ASH Daily News for 26 February 2019



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UK

  • Serial illicit offenders to lose ability to buy tobacco
  • Study: New clues about why non-smokers, as well as smokers, develop chronic lung disease
  • South west: Salisbury’s Bourne Hill to go smokefree
  • Investment trust considers banning investments in tobacco stocks

International

  • Opinion: How big tobacco keeps cancer rates high in countries like mine

UK

Serial illicit offenders to lose ability to buy tobacco

Retailers caught repeatedly selling illicit tobacco will be stripped of their legal ability to buy tobacco for all of their stores, according to Track and Trace regulations recently published for consultation.

From 20 May retailers will need two unique codes in order to purchase tobacco legally, an ‘economic operator identifier code’ for their business and a ‘facility identifier code’ for each of their stores.

Forming part of the EU Tobacco Products Directive, the Track and Trace regulations are designed to curb the illicit trade by introducing a new method of tracking the sale of legitimate tobacco products through the supply chain. The regulations also require all unit packs of cigarettes and hand rolling tobacco manufactured in, or imported into the UK to carry at least five security features which include overt, semi-covert and covert elements.

The consultation closes on 11 March. Read it here.

Convenience Store, 11 February 2019

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Study: New clues about why non-smokers, as well as smokers, develop chronic lung disease

A new study, published in Nature Genetics, shows that genetic differences help explain why some people who have never smoked develop chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD), and why some smokers are at higher risk of getting the disease than other smokers.

During the two-year study, researchers measured 20 million differences in the DNA in each of the 400,000 people who took part and compared them to measurements of lung function taken from breath tests. The results found 139 new genetic differences that influence lung health and COPD. These differences increase someone’s risk of developing COPD, in addition to smoking.

Professor Ian Hall, Director of the Nottingham Biomedical Research Centre and one of the authors of the study, said: “The most important measure to prevent COPD in the UK is to avoid smoking. All smokers can reduce their risk of developing COPD by quitting smoking.”

Source: Medical Xpress, 25 February 2019

Nature Genetics: New genetic signals for lung function highlight pathways and chronic obstructive pulmonary disease associations across multiple ancestries

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South west: Salisbury’s Bourne Hill to go smokefree

Bourne Hill, the site which houses Wiltshire Council and Salisbury Police will go smokefree on 13th March to coincide with National No Smoking Day 2019.

Over the next two weeks, the authority will be putting up signs around the building to tell the public about their changes, as part of a drive to reduce smoking in any Wiltshire Council building across the county, with plans to make them all smoke free by 2020. Vaping will be permitted at the site but away from main entrances, with staff having a designated area for it.

A Wiltshire Council spokesperson said: “Smoking remains the primary cause of preventable illness and premature deaths in the UK and is significantly associated with diseases such as chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD), various forms of cancer, coronary heart disease and stroke.

Smoking is the biggest single cause of inequalities in death rates between the rich and poor and it contributes to more 600 premature deaths in Wiltshire per year.”

Spire FM, 25 February 2019

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Investment trust considers banning investments in tobacco stocks

Temple Bar, an £850 million UK equity income trust, is considering a ban on “inherently unethical” investments such as tobacco stocks.

The trust’s new chairman Arthur Copple said the board was looking at whether some businesses were inherently unethical, even if they were legal, and whether the trust should seek to profit from opportunities offered in such areas. Copple defined the stocks as those whose product “is both harmful to humans and addictive in nature, undermining the autonomous choice of the consumer to decide if he/she wishes to harm him/herself in this manner, and the product offers no significant benefit to consumer welfare to justify the harm”. This would include tobacco stocks.

The 93-year-old investment trust will ask shareholders to vote on whether it should exclude such stocks.

CityWire, 26 February 2019

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International

Opinion: How big tobacco keeps cancer rates high in countries like mine

In an opinion piece in the Guardian, Golam Mohiuddin Faruque, oncologist and joint secretary of the Bangladesh Cancer Society, discusses the role of the tobacco industry in lobbying against tobacco taxation in Bangladesh.

“Having lost the battle against tobacco regulation in the west, this nefarious industry [the tobacco industry] is desperate to stop poorer countries from following suit, doing everything it can to block an honest conversation about tobacco taxes. Instead it overstates its own contribution to the economy, and promotes unsubstantiated arguments that high tobacco taxes encourage smuggling. The industry lobbies against change, while our labyrinthine tobacco tax structure makes administration difficult and evasion very easy, resulting in the loss of revenue vital for our continued national development.

The scale of our tobacco problem is daunting: nearly a quarter of our men, women, and young people use some form of tobacco, and three of Bangladesh’s five most common cancers – lung, mouth and oesophagus – are strongly linked to this habit…

As countries like the UK have clearly shown, regulation and taxation of tobacco products can bring smoking rates down, encourage smokers to smoke less, and discourage young people from taking it up. And yet tobacco in Bangladesh has become more affordable over time. Even though the government has brought in some tax increases, these have not kept pace with income growth at the household level.

As Cancer Research UK has noted, the UK’s smoking rates have been declining since the 1960s and lung cancer rates are following suit. This is not luck or coincidence. It’s the result of regulatory changes – smoke-free public spaces, standardised packs, health warnings and tax increases. The Bangladeshi prime minister has said she wants a tobacco-free Bangladesh by 2040, but to achieve this she needs to act urgently. The health and wealth gains for Bangladeshis would be enormous.”

The Guardian, 25 February 2019

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