Action on Smoking and Health

Tag Archives: big tobacco


ASH Daily News for 15 October 2018

UK

  • Tobacco sales reps using ‘illegal’ tactics to sell their products in pubs
  • SNP in row over conference fees from tobacco giants
  • Claims e-cigarette packaging ‘targets children’

International

  • Tobacco groups drag on the FTSE
  • Study: E-cigarette flavours could increase lung inflammation in mice
  • Study: Tobacco heating products and e-cigarettes cause less staining to teeth than conventional cigarettes

UK

Tobacco sales reps using ‘illegal’ tactics to sell their products in pubs

Salesmen for Philip Morris, one of the world’s biggest tobacco firms, have been caught offering potentially illegal incentives to smokers in bars to get them hooked on new “heat-not-burn” tobacco products.

Undercover reporters were approached in a bar at London’s Canary Wharf and offered free tobacco to try on the spot, free alcoholic cocktails and free tobacco accessories, all of which Trading Standards say could be in breach of the Tobacco Advertising and Sales Act 2002. Documents seen by the Telegraph show that sales of IQOS devices have been remunerated through a pyramid-style structure, achieving top commissions when customers “activate” their membership and sign their friends up. If those customers do sign up successfully, they receive a £20 Amazon voucher as a reward.

Commenting on the findings, Deborah Arnott, chief executive of ASH, urged the government to take action saying: “After the Telegraph’s previous article exposing illegal advertising of IQOS by Philip Morris, the company promised the Government this would stop. Yet over a month later IQOS ads are still all plastered all over vape shops and tobacconists. Not only that, but now we find out Philip Morris is also plying smokers with free drinks in a desperate attempt to promote IQOS and sign up new customers.”

Source: The Telegraph, 15 October 2018

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SNP in row over conference fees from tobacco giants

The Scottish National Party (SNP) has been criticised after it emerged that tobacco companies had paid thousands of pounds to attend their party conference.

Despite the Scottish Government’s tough stance on smoking, cigarette makers Japan Tobacco International (JTI) and Imperial were present after buying “business day” passes. According to the event’s commercial brochure, organisations could attend one of the days by purchasing a pass for which had a £1,750 price tag. The blurb stated: “The day starts with a business breakfast and includes panel discussions and Q&A, lunch with a high-profile guest, and culminating with networking at a drinks reception…Business Day offers the opportunity to meet SNP policy-makers in a friendly, relaxed atmosphere.”

Source: The Herald, 14 October 2018

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Claims e-cigarette packaging ‘targets children’

A Sunday Times investigation reveals that vaping manufacturers describe e-liquids as “sweet treats”, using cartoon characters and images of sweets, popcorn and ice cream as part of their packaging.

The e-liquid products were sold on www.vipelectroniccigarette.co.uk which is owned by British American Tobacco (BAT). BAT said yesterday evening they have now removed e-liquids manufactured by third parties from the website pending a review.

The Department of Health and Social Care said: “We are committed to protecting young people from the harmful effects of tobacco products . . . we have laws in place preventing the sale of e-cigarettes to under-18s.”

Source: The Sunday Times, 14 October 2018

See also: Britain’s £1bn vaping industry ‘is targeting children’ with cartoon character packaging and flavours that resemble fizzy drinks and sweets

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International

Tobacco groups drag on the FTSE

Imperial Brands and British American Tobacco were the FTSE 100’s sharpest fallers on renewed concerns about a US regulatory crackdown.

The Food and Drug Administration said yesterday it had sent letters to companies — including BAT — that threatened to pull e-cigarettes from the market as they may have violated a legal exemption for the products by introducing new flavours.

News of the warnings followed an FDA presentation on Thursday where its tobacco committee head put forward studies in support of cutting the nicotine levels of cigarettes.

See also: FDA threatens to pull new products from nearly two dozen e-cigarette companies

Source: The Financial Times, 12 October 2018

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Study: E-cigarette flavours could increase lung inflammation in mice

Flavouring and additive ingredients used in e-cigarettes could increase inflammation and impair lung function compared to non-flavour e-liquids, according to new research. Researchers from the University of Athens found that short-term exposure to e-cigarettes was enough to cause lung inflammation. However, lung injury was observed only amongst mice exposed to cigarette smoke.

The study’s authors also noted that their data is “aligned with the evidence of the less toxic effect of e-cigarette vapour compared to tobacco smoke, especially regarding the loss of lung integrity in mice.”

See also: Comparison of the effects of e-cigarette vapor with cigarette smoke on lung function and inflammation in mice

Source: Independent Online, 14 October 2018

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Study: Tobacco heating products and e-cigarettes cause less staining to teeth than conventional cigarettes

A study by scientists at British American Tobacco (BAT) found that e-cigarettes and tobacco heating products cause significantly less staining to teeth than conventional cigarettes. Scientists assessed and compared a novel e-cigarette, a tobacco heating product and a conventional cigarette for their impact on teeth enamel staining. The results are published today in the American Journal of Dentistry.

Source: News Medical Life Sciences, 15 October 2018

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ASH Daily News for 15 August 2018

UK

  • Opinion: Funders must be wary of industry alliances

International

  • France: Secondhand smoke puts children at risk of rheumatoid arthritis
  • US: Bloomberg targets big tobacco’s ‘underhanded tactics’

UK

Opinion: Funders must be wary of industry alliances

In this piece, Linda Bauld – Professor of Health Policy and Deputy Director of the UK Centre for Tobacco and Alcohol Studies, tells us why grant making have to do more to stop corporate money from distorting science.

“Do you consider yourself a type A personality — ambitious and impatient? If so, you can thank the tobacco industry for that bit of self-knowledge. For decades, the cigarette companies Philip Morris International and R. J. Reynolds supported and promoted studies linking a driven personality to an increased risk of heart disease. The apparent motivation? To raise questions over smoking as a contributor. Subsequent research by scientists without funding from the tobacco industry did not link type A personalities to higher rates of disease or death.

Copious case studies document how industry influence can muddy research on the health impacts of soda, tobacco, fossil fuels and more, but researchers are largely unaware of this. It is time for research funders to integrate this information and consider vested interests as a force in the complex research system.”

