Action on Smoking and Health

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ASH Daily News for 12 September 2018

UK

  • Tobacco firms used to pay Suffolk council pensions
  • Shisha smoke warning campaign

International

  • Nigeria: Online stores flout country’s tobacco control law
  • US: Montana is voting on whether the tobacco industry should pay for Medicaid expansion
  • US: Study finds high levels of nicotine in popular e-cigarettes

Parliamentary activity

  • Parliamentary Questions

UK

Tobacco firms used to pay Suffolk council pensions

Tobacco firms are sill being used to grow Suffolk County Council’s pension fund, despite figures that show smoking costs Suffolk almost £160 million a year. Specifically, ASH estimates smoking costs Suffolk £98 million a year in lost working days (through smoking-related illness or dying under retirement age); £20.7 million in social care annually for those living with chronic conditions; and it costs the NHS £40 million in smoking-related admissions.

Ipswich MP Sandy Martin said, “As a county councillor I led a debate on which the county council overwhelmingly voted to disinvest from tobacco companies – they have not done so. Either they are missing the point or choosing to ignore it. It’s very frustrating that people are not making the changes they need to be – if they had more integrity they would disinvest willingly.”

Source: East Anglian Daily Times, 11 September 2018

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Shisha smoke warning campaign

The dangers of smoking Shisha will be highlighted in a new public health campaign in Liverpool.

Shisha smoking is traditionally used by people from Middle Eastern or Asian community groups, but it is becoming increasingly popular in cities such as Liverpool, particularly among young people aged 18-25. Also known as hookah, narghile, waterpipe, or hubble bubble smoking, Shisha is a way of smoking tobacco, sometimes mixed with fruit or molasses sugar, through a bowl and hose or tube. The tube ends in a mouthpiece from which the smoker inhales the smoke deep into their lungs. Studies show an hour’s smoking is the equivalent of having between 100-200 cigarettes.

Dr Sandra Davies, Director of Public Health, said “We have had huge success in reducing the smoking rate in Liverpool… however, we risk some of this great work being undone as a result of people smoking Shisha, which has the potential to be far more harmful due to the intensity of deep inhalation of chemicals and poisons.”

Source: ITV, 12 September 2018

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International

Nigeria: Online stores flout country’s tobacco control law

Tobacco control advocates continue to criticise the Nigerian government for their lack of resolve in the fight against tobacco. More than 17,500 tobacco-related deaths have occurred in Nigeria, at least 20 billion sticks of cigarettes are consumed annually in the country, and 4.5 million adults currently use tobacco products.

In the latest hurdle, an investigation by Premium Times suggests online retailers in Nigeria are defying the Tobacco Control Law by marketing tobacco products to the public through their websites and failing to ensure prospective buyers are 18 and above.

Jumia, a retailer contacted as part of the investigation, insisted the company had not violated any law in the country, claiming it operates an online marketplace that allows vendors to sell their products through its platform while also ensuring that they abide by the provisions of relevant laws and regulations.

Source: Premium Times, 12 September 2018

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US: Montana is voting on whether the tobacco industry should pay for Medicaid expansion

In November Montana voters will get to choose whether to increase taxes on all tobacco products to fund Medicaid expansion, and the tobacco industry has spent more than $9 million to persuade them to vote “no.”

Earlier this year, a number of health organisations, including the American Heart Association, the American Cancer Society Cancer Action Network and the Montana Hospital Association, collected enough signatures to secure the ballot initiative to allows voters to determine the future of the Medicaid program. Advocates of the ballot initiative, which would raise the taxes on a pack of cigarettes by $2, say that the Medicaid expansion has helped provide health coverage to many Montanans who otherwise would not have it. “It’s one of the best things to happen to Montanans and the only way to sustain that is through a source of revenue,” said Jonathan Schleifer, executive director of the Fairness Project.

The groups’ decision to make the tobacco industry pay for permanent expansion put them up against a powerful adversary. The opposition campaign, Montanans Against Tax Hikes, is almost entirely funded by tobacco companies like Altria, Inc., which is the parent company for Phillip Morris. In its most recent state campaign finance filing, which covers the period from July 28 to August 27, Altria had given the PAC more than $7 million.

Source: Washington Post, 11 September 2018

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US: Study finds high levels of nicotine in popular e-cigarettes

E-cigarettes contain fewer toxins than conventional cigarettes. Dr Andrew Hyland, principal investigator of the national Population Assessment of Tobacco and Health Study, stated “Studies show that the overall number and levels of toxins are much lower in vaping products compared with conventional cigarettes, which, in comparison, are incredibly toxic, with thousands of chemicals and dozens of carcinogens that cause harm to every organ system in the body.”

