS. The iQOS gently heats the tobacco without burning it, producing a warm, nicotine-laced aerosol.

Other products in the pipeline include TEEPS, used by igniting a carbon tip to heat tobacco, or STEEM a twist on the medical nicotine inhaler which produces nicotine salt without vapour.

According to Philip Morris the taste and nicotine content of these new products is more similar to that of conventional cigarettes, solving one of the complaints about early electronic cigarettes.

Source: The Independent, 24th October 2016
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Anti-smoking experts to sue The Times for claims of tobacco payouts

A group of scientists and public health experts are to take legal action against the Times newspaper for defamation after it reported claims that they were in the pay of the tobacco industry.

The Times has published an apology to one person cited, Clive Bates, the former head of Action on Smoking and Health. However, other scientists say that the same apology was not extended to them and they claim they have been falsely accused of accepting “tens of thousands of pounds from tobacco companies to carry out research into e-cigarettes”.

Source: The Guardian, 23rd October 2016
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Tobacco smuggler has land seized to help meet £4m public debt

A convicted tobacco smuggler has been stripped of prime riverside land in Kent to meet his more than £4 million debt to the public purse.

Robert Doran was jailed for four and a half years in 2012 for bankrolling a large-scale cigarette smuggling operation. He was ordered to pay £1.45m, which he then claimed was “disproportionate” and breached the European convention on human rights.

Last year the Court of Appeal rejected his case against the Crown Prosecution Service, and increased the penalty with the judge imposing a confiscation order of nearly £4.4 million, the total amount he benefited from the criminal enterprise plus interest. The decision was upheld by the Supreme Court.

HMRC, working jointly with the CPS, secured a restraint order to help force Doran to part with the land in Dartford – his main asset in the UK. The holding was sold this month.

Source: The Guardian, 24th October 2016
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USA: New study shows burden of cancer deaths from smoking

A new study published in JAMA Internal Medicine has highlighted that over a quarter of all cancer deaths in the US are related to smoking, and significantly that there is high regional variation.

The study estimates that at least 28.6 % of US cancer deaths in 2014 among people over age 35 were linked to smoking, which translates to 167,133 lives that might have been saved. Further, with up to 40% of cancer deaths attributable to smoking in some areas and just 8% in others, researchers suggest that the disparities may come down largely to how aggressively states pursue tobacco control.

More than half the states in the top-10 for smoking related cancer deaths are located in the South which generally has weaker tobacco control policies, such as lower taxes and less comprehensive smokefree policies.

The full study published in JAMA Internal Medicine can be accessed here.

Source: Reuters 24th October 2016
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Burma: Tobacco companies get extra time to put graphic health warnings on their products

Tobacco companies have been given a six month extension to put graphic images alongside health warnings on packaging after the industry complained that it would be too difficult recall packs without the new warnings in time.

Although the Ministry of Health and Support announced the new warnings and issued a notification in August last year, cigarette companies told the government they needed extra time to comply with the new rules.

The new requirements will still apply to products manufactured after the 1st September 2016, only unsold packs manufactured before that date are subject to the six-month extension.

Source: Mayanmar Business Today, 25th October 2016
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Parliamentary Questions

PQ1: Electronic cigarettes taxation
Grant Shapps Conservative, Welwyn Hatfield : To ask Mr Chancellor of the Exchequer, if he will make an assessment of the potential merits of reducing taxes on e-cigarettes on health grounds.

Jane Ellison The Financial Secretary to the Treasury: E-cigarettes are not liable for excise duty as they do not include tobacco. However, they are still liable for VAT.

Source: Hansard – 24 October 2016
Link: http://bit.ly/2dFev79

PQ2: Impact of electronic cigarettes
Adam Afriyie Conservative, Windsor: To ask the Secretary of State for Health, whether his Department has made an estimate of the effect on smoker mortality levels as a result of people giving up smoking by using electronic vaping devices in each of the last three years.

Nicola Blackwood The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Health: No such estimate has been made. The Government recognises that e-cigarettes can help some smokers quit and the evidence indicates that they are considerably less harmful to health than cigarettes. Data on the long term harms of these products is not available and it is not clear how many users will go on to give up vaping as well. Smokers who continue to use tobacco alongside vaping will not benefit from the harm reduction offered by sole use of e-cigarettes.

Data from Action on Smoking and Health indicates that around 2.8 million adults in Great Britain currently use electronic cigarettes (e-cigarettes). Of these e-cigarette users, approximately 1.3 million are ex-smokers while 1.4 million continue to use tobacco alongside their e-cigarette use. In 2014, two thirds of e-cigarette users continued to use tobacco and one third were ex-smokers. This indicates that, of those using e-cigarettes, an increasing proportion no longer use tobacco and are only vaping.

Source: Hansard – 19 October 2016
Link: http://bit.ly/2eAs3pa

PQ3: WHO Framework Convention on Tobacco Control
Christopher Chope Conservative, Christchurch : To ask the Secretary of State for Health, what steps his Department is taking to ensure that the opinions of e-cigarette users and people who use other reduced risk products are represented at the WHO conference on the Framework Convention on Tobacco Control in November 2016.

To ask the Secretary of State for Health, whether the Government’s Tobacco Control Plan will be subject to change in response to the outcomes of the WHO conference on the Framework Convention on Tobacco Control in November 2016.

Nicola Blackwood The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Health: The Government has engaged with a wide range of stakeholders to inform its negotiating position with other Parties attending the Conference of the Parties for the Framework on Convention on Tobacco Control (FCTC), including users of e-cigarette and other novel products. The Government recognises that e-cigarettes can help some smokers quit and the evidence indicates that they are considerably less harmful to health than cigarettes. However, they are not risk free and it is essential that we do not encourage smoking and continue to protect children from the dangers of nicotine. This is a position firmly grounded on the evidence base.

The United Kingdom is a world leader in tobacco control and as such has already implemented the majority of the FCTC’s provisions and taken further action in line with its non-binding guidelines, for example introducing Standardised Packaging. … We therefore do not expect the outcomes of the forthcoming Conference of the Parties to significantly alter our tobacco strategy, but will continue to offer our support and experience to help other countries fully implement the provisions of the Treaty, especially low and middle income countries.

Source: Hansard – 24 October 2016
Link: http://bit.ly/2eMON1J