ASH Daily News for 09 March 2017



  • Budget: Cigarette tax targets brands popular with young smokers
  • Ban on 10 packs to start in May as menthol phase out begins
  • Smokers are up to four times more likely to develop AMD than non-smokers
  • South East: Hospital sites urged to go tobacco free
  • Parliamentary Question

Budget: Cigarette tax targets brands popular with young smokers

The UK Government is to impose a tax floor on packets of cigarettes in an attempt to curb the number of cheap tobacco brands popular with younger smokers.

The Chancellor announced in Wednesday’s budget that from May tobacco excise duty on a pack of 20 cigarettes will be at least £5.37.

The new tax floor will come into effect on 20th May, the same day that cigarettes will have to be sold in new standardised packs, and only in packs of 20. The Government says that the extra revenue raised from the new minimum excise duty will be negligible but is designed to deter smokers from switching to cheaper brands, and reduce smoking uptake among young people.

ASH said the difference between retail prices of the most expensive and cheapest cigarettes in the UK had widened by more than two-thirds over the past decade, because tobacco companies had absorbed tax increases on the cheapest brands instead of passing them on to consumers, while increasing prices on premium brands.

“Setting a minimum floor for prices makes it much harder for them to do that,” said Ian Willmore, a policy adviser for ASH. But he added that because hand-rolled tobacco would be excluded from the tax floor, there was a strong risk that low-income smokers would stop buying cigarettes and instead buy hand-rolled tobacco.

Source: The Financial Times – 09 March 2017
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Ban on 10 packs to start in May as menthol phase out begins

From 20th May 2017 10 packs of cigarettes will be banned while menthol cigarettes are being phased out with a complete ban introduced from 2020.

The Chancellor announced in yesterday’s Spring Budget that the price of an average pack of 20 cigarettes will rise by approximately 35 pence. Combined with the ban on 10 packs this will make smoking notably more expensive for some people, with the aim of motivating them to quit and deterring young people from starting to smoke.

Source: The Liverpool Echo, 9th March 2017
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Smokers are up to four times more likely to develop AMD than non-smokers

The College of Optometrists has used No Smoking Day to highlight the link between smoking and a range of eye health problems including AMD (age-related macular degeneration).

Research has shown that smokers are up to four times more likely than non-smokers to develop AMD, the leading cause of blindness in the western world and also tend to develop it earlier than non-smokers. Smoking can also impede the protective effects of antioxidants on the eyes and reduce macular pigment density which is vital for good sight. Smokers are also at greater risk of developing cataracts.

However, studies of people who have quit smoking show that among those who have quit for 20 years the risk of developing AMD is similar to that of a never smoker.

Source: RNIB – 08 March 2017
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South East: Hospital sites urged to go tobacco free

To mark No Smoking Day hospital trusts in the South East are being urged to go tobacco-free.

Following a letter from its Chief Executive to all hospital trusts, Public Health England is using No Smoking Day to urge hospitals to help their patients make healthier choices by making their sites tobacco free. Trusts have been urged to sign up to the NHS Statement of Support for Tobacco Control, which involves making a public commitment to work towards further reducing the harm caused by tobacco.

Angela Baker, deputy director for health and wellbeing at Public Health England south east, said: ‘Reducing smoking rates is a vital element of our vision for a healthier society. By working closely with trusts and supporting them in their commitment to ban use of tobacco, we will be better able to prevent the rise of smoking related diseases. Signing the declaration is only the start of the journey. Staff, patients and visitors who smoke will need to be given the tools and support they need to stop.’

Source: Portsmouth News – 09 March 2017
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Parliamentary Question

PQ1&2: Oral Tobacco

Viscount Ridley Conservative
To ask Her Majesty’s Government what progress has been made towards introducing a standard for chewed tobacco products used by the UK South Asian community since being proposed in the 2006 study cited in the publication Tobacco Control, Levels of toxins in oral tobacco products in the UK.

Lord O’Shaughnessy The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Health
The Government has not yet developed standards for these tobacco products, however, even with reduced levels of toxins they would not be completely safe. The focus of the Government’s tobacco control efforts has therefore been on preventing initiation of tobacco use and supporting existing users of tobacco products to quit.

Source: Hansard – 07 March 2017
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Viscount Ridley Conservative
To ask Her Majesty’s Government what scientific research forms the basis of the ban on snus as a smoking substitute?

Viscount Ridley Conservative
To ask Her Majesty’s Government what scientific research forms the basis of the legality of the chewed oral tobacco products which are predominantly used by the British South Asian community.

Lord O’Shaughnessy The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Health
A range of evidence has been considered showing that there is no safe way to consume tobacco.
The ban on snus was introduced by the European Union in 1992 and is currently subject to litigation. As long as the United Kingdom is subject to EU law, current arrangements remain in place. The Government is committed to reviewing the existing legislation by 2020.

Source: Hansard – 06 March 2017
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