ASH Daily News for 17 July 2019


  • English health index to paint detailed picture of nation’s wellbeing
  • Health Secretary plans to ban sale of energy drinks to all children under 16
  • NHS could save billions by offering financial rewards to quit smoking
  • Tobacco company partners with LGBTI news outlet


  • San Francisco’s top economist confirms vape ban could mean more smoking
  • New York introduces new law raising age of sale for tobacco from 18 to 21

Parliamentary Activity

  • Parliamentary Questions


English health index to paint detailed picture of nation’s wellbeing

The government is to set up the most comprehensive database yet to measure the health of people in England as part of leaked plans to improve life expectancy and boost the fight against the most common deadly diseases. Ministers intend to create a “composite health index” which will track whether the population’s health is getting better or worse and the stark difference between rich and poor when it comes to illnesses such as cancer, diabetes and heart disease.

The detailed picture of whether people are getting healthier or unhealthier is intended to enable ministers across government, in areas such as housing, transport and the environment, as well as health, to consider the likely impact of proposed policies on overall physical and mental health. Public health experts have welcomed the plan, which is outlined in the government’s forthcoming Prevention Green Paper, which is due to be published shortly.

Source: The Guardian, 16 July 2019

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Health Secretary plans to ban sale of energy drinks to all children under 16

Health Secretary Matt Hancock is set to ban the sale of energy drinks to under-16s in the forthcoming Prevention Green Paper.

Mr Hancock’s ‘write round’ letter to fellow Cabinet ministers to get sign off for his Prevention Green Paper has been leaked to The Sun. In it, the Health Secretary reveals: “Following a high level of interest in the consultation, we plan on announcing that we will be ending the sale of energy drinks to children under the age of 16”.

Mr Hancock adds that he is “taking a precautionary approach to mitigate the potential negative effects associated with their excessive consumption by children”.

The energy drinks age limit was due to appear in outgoing PM Theresa May’s Prevention Green Paper to consult on a series of public health measures. But it is now being decoupled from it after Mrs May’s plan was last night on the verge of being abandoned.

Source: The Sun, 16 July 2019

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NHS could save billions by offering financial rewards to quit smoking

Offering financial rewards to people trying to quit smoking could save the NHS billions of pounds a year and boost the economy, according to new research. A Cochrane Review of the evidence for incentives found people were 50% more likely to stop smoking when receiving a financial reward than those who were not. The value of the rewards ranged from £35 to £912 in the form of cash payments, gift vouchers or deposits paid by participants that were later refunded. The researchers found that the size of the monetary reward on offer made no difference to the chance of quitting, and that even small rewards increased the likelihood of a smoker quitting.

Previous work had found limitations with using financial incentives to quit, suggesting they were only effective for the time they were in place. However, the researchers have collated more recent results, all of which look at the effects in the long term, at least six months after the smokers initially quit. Lead researcher Caitlin Notley warned that incentives did not work for everyone, and said a range of options to help people stop smoking should be offered, such as encouraging the use of e-cigarettes.

Smoking costs the economy about £13bn a year, including costs of £3bn to the NHS and social care. The researchers say their findings point to a novel potential method of reducing these costs, as well as improving public health.

Source: The Guardian, 17 July 2019

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Tobacco company partners with LGBTI news outlet

In order to address the high smoking rates of LGBTI people, Gay Star News has announced that it is working with multinational tobacco company Philip Morris Limited, as part of their ‘Unsmoke Your World’ campaign. On Thursday 24 July, Gay Star News is hosting an event in London to ‘put a spotlight on the issue as never before within our community’. They have also launched a survey to find out ‘why people smoke and use the findings to inform policy and convince lawmakers to help end the crisis’.

Source: Gay Star News, 16 July 2019

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San Francisco’s top economist confirms vape ban could mean more smoking

San Francisco’s chief economist, Ted Egan, has confirmed that the city’s ban on e-cigarette sales is likely to increase smoking as vapers switch to combustible cigarettes. Ted Egan’s office is tasked with analysing the economic impact of legislation in San Francisco, and if it is found that legislation will have no impact on the local economy, no more analysis is conducted. Because Egan and his colleagues concluded that banning e-cigarette sales would have no material effect on the city’s economy, no further study was required.