He went on to say, “We know that many e-cigarette users are trying to quit cigarette smoking, and some cigarette smokers report that flavored e-cigarettes offer an appealing alternative when they are looking for a way to quit smoking cigarettes,” says Dr. Hyland. “Getting off of cigarettes first is much more important than what voltage or flavor people choose in an e-cigarette.”

However, with new research reporting adolescent users of Juul are absorbing nicotine at levels approaching nicotine exposure from traditional combustible cigarettes, there is concern that e-cigarettes may promote nicotine addiction in younger people. Unlike conventional cigarette advertising, which is restricted by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA), e-cigarettes in the US are legally marketed and promoted. With this concern in mind, the FDA is investigating the company behind the leading e-cigarette brand Juul.

See also:
Tobacco control, High exposure to nicotine among adolescents who use Juul and other vape pod systems (‘pods’)

Source: MedicalXpress, 11 September 2018

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Parliamentary Questions

Asked by Mr Philip Hollobone, Kettering
To ask the Secretary of State for Health and Social Care, what progress his Department has made in tendering for the grant scheme relating to external stakeholder support for the tobacco control plan.

Answered by Steve Brine, The Parliamentary Under-Secretary for Health and Social Care
The grant scheme to secure additional support to assist in the delivery of commitments made in the tobacco control plan was advertised in May and June 2018. Ten eligible organisations applied for this funding.

The Department reviewed these applications as per Cabinet Office guidelines in July and finalised this in August. Action on Smoking and Health (ASH) in a partnership application with FRESH North East scored the highest. All applicants have been informed of the results and paperwork is currently being finalised in order to award the grant to ASH and FRESH North East.

Source: Hansard, 11 September 2018

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Asked by Mr Philip Hollobone, Kettering
To ask the Secretary of State for Health and Social Care, what the strategic objectives of his departmental delegation will be at the eighth conference of the parties to the World Health Organisation framework convention on tobacco control in October 2018.

Answered by Steve Brine, The Parliamentary Under-Secretary for Health and Social Care
The United Kingdom Government will be represented at the eighth Conference of the Parties (CoP) to the World Health Organization Framework Convention on tobacco control (FCTC) by three officials from the Department and the UK Permanent Representation to the European Union. The delegation will be led by Tim Baxter, Deputy Director of Healthy Behaviours at the Department.

A figure for the costs associated with attendance at the CoP is not yet available. Every effort has been made to keep costs to a minimum to ensure value for money.

As a world leader in tobacco control the UK has been, and will continue to be, a highly active participant in the FCTC. The UK will participate in the CoP as a member state of the European Union. The UK will continue to support measures to reduce global harms from tobacco, building on its strong domestic record in reducing smoking, and will work to ensure that the work of the FCTC secretariat is both effective and provides value for money.

Source: Hansard, 11 September 2018

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Asked by Martin Vickers, Cleethorpes
To ask the Secretary of State for Health and Social Care, what steps he is taking to ensure the availability of a reliable body of independent research on heat-not-burn products.

To ask the Secretary of State for Health and Social Care, what gaps his Department has identified in the available independent research into the safety of heat-not-burn products.

To ask the Secretary of State for Health and Social Care, what discussions his Department has had with health departments of governments overseas on the development of research into heat-not-burn products.

Answered by Steve Brine, The Parliamentary Under-Secretary for Health and Social Care
The Government has committed Public Health England (PHE) to annually reviewing the evidence on e-cigarettes and novel tobacco products, such as heated tobacco products, until the end of Parliament in 2022. PHE’s current review was published in February 2018. The review looked at the latest available evidence on heated tobacco products and, based on that evidence, concluded that these products were less harmful than cigarettes, but more harmful than e-cigarettes. This is in agreement with the Committee on Toxicity (CoT), who concluded in December 2017 that there is a likely reduction in risk for smokers switching to heated tobacco products.

Both PHE and CoT identified shortcomings in the current evidence base: there are no long term studies as these products are relatively new, and a majority of the research is carried out by the tobacco industry. The Department will review and consider where there are gaps in evidence for further independent research, and continues to collaborate and share knowledge both in the United Kingdom and internationally to help develop the research base and understanding of these products. The UK Government is also represented on the Global Tobacco Regulators’ Forum, which brings together a number of countries, as well as the European Union and World Health Organization, to discuss regulatory issues of common interest, including research into heated tobacco products.

Source: Hansard, 11 September 2018

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ASH Daily News for 5 June 2018

UK

  • North East: NHS staff make pledge on World No Tobacco Day
  • Suffolk: County Council invests in tobacco firm

International

  • California: Social Smoking Campaign Urges ‘Smokers in Denial’ to Wake Up
  • USA: Lung cancer risk ‘drops dramatically’ within five years of quitting smoking
  • Nigeria: Tax rise on tobacco and alcohol as fears grow of a public health crisis
  • China: Tobacco regulator argues for indoor space for smokers

UK

North East: NHS staff make pledge on World No Tobacco Day

Senior staff at Northumberland, Tyne and Wear NHS Foundation Trust, a provider of mental health and disability services, have made a public commitment to reduce smoking rates among both their patients and staff.

