West Midlands: Budget cut as plans to launch digital stop smoking service approved in Sandwell
Smokers in Sandwell could soon be offered online quit support after councillors agreed to re-commission its Stop Smoking service. It comes after cabinet members gave the go-ahead to proposals to cut its stop smoking budget by £360,000 and search for a new bidder to deliver the service.
The Stop Smoking service will be re-commissioned when the current contract comes to an end next April, councillors agreed on Wednesday.
Councillor Elaine Costigan, Sandwell council’s cabinet member for public health and protection, said: “Smoking cessation remains a key priority areas for Sandwell council public health. The proposed adjustments to the budget for the Stop Smoking service reflect a need to correct-size the allocation for this particular service. However, the new service will target hard-to-reach groups where smoking prevalence continues to remain high. We will also develop a digital self-help offer to reach those who don’t access traditional services.”
Source: Express & Star, 27 July 2018
“Sin” taxes are less efficient than they look, but they do help improve public health
Governments hope that just as taxes on alcohol and tobacco both generate revenue and reduce smoking and drinking, so sugar taxes will help curb obesity.
As policy instruments, sin taxes can be blunt. People who only occasionally drink or smoke are taxed no differently from heavy smokers and drinkers, whilst some economists are concerned that sin taxes affect low-income households most.
However, sin taxes do change behaviour. Estimates vary from study to study, but economists find that on average, a 1% increase in prices is associated with a decline of around 0.5% in sales of both alcohol and tobacco. Economic models assume that people know what they are doing, but humans struggle with behaviour change. Most smokers are aware of the health risks, but many still find it hard to quit.
Source: The Economist, 26 July 2018
US: Smokeless tobacco warning label may have misled consumers for years
In 1986, the U.S. government passed legislation requiring a series of warnings for smokeless tobacco products, one of which advised “This product is not a safe alternative to cigarettes.”
That warning, however, obscured an important distinction—that cigarettes are much more harmful to health than smokeless tobacco products. Over the 30-plus years since, the American public has mostly been unaware that smokeless tobacco is much less harmful than cigarettes, one of the nation’s leading tobacco policy experts argues in a new paper.
“It is important to distinguish between evidence that a product is ‘not safe’ and evidence that a product is ‘not safer’ than cigarettes or ‘just as harmful’ as cigarettes,” says the paper author, Lynn Kozlowski, professor of community health and health behavior at the University at Buffalo’s School of Public Health and Health Professions. “The process at the time of the establishment of official smokeless tobacco warnings in the 1980s paid no attention to this distinction,” Kozlowski adds. “The American public has become mostly unaware that smokeless tobacco is much less harmful than cigarettes.”
Harm Reduction Journal, Origins in the USA in the 1980s of the warning that smokeless tobacco is not a safe alternative to cigarettes: a historical, documents-based assessment with implications for comparative warnings on less harmful tobacco/nicotine products
Source: Medical Xpress, 26 July 2018
Australia: Six tonnes of tobacco seized from illegal crops in Northern Territory
Six tonnes of illegal tobacco leaves and vast fields of mature plants worth more than $13m in lost tax have been seized on a rural property in the Northern Territory. This was the first successful strike by a taskforce bringing together agencies including the Australian Tax Office and Australian Border Force. The illegal tobacco trade costs the federal government about $600m a year in lost revenue.
Australian Border Force assistant commissioner Sharon Huey said people may think it fairly harmless to purchase a cheap pack of illegal cigarettes, but warned the consequences could be dire. “The profits they make are going into more serious and more insidious types of crime,” she said. “We shouldn’t underestimate the impact of illicit tobacco.”
Source: Guardian, 26 July 2018
Opinion: How the tobacco industry has changed its marketing strategy across the globe
Tirumalai Kamala, Immunologist, Ph.D. Mycobacteriology, discusses which countries have done the best at eliminating smoking.
“Among the wiliest of industry operators, the tobacco industry started expanding its markets in China, Africa and Latin America as the noose began tightening around its activities in North America and Western Europe.
Being a formidable litigant helped it in this expansion, enabling it to successfully hide for decades the extent to which it knew full well that what it peddles is poison. In practical terms, this means that even as public policies in some countries started gaining ground against smoking, rates increased in others which either lacked such regulations and/or could be easily manipulated through PR campaigns.
Illustrative examples from Bhutan and Brazil show how public policies on smoking could either unwittingly increase it or work as they should and reduce it.”
Source: Forbes, 25 July 2018
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
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
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
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
This briefing is a position statement by Action on Smoking and Health and FairPensions which aims to inform stakeholders in local authority pensions, including councillors, pension fund members, local taxpayers and pension fund trustees.Local authority pension funds and investments in the tobacco industry
16 October 2017
Responding to mounting pressure, UN agency to consider severing ties with the tobacco industry
Following the decision by the UN Global Compact in September to exclude the tobacco industry, the International Labour Organization (ILO) will decide shortly whether it, too, will finally sever ties with Big Tobacco. The decision, set to come at its governing body meeting at the end of October, could close one of the tobacco industry’s last-remaining avenues of influence to the United Nations.
