ASH Daily News for 4 July 2019



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UK

  • Why is Boris Johnson’s campaign manager’s firm bragging about links to British politicians?
  • Wales: Lack of progress on teenage smoking rate ‘shocking’

International

  • Netflix pledges to cut back smoking depictions in original productions
  • India: Punjab planning to raise minimum legal age to buy tobacco products to 21

 

UK

Why is Boris Johnson’s campaign manager’s firm bragging about links to British politicians?

With Boris Johnson announcing plans to review so called “sin taxes”, Adam Ramsay and Tamasin Cave’s article in OpenDemocracy provides insightful context, exploring the links between Boris Johnson, Lynton Crosby, British American Tobacco (BAT) and others:

“Lynton Crosby has developed a surprisingly close relationship with Boris Johnson. The infamous Australian spin doctor is purportedly running Johnson’s campaign for prime minister…Crosby’s lobbying firm CTF Partners has donated over £20,000 to Johnson’s leadership bid. But why does Crosby appear to be financially backing his client, rather than taking money from him?

“…But CTF, named for Crosby and his business partners Mark Textor and Mark Fullbrook, is a registered lobbyist for British American Tobacco on “issues impacting domestic tobacco industry”, and has run a “covert campaign” globally for the coal industry, and against renewable energy.

“…Crosby has a history of lobbying for tobacco in the UK, including against the introduction of plain packaging for cigarettes just days before it was announced he was to become an adviser to prime minister David Cameron. At the time, he denied using his position inappropriately.”

Source: OpenDemocracy, 21 June 2019

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Wales: Lack of progress on teenage smoking rate ‘shocking’

A recent survey of thousands of Year 11 pupils suggested the percentage who smoke regularly in Wales – about 9% – has not fallen since 2013-14, with the rate among poorer teenagers rising.

Among children from the least affluent areas the proportion of those smoking regularly rose in the past four years (from 4% to 6%), while those from the most affluent communities stayed the same (3%). The highest rates of weekly smoking were reported by adolescents from white Gypsy/traveller, Pakistani and Arab backgrounds.

Suzanne Cass, chief executive of ASH Wales, said: “We need more resources, we need more evidence-based action, we need to make sure that actually we are targeting and we are measuring the progress in these poor communities on a more regular basis so that we know that the action we are taking is having an effect.”

Source: BBC, 3 July 2019

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International

Netflix pledges to cut back smoking depictions in original productions

Depictions of tobacco in the most popular TV shows among young people surged nearly fourfold in the past year – and Netflix’s “Stranger Things” season 2 was the worst offender, according to a new report from American tobacco control organisation Truth Initiative.

In response, Netflix has announced that going forward, all new shows it commissions with ratings of TV-14 or below (and all films rated PG-13 or below) will exclude smoking and e-cigarette use, except for “reasons of historical or factual accuracy.” The streamer also said new projects with higher ratings will not depict smoking or e-cigarette use “unless it’s essential to the creative vision of the artist or because it’s character-defining (historically or culturally important).”

“Netflix strongly supports artistic expression,” a company spokesman said in a statement to Variety. “We also recognize that smoking is harmful and when portrayed positively on screen can adversely influence young people.” In addition, Netflix said, starting later this year, smoking information will be included as part of its ratings on the service.

Netflix isn’t alone, 12 of the 13 television shows most popular with the 15-24 demographic show smoking prominently, according to Truth Initiative. The organisation cited data from the US Office of the Surgeon General finding young people who have the most exposure to movies that depict smoking are about twice as likely to begin smoking as those who get the least exposure.

Source: Daily Mail, 3 July 2019

See also: Variety – Netflix pledges to cut back smoking depictions in original productions after group blasts ‘Stranger Things’

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India: Punjab planning to raise minimum legal age to buy tobacco products to 21

The North Western state of Punjab in India is looking to raise the minimum legal age for purchasing tobacco products to 21, a move not yet seen in the country.

Following a state consultation on the measure, a proposal to increase the minimum legal age of sale is rumoured to be placed before the State Cabinet shortly, Rakesh Gupta, Punjab’s Deputy Director, Health, and Director, Chemical Examiner Lab, told BusinessLine. The move reportedly has the support of the State Health Minister “in principle”.

Gupta pointed out that the legal age for purchasing alcohol is 25 in Punjab. “We could look beyond 21 to set a similar limit for tobacco and its products as well,” he said. He added that the legal age for purchasing tobacco in Singapore is 19 years and will be increased to 21 from 2021 and in the US, 29 States have state-wide or local policies setting the legal age at 21. “Delaying the age when young people experiment with tobacco or begin to use it could reduce the risk of them becoming regular users,” he said, adding that tobacco products kill over 1,300,000 people in India every year.

Source: The Hindu Business Line, 3 July 2019

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