ASH Daily News for 8 January 2019



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UK

  • Wales: 150,000 illegal tobacco products seized since 2013
  • North Tees and Hartlepool NHS Foundation Trust to be smokefree by end of March
  • Tobacco investments by Lincolnshire County Council pension fund
  • Call for participants for Sheffield Hallam University e-cigarette study

International

  • Study: Variation in smoking rates greater within cities than between them in the US

Parliamentary Activity

  • MPs debate delegated legislation:Tobacco Products and Nicotine Inhaling Products (Amendment etc.) (EU Exit) Regulations 2018

 

UK

Wales: 150,000 illegal tobacco products seized since 2013

Organised criminals selling illicit cigarettes target Wales due to a lack of investment in enforcement, senior investigator from Powys Council Trading Standards Clive Jones said. Mr. Jones said tobacco control strategies will be undermined unless central enforcement is introduced. New figures show some 150,000 illegal products were seized in Wales since 2013.

Up to 15% of all tobacco sold in Wales – equating to about a million cigarettes a day – is illegal, according to a survey of 2,500 people carried out by ASH Wales in 2014.

Suzanne Cass, Chief Executive of ASH Wales, said the Welsh Government should back the charity’s plan to tackle illicit trade via a central communication and enforcement programme. “We know that illegal tobacco is a real problem here in Wales…We know that children are accessing cheap cigarettes through the illicit market. We also know that people are continuing to smoke because the illegal tobacco is available and ready for them to buy.” she said.

Source: BBC, 8 January 2019

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North Tees and Hartlepool NHS Foundation Trust to be smokefree by end of March

The North Tees and Hartlepool NHS Foundation Trust is planning to be smokefree by the end of March 2019. The move will see the University Hospital of Hartlepool and the University Hospital of North Tees in Stockton implement entirely smokefree sites.

Medical Director, Deepak Dwarakanath said: “We need smokers to be aware that it isn’t acceptable to have a cigarette on our grounds. We are a place where patients come to get better – allowing people to smoke here completely goes against the care we give to our patients…We are spreading the message to these people that we are here to support them. We have a very experienced community stop smoking team who is here to help any smoker wanting to quit…We can also offer other help, such as access to nicotine replacement therapy which is very effective in helping people quit.”

Staff are also being encouraged to help by “asking all of their patients if they smoke and offering smokers help and advice,” said Mr Dwarakanath.

Source: Hartlepool Mail, 8 January 2019

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Tobacco investments by Lincolnshire County Council pension fund

Tobacco companies have received more than £45 million investment from Lincolnshire County Council’s pension fund. Figures published for Lincolnshire County Council’s pension committee reveal that British American Tobaccoo (BAT) is the fifth highest investment for its pension fund. The current investment for BAT sits at £24.1 million – 1% of the total fund.

The council has also made investments of more than £21 million in tobacco companies Phillip Morris, Imperial Brands, Altria Group and Japan Tobacco.

The council says it has “a legal duty to achieve the best rate of return for the 75,000 pension fund members and ensure its long-term future”. Jo Ray, the authority’s Pension Fund Manager, said: “For this reason, it maintains a wide and varied portfolio, all of which is managed externally.

Source: Sleaford Standard, 8 January 2019

See also: ASH – Briefing on local authority pension funds and investments in the tobacco industry

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Call for participants for Sheffield Hallam University e-cigarette study

Markos Klonizakis, Reader in Clinical Physiology at Sheffield Hallam University, writes in The Conversation about a study being conducted by the University into the health effects of e-cigarettes. Preliminary findings show that people who are randomly allocated to the e-cigarette groups are most likely not to take up smoking again and complete their stop smoking attempt within the study course.

Researchers are looking for further study participants over a 6 month period. The research is investigating the effects of e-cigarette use, with a particular focus on cardiovascular health. If you are interested in participating in the study, please see the link below.

Source: The Conversation, 3 January 2019

See also: The Independent – Smokers who switch to vaping could be less likely to use cigarettes again, says study

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International

Study: Variation in smoking rates greater within cities than between them in the US

Variation in smoking rates across American cities can be partially explained by the higher density of tobacco retailers in poor, nonwhite neighborhoods, a study of the 500 largest U.S. cities suggests. Researchers examined data on socioeconomic factors as well as survey data on current smoking rates and smoking-related diseases for census tracts, an area that typically spans several city blocks and can encompass entire communities, across U.S. cities in 2014. They also used a private business database to assess the number of tobacco retailers in each census tract. Most of the inequity in smoking rates – 56% of the total variation – occurred between different census tracts within cities, and just 44% occurred between different cities, the analysis found.

“There are likely several explanations for the greater within city variation, but one that these data bear out is the presence of income and race segregation,” said lead study author Eric Leas of the University of California, San Diego. Within individual cities, census tracts with higher smoking rates had more tobacco retailers, lower typical household income, and a smaller percentage of white residents than census tracts with lower smoking rates.

Stephanie Mayne, a researcher at the Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia and the University of Pennsylvania, said “Tobacco retailers often concentrate in lower income neighborhoods with higher proportions of non-white residents, and these neighborhoods have higher smoking rates…This matters because, even as smoking rates go down over all, inequalities in exposure to the harms associated with smoking may continue to rise.”

Source: Reuters, 8 January 2019

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Parliamentary Activity

MPs debate delegated legislation:Tobacco Products and Nicotine Inhaling Products (Amendment etc.) (EU Exit) Regulations 2018

Yesterday MPs debated and agreed a statutory instrument ensuring that UK domestic legislation implements two pieces of EU tobacco legislation—the tobacco products directive and the tobacco advertising directive—so that they would continue to function effectively in the event of a no deal Brexit.

The instrument introduces three main changes:
• First, in the event of no deal, the UK will need to develop its own domestic notification systems for companies that wish to sell tobacco products and e-cigarettes on the UK market.
• Secondly, in the event of no deal, the UK will not hold copyright to the EU library of picture warnings for tobacco products. Instead, an agreement has been made with the Australian Government to obtain their picture warnings free of cost.
• Thirdly, the instrument proposes a transfer of powers. Currently, the EU Commission holds a range of powers under the tobacco products directive that enable it to respond to emerging threats, changing safety and quality standards, and technological advances. The instrument transfers these powers from the Commission to the Secretary of State. All powers in this category relate to technical, scientific and administrative adjustments that may be necessary to respond to changing circumstances in this space.

Source: Hansard, HC Deb, 7 January 2019

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