ASH Daily News for 12 March 2020



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UK

  • Tobacco tax increase: what the Budget 2020 changes mean for cigarettes prices in the UK
  • Researchers evaluate free vape kit programme for smoking cessation
  • ‘Smokefree’ Oxfordshire strategy launched on No Smoking Day
  • Opinion: ‘Smoking has always been my crutch for anxiety – it’s time for a mindset shift’

Parliamentary Activity

  • Prime Minister’s Questions

UK
Tobacco tax increase: what the Budget 2020 changes mean for cigarettes prices in the UK

The cost of cigarettes and hand-rolling tobacco are set to increase, the Chancellor announced in his Budget on Wednesday 11th March. Rishi Sunak confirmed he would be increasing cigarettes prices by 2% above the inflation rate of 1.8%. Meanwhile, the duty rate on hand-rolling tobacco will rise by 6% this year.

According to the ONS, in the UK about 14.7% of people aged 18 years and above smoked cigarettes in 2018, meaning around 7.2 million people will be affected by the price rise. But when are the new prices going to be introduced and how much will smokers be paying?

The price rises translate into an extra 27 pence per pack of 20 cigarettes and 67 pence on a 30g pack on hand-rolling tobacco. For example, a 20 pack of cigarette currently costs £12.40 at Tesco – but the change mean it will now increase to about £12.67.

The change took effect at 6pm on 11th March. The price increase comes as part of plans to prevent young people from smoking and reduce the number of people taking up smoking.

Deborah Arnott, chief executive of ASH, said: “Despite successive years of tax increases, the past failure to close the gap in tax on hand-rolled tobacco has kept smokers smoking who might otherwise quit. Thousands of smokers have switched to cheaper hand-rolled tobacco in recent years. We welcome the government’s efforts to address this. But it must go beyond a single year.”

Menthol cigarettes and rolling tobacco are due to be withdrawn from shelves later this year, with the ban due to come into force from May 2020. Skinny cigarettes will also be banned from UK stores when the new regulations come into force.

Source: The i, 11 March 2020

See also:
Mirror: “Budget 2020: Cigarette price rise will kick in at 6pm today, Chancellor confirms”
BBC News: “Budget 2020: What it means for you”

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Researchers evaluate free vape kit programme for smoking cessation

Researchers at the University of East Anglia (UEA) are evaluating a new free vape kit scheme in Great Yarmouth, to help find out whether the initiative helps people to quit smoking. The scheme, delivered by Smokefree Norfolk, offers an e-cigarette voucher to people in the Great Yarmouth area who are struggling to quit smoking.

People living in the area who go to their GP or access Smokefree Norfolk are offered a voucher to take to a local vape shop to exchange for a starter kit, given advice about e-liquid strengths, and provided with additional support from Smokefree Norfolk. This approach is pioneering with the NHS, vape retailers and researchers working together, recognising that other forms of smoking cessation support do not work for everyone.

UEA are evaluating the scheme and will be asking people who have taken up the scheme to feedback on their experience after one month. It is hoped they can inform future commissioning of services locally.

Dr. Caitlin Notley, Senior Lecturer at UEA’s Medical School leading the research, and a member of the Norfolk Tobacco Control Alliance, said: “Research shows that vaping is an effective method of quitting smoking when compared with nicotine replacement therapies like patches and gum, and e-cigarettes are now the most frequently chosen method of stop smoking support.” In fact, research completed by Dr. Notley suggests that they are particularly helpful in helping people to not only quit, but to stay quit for good.

“There is a lot of interest in methods to help people in coastal communities like Great Yarmouth to quit smoking.” she continued. “It is important to have an independent evaluation of pilot projects such as this one, so that we can robustly conclude whether the outcomes are positive, and if not, we can make recommendations for future practice and service provision.”

Source: Medical XPress, 11 March 2020

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‘Smokefree’ Oxfordshire strategy launched on No Smoking Day

The Oxfordshire Tobacco Alliance Strategy 2020-25 —pledging to become the first smokefree county in England — was launched yesterday (11 March), and now members of the public can give their opinions on plans to cut smoking in the county.

