Action on Smoking and Health

Tag Archives: Illegal tobacco


ASH Daily News for 20 July 2018

UK

  • South Yorkshire: Rother Valley MP calls for Government to keep up the push to cut smoking deaths
  • NHS Response: Vaping and using nicotine patches in pregnancy
  • West Midlands: Thousands of illegal tobacco products seized in Dudley
  • Social Smoking: Just how bad is it for you?

International

Australia: Four in five lung cancers preventable through healthy lifestyle

Parliamentary Activity

  • Parliamentary debate to review the tobacco control plan

Link of the Week

  • New Secretary of State for Health and Social Care Speech

UK

South Yorkshire: Rother Valley MP calls for Government to keep up the push to cut smoking deaths

Following yesterday’s parliamentary debate to review the Tobacco Control Plan, Sir Kevin Barron, MP for Rother Valley, has written an article calling on the government to increase funding for smoking cessation services to ensure that the targets set out in the plan are met.

In the article he criticises the misrepresentation of evidence surrounding e-cigarettes in the media: “It is very unfortunate that sensationalist media reports are creating an air of uncertainty around e-cigarettes and deterring many smokers from making the switch. It would be a tragedy if thousands of smokers who could quit with the help of an e-cigarette are being put off due to false fears about their safety.”

Public Health England has said that e-cigarettes are at least 95 per cent less harmful than cigarettes and that the main chemicals in e-cigarettes have not been associated with any serious risk.

Source: Retford Guardian, 20 July 2018

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NHS Response: Vaping and using nicotine patches in pregnancy

The NHS has responded to a recent study from the US which linked vaping and the use of nicotine patches in pregnancy to cot death (Sudden Infant Death Syndrome). The UK media’s reporting of the study was sensationalised, playing down the fact that the research was on rats, and the findings related to rats with depleted serotonin.

The researchers found that exposure to nicotine during pregnancy limited the ability of serotonin-deficient rats to recover back to normal breathing and heart rates following a period of oxygen deprivation.

The NHS recommends that smokers planning a pregnancy should use nicotine replacement therapies, such as patches, to help them quit smoking before trying for a baby.

Source: NHS Choices, 20 July 2018

Editorial Note: Francine Bates, Chief Executive of The Lullaby Trust and co-chair of the Smoking in Pregnancy Challenge Group (SPCG), put out this statement: “We don’t think parents should worry about the findings of this study as it was conducted on laboratory rats, not human babies. Research that has been conducted on women who used NRT patches in pregnancy showed that there was no increase in infant mortality up to the age of two years old, compared to women who used a placebo. While there is currently no research linking electronic (or ‘e’) cigarettes to an increased risk of sudden infant death syndrome (SIDS), using an e-cigarette appears to be much safer than continuing to smoke during pregnancy and once your baby is born. Tobacco cigarettes contain toxins that cause harm to an unborn baby by starving them of oxygen, but these toxins are not present in e-cigarettes or NRT.”

“Smoking tobacco cigarettes before or after pregnancy significantly increases the chance of SIDS. That’s why we strongly encourage any pregnant women or new parents who smoke to keep their baby smoke-free. Whilst it’s always best for pregnant women to quit using nicotine completely, those who find it hard to do so should not stop using NRT or e-cigarettes on the basis of this research. We would advise anyone who is concerned about smoking to contact their midwife or GP who can offer advice and refer them to stop smoking services.”

SPCG Guide: Use of electronic cigarettes in pregnancy

Study: https://physoc.onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/10.1113/JP275885

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West Midlands: Thousands of illegal tobacco products seized in Dudley

Over 150,000 illegal cigarettes and 1,000kg of tobacco were seized by Dudley Council last year as part of their efforts to crack down on illegal tobacco.

The operation has resulted in two prosecutions with several more pending, and several shops have had their alcohol licences suspended or revoked for dealing with illegal tobacco products.

Councillor Ruth Buttery, Dudley’s cabinet member for health and wellbeing, said: “Whilst all tobacco is harmful, the illegal tobacco market, and in particular the availability of cheap cigarettes, undermines government health policies aimed at reducing the cost to the NHS of treating diseases caused by smoking.”

Source: Stourbridge News, 19 July 2018

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Social Smoking: Just how bad is it for you?