Source: Nature 14 August 2018

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International

France: Secondhand smoke puts children at risk of rheumatoid arthritis

A new study which followed 98,995 French female volunteers from 1990 to the present day has found that children exposed to tobacco smoke are just as likely to develop rheumatoid arthritis as smokers. This 28-year study, by a team of French researchers, adds to the growing list of dangers secondhand poses to children.

Dr Boutron-Ruault, lead author of the study, said “These results also highlight the importance of children – especially those with a family history of this form of arthritis – avoiding secondhand smoke.”

See Also: Marie-Christine Boutron-Ruault’s Research

Source: Mail Online 15 August 2018

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US: Bloomberg targets Big Tobacco’s ‘underhanded tactics’

Michael Bloomberg, billionaire and former New York mayor, has given tobacco control organisations $20 million to assist their campaign against the tobacco industry, which aggressively markets its product worldwide, and especially in developing countries. The recipient organisations (based in France, England and Thailand) jointly secured the three-year grant to shine a light on industry-led sabotage of policies designed to reduce tobacco use.

For example tactics deployed by big tobacco in order to further expand its markets have included suing governments seeking to implement plain packaging for cigarettes, sponsoring cultural events or sports teams, and challenging the legality of smokefree zones.

Source: MedicalXpress 14 August 2018

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ASH Daily News for 8 August 2018

International

  • US: FDA to support development of nicotine replacement therapies
  • US: Tobacco-funded group sues over Montana tax measure
  • US: American Medical Association calls for greater e-cigarette regulation

International

US: FDA to support development of nicotine replacement therapies

The US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has revealed plans to support the development of new nicotine replacement therapies (NRTs) to help eliminate addiction to combustible cigarettes.

The public health agency aims to also create policies that will regulate the use of nicotine and tobacco in the country with a focus on implementing measures to help existing addicted smokers stop using combustible cigarettes. Specifically, the FDA will work towards developing new forms of nicotine delivery that are in line with its public health goals.

FDA commissioner Scott Gottlieb said: “Part of this work requires that we recognise that nicotine, while highly addictive, is delivered through products posing a continuum of risk – with combustible cigarettes at one end, to nicotine replacement therapy (NRT) products at the other. We’re working on multiple fronts to recognise the role that more novel forms of nicotine delivery could play in achieving our public health goals, as part of an appropriately regulated marketplace.”

Source: Pharmaceutical Technology, 7 August 2018

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US: Tobacco-funded group sues over Montana tax measure

An initiative in Montana is seeking to raise the state’s tax on a pack of cigarettes by $2 to $3.70, on snuff to at least $3.70 per 1.2-ounce can and tax e-cigarettes and vaping products for the first time. The new revenue, estimated to reach $74 million a year by 2023, would be used to pay for the state’s share of Medicaid expansion and stop smoking programmes.

Voters will decide whether to introduce the tax in November, but a tobacco industry-funded group wants to change the wording of the citizen’s ballot in an effort to prevent the increase. A lawsuit filed with the Montana Supreme Court Monday by ‘Montanans Against Tax Hikes’ takes issue with specific phrasing contained in the 135-word ballot statement. It claims that the language is incorrect, will cause confusion and prevent voters from casting an informed ballot.

“Big Tobacco will try anything to protect their profits at the expense of Montana’s health,” said Amanda Cahill, a spokeswoman for the pro-initiative group and a campaigner for the American Heart Association. “Pursuing an unnecessary legal challenge while wasting taxpayer dollars appears to be part of Big Tobacco’s playbook nationwide — it’s unfortunate to see it happening Montana.”

Source: Associated Press, 7 August 2018

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US: American Medical Association calls for greater e-cigarette regulation

The American Medical Association (AMA) has adopted several policies to improve the regulation of tobacco products, including e-cigarettes.

The AMA is urging the federal government to move quickly to regulate e-cigarettes and require manufacturers to list the ingredients and nicotine content clearly on product labels, as well as a warning of the addictive quality of nicotine. In addition, the association says that the sale of any e-cigarette cartridge that does not include a complete list of ingredients on its packaging (in the order of prevalence) should be prohibited.

“We are concerned that consumers have an inaccurate reflection of the amount of nicotine and type of substances they’re inhaling when using e-cigarettes,” AMA President Barbara L. McAneny, M.D., said in a statement. “The AMA will continue to advocate for more stringent policies to help keep all harmful tobacco products, including e-cigarettes, out of the hands of our nation’s youth.”

Editorial note: UK regulation already requires e-cigarette packaging to list the nicotine content and ingredients. An expert review of the latest evidence for PHE concludes that e-cigarettes are around 95% safer than smoked tobacco and they can help smokers to quit.

Source: Medical Xpress, 7 August 2018

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ASH Daily News for 18 July 2018

UK

  • Worcestershire: Cuts to stop smoking aids
  • York: MP criticises lack of help for smokers to quit
  • Tower Hamlets: The illegal tobacco roadshow
  • Opinion: Dark money lurks at the heart of our political crisis

International

  • US: Smoking in and near public housing will be banned at the end of July
  • South Africa: Tobacco bill decrees restrictions on smoking in homes
  • West Africa: Research shows increased tax on tobacco products will curb smoking

Parliamentary Activity

  • Parliamentary Question – General debate: The Tobacco Control Plan

UK

Worcestershire: Cuts to stop smoking aids

The British Lung Foundation has found that the local authority in Worcestershire fully decommissioned its stop smoking services in April 2016, and neighbouring Clinical Commissioning Groups (CCGs) then advised that no prescriptions for nicotine patches, gum, lozenges and sprays should be written for new patients.

The findings were part of a wider study by the charity which found a 75% decline in stop smoking aids being prescribed by GPs and pharmacists in England in 2016/17 compared with 2005/6.

Alison Cook, director of policy at the British Lung Foundation, said all smokers should be able to expect their GP to provide access to stop smoking medication and cutting aids would only achieve short-term savings.

