ASH Daily News for 18 March 2020



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UK

  • Public health gets above inflation rise but cuts ‘hit coronavirus capacity’
  • London gang jailed after 23 million illegal cigarettes discovered at rented industrial units

International

  • US: Cigarette packs and ads to include graphic warnings starting next year, FDA says
  • Tobaccopoli: The Secret Battle to Control Italy’s Cigarette Market

 

UK

Public health gets above inflation rise but cuts ‘hit coronavirus capacity’

The public health grant will increase by 4.8% next year in a move government says is intended to cover the costs of wage increases for NHS staff working in organisations commissioned by councils. The overall grant for 2020-21 was confirmed Tuesday 17th March as £3.28bn compared to £3.13bn for 2019/20 . This is 3% above inflation which stood at 1.8% in January 2020.

However, the grant is still 5.5% (£190m) lower than the overall allocation in 2015-16 of £3.47bn. The delay to announcing the grant has been blamed on discussions within the Department for Health & Social Care over funding for wage rises for staff providing public health services who are on NHS terms and conditions under the ‘Agenda for Change’ pay deal.

Association of Directors of Public Health President Jeanelle de Gruchy said the grant increase was “a positive step after year upon year of deep cuts […] We now have the certainty the ADPH has been calling for since December and directors of public health can focus on the nation’s number one priority: ensuring the best possible response to coronavirus.” However, she warned that the “reality on the ground” is that the grant will not immediately address the loss of councils’ capacity to prepare for outbreaks such as coronavirus, or reverse the loss of staff and services focused on early years health, sexual health, smoking cessation and drug and alcohol treatment overnight.

There is also significant variation in the percentage increases for individual councils.
A total of 21 councils will receive an annual uplift next year of more than 6%, while four councils will receive an increase of less than 2%. These are North Somerset Council, South Tyneside MBC, Council of the Isles of Scilly and the City of London Corporation. A further 30 councils will receive an increase of less than 4%.

Ms de Gruchy added: “Directors of public health will continue to face tough decisions. What is needed, through the upcoming Spending Review, is a significant, multi-year settlement for public health – just like the NHS […] There is a growing consensus from commissioners, providers, charities and professional bodies that long-term investment in local public health is essential to reduce pressure on the NHS, narrow inequalities, improve wellbeing, drive productivity and maintain a resilient health protection system.”

Source: Local Government Chronicle, 17 March 2020
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London gang jailed after 23 million illegal cigarettes discovered at rented industrial units

Three men from London have been jailed after 23 million illegal cigarettes were discovered at four rented industrial units across the south of England. The men were responsible for the importation, storage and distribution of illegal cigarettes worth £9.5 million in unpaid duty.

Between November 2018 and July 2019, HM Revenue and Customs (HMRC) investigators found and seized 23,464,440 cigarettes from four rented units in London, Essex, North Hertfordshire and Cambridgeshire.

Officers found 8,965,780 cigarettes inside a unit at a warehouse in Royston in November 2018, and 10 days later discovered a further 3,490,900 cigarettes inside a self-storage unit in Forest Hill. Some of the cigarettes were packed inside cardboard boxes labelled as laminate flooring. Another 6,114,360 cigarettes were later found in a unit on an industrial estate in Huntingdon. Officers also found £843,580 cash inside a padlocked box, and more cigarettes, at a garage in Sydenham. The three men received custodial sentences of between 2 to 5 years.

Source: MyLondon, 17 March 2020
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International

US: Cigarette packs and ads to include graphic warnings starting next year, FDA says

The US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) issued a final rule Tuesday 17th March 2020 that requires tobacco companies to place new graphic health warnings on cigarette packages and in advertisements. Beginning on 18th June 2021, the new cigarette health warnings will be required to occupy the top 50% of the area on the front and back panels of packages and at least 20% of the area at the top of cigarette ads, according to the FDA