Although many people who smoke socially might not describe themselves as a smoker, they are not exempt from many of the health issues associated with smoking. Social smokers are still susceptible to lung infections, smoking-related cancers, shorter life expectancy and accelerated signs of ageing.

Even if social smokers aren’t addicted to nicotine they can still be addicted to the psychoactive experience of smoking in social situations. Professor Robert West, an expert on smoking from the University College London, describes the desire to smoke occasionally as a “situational craving” – explaining why you may only feel like a cigarette when you drink. “One way addiction works is by forming an association between situations where a person would typically smoke, which then creates the impulse to smoke when they find themselves in that situation again,” he says.

Even light smoking can cause DNA mutations which increase the likelihood of developing cancer. Dr Richard Russell, Consultant Respiratory Physician and medical advisor to the British Lung Foundation, said: “It’s the toxic chemicals you are inhaling. Even occasional smoking puts your health at risk – the only safe level of smoking is nothing at all.”

Source: Sheerluxe, 19 July 2018

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International

Australia: Four in five lung cancers preventable through healthy lifestyle

Researchers at the University of New South Wales (UNSW) in Sydney have found evidence to suggest that the majority of lung cancers are related to smoking.

Using data from the Centre for Big Data Research in Health, the researchers showed that lung cancer risk remained elevated for 40 years after people stopped smoking, with the risk approximately halving every 10 years.

Dr Maarit Laaksonen, Senior Research Fellow at UNSW, said: “More than three out of four lung cancers are caused by ever smoking. Current smoking is responsible for more than half of lung cancers and past smoking for nearly a quarter. Our findings strongly support the dual importance of preventing the uptake of smoking and assisting quitting.”

Source: MedicalXpress, 19 July 2018

Centre for Big Data Research in Health: Population-level relevance of risk factors for cancer

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Parliamentary Activity

Parliamentary debate to review the tobacco control plan

The transcript of yesterday’s Government Debate on the Tobacco Control Plan can be found here.

Source: Hansard, 19 July 2018

Link of the Week

New Secretary of State for Health and Social Care Speech

Today, Matt Hancock, the new Secretary of State for Health and Social Care, delivered his debut speech setting out his priorities for the health and social care system.

He talks extensively about the importance of preventative measures to ease the pressures on staff, improve patient outcomes and keep people out of hospital: “prevention… is mission critical to making the health and social care system sustainable.”

Source: gov.uk, 20 July 2018

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ASH Daily News for 18 June 2018

UK

  • Devon: Men jailed after international tobacco smuggling operation used fridges and vacuum cleaners to evade £12m in tax
  • Scotland: Experts dismiss pub ‘smoking room’ idea
  • Scotland: Smokers offered £160 incentive to quit

International

  • Ireland: Smokers held responsible for most littering
  • Australia: Majority of Australians want e-cigarettes to be legalised – as thousands of former smokers are forced to illegally import nicotine

UK

Devon: Men jailed after international tobacco smuggling operation used fridges and vacuum cleaners to evade £12m in tax

Two men from Devon have been jailed for their role in a gang which smuggled illegal tobacco hidden inside fridges, microwaves and vacuum cleaners to evade £12 million in tax.

Ivybridge man, Kyle Langdon, 31, was jailed for two years and Andrew Carver-Trotter, 35, was sentenced to one year in March. The gang were sentenced to a total of 21 years and five months with the last member of the 11-strong operation to be sentenced at Manchester Crown Court yesterday, with a three-year jail term.

Investigators observed the smuggling ring at work in a large warehouse where hollow white goods were being used to smuggle tobacco into the UK.

After being emptied in the UK, the carcasses were returned to the warehouse in Luxembourg to be re-filled with more illicit tobacco destined for the UK.

Source: Devon Live, 15 Jun 2018

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Scotland: Experts dismiss pub ‘smoking room’ idea

A poll of more than 1,000 Scots, by Forest, a pro-smoking lobby group, has found that 57% of respondents thought bars and private clubs should be allowed to provide specially ventilated smoking rooms.

The poll findings were released in advance of the Scottish government publishing its Tobacco Control Action Plan, restating the aim of a tobacco-free country by 2034.