The decision comes as public health and labour leaders from around the world delivered a letter  this week to government representatives of the ILO Governing Body calling on them to end the ILO’s public-private partnerships with the tobacco industry. Global public health leaders from the Secretariat of the World Health Organization Framework Convention on Tobacco Control (WHO FCTC)  to global tobacco control organizations  have long called for the ILO to shut its doors to Big Tobacco.
Deborah Arnott, Chief Executive of public health charity Action on Smoking and Health, said:
“Tobacco kills millions every year, it is the only legal product that is lethal when used as intended and it undermines health and development. Finally the ILO is taking this seriously and we urge it to join other UN agencies in cutting its ties with Big Tobacco, in line with the requirements of the global health treaty the Framework Convention on Tobacco Control.”
Since 2015, the ILO has received more than $15 million USD from tobacco corporations for joint programs, including more than $10 million from Japan Tobacco International for its Achieving Reduction of Child Labour in Supporting of Education (ARISE) program.  The industry promotes these programs to boost its public relations,  but they do little to curb child labour in tobacco fields because they do not shift the tobacco industry-driven cycle of poverty for tobacco farmers that forces children into the fields.
The ILO’s links to the tobacco industry violates a core tenet of the FCTC, which establishes a firewall between the tobacco industry and public health policymaking.
Notes and Links:
Action on Smoking and Health is a health charity working to eliminate the harm caused by tobacco use. For more information see: www.ash.org.uk/about-ash
ASH receives funding for its programme of work from Cancer Research UK and the British Heart Foundation.
ASH staff are available for interview and have an ISDN line. For more information contact ASH on 020 7404 0242 or out of hours Deborah Arnott on 07976 935 987 or Hazel Cheeseman on 07754 358 593.
 Letter to the government members of the ILO Governing Body, Unfair Tobacco website. October 2017
 There ain’t no such thing as a free lunch, Dr Vera Luiza da Costa e Silva, Huffington Post 8 March 2017
 ILO should vote to keep the tobacco industry from the policy table. Press release. Vital Strategies. 15 March 2017.
 Reducing the worst forms of child labour in tobacco-growing communities in Brazil, Malawi and Zambia: Public-Private Partnership. ILO website. 6 October 2015.
 Otanez M, Glantz S, Social responsibility in tobacco production? Tobacco companies use of green supply chains to obscure the real costs of tobacco farming. BMJ Tobacco Control. April 2011.
 World Health Organisation, Article 5.3 of the WHO Framework Convention on Tobacco Control.
The costs of smoking to the economy include the expense of treating diseases caused by smoking as well as reduced productivity and environmental costs. March 2017.
The Economics of Tobacco
Letter to Financial Secretary to the Treasury re ASH/UKCTAS Spring Budget submission 2017Letter to Financial Secretary to Treasury re Budget 2017
British American Tobacco and Imperial Tobacco, the world’s second and fourth largest tobacco companies (excluding the Chinese state tobacco monopoly) are based in the UK. Jan 2017.The UK Tobacco Industry
This report scrutinises the messages sent to small retailers by the tobacco industry and asks whether the traditional approach to selling tobacco in small shops is still in retailers’ best interests, given the ongoing decline in the market and the recent changes to how tobacco is sold.
The findings in this report are drawn from two new pieces of research: an analysis of Electronic Point of Sale (EPOS) data from a sample of 1,416 convenience stores in Britain and a survey of 591 owners and managers of convenience stores.
Counter Arguments report
Survey of small retailers in Great Britain
Survey of small retailers in Great Britain
The four headline points of the report in one handy infographic
Counter Arguments: Infographic
Pictures of the report’s launch at the Palace of Westminster – 18 October 2016
In 2010 Philip Morris International initiated a law suit with an arbitration panel of the World Bank alleging that two of Uruguay’s tobacco control laws violated a bi-lateral treaty with Switzerland. On 8 July 2016, the tribunal dismissed all of PMI’s claims and ordered the company to pay Uruguay’s legal costs. The following briefings by the Campaign for Tobacco Free Kids summarise the tribunal’s findings.
PMI v Uruguay ruling - key findings CTFK 2016
A briefing for Local Authorities to help them meet their obligations as parties to the World Health Organization treaty on tobacco, the Framework Convention on Tobacco Control (FCTC – article 5.3) and to the Local Government Declaration on Tobacco Control.ASH Briefing: Developing a policy on contact with the tobacco industry
A joint submission by ASH and the UK Centre for Tobacco and Alcohol Studies for the 2016 Budget.ASH_UKCTAS_Budgetsubmission2016FINAL.pdf
A comprehensive look at why and how nicotine is so addictive. This fact sheet examines the mental and physical aspects of nicotine addiction. March 2018.08. Nicotine and Addiction
ASH response to a Department of Health consultation on the implementation of the revised Tobacco Products Directive (2014/40/EU).ASH_DHTPD-consultation-response.pdf