However, Egan was interviewed by the San Francisco Chronicle on the 15th May to explain how his office arrived at this conclusion. It found that the ban wouldn’t be bad for business because the money currently being spent on vaping products would still be spent in the city on other nicotine products, such as conventional cigarettes. Egan’s interview was given more than a month before the supervisors approved the ban. When asked if they were aware of Egan’s assessment before the legislation was passed, all the supervisors’ offices, as well as the mayor’s office, declined to comment.

In a city notorious for its anti-tobacco laws, the ban on e-cigarettes is the first time San Francisco has ever given a competitive advantage to cigarettes over a safer nicotine alternative.

Source: Reason, 15 July 2019

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New York introduces new law raising age of sale for tobacco from 18 to 21

New York will raise its smoking age from 18 to 21 under legislation signed into law on Tuesday 16th July by the state’s governor. The change, which takes effect on the 13th November 2019, will apply to the sales of traditional tobacco products as well as electronic cigarettes and vaporisers. Democrat Governor Andrew Cuomo said that too many children and teens pick up smoking despite decades of efforts to snuff out the habit, in part because of marketing aimed at young people.

Sixteen states have approved raising the smoking age to 21, though in some the changes won’t take effect until later in 2019 or in coming years. In addition, hundreds of local communities around the nation have made the move to 21. In New York state they include New York City, Long Island, Albany and a dozen other counties.

Source: Time, 16 July 2019

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Parliamentary Activity

Parliamentary Questions

PQ1: Mental disorders

Asked by Paul Farrelly, Newcastle-under-Lyme
To ask the Secretary of State for Health and Social Care, what assessment he has made of implications for his policies of the recent study published in the journal, Nicotine & Tobacco Research entitled, Prescribing prevalence, effectiveness, and mental health safety of smoking cessation medicines in patients with mental disorders.

Answered by Seema Kennedy, the Parliamentary Under-Secretary for Health and Social Care
No such assessment has been made. The Government keeps evidence on tobacco control under review. Decisions on the best licensed smoking cessation support to prescribe are a matter for clinicians in discussion with their patients, taking account of guidance including advice published by the National Institute for Health and Care Excellence.

Source: HC Deb, 16 July 2019, cW

PQ2: Excise duties

Asked by Virendra Sharma, Ealing, Southall
To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer, what amount of heated tobacco product covered by the Tobacco for Heating excise category introduced on 1 July 2019 may be brought into the UK by passengers (a) from the EU and (b) from outside the EU as at (i) 11 July 2019 and (ii) after the UK leaves the EU.

Answered by Jesse Norman, Financial Secretary to the Treasury and Paymaster General
Passengers travelling from the EU may bring an unlimited amount of tobacco for heating into the UK without paying duty, provided it is for their own personal use. Most passengers travelling from outside the EU may bring tobacco for heating products into the UK up to the value of £390. Passengers travelling by private plane or boat are only entitled to an allowance of £270. The Government’s future approach is subject to the outcome of negotiations with the EU. However, the Government’s aim is to keep processes as close as possible to their current operation.

Source: HC Deb, 16 July 2019, cW

PQ3: Coastal areas

Asked by Angela Crawley, Lanark and Hamilton East
To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, what steps the Government is taking to tackle coastal littering.

Answered by Dr Thérèse Coffey, the Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs
This is a devolved matter and the information provided therefore relates to England only.
The Government published the Litter Strategy for England in April 2017, setting out our aim to clean up the country and deliver a substantial reduction in litter and littering within a generation. The common aim of all the actions set out in the Strategy is to change the behaviour of people who currently feel that it is acceptable to drop litter, whether at the coast or anywhere else. Evidence shows that people drop less litter in a clean environment, and we therefore particularly support efforts to remove litter from coastal environments.

Source: HC Deb, 16 July 2019, cW