Source: The Shuttle, 18 July 2018

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York: MP criticises lack of help for smokers to quit

A report by the British Lung Foundation has found that the Vale of York Clinical Commissioning Group (CCG) no longer directly funds stop smoking prescriptions and that GPs have been asked not to prescribe stop smoking medications due to their cost. As a result, the number of prescriptions for stop smoking medications has fallen by 64% in one year.

Alison Cook, director of policy at the British Lung Foundation said, “Our report shows that for patients in the city of York, services are only open to people in a priority group. This leaves some smokers without any support to stop smoking. The postcode lottery for treatment needs to end, and it must not be forgotten that tobacco dependency is an illness that requires urgent treatment.”

York MP Rachael Maskell has branded the treatment of smokers in York as “incredibly judgemental,” stating, “It’s disgraceful that the CCG will not fund stop smoking services while at the same time denying access to surgery. This has an impact on socially deprived areas because people will not be able to afford these treatments.”

Source: The Press, 18 July 2018

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Tower Hamlets: The illegal tobacco roadshow

Today the illegal tobacco roadshow will be in Chrisp Street Market, Tower Hamlets, to give advice to people wanting to quit smoking and raise awareness about the impact illegal tobacco. This will also be an opportunity for residents to raise any concerns they may have about fake cigarettes and tobacco being sold in their area.

Between 10am and 5pm residents will have the opportunity to meet health support services and the council’s trading standards team (including the dogs responsible for locating illegal tobacco).

John Biggs, Mayor of Tower Hamlets, said: “Tower Hamlets has a zero tolerance approach to illegal tobacco and this is a fantastic opportunity for residents to find out more about the work we do. Illegal tobacco is sold cheaply but has particular health risks, and this is something we need to protect our residents from. It also encourages and often funds other crimes in our community.”

Source: Tower Hamlets, 17 July 2018

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Opinion: Dark money lurks at the heart of our political crisis

In this opinion piece George Monbiot takes a look at organisations such as the Institute of Economic Affairs (IEA) that refuse to reveal who funds them, and the impact this is having on our democracy.

“The problem is exemplified, in my view, by the IEA. In the latest reshuffle, two ministers with close links to the institute, Dominic Raab and Matthew Hancock, have been promoted to the frontbench, responsible for issues that obsess the IEA: Brexit and the NHS.

Hancock, in his former role as cabinet office minister, notoriously ruled that charities receiving public funds should not be allowed to lobby the government. His department credited the IEA with the research that prompted the policy. This rule, in effect, granted a monopoly on lobbying to groups such as the IEA, which receive their money only from private sources. Hancock has received a total of £32,000 in political donations from the IEA’s chairman, Neil Record.

So what is this organisation, and on whose behalf does it speak? If only we knew. The only hard information we have is that, for many years, it has been funded by British American Tobacco (BAT), Japan Tobacco International, Imperial Tobacco and Philip Morris International. When this funding was exposed, the IEA claimed that its campaigns against tobacco regulation were unrelated to the money it had received.”

Source: The Guardian, 18 July 2018

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International

US: Smoking in and near public housing will be banned at the end of July

People won’t be able to smoke in or near public housing starting on the 31st of July. Lit cigarettes, cigars and pipes will have to be kept at least 25 feet away from public buildings, though e-cigarettes will still be permitted.

The policy was announced two years ago by the Department of Housing and Urban Development, but the agency gave the nation’s more than 3,300 local public housing authorities nearly two years to begin enforcement.

The rule will be part of residents’ leases, accompanied with information about how to quit smoking. Though tenants who break this rule could be evicted, HUD has said eviction after just one violation “is not grounds for eviction,” and that smoking on public housing premises is a civil violation, not a crime.

Source: CNN, 13 July 2018

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South Africa: Tobacco bill decrees restrictions on smoking in homes

The latest South African Tobacco Bill has included provisions which protect domestic workers or gardeners from secondhand smoke. People who smoke in the presence of this workforce could now be fined or jailed. The Bill also stipulates that you may not smoke in your home if you use it for teaching, tutoring or commercial childcare.

The Health Department’s Popo Maja said: “The bill seeks to ensure that employees are treated equally, including those working in private spaces. A private space used as a workplace will be regulated like other workplaces.”

Source: IOL, 17 July 2018

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West Africa: Research shows increased tax on tobacco products will curb smoking

This week at a dissemination event in Senegal for the Action Research Project on Tobacco Taxation in West Africa, the Consortium for Economic and Social Research (CRES) called for increased taxation of tobacco products in the West African region to curb smoking.

Abdoulaye Diagne, the Executive Director of CRES said, “Tobacco consumption is only declining significantly and continuously in countries that have adopted a policy of strong and steady increase in the selling price of tobacco products through a significant increase in tax levels.”

Smoking accounts for the death of six million people worldwide annually. However, a WHO forecast said that by 2020 tobacco will kill more than 10 million victims per year and remain the leading cause of death.

Source: Journal du Cameroun, 17 July 2018

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Parliamentary Activity

Parliamentary Question

Question from Jim Shannon, Shadow DUP Spokesperson (Health)
“To ask the Secretary of State for Health and Social Care, what steps he is taking to ensure that people who smoke are aware of the health risks caused by smoking.”

Answer from Steve Brine, Parliamentary Under Secretary for Health and Social Care
“Alerting the public to the serious risks of smoking, and supporting smokers to quit, are priorities for Public Health England (PHE) and are at the centre of the Government’s Tobacco Control Plan for England, published last year.

PHE runs a programme of smoking cessation marketing activity including an annual television and digital advertising campaign focused on tobacco health harms. Information on the harms smoking tobacco causes is available on the Smokefree website and via the Smokefree National Helpline. Further information on PHE’s smoking cessation campaigns, including the harm caused by smoking, is available at the following link: www.nhs.uk/smokefree

PHE provides clinical tools and blogs to support health professionals to advise their patients about the risks of smoking. PHE also supports Health Education England and the National Centre for Smoking Cessation and Training, which provide a range of resources and guidance to help people stop smoking.”

