ASH Daily News for 15 May 2019


  • Are heat-not-burn tobacco products a safer alternative to cigarettes?
  • Shopkeeper caught selling illegal tobacco lands £60,000 court bill


  • Texas comes closer to raising tobacco age of sale to 21

Parliamentary activity

  • House of Commons debate: Public health funding



Are heat-not-burn tobacco products a safer alternative to cigarettes?

Whilst heated tobacco products (HTPs) have been on sale for some years, tobacco firms are increasingly focusing PR energy on selling them in the belief that the time is right to win over more consumers. “They’re [the tobacco industry] very busy all over the world. It’s a massive campaign,” says Anna Gilmore of the Tobacco Control Research Group at the University of Bath, UK.

There are however many unanswered questions about HTPs. The tobacco industry claims that HTPs are safer largely on the basis of research showing that heating rather than burning tobacco generates significantly lower levels of harmful chemicals. Philip Morris International (PMI) examined 58 compounds found in tobacco smoke that are known to be harmful or potentially harmful. Averaged across the 58, levels in IQOS (PMI’s market leading HTP) are 90% lower. The validity of these claims matter because the tobacco industry is aiming HTPs at smokers who might otherwise quit or shift to vaping.

An independent literature review by Erikas Simonavicius at King’s College London and his colleagues found broad agreement with this figure. But 10 of the 11 studies on aerosol composition they looked at were industry funded, says Simonavicius. “The research findings from the tobacco industry support the tobacco industry’s claims,” he says. This raises concerns, says Stanton Glantz at the University of California, San Francisco, because “tobacco companies have a record of publishing incomplete or manipulated information”.

Even if PMI’s claim about HTPs altered chemical make-up is true, studies of aerosol composition are a smokescreen, says Glantz. What matters is the biological effect of inhalation. He says that studies he and others have done, both on PMI data and independently generated results, show that, by this measure, IQOS and other HTPs are little, if any, safer than cigarettes.

Independent evidence has also begun to pile up. In a review of the literature on heated tobacco published this year, Bertrand Dautzenberg at the Sorbonne University, Paris, and Marie-Dominique Dautzenberg of pressure group Paris Without Tobacco analysed the health claims. “Heated tobacco produces less smoke than traditional cigarettes, but the risk reduction is not demonstrated,” says Bertrand Dautzenberg. The pair also found evidence that non-smokers taking up HTPs outnumber smokers using it to quit and that 69% of users continue to smoke as well. Both fly in the face of industry claims that these devices help people to quit.

Source: New Scientist, 8 May 2019

See also: Committees on Toxicity, Carcinogenicity and Mutagenicity of Chemicals in Food, Consumer Products and the Environment – Statement on the toxicological evaluation of novel heatnot-burn tobacco products

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Shopkeeper caught selling illegal tobacco lands £60,000 court bill

A shopkeeper has been fined after Dudley Council trading standards officers found 718 packs of illegal cigarettes and 107 packs of illegal tobacco hidden in a false wall in his shop and in his car parked outside. All of the products failed to comply with UK regulations requiring health warnings to be displayed. Duty evaded on the haul was approximately £4,400.

In addition to a suspended sentence, the shop owner was ordered to pay the entire value of the benefit of the crime, estimated to be £65,000 under the Proceeds of Crime Act. He was also ordered to carry out 150 hours of unpaid work and pay costs to Dudley council of £5,028.

Martin Samuels, Dudley Council’s strategic director for people, said: “This is the first case in Dudley borough where assets arising from the benefit of the crimes have been confiscated on top of the usual punishments and has resulted in the offender losing far more than the value of the illegal product seized. Our message to other shops involved in this illegal activity is we will pursue the same action against you, which may result in you losing all your assets.”

Source: Talking Retail, 14 May 2019

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Texas comes closer to raising tobacco age of sale to 21

The Texas House of Representatives voted on Tuesday 14th May to raise the legal smoking age from 18 to 21, except for military personnel.

Senate Bill 21 received preliminary approval from the lower chamber more than one month after the Senate approved a slightly different version of the legislation. The bill now awaits final approval in the House following which a committee would come together to finalise a joint Bill.

If the bill becomes law, Texas would become the 14th state to raise the legal tobacco purchasing age to 21 and the third to include military exemptions. The stricter age restriction would also apply to e-cigarettes.

Source: The Texas Tribune, 14 May 2019

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Parliamentary Activity

House of Commons debate: Public health funding

A debate in the House of Commons took place yesterday 14th May on the subject of public health spending reductions and the impact this might have had on falling life expectancy.

Opening the debate, Jon Ashworth MP, Shadow Secretary of State for Health and Social Care, said: “A child born at this very moment in the very poorest of communities—whether in inner cities like Manchester or my own city, Leicester, or in towns such as Blackpool or Burnley—will have a life expectancy that is around nine years lower than that of a child born at this very moment in some of the wealthiest communities, such as Chelsea, Westminster or east Dorset, and they will enjoy 18 fewer healthy years of life.” Public health, prevention and smoking were raised in contributions throughout the debate.

Sharon Hodgson, Shadow Minister for Public Health, said “Smoking remains the No. 1 cause of death in England, yet Action on Smoking and Health, ASH, found that in England from 2014-15 to 2017-18 local authority spending on tobacco control, including stop smoking services, fell by 30%. Furthermore, an annual survey conducted by ASH, commissioned by Cancer Research UK, found that, in 2018, 30 local authorities had no budget for tobacco control activity outside of stop smoking services. Although smoking costs the NHS an estimated £2.5 billion, NICE estimates that for every £1 invested in stop smoking services, £2.37 will be saved on treating smoking-related disease and lost productivity.”

Source: Hansard, 14 May 2019

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