Sheila Duffy, chief executive of charity Action on Smoking and Health (ASH) Scotland, dismissed claims made by Forest stating “Tobacco companies and their allies have long argued in favour of expensive solutions that don’t work, while trying to derail cheap and effective ones that do. Ventilation cannot and does not protect workers from being exposed for hours to breathing a toxic substance that is harmful to health and easily prevented”.

She added: “Two thirds of Scotland’s smokers want to quit. Hardly anyone is ambitious for the children in their families and neighbourhood to take up smoking. We need to support people and communities looking to improve their health, wellbeing and finances by relegating cigarettes to the past.”

Source: The Sunday Times, 17 June 2018

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Scotland: Smokers offered £160 incentive to quit

Smokers across Scotland are being given shopping vouchers in a publicly funded attempt to help them ditch the habit. In Lanarkshire, about half of smokers living in the poorest parts of the area ditched cigarettes after being offered a financial incentive for 12 weeks.

From next month, a new initiative in Greater Glasgow and Clyde will see pregnant smokers given up to £160 to ditch cigarettes, after a successful pilot scheme.

Medical experts have welcomed the schemes as a “cost effective” way to improve the health of patients. But opposition politicians warn many taxpayers will be “sceptical” about this approach, despite the early results being positive.

Source: The Scotsman, 17 June 2018

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International

Ireland: Smokers held responsible for most littering

19% of Irish people smoke but their litter is responsible for more than half of that found on the country’s streets.

Cigarette butts accounted for 52.5% of the rubbish left on streets last year, but when boxes, wrappers, matches, matchboxes and lighters were added, smoking paraphernalia accounted for 56%, local authorities said.

Denis Naughten, the environment minister, has implored smokers to clean up after themselves, stating “Smokers in particular can bring about a significant improvement in the litter situation through relatively minor behavioural changes. Everyone must accept that, ultimately, it is their own actions that will ensure whether or not we live in a litter-free environment.”

Source: The Times, 18 June 2018

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Australia: Majority of Australians want e-cigarettes to be legalised – as thousands of former smokers are forced to illegally import nicotine

Most Australians want the ban on electronic cigarettes lifted, according to an Australian Retailers Association survey.

Conducted by the Crosby Textor Group, the poll shows 61% of 1200 adults backed a move towards legalising e-cigarettes.

Almost half of those surveyed agreed that vaporisers, used by 4.4% of smokers at the time of the 2016 Australian National Drug Strategy Household Survey, were a safer alternative than traditional tobacco cigarettes.

“More and more Australians are buying personal vaporisers with nicotine online from overseas, simply because they can’t buy them locally. It is clear that smokers are not prepared to wait around for the government to act and improve their health” said ARA executive director Russell Zimmerman.

Source: Mail Online, 18 June 2018

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ASH Daily News for 14 June 2018

UK

  • Tyne and Wear: South Tyneside’s NHS staff urged to lead the way by quitting smoking
  • Lancashire: Cash and illegal tobacco seized in raids on shop and house

International

  • Tobacco industry peruse control over anti-smuggling measures

Parliamentary Activity

  • Parliamentary Question

UK

Tyne and Wear: South Tyneside’s NHS staff urged to lead the way by quitting smoking

Staff at South Tyneside NHS Foundation Trust are being encouraged to give up once and for all as part of a bid to become a completely smokefree organisation.

According to figures from Action on Smoking and Health (ASH), the estimated annual cost of smoking to the NHS in South Tyneside is about £7.1 million a year.

The Trust is therefore offering a support programme for NHS staff, as well as their friends and family, recognising the vital role loved ones can play. They will have access to a full range of products, including patches and gum, and medications such as Champix and Zyban.

South Tyneside NHS Foundation Trust medical director Dr Shaz Wahid said “We are working closely with our local partners to get us to the point of becoming fully smokefree and, as part of this, we want to give our staff and patients all the tools and support we can to help them to stop smoking.

Source: The Shields Gazette, 14 June 2018

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Lancashire: Cash and illegal tobacco seized in raids on shop and house

More than £100,000 of unaccounted-for cash plus a stash of illegal tobacco has been seized in a joint Trading Standards and police raid. Lancashire County Council Trading Standards and Lancashire Police seized the tobacco from a shop in Nelson town centre, and the £100,000 cash in bags from a house in the town. Officers served three warrants, all in the Nelson area, after tracking a supply ring operating in the town. More than 680 tobacco packs, with a retail value of around almost £4,000 were seized from a locked hiding place.