Source: Hansard, 17 July 2018

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General debate: The Tobacco Control Plan

On Thursday the 19th of July there will be a General Debate on the Tobacco Control Plan in the Main Chamber. You will be able to watch the debate online here.

Source: Parliamentary Calendar

See Parliamentary Calendar

ASH Daily News for 22 June 2018

UK

  • Liam Fox caught in fresh “lobbyists as advisers” scandal
  • Warwickshire raids find 15,000 illicit cigarettes

International

  • Ireland: Offer e-cigarettes to help smokers quit, says senator

Parliamentary Activity

  • Parliamentary Questions

Link of the week

  • Scottish Government’s latest Tobacco-Control action plan

UK

Liam Fox caught in fresh “lobbyists as advisers” scandal

Transparency campaigners have accused International Trade Minister Liam Fox of “having trouble again seeing the line between adviser and privately-backed lobbyist” after it emerged that one of Fox’s key advisors has also become an advisor to one of the UK’s biggest corporate lobbying firms. Shanker Singham, who recently joined the Institute of Economic Affairs (IEA), is now a senior adviser to the trade minister.

Singham is a member of Liam Fox’s ‘committee of experts’, a five-person group advising him on trade deals. Singham, a one-time Washington lobbyist, is director of the International Trade and Competition Unit at the IEA.

Hazel Cheeseman, director of policy at the campaign group Action on Smoking and Health (ASH), said: “The Institute for Economic Affairs has long acted as a paid lobbying agency for the tobacco industry. It’s very worrying to see one of their staff playing such a key role in shaping Britain’s trade deals as we leave the EU.”

Source: Open Democracy, 21 June 2018

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Warwickshire raids find 15,000 illicit cigarettes

Almost 15,000 cigarettes and more than 9kg of hand rolling tobacco were seized in raids on shops carried out by Warwickshire County Council’s Trading Standards Service, supported by Warwickshire Police and Border Force.

Tobacco sniffer dogs were used to hunt for counterfeit and non-duty paid cigarettes and tobacco hidden in corner shops, mini supermarkets and parked vehicles. Officers used local intelligence to identify shops where cheap illegal cigarettes were being sold.

Andy Crump, Warwickshire County councillor, said: “The sellers of cheap illegal cigarettes don’t care who they sell to, making it easier for children and young people to obtain cigarettes and get hooked on smoking and making it harder for adults to quit.”

Source: Talking Retail, 21 June 2018

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International

Ireland: Offer e-cigarettes to help smokers quit, says senator

Catherine Noone, a Fine Gael senator has urged the government to develop their policy on e-cigarettes, to reduce the number of smokers in Ireland.

The Department of Health has said it does not have enough evidence to recommend vaping as part of the Tobacco Free Ireland programme. The initiative aims to reduce smoking from the current rate of 22% to under 5% by 2025.

Noone pointed out that England and Scotland have policies that recommend e-cigarettes.
She said: “I’m known for having nanny state policies on alcohol, sugar and things like that, so I’m not in favour of e-cigarettes really. I think they look a bit ridiculous but they help people quit smoking and we need to develop a policy that recognises that. They [government] said there is not enough evidence but neighbouring countries that support their use have the same evidence. If we want people to stop smoking we have to help them any way we can and if e-cigarettes work, we need to offer them.”

Source: The Times, 22 June 2018

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Parliamentary Activity

Parliamentary Questions

PQ1: Tobacco Control Plan

Kevin Barron Chair, Committee on Standards, Chair, Committee on Privileges

To ask the Secretary of State for Health and Social Care, with reference to his Department’s single departmental plan, for what reason the intention to work with Public Health England to deliver the new Tobacco Control Plan under Objective 1.1 was removed in the update of 23 May 2018.

Steve Brine The Parliamentary Under-Secretary for Health and Social Care

The Single Departmental Plan published on 23 May 2018 is a concise summary of the highest level objectives for the financial year 2018-19 rather than a comprehensive account of all the activities the Department is planning to undertake. The fact that a commitment or activity has not been included in the summary does not imply that there is no intention to work on it.

The Government is continuing to reduce harm caused by tobacco. Last year we published a new tobacco control plan to build on that success and on 7 June 2018 we published a delivery plan setting out actions for meeting the aims of the tobacco control plan and how progress will be monitored. A copy of the delivery plan is available at the following link: https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/tobacco-control-plan-delivery-plan-2017-to-2022

Source: Hansard, 21 June 2018

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PQ2: Effect of plain cigarette packaging

Royston Smith Conservative, Southampton, Itchen
To ask the Secretary of State for Health and Social Care, what assessment his Department has made of the effect of the introduction of plain cigarette packaging on smoking.

Steve Brine The Parliamentary Under-Secretary for Health and Social Care
The Standardised Packaging of Tobacco Products Regulations 2015 came into force on 20 May 2016. It is too soon to effectively evaluate the impact of this legislation. However, the Government is committed to completing and publishing a full post-implementation review before 20 May 2021 and to publishing subsequent reports at intervals not exceeding five years.

Source: Hansard, 21 June 2018

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Link of the week

Scottish Government’s latest Tobacco-Control action plan

The Scottish Government recently launched their latest Tobacco-Control plan. It’s an ambitious document where they recommit to their aim of creating a ‘tobacco-free’ generation by 2034.

Source: Scottish Government

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ASH Daily News for 18 May 2018

UK

  • Efforts to cut number of smokers across North East by half are praised in parliament
  • Most women find smokers unattractive – and would rather likely to date an e-cigarette user, survey finds
  • Hull: Smoking puts 10 people in hospital every day

International

  • USA: Vast majority of heavy smokers not screened for lung cancer despite USPSTF recommendations
  • European Commission prioritises tobacco and sacrifices global health in trade negotiations with Latin America
  • USA: Shisha Responsible for over Half of Tobacco Smoke Inhaled by Young Smokers
  • Dutch Insurer NN Group Quits Tobacco Investments
  • Nigeria: Tobacco consumption contributes to 12% of deaths from heart diseases

Link of the week

  • Opinion: Big Tobacco is desperate to prevent ‘plain packaging’ spreading around the world

UK

Efforts to cut number of smokers across North East by half are praised in parliament

Work across the North East to almost half the number of smokers has been recognised in Parliament. Public Health Minister Steve Brine and Shadow Public Health Minister Sharon Hodgson discussed the work of Fresh Smokefree North East during a debate to reflect on 70 years of the NHS.