NTW Chair, Ken Jarrold, Chief Executive, John Lawlor and Medical Director, Dr Rajesh Nadkarni have all signed the NHS smokefree pledge, which has been endorsed by NHS England, the Department of Health, the Royal College of Physicians and the British Medical Association.

John Lawlor, Chief Executive said: “The NHS Smokefree Pledge is a really positive step towards improving the health of people with serious mental health conditions who die on average 20 years earlier than the general population due to smoking. We will play our part by signing the pledge and continuing to reduce smoking rates across our organisation.”

Source: NE Connected, 4 June 2018

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Suffolk: County Council invests in tobacco firm

Information published for Suffolk County Council’s pension fund committee shows that despite criticism for investing in tobacco stocks the Council has increased its tobacco portfolio.

New figures have revealed that the investment in British American Tobacco is worth £16.2m – 0.6% of the fund and the fourth largest sum behind Royal Dutch Shell, Microsoft and Ferguson.

Ipswich MP Sandy Martin has said that the public health team, central government and health services were all helping people to stop smoking, which made the council’s investment “ridiculous”.

Source: Coastal Scene, 4 June 2018

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International

 

California: Social Smoking Campaign Urges ‘Smokers in Denial’ to Wake Up

Duncan Channon and the California Tobacco Control Program have launched a new anti-smoking campaign that targets social smokers age 21 to 35 who typically don’t view themselves as ‘smokers’ and therefore underestimate the harm of lighting up at parties and other social events.

The campaign evokes smokers’ distorted perception of their habit and its harm, along with statistics that reveal the true health consequences of occasional smoking and alternate forms of tobacco.

The campaign launches across the state with special focus on reaching LGBTQ, Hispanic, Asian and African-American communities that are at higher risk for social smoking.

Source: Media Post, 4 June 2018

See also: Never Just a Smoke

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USA: Lung cancer risk ‘drops dramatically’ within five years of quitting smoking

Researchers at Vanderbilt University Medical Center in the US have analysed the Framingham Heart Study, which looked at 8,907 people who had been followed for 25 to 34 years.
During this period, 284 lung cancers were diagnosed, nearly 93% of which occurred among heavy smokers – those who had smoked at least a pack of cigarettes a day for 21 years or more.

Five years after quitting, the risk of developing lung cancer in former heavy smokers dropped by 39% compared to current smokers, and continued to fall as time went on.
However, even 25 years after quitting, their lung cancer risk remained over threefold higher compared to people who had never smoked.

Author Hilary Tindle, professor of medicine at the Vanderbilt University School of Medicine, said: “The fact that lung cancer risk drops relatively quickly after quitting smoking, compared to continuing smoking, gives new motivation.”

Source: Health Insurance Daily, 4 June 2018

See also: Journal of the National Cancer Institute, Lifetime smoking history and risk of lung cancer

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Nigeria: Tax rise on tobacco and alcohol as fears grow of a public health crisis

A rise in excise duties has come into force in Nigeria, amid fears that growing tobacco and alcohol consumption could threaten a public health crisis. Although the number of women smoking has nearly halved over the past 18 years, the proportion of Nigerian men who have taken up the habit has increased to 17.4% from 11% in 2000. The rise has been attributed to less control on tobacco advertising and a growth in disposable income in the region, experts say.

The finance ministry has said it hopes the duties would have “a dual benefit of raising the government’s fiscal revenues and reducing the health hazards associated with tobacco-related diseases and alcoholic abuse.”

However, though the IMF proposed a doubling of tariffs, taxes on cigarettes will be raised by just four pence a year for the next three years, so campaigners have questioned how effective this will be.

Source: Telegraph, 4 June 2018

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China: Tobacco regulator argues for indoor space for smokers

The regulator of China’s tobacco industry, which oversees state monopoly China National Tobacco Corp, has called for the introduction of designated indoor smoking areas, claiming enforcing bans in all public spaces was too difficult.

The former head of tobacco control at the Chinese Center for Disease Control and Prevention, Yang Gonghuan, has accused China Tobacco of attempting to thwart control measures by interfering in policy-making. Around 300 million of China’s 1.4 billion people smoke, and China Tobacco sells 98% of all tobacco consumed in China. It is easily the world’s largest tobacco producer by volume, with its sales totalling 1.1 trillion yuan ($171.81 billion) last year.

Source: Reuters, 4 June 2018

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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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