Three men and a woman are currently under investigation, and checks into the supply chain are continuing. The traders involved face possible prosecution by Trading Standards in relation to offences under the Trade Marks Act 1994 and The Tobacco and Related Products Regulations 2016.

Source: Burnley Express, 13 June 2018

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International

Tobacco industry peruse control over anti-smuggling measures

A detailed study from the Tobacco Control Research Group at the University of Bath, using a range of sources including internal documents and whistleblower testimony, claims the tobacco industry is now going to elaborate lengths to control the global “track and trace” system that the United Nations has said must be put in place to counter smuggling.

Tobacco companies complain about the smuggling of cheap illegally-made copies of their brands, but two-thirds of the illicit tobacco market is made up of genuine product, says the study published in the journal Tobacco Control. “At best, evidence indicates that tobacco companies are failing to control their supply chain, over-producing in some markets (eg Ukraine) and oversupplying others (eg Belgium) in the knowledge their products will end up on the illicit market,” says the paper.

Professor Anna Gilmore, lead author of the paper in the journal Tobacco Control, said: “This has to be one of the tobacco industry’s greatest scams: not only is it still involved in tobacco smuggling, but big tobacco is positioning itself to control the very system governments around the world have designed to stop companies from smuggling. The industry’s elaborate and underhand effort involves front groups, third parties, fake news and payments to the regulatory authorities meant to hold them to account.”

Source: The Guardian, 14 June 2018

See also: BMJ: Tobacco industries elaborate attempts to control a global track and trace system and fundamentally undermine the Illicit Trade Protocol

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Parliamentary Activity

Parliamentary Question

Rt Hon George Howarth, MP Labour, Knowsley

To ask the Secretary of State for Health and Social Care, what progress his Department has made with Public Health England Tobacco Implementation Board on implementing the recommendations of the Independent Cancer Taskforce; on what date his Department has held meetings with that Board; and who attended those meetings.

Steve Brine, Parliamentary Under Secretary of State for Public Health and Primary Care

The ‘Tobacco Control Plan for England: Towards a smoke-free generation’, published in July 2017, takes into account the recommendations of the Independent Cancer Taskforce, and focuses on reducing smoking prevalence within priority groups such as people with mental health conditions, people in routine and manual occupations and pregnant women, tackling the associated health inequalities.

A special meeting of the Public Health England Tobacco Control Implementation Board was held on 20 December 2017 to discuss the Plan. I chaired the meeting which was attended by representatives of the Department, Public Health England and key stakeholders including Cancer Research UK, the Royal College of Physicians, British Medical Association, British Thoracic Society, Action on Smoking and Health and the UK Centre for Tobacco and Alcohol Studies.

Source: Hansard HC, 13 June 2018

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ASH Daily News for 4 June 2018

UK

  • Guernsey: Islander picks up cigarette butts from dawn until dusk for WNTD
  • Cornwall: How much smoking is really costing the region
  • Tower Hamlets: Thousands of pounds worth of illegal tobacco seized

International

  • Shocking World Health Organisation video reveals how smoking damages the heart
  • Indonesia: lax smoking laws are helping next generation to get hooked
  • USA: Hollywood silent on request to give R rating to movies with smoking
  • USA: Cigarette prices increase in New York

 

UK

Guernsey: Islander picks up cigarette butts from dawn until dusk for WNTD

Andrew Munro, of Pick it Up Guernsey, walked from 5am to 9pm collecting hundreds of cigarette butts in aid of World No Tobacco Day. He also picked up general litter and invited people, and the police, to join them for an hour over lunch. He said that outside the hospital was one of the worst areas.

Andrew said “This is hopefully growing awareness about how bad cigarette butts can be – they are very nasty. I don’t think people realised that they don’t biodegrade either.”

Source: Guernsey Press, 1 June 2018

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Cornwall: How much smoking is really costing the region

Research from Action on Smoking and Health (ASH) has found that smoking is costing Cornwall more than £120m every year. This number encompasses the cost to healthcare and to businesses.

Across the south west, the annual cost is £277.2 million to the NHS, and £72.4 million to local authorities from smoking-related social care needs.