Smoking has fallen in the North East from 29% in 2005 to 17.2% in 2016, with the region also having the highest quit success rates over the past decade and the largest fall in smoking during pregnancy, from 22.2% in 2009/10 down to 16% in 2016.

Source: Sunderland Echo, 18 May 2018

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Most women find smokers unattractive and are slightly more likely to date an e-cigarette user, survey finds

Women are more likely to find smoking unattractive than men are, a new survey has found. Around 56 percent of women said they would not date someone who smokes with nearly 70 percent saying they find it unattractive. There was a lesser degree of unwillingness to date someone who vapes, often marketed as a less harmful alternative to traditional cigarettes.

Among the participants, 46 percent of women said they would not date a vaper with around 55 percent saying it was unattractive.

The survey, conducted by Inogen, a supplemental oxygen company, looked at 1,006 single people between the ages of 18 and 76.

Source: Mail on Sunday, 17 May 2018

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Hull: Smoking puts 10 people in hospital every day

The latest figures from Public Health England have revealed that in the year 2016 to 2017, there were 3,731 occasions in Hull where people were admitted to hospital for smoking-related diseases. That’s up from 3,650 similar cases seen in the year before, which was the highest number on record.

In total, these cost the NHS nearly £6m to treat people in Hull for these diseases in hospital last year, which works out at £22 for every man, woman and child living here. Across the country, 244,470 people died from smoking between 2014 and 2016-1,681 of those were from Hull.

Hazel Cheeseman, director of policy at Action on Smoking and Health (ASH), said: “These figures demonstrate that the NHS is not doing enough to support smokers to quit. A recent audit found that three out of four hospital patients who smoke are not offered help to stop. If they were, hospitals would not only see fewer smoking related deaths and admissions but also an improvement in the effectiveness of many treatments including chemotherapy and surgery.”

Source: Hull Daily Mail, 17 May 2018

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International

USA: Vast majority of heavy smokers not screened for lung cancer despite USPSTF recommendations

An analysis of 1,800 lung cancer screening sites nationwide found that only 1.9% of more than 7 million current and former heavy smokers were screened for lung cancer in 2016, despite United States Preventive Services Task Force (USPSTF) and ASCO screening recommendations. This study, the first assessment of lung cancer screening rates since those recommendations were issued in 2013, will be presented at the upcoming 2018 ASCO Annual Meeting in Chicago.

“Lung cancer screening rates are much lower than screening rates for breast and colorectal cancers, which is unfortunate,” said lead study author Danh Pham, MD, a medical oncologist at the James Graham Brown Cancer Center, University of Louisville, Kentucky. “It is unclear if the screening deficit is due to low provider referral or perhaps patient psychological barriers from fear of diagnosis. Lung cancer is unique in that there may be stigma associated with screening, as some smokers think that if cancer is detected, it would confirm they’ve made a bad lifestyle choice.”

Source: Medical Xpress, 17 May 2018

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European Commission prioritises tobacco and sacrifices global health in trade negotiations with Latin America

The European Public Health Alliance, along with Latin American and global partners, has written to the EU Trade Commissioner Cecilia Malmström and First Vice-President Frans Timmermans to put health ahead of the interests of the tobacco industry in the EU’s trade negotiations with Mexico, Chile and the Mercosur trade bloc (Argentina, Brazil, Paraguay and Uruguay).

The EU is being called to publicly change its stance and to drop tobacco as an EU “Offensive Interest” in its negotiations with Mercosur. Another change being pushed by activists is for the EU to commit to completely exclude tobacco lobbyists from influencing policy positions on international trade.

Source: European Public Health Alliance, 18 May 2018

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USA: Shisha responsible for over half of tobacco smoke inhaled by young smokers

Smoking tobacco from a waterpipe, also known as a shisha pipe, accounted for over half of the tobacco smoke volume consumed by young adult shisha and cigarette smokers in the U.S., a new University of Pittsburgh School of Medicine analysis has discovered.

Toxicant exposures – such as tar, carbon monoxide and nicotine – were lower, yet substantial, for those young adults who just smoked shisha pipes, compared to those who smoked both wateripes and cigarettes. The research, funded by the National Cancer Institute, is published today in the journal Tobacco Control.

In the U.S., waterpipe tobacco smoking rates are increasing and cigarette smoking rates are decreasing, especially among young adults.

Source: Science Newsline, 17 May 2018

See also: BMJ Tobacco Control, Waterpipe tobacco use in college and non-college young adults in the USA

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Dutch insurer NN group quits tobacco investments

Dutch insurer NN Group will no longer invest in the tobacco industry and said on Thursday it aims to divest all tobacco-related holdings on its own accounts and in the funds of its asset manager within a year.

NN’s step follows similar moves by BNP Paribas Asset Management and insurers AXA, Aviva and Scor, which all decided to sell out of the industry because of the health, social and environmental costs linked to tobacco smoking.

“Tobacco no longer fits with our responsible investment approach,” NN Chief Investment Officer Jelle van der Giessen said. “It is not possible to use tobacco products responsibly.”

Source: Insurance Journal, 17 May 2018

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Nigeria: Tobacco consumption contributes to 12% of deaths from heart diseases

The chairman of the Nigerian Heart Foundation, Dr. Olufemi Mobolaji-Lawal, recently addressed journalists in Lagos to discuss tobacco control in the run-up to World No-Tobacco Day. He lamented the low levels of implementation of the WHO Framework Convention on Tobacco Control (FCTC) across African countries. Journalists were told that tobacco consumption contributes to around 12% of heart disease deaths in Nigeria.

Source: All Africa, 17 May 2018

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Link of the week

Big Tobacco is desperate to prevent ‘plain packaging’ spreading around the world

Coming up to a year after standardised ‘plain packaging’ was fully implemented in the UK on 20 May 2017, the Tobacco Manufacturers’ Association (TMA) and now Japan Tobacco International (JTI) have claimed that it’s a failure.