It is a joint effort between Oxfordshire County Council and health organisations, with a stated aim to make the Oxfordshire the first smokefree county of England, by bringing the percentage of the population who smoke down to 5%. It currently stands at 10%.

Oxfordshire director of public health Ansaf Azhar said the tobacco strategy ”will help residents to live healthy lives”. The strategy has four parts: prevention, local regulation and enforcement, creating smokefree environments and supporting smokers to quit.

Anyone who wants to give their opinion on the plans can do so before April 11 at tinyurl.com/SmokefreeOxon2020

Source: Oxford Mail, 11 March 2020

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Opinion: ‘Smoking has always been my crutch for anxiety – it’s time for a mindset shift’

For National No Smoking Day, i writer Claudia Tanner has shared how she is quitting after 25 years of smoking cigarettes (piece has been cut down for length):

“Like most people, I started smoking during my teenage years: aged 14 having the odd fag behind the school bike sheds to try fit in with the cool kids. And now what’s really not cool is that over the last 25 years I’ve assaulted my lungs with 98,550 cigarettes and spent £39,000 in the process, according to my quit app. Urgh. No-one realises they’re signing up for that when they have that first smoke.”

“I always thought I found myself going back to smoking simply because I found it so pleasurable. But looking at it rationally, I only really enjoyed the very first cigarette of the day or the one after a plane or train journey – the times when a smoker physically craves. The rest were kinda blah.”

“When I smoked, I was masking any uncomfortable or difficult feelings, even relatively small ones like a work deadline or having to say no to someone. I had a deeply ingrained belief I need cigarettes to get through life’s stresses. But there will always be some stress happening, so I knew it was time for a real mind shift.”

“Mainly, I realised I had to learn to become comfortable with uncomfortable feelings. To just allow myself to feel sad, stress, worry, loneliness or boredom. And know that I won’t die. And then come up with a possible solution if there is one. Or accept it if there isn’t.”

“Exercise is a proven way to combat stress and has been shown to reduce nicotine cravings – I’m really enjoying walks on the beach, swimming and Pilates. I’m now excited about making sport a bigger, consistent part of my life. Getting enough sleep is key too and I’ve found CBD oil is helping me feel calmer (one study found smokers taking it consumed 40% fewer cigarettes, suggesting it may help with cravings).”

“I also journal to help me identify my emotions and choose my reactions. I try to choose different ways to deal with feelings other than smoking. For example, if I’m stressed, I’ll opt to have a hot bath. When I’m bored or in need of some interaction I’ll call a friend, play with my dogs or do something creative. I’ve found joining a Facebook group for quitters has been great support too.”

“I’m hoping finally understanding anxiety is at the root of my quitting and adopting strategies to deal with that will help me keep my quit. I think you also have to remember you’ll always be an addict and can never have “just one”, or you awaken not just a physical addiction but all your old mental associations.”

Source: The i, 11 March 2020

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Parliamentary Activity

Prime Minister’s Questions

Rt Hon Jeremy Corbyn MP, Leader of Her Majesty’s Official Opposition
I hope that legislation comes rapidly, and that it does guarantee that people do not have to make a choice between spreading the virus because they have to go to work, and staying at home and self-isolating, as obviously they should do if they have the symptoms.

Can the Prime Minister explain why, according to a report by the Institute of Health Equity, life expectancy has gone down for the poorest women in our society?

Rt Hon Boris Johnson MP, The Prime Minister
Overall life expectancy stands at its highest level—the highest level ever—which is a tribute to the consistent work of this Government and others, but it is absolutely true that there are too many instances in too many parts of the country where we are seeing life expectancy not rise in the way that we would like. It is true that there are parts of this country where, for instance, only one in 50 pregnant women are smokers, and parts of the country where one in four pregnant women are smokers. What we want to see is a uniting and a levelling up across this whole country. That is why we are putting record sums—£12 billion—into public health, and that is why this is the Government and this is the party of the NHS, who are now putting record investment into our NHS, precisely for that purpose.

Source: Hansard, HC Deb, 11 March 2020