Whilst Hospital bosses say that smoking remains the largest cause of preventable death in the region, a 2016 audit found that more than 1 in 4 hospital patients were not asked if they smoke and 50% of front line staff are not given routine smoking cessation training.

ASH Chief Executive Deborah Arnott said: “The Five Year Forward View calls for a ‘radical upgrade in prevention and public health’ but this has not been followed through and smokers are not getting the support they need to quit from the NHS. In some areas, Local Authority Stop Smoking Services have been reduced due to cuts in local authority funding. Cuts to public health budgets need to be reversed and the NHS needs to step-up and play a larger role in supporting smokers to quit.”

Source: Pirate FM, 4 June 2018

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Tower Hamlets: Thousands of pounds worth of illegal tobacco seized

Tower Hamlets Council’s Trading Standards Officers and detection dogs found £8,000 worth of illegal tobacco hidden inside cereal boxes, coat pockets and behind display panels during a recent two-day operation. Officers found illegal products in 10 of the 18 premises visited.

Overall 12,360 cigarettes, 2,250g of hand-rolled tobacco and 68 pots of chewing tobacco were seized.

Source: Brit Bangla, 1 June 2018

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International

Shocking World Health Organisation video reveals how smoking damages the heart

Released by the World Health Organization (WHO) for World No Tobacco Day, the video aims to raise awareness of the effect of cigarettes on the heart and encourage smokers to quit.

The 30-second clip starts with a heart beating slowly, as it asks viewers if they were aware that tobacco is a major cause of heart disease. But as the video proceeds, it beats quicker and more smoke can be seen puffing from its valves – designed to mimic being overworked.
The footage ends with the message ‘protect your heart and choose health – not tobacco’.

Dr Tedros Adhanom, from WHO called for more awareness of the links between smoking and heart disease. He said: “Most people know that using tobacco causes cancer and lung disease, but many people aren’t aware that tobacco also causes heart disease and stroke.”

Source: Daily Mail Online, 1 June 2018

See also: Tobacco breaks hearts – World No Tobacco Day 2018

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Indonesia: lax smoking laws are helping next generation to get hooked

It is estimated that smoking-related diseases kill nearly 250,000 Indonesians every year.

Indonesia is the only country in Asia that has not signed and ratified the World Health Organization’s Framework Convention of Tobacco Control (FCTC) which endorses restrictions on the extent to which tobacco companies can lobby governments, and recognises that a complete ban on tobacco marketing activities is an effective way of reducing youth smoking uptake.

This is most likely a result of the influence large tobacco companies such as Philip Morris and British American tobacco have in the Indonesian market.

Cigarettes continue to be sold cheaply with a pack of 20 Marlboro available for US$1.55, compared to around US$20 in Australia.

Indonesia is the only country in the region that still allows direct tobacco advertising. To reduce exposure to children and teenagers, advertising is restricted on TV and radio to between 9:30 p.m. and 5 a.m. But youngsters are still exposed through billboards, roadside stalls, music concerts, sporting events and the internet. There are shops and restaurants branded with tobacco advertising everywhere.

Source: The Jakarta Post, 4 June 2018

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USA: Hollywood silent on request to give R rating to movies with smoking

In August 2017, the American Heart Association and 16 other health and medical groups bought trade adverts and sent a letter to the six major movie studios represented by the Motion Picture Association of America (MPAA), urging them to apply an R rating to any motion picture with tobacco imagery submitted for classification after Friday 8th June 2018. The only exceptions would be biographical films about people who smoked or when the film depicted the dangers of smoking.

However with the June deadline here, Chris Ortman, vice president of corporate communications for the MPAA, declined to comment.

Source: American Heart Association News, 31 May 2018

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USA: Cigarette prices increase in New York

New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio has raised the cost of a pack of cigarettes from $10.50 to $13, the equivalent of $17 Australian dollars, to take effect this month.

Whilst this tax increase is a step in the right direction, other countries such as Australia, Japan and New Zealand continue to lead the way in having some of the highest tobacco taxes – a pack of cigarettes in Australia reaching nearly $40 Australian dollars in this year’s budget. Increases in taxation are one of the most effective mechanisms for prompting quit attempts.

Source: Daily Mail Online, 4 June 2018

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