Why is Big Tobacco bothering, when it’s clear the UK is tough on tobacco, won its case in the courts and is not going to reverse the legislation? The reason is obvious, this is a last ditch and desperate attempt to delay and discourage the many other governments coming down the same track. Three countries have fully implemented plain packs to date (France, Australia and the United Kingdom), by the end of this year it will be six, with seven more having passed legislation and more following on behind. The dominoes are falling, markets around the world are going dark, and Big Tobacco is running scared. The WTO decision on the legality of plain packs is expected shortly, and the outcome, a defeat for the tobacco industry, has already been leaked.

Source: ASH (on Medium), 18 May 2018

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Big Tobacco is desperate to prevent ‘plain packaging’ spreading around the world

Typical cigarette packages before and after plain packaging was introduced

 

Coming up to a year after standardised ‘plain packaging’ was fully implemented in the UK on 20 May 2017, the Tobacco Manufacturers’ Association (TMA) [1] and now Japan Tobacco International (JTI) [2] have claimed that it’s a failure.

Why is Big Tobacco bothering, when it’s clear the UK is tough on tobacco, won its case in the courts and is not going to reverse the legislation? The reason is obvious, this is a last ditch and desperate attempt to delay and discourage the many other governments coming down the same track. Three countries have fully implemented plain packs to date (Australia, France and the United Kingdom), by the end of this year it will be six, with seven more having passed legislation and more following on behind. The dominoes are falling, markets around the world are going dark, and Big Tobacco is running scared. The WTO decision on the legality of plain packs is expected shortly, and the outcome, a defeat for the tobacco industry, has already been leaked [3].

JTI claim that plain packs aren’t supported by the public, citing a survey commissioned from Kantar TNS which it says is the ‘largest public opinion poll of its kind since plain packaging was introduced’. This is incorrect. The ASH smokefree GB survey undertaken earlier this year had a sample size of 12,767, which is five times bigger than the 2,464 in the JTI Kantar survey. Findings from the ASH survey confirm the levels of support found in previous annual smokefree GB surveys, with just under three fifths of the public supporting standardised plain packaging (58%) while only around one in ten oppose (11%). The public support plain packs, to suggest otherwise is ludicrous.

When it comes to the evidence that the policy has been ineffective, the report JTI commissioned from Europe Economics ignores the fact that it was always known that plain standardised packaging would have the biggest impact on discouraging young people from taking up smoking rather than in helping addicted adult smokers quit. This is a much smaller group than existing adult smokers, so any such effect will be small, particularly in the early years. In the first year or two of implementation most young people at the age of initiation will have been exposed throughout their life to the colourfully branded packaging as it was prior to the introduction of standardised plain packs. As with the advertising ban, it is in future years when young people grow up never having seen such packaging that we expect it to have greatest impact. This effect will be cumulative as young people grow up into adulthood in cohorts with lower smoking rates, and older smokers die off. The Europe Economics report only includes data up to January 2018 so it simply cannot capture any of this.

Furthermore, the ability of standardised packaging to produce immediate effects during the year that the legislation was phased in (i.e. not fully implemented) is predicated on the assumption that the policy was smoothly and quickly brought into effect by all parties. Evidence from the Institute for Social Marketing (University of Stirling), already shows that before, during, and after the implementation of standardised tobacco and the TPD, tobacco companies engaged in activities which may have disrupted and confounded the impact of the legislation on smoking attitudes and behaviour [4]. This included introducing limited-edition fully-branded packs and re-usable tins, changed brand or variant names (e.g. including the addition of a colour descriptor, with colour often used by consumers as an indicator of product strength or harm), and continued innovation of their products (e.g. new filter designs). In essence, they used the implementation period to continue to create interest in their products.

In addition, the UK Government allowed tobacco companies and retailers twelve months, from May 2016 to May 2017, to introduce standardised packaging, which is longer than the two other countries (2 months in Australia, 9 months in France) that have introduced this measure. The report claims that ‘the penetration of TPD2+PP compliant products has increased gradually over the implementation period’. This is not consistent with further findings by researchers at the University of Stirling, analysing real-time data from independent and convenience (small) retailers [5], which instead shows that tobacco companies and retailers responded to the extended implementation period by continuing to sell fully-branded products for as long as they could, meaning that most of the leading brands of cigarettes and rolling tobacco in the UK were not sold in standardised packs until near the end of the twelve months. It is plausible that this staggered introduction of standardised packaging may have mitigated some of the immediate intended effects of the legislation by desensitising consumers to the new designs and graphic health warnings.

Once the legislation became mandatory for packs at point of sale, which was not until May 2017, the University of Stirling researchers found that 97% of tobacco sales volume [6] in small retailers was compliant with the TPD and standardised packaging legislation (rising to 99.5% ten weeks after full implementation). Given the aforementioned industry-led disruption during the transition period, research evaluating the impact of standardised packaging should reflect on how trends in smoking attitudes and behaviours change in the years after full implementation, not reactive conclusions based on limited time periods.

Governments need to apply the rule of thumb known as the ‘scream test’, if the industry is campaigning so hard to prevent it, clearly standardised ‘plain’ packaging does work, otherwise Big Tobacco wouldn’t care.

ASH thanks researchers from the Institute for Social Marketing, University of Stirling — part of the UK Centre for Tobacco and Alcohol Studies — for their analysis of the Europe Economics report for JTI.

The studies carried out by the University of Stirling were funded by Cancer Research UK.

