ASH Daily News 20 December 2017
- Evaluating the tobacco industry’s expansion into the e-cigarette market and the concerns over its corporate behaviour
- How to regulate lower risk tobacco products
- West Midlands: Over 30,000 illicit cigarettes seized in Staffordshire
- London: Homerton hospital to become enitrely smokefree in the New Year
- Latvia: Parliament seeks to put tobacco out of sight in shops
- Parliamentary Questions
Evaluating the tobacco industry’s expansion into the e-cigarette and the concerns over its corporate behaviour
The tobacco industry’s move into reduced risk materials could save lives, but the industry’s historical and current behaviour is still a cause for concern.
With leading tobacco manufacturers PMI and BAT claiming their future lies in a move away from traditional cigarettes, there are hopes for improving public health. However, these companies still clash frequently with courts and regulators, doing everything in their power to obstruct, dilute and delay governmental attempts to reduce rates of smoking. At the same time as they expand their market share of e-cigarettes and ‘heat not burn’ products, rates of cigarette smoking are declining rapidly in the West.
Tobacco companies are also hoping to influence the ongoing debate about new lower risk products. In September, PMI announced it would give be giving almost $1billion over 12 years to a new foundation conducting research into these same products; unsurprisingly, their motives have been met with scepticism.
According to Dr. Vera da Costa e Silva, who leads the implementation of the World Health Organisation’s Framework Convention on Tobacco Control, funding of the foundation is part of a “long-established and sinister pattern of corporate chicanery” to conceal the truth and protect their profits.
The world’s biggest multinational tobacco companies seem poised to save many consumers in future, kill millions of them in the meantime and, through multibillion-dollar mergers, become even more powerful.
Source: The Economist, 19 December 2017
How to regulate lower risk tobacco products
It is well-established that smoking is a scourge, as it is the leading preventable cause of cancer, kills over 7m people annually and robs the American economy of around $300bn each year through lost productivity and medical bills.
The introduction of new, lower risk products onto the market is thus welcome, especially so in light of encouraging new research into their effectiveness as a cessation aid and their lower relative health harms.
But many countries, such as Brazil, Singapore and Thailand, have taken measures to outlaw them entirely. Others, such as France and 11 states of America, have taken steps to ban e-cigarettes from certain enclosed public spaces.
Such steps are based on concerns arising from the lack of long-term research into health harms; such concerns ought not to be dismissed, but there is a fear that smoking cessation is being hampered by unwise regulation.
Source: The Economist, 19 December 2017
West Midlands: Over 30,000 illicit cigarettes seized in Staffordshire
Staffordshire-wide crackdowns on illicit cigarettes have led to the authorities seizing more than 30,000 illicit cigarettes.
Trading standards officers, assisted by Staffordshire Police and sniffer dogs, found around 33,000 suspected counterfeit or illegal cigarettes, around 8kg of illegal hand rolling tobacco, 13 litres of suspected non-duty paid vodka and around £1,000 in cash.
Gill Heath, Staffordshire County Council’s communities leader, said that illegal tobacco “creates a cheap source for children and young people”. She added: “The illegal tobacco market, and in particular the availability of cheap cigarettes, makes it harder for smokers to quit and remain smoke free.”
Source: The Stoke Sentinel, 19 December 2017
London: Homerton hospital to become enitrely smokefree in the New Year
Homerton hospital is to become smokefree in the New Year by enforcing a total ban on smoking on the premises.
Red lines will be painted at the access points to the hospital grounds stating ‘no smoking beyond this point’, with signs and posters also be on display. Any patients who receive hospital care at home will be asked not to smoke for an hour before staff arrive. Staff can also refuse to treat patients in a smoke-filled environment.
Vaping will be allowed in Homerton’s grounds as long as users steer clear from doors and windows.
Chief Nurse Sheila Adam said: “Smoking remains the number one health risk to people in this country and is the cause of many diseases and conditions which cost the NHS millions of pounds a year to treat. It is right and proper that we should be discouraging smoking on NHS sites”.
Source: Hackney Gazette, 19 December 2017
Latvia: Parliament seeks to put tobacco out of sight in shops
The Social and Employment Matters committee of the Latvian Parliament (Saeima) has voiced “conceptual support” for putting tobacco out of sight in shops, citing similar measures that have been introduced by other EU states.
The committee’s proposal outlines a special price sheet that gives information about what tobacco products are available for sale, their prices and the amount available for purchase.
The chair of the committee, Aija Barča, commented on the proposal, saying: “Members of the committee agreed that it is necessary to continue measures to restrict smoking even more in Latvia. The proposal to pull cigarettes from buyers’ eyes is intended for youngsters and people who have either quit or are trying to quit smoking.”
“The discussion about this norm is nothing new. Measures have already been introduced in several other European member states. For some reason, Latvia has yet to introduce any measures. We see there is political support for this idea in the Saeima. All that is left is coordinating it with the European Commission”
Source: Global Financial Market Review, December 19 2017
Mark Pawsey, Conservative (Rugby)
Public Health England has stated that e-cigarettes are at least 95% safer than tobacco products and are now the most popular way to stop smoking. What is being done to encourage smokers to quit using this method, and what steps are being taken to ensure that e-cigarette users are not forced to share their space with people who continue to smoke? 
Steve Brine, Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Public Health and Primary Care
We have asked Public Health England to include messages about the relative safety of e-cigarettes in its Quit Smoking campaign next month, but it is for local organisations and businesses to implement their own policies on e-cigarette use in the workplace.
To ask Her Majesty’s Government whether, in the light of Public Health England’s decision to include vaping within its stop smoking campaign for 2017, they will review vaping regulations in line with the commitment in the Tobacco Control Plan for England; and if so, when.
Lord O’Shaughnessy, The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Department of Health
My Lords, the Government are committed to a review of the Tobacco and Related Products Regulations 2016 by May 2021. There is limited scope for amending the regulations in advance of the UK exiting the EU so the Government envisage a review taking place after 29 March 2019. Protecting the public’s health will be the priority in any review…
There is no particular evidence that [vaping] encourages people to take up smoking or to transition into smoking. Government policy has, obviously, been made under the EU regulatory framework—and we think that it is pragmatic and evidence based. Direct advertising is, as he will know, banned, but the department, Ofcom and the Advertising Standards Authority is looking at the current guidelines in this area. I should point out that Public Health England includes in its public health campaigns positive messages about the relative benefits of vaping, so that message is getting out.