ASH Daily News for 11 March 2019


  • High rates of smoking in pregnancy in some areas
  • Vaping restrictions ‘should be lifted in hospitals’ – report
  • South West: Illegal cigarettes worth £2,000 found stashed in hidden compartment of Cheltenham shop
  • Royal Bolton Hospital saves babies’ lives with stillbirth reduction


  • India investigating Philip Morris and Godfrey Phillips



High rates of smoking in pregnancy in some areas

Figures released last Thursday show that there is major inequality in rates of smoking in pregnancy across the country. Smoking while pregnant has been linked to premature and still birth, as well as Sudden Infant Death Syndrome (SIDS).

Campaigners say tobacco control efforts are being hit by cuts to public health spending. Deborah Arnott, chief executive of Action on Smoking and Health, said it would be years before promised tobacco control funding produced results. She added: “Too many places are still not doing enough to help pregnant women quit smoking. This has a real cost in babies’ lives.”

The lowest rates of pregnant women smoking are in South West and North West London. Shadow Health Secretary Jonathan Ashworth said: “These shocking figures show the scale of inequality women across the country are facing.”

Source: The Sun, 10 March 2019

See also
NHS Digital. Statistics on Women’s Smoking Status at Time of Delivery, England. Q3. 2018-19

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Vaping restrictions ‘should be lifted in hospitals’ – report

A new report published by Forest, the tobacco industry funded campaign group, recommends that restrictions on vaping on hospital grounds should be lifted.

More than half (55%) of NHS trusts did not allow e-cigarettes to be used on hospital grounds last year. This is despite Public Health England (PHE) advice that it should be made easier for people to vape on site.

Freedom of Information requests were made to 200 NHS trusts in England by Forest, 170 of which provided a response. Around 45% said they allowed e-cigarettes to be used outside in 2018 and 11% of trusts, mainly specialising in mental health, permitted vaping indoors, the research found. However 14% said they were planning to amend their policies in 2019 to allow vaping outside buildings, in shelters or in wards.

Source: ITV, 11 March 2019

Editorial note: Forest is funded by the tobacco industry and is a vocal opponent of tobacco control measures. NICE guidance (PH48) calls for NHS organisations to prohibit smoking on grounds alongside a range of measures to support smokers to quit. For more information on how smoking impacts the NHS see the Royal College of Physicians report: Hiding in Plain Sight.

See also
TobaccoTactics – Forest

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South West: Illegal cigarettes worth £2,000 found stashed in hidden compartment of Cheltenham shop

Illegal tobacco and cigarettes worth more than £2,000 have been seized by Trading Standards after they were found stashed in the door frame of a Cheltenham shop. Trading Standards officers from Gloucestershire County Council uncovered the hidden stash during a recent inspection.

The hiding place contained 353 packs of 20 cigarettes including counterfeit versions of Regal and Richmond and 77 pouches of 50g hand-rolling tobacco.

Cllr Dave Norman said: “Our trading standards officers continue the fight against illegal tobacco sales. No matter how creative their hiding places get, we will not tolerate the sale of illegal tobacco in Gloucestershire. It poses a significant risk to public health as well as undercutting legitimate law abiding traders and taking money from the public purse, which funds the vital services we rely on.”

Source: ITV, 8 March 2019

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Royal Bolton Hospital saves babies’ lives with stillbirth reduction

Midwives and doctors at Royal Bolton Hospital have been leading the way to stop families undergoing the agony of stillbirths. The hospital sees 6,000 mums-to-be every year and currently has the fewest number of stillbirths in Greater Manchester, averaging 3.5 stillbirths per 1,000, down from 12 in 2017.

In 2016, the NHS published the Saving Babies’ Lives Care Bundle, a report containing best practice guidance to reduce stillbirths. Reducing rates of smoking in pregnancy is a key element of this approach. To reduce smoking in pregnancy the hospital has implemented the BabyClear programme, which screens all pregnant women for smoking using carbon monoxide monitoring and provides support to quit.

Paul Settle, clinical lead for the families division at Bolton NHS Foundation Trust, said: “We’re delighted with the latest statistics. We’ve made such fantastic improvements over the past 12 months, and the latest data shows that we have had a 25% reduction in stillbirths since 2016.”

Source: The Bolton News, 9 March 2019

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India investigating Philip Morris and Godfrey Phillips

India’s main financial crime-fighting agency, the Enforcement Directorate, is investigating Philip Morris International and its Indian partner Godfrey Phillips for alleged violation of investment laws.

According to internal company documents Philip Morris has for years paid manufacturing costs to Godfrey Phillips to make its Marlboro cigarettes, circumventing a nine-year-old government ban on foreign direct investment in the tobacco industry. Restricting foreign investment leaves cigarette manufacturing largely in the hands of domestic players, and is supposed to prevent any foreign-funded expansion.

If the Enforcement Directorate finds a company in violation of the rules, Indian law allows it to impose a penalty of up to three times the amount contravened.

Source: Reuters, 6 March 2019

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