References

[1] Tobacco Manufacturers’ Association, Plain packaging failing one year after full introduction, 14 May 2018

[2] Japan Tobacco International, Plain Packaging on Tobacco Backfires Within First Year in the UK, 17 May 2018

[3] Reuters, Australia wins landmark WTO tobacco packaging case — Bloomberg, 4 May 2017

[4] BMJ Tobacco Control, How tobacco companies in the UK prepared for and responded to standardised packaging of cigarettes and rolling tobacco, January 2018

[5] Nicotine and Tobacco Research, Introduction of Standardized Tobacco Packaging During a 12-Month Transition Period: Findings From Small Retailers in the United Kingdom, 12 January 2018

[6] BMJ Tobacco Control, Did independent and convenience (small) retailers comply with standardised tobacco packaging in the UK?, November 2017

PMI, Poverty and the Political Game

Don’t let smokescreens like the PMI-funded ‘Foundation for a Smoke-Free World’ [1] deceive you — Big Tobacco continues to pump its lethal smoked products into low- and middle-income countries, exacerbating poverty and racking up billions of dollars along the way.

As the company continues to undermine tobacco control policies across the globe, [2] [3] its solemn commitment to a smokefree future is more than a little disingenuous. [4]

Major advancements in tobacco control across countries like the UK, have displaced international conglomerates such as PMI to low- and middle-income populations, where 80% of the world’s smokers now live. [5]

In these countries, implementation of the WHO’s Framework Convention Tobacco Control (FCTC), a lifesaving treaty which reaffirms the right of all people to the highest standard of health, has often been low. [6] Indeed, by 2014 a survey of two thirds of Parties to the Treaty found that 51 countries had implemented no measures at the highest level. [7]

But rather than mobilising to address this discrepancy and advance its shiny new smokefree agenda, PMI has been doing all it can to undermine tobacco control, both in spirit and in practice.

PMI ignores the philosophy of tobacco control by taking advantage of existing legislative loopholes and capitalising on the lack of substantive advertising restrictions in low- and middle-income countries. Though PMI promises “advertising activities are directed only toward adult smokers,” [8] its intensive marketing ploys bombard kids in countries like Benin, Burkina Faso, Cameroon, Nigeria and Uganda, with tobacco sale outlets often visible from the school gates. [9] The company also uses child-friendly flavoured cigarettes to entice young people, [10] and encourages “single stick” sales by providing retailers with free promotional materials. [11]

And by attempting to subvert further implementation of the FCTC, the company also undermines the role out of tobacco control measures. Its army of corporate lobbyists are encouraged to “play the political game” [12] and deliberately target so-called “anti-tobacco extremists” at FCTC conferences (where delegates set the guidelines) and apply pressure at the country level (where delegates are selected and the treaty is transposed into law). [13]

One popular method has been to water down the health minister delegates with trade, finance and agriculture representatives, since these people are more likely to be supportive of PMI’s deadly cause — a strategy that somewhat contradicts its smokefree advocacy. [14]

It is unsurprising that 80% of the world’s tobacco-related deaths are anticipated to occur in low- and middle-income countries by 2030. [15] And in addition to the personal tragedy of life lost, this is leaving less money available for food, schooling and doctors’ fees, since spending on tobacco products can add up to over 10% of total household earnings, and premature death causes a significant loss of income. [16]

Meanwhile, even though undernourishment remains a big problem in many tobacco-producing countries, 4.3 million hectares of arable land is currently gobbled up by tobacco cultivation, which could instead be used to feed hungry people. [17] Growing tobacco also pollutes water supplies with toxic pesticides and fertilizers, and generates over 2 million tonnes of solid waste each year. [18] In fact, cigarette butts account for 30–40% of all rubbish picked up in coastal and urban clean-ups. [19]

And the worst part is that this social, economic and environmental burden is falling upon those countries least equipped to deal with the consequences.

PMI’s website reads “Society expects us to act responsibly. And we are doing just that by designing a smoke-free future.” [20] But evidently for PMI that responsibility and that future are not intended for low- and middle-income countries.

With PMI’s AGM set for this week, ASH urges the company to ditch its blatant double standards.

 

by Anna Hazelwood

 

References

[1] Tobacco Tactics, Foundation for a Smoke-Free World, March 2018

[2] The Campaign for Tobacco-Free Kids, Big Tobacco: Tiny Targets, a project by the Campaign for Tobacco-Free Kids

[3] African Tobacco Control Alliance, Big Tobacco Tiny Targets: Tobacco Industry Targets Schools in Africa, November 2016

[4] Philip Morris International, Designing a Smoke-Free Future

[5] World Health Organisation, Tobacco Key Facts, 9 March 2018

[6] Gravely et al, Implementation of key demand-reduction measures of the WHO Framework Convention on Tobacco Control and change in smoking prevalence in 126 countries: an association study, 2017

[7] Gravely et al, Implementation of key demand-reduction measures of the WHO Framework Convention on Tobacco Control and change in smoking prevalence in 126 countries: an association study, 2017

[8] Philip Morris International, Underage tobacco and nicotine use

[9] African Tobacco Control Alliance, Big Tobacco Tiny Targets: Tobacco Industry Targets Schools in Africa, November 2016

[10] African Tobacco Control Alliance, Big Tobacco Tiny Targets: Tobacco Industry Targets Schools in Africa, November 2016

[11] African Tobacco Control Alliance, Sale of single sticks of cigarettes in Africa: survey report from 10 capital cities, March 2018

[12] Reuters, Inside Philip Morris’ campaign to subvert the global anti-smoking treaty, July 2017

[13] Reuters, Inside Philip Morris’ campaign to subvert the global anti-smoking treaty, July 2017

[14] Reuters, Inside Philip Morris’ campaign to subvert the global anti-smoking treaty, July 2017

[15] World Health Organisation, The Global Tobacco Crisis, 2008

[16] World Health Organisation, Tobacco is a deadly threat to global development, May 2017

[17] World Health Organisation, Tobacco and its environmental impact, 2017

[18] World Health Organisation, Tobacco is a deadly threat to global development, May 2017

[19] World Health Organisation, Tobacco is a deadly threat to global development, May 2017

[20] Philip Morris International, Designing a Smoke-Free Future

All links active 9 May 2018

Attending the Imperial Brands AGM

On Wednesday 7 February 2018, long-time activist Cecilia Farren attended the Imperial Brands AGM. Below is her report.

