ASH Daily News for 14 November 2019


  • Frank Dobson obituary
  • STP and ICS plans still being ‘refined’ as deadline pushed back
  • Illegal tobacco worth £18,000 seized from homes and cars across Newcastle
  • Opinion: Giving in to the moral panic on vaping would risk the lives of smokers


Frank Dobson obituary

Frank Dobson was health secretary when the UK published its first comprehensive tobacco control strategy: Smoking Kills.

“The former health secretary Frank Dobson, who has died aged 79, devoted his lifetime in politics to giving practical effect to [his] socialist principles… and took immense pride in having secured extra funding for the National Health Service during his time in charge of an institution he regarded as truly emblematic of a caring society.

“Dobson oversaw one of the largest hospital building programmes in NHS history, abolished the internal market established under the previous Conservative government and introduced the National Institute for Clinical Excellence (NICE) in an attempt to replace the so-called postcode lottery for treatment. Simon Stevens, the current chief executive of the NHS, was a special adviser on policy issues to Dobson at the department.

“As secretary of state, Dobson was instrumental, with Tessa Jowell, in the establishment of the Sure Start system to provide help to families with childcare, health and education in the early years… [He] was consistently on the frontbench from 1981 until he stood down as health secretary in 1999 to stand unsuccessfully for election as the first London mayor the following year.”

Source: The Guardian, 12 November 2019

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STP and ICS plans still being ‘refined’ as deadline pushed back

Finalisation and publication of five-year system plans – setting out how each area will implement the NHS long-term plan – will be delayed by at least a month, officials have told the Health Service Journal. NHS England and Improvement guidance issued in the summer said: “All systems will be expected to agree their plans by mid-November 2019 and publish them shortly thereafter.”

However, NHSE this week told HSJ that “work will continue into December” on the plans. They said this was firstly so they can “refine and strengthen” implementation plans, but also because of election publication restrictions. The five-year plans were due to feed into a national LTP implementation document.

An NHSE/I spokesman said: “NHS teams have been doing extensive engagement with staff, patients and the public to develop their plans to improve services for local people and save more lives. Work will continue into December to refine and strengthen these implementation approaches. These will then inform the national implementation plan, that will need to be agreed in due course with the new government.” NHSE/I has given no new guidance on completion or publication dates.

While NHSE/I issued strict purdah rules to all NHS bodies last week, the Local Government Association told HSJ it was up to individual local councils to interpret its election guidance.

Source: Health Service Journal, 13 November 2019

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Illegal tobacco worth £18,000 seized from homes and cars across Newcastle

Tens of thousands of pounds worth of suspected illegal cigarettes have been seized across Newcastle. A two-day multi-agency operation between Trading Standards, Northumbria Police and HMRC involved sniffer dogs scouring homes and vehicles across the city as part of a clampdown on the sale of illegal tobacco.

27,000 suspected illegal cigarettes and 3kg of hand-rolling tobacco, worth an estimated £18,000, was seized and removed from the streets of Newcastle. The driver of a car containing a large stash of tobacco was arrested for driving without a licence or insurance and his car was also seized.

David Ellerington, Trading Standards lead at Newcastle City Council , said: “This has been another successful operation which has made a significant impact on organised criminal activity in Newcastle. By working together with partner agencies, we’ve prevented these products being sold on to members of the public which is a fantastic outcome for us.

“The sale of illegal tobacco is an activity we will continue to target given we know it leads to children and young people developing addictions and brings organised crime to our streets.”

Source: Chronicle Live, 13 November 2019

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Opinion: Giving in to the moral panic on vaping would risk the lives of smokers

Writing in the Telegraph, Daniel Pryor, Head of Programmes at the Adam Smith Institute, endorses the British approach to regulating e-cigarettes and highlights evidence showing that they are significantly less harmful than cigarettes. The Adam Smith Institute has received funding from the tobacco industry.

“When people have severe allergic reactions to peanuts, we have every sympathy with their experience – and rightly so. But if the BBC responded by fabricating a health panic about the general population’s peanut consumption, we’d think Auntie had gone completely bonkers.

“This is exactly what’s happening with vaping. The case of Ewan Fisher – a 16-year-old boy suffering with severe lung inflammation after a presumed allergic reaction from using an e-cigarette – has dominated headlines in recent days.

“If only the same amount of column inches were devoted to putting these events in their proper scientific context. Professor John Britton, Director of the UK Centre for Tobacco & Alcohol Studies at the University of Nottingham, has stressed that cases such as Ewan’s are “very rare… in absolute terms [the risk of vaping] is extremely small – and, crucially, far smaller than that of smoking.”

“Vaping may not be as safe as breathing sweet fresh mountain air, but the overwhelming scientific consensus is that it is far less harmful than the traditional alternative – cigarettes. As part of their annual evidence review, Public Health England have stated that e-cigarettes are at least 95% less harmful than [smoking].

“But even in the face of such strong evidence, shouldn’t we apply the precautionary principle until we are absolutely certain that e-cigarettes are as safe as we believe? Sarah Vine argued in today’s Daily Mail that we need to “err on the side of caution” until we know for sure. But there’s nothing cautious about denying people access to a product that we have every reason to believe is a far safer alternative to smoking. We know the enormous health harms of smoking, and cracking down on safer alternatives risks sowing further confusion among smokers who are considering switching.”

Source: The Telegraph, 13 November 2019

See also:
ASH Briefing: Electronic Cigarettes
Tobacco Tactics: Adam Smith Institute

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