I’ve been attending Imperial Brands/Tobacco AGM for about 20 years. Usually alone but occasionally we gathered a group of demonstrators protesting outside with placards. One year the then CEO, Gareth Davis, had stated under oath that it was unproven that smoking caused cancer. We stood outside the AGM wearing pig masks and wings with placards saying ‘Yes Gareth, pigs can fly’ and ‘Gareth for President — of the Flat Earth Society’. This year, I was on my own but looked forward to meeting up with the other ‘protest’ shareholder, a retired teacher from Oxfordshire who worked in Africa. He attends every year to challenge the Board with well-researched questions about Imperial’s proud claims of profit and expansion into the third world. As always we sat together in solidarity. He’s the ‘good cop’ who politely asks his questions and I am the ‘bad cop’ who gets heckled by shareholders and treated impatiently by the board when I question them and show my annoyance at their non-committal replies.

AGMs in the past were a fug of smoke and offered the large attendance of shareholders complimentary cigarette packs, gifts (I still have Lambert and Butler umbrella), attentive staff serving us cakes and tea, and board members mingling and chatting. It is a very different affair now. It is a sombre, poorly attended event and it is hard to believe that Imperial Brands is a FTSE 100 company. Imperial board and support staff outnumbered the 27 shareholders present. Even Imperial’s CEO, Alison Cooper, looked stressed and tired.

The 2017 Annual Report has the title ‘Investing for Growth’ and it begins with the boast: “Our business is built on great brands and great people. Our brands are recognised and enjoyed by millions of people around the world. And our people are focused on creating the great moments that bring our business to life on a daily basis.” Yuk! One page is titled: ‘Market Repeatable Model’ and is full of ‘jargon generator’ management-speak headings such as: ‘Quality Market Share Growth’, ‘Core Range Everywhere All the Time’, ‘Honest Accurate Learning’ and ‘Tailor Customer Solutions’.

Proceedings were opened with an introduction from Chairman, Mark Williamson who then handed over to CEO Alison Cooper. The nearest we came to hearing that tobacco control is making progress was Ms. Cooper’s acknowledgement that Imperial has had a positive performance in the UK despite ‘difficult times’. But she did say that Imperial has regained market leadership. Emphasis was put on Imperial’s BIG push into ‘next generation’ products — vaping, heated tobacco products and snus. Imperial has recently bought Nerudia, a Liverpool based company that makes e-liquids.

Shareholders were invited to ask questions. I began by asking about SEATCA’s campaign to call Imperial to account for not complying with the law to put the 75% pictorial warnings on cigarette packets in Lao PDR. Lao Tobacco is controlled by Imperial. Matthew Phillips, a member of the Board, insisted that they had complied with the law since the third and final deadline of December 2017. I said that they had not and they said they had. Stalemate! A question about paying tax other than excise tax both in UK and elsewhere was met with insistence that tax is paid everywhere in the world. They admitted that excise tax does cost the company money because the higher the tax on cigarettes the less people smoke. This is an admission of a successful tobacco control strategy! I also asked if they were worried about the many large banks and pension funds that have divested from tobacco. They replied that they had plenty of investors and were not concerned.

Imperial’s AGM lasted less than an hour. I got on my bike while a fleet of Mercedes sat waiting for Imperial’s big shots.

Big Tobacco should pay for the damage it does

This spring ASH is running a campaign to coincide with the annual shareholders meetings of three of the largest tobacco companies in the world: Imperial Tobacco, British American Tobacco, and Philip Morris International. In line with the “Polluter Pays Principle” we’re calling on governments to make Big Tobacco pay for the damage it does. Help us share this message over the next few months. We must #MakeThemPay

Today marks the launch of ASH’s ‘Polluter Pays Spring Campaign’. The “polluter pays” principle, as adopted and developed by the OECD, is that a polluter must bear all the costs of preventing and controlling any pollution, including paying for the cost of the damage done. [1]

Tobacco is the leading cause of premature death worldwide, killing over 7 million people [2] a year and growing. The engine of the smoking epidemic is the tobacco industry, which is highly profitable and in rude health, unlike many of those who consume its products. The tobacco industry is uniquely lethal, causing immense harm to individuals, to communities and to the environment.

Tobacco companies are notorious for the damage they cause to the environment through deforestation, pollution, and littering. Wood fires are needed for the process of drying tobacco leaves, leading to the loss of one tree for every 300 cigarettes. Greenhouse gases are released into the air when cigarettes are smoked, and heavy metals and toxic chemicals end up in the water supply from littered cigarette butts. [3]

Smoking accounts for over 100,000 deaths in the UK alone, and about half all life-long smokers will die prematurely. [4] Imperial Tobacco is holding its Annual General Meeting tomorrow in Bristol, marking the launch of ASH’s “Polluter Pays Spring Campaign”. Imperial is the fifth largest tobacco company in the world and last year, it sold over 260 billion cigarettes and made operating profits of well over three billion pounds. In the UK its products are used by well over a third of smokers, [5] making it responsible for at least 30,000 deaths a year and 150,000 admissions to hospital.[6]

Imperial’s operating profits totalled £3.5 billion last year and in 2017 the board only withdrew a £3 million bonus to its chief executive because of a shareholder revolt. [7]

With money like that to burn, it is time that Imperial Tobacco pays for the damage it does both to people and to the environment.

Between now and the 9th May (coinciding with Philip Morris International’s Annual Meeting of Shareholders) ASH will be publishing a series of articles and videos on our Medium blog and Twitter. It is time Big Tobacco is made to pay.

References

[1] The Polluter Pays Principle. OECD Analyses and Recommendations. OECD Paris 1992.

[2] http://www.who.int/mediacentre/factsheets/fs339/en/

[3] World Health Organization. Tobacco and its environmental impact. 2017.

[4] Office for National Statistics. Adult smoking habits in the UK: 2016. Published June 2017

[5] Branston, J. Gilmore, A. The extreme profitability of the UK tobacco market and the rationale for a new tobacco levy. University of Bath, 2017

[6] Office for National Statistics. Adult smoking habits in the UK: 2015. Published March 2017.

[7] The Guardian. Tobacco giant Imperial Brands rethinks CEO’s pay rise after revolt. 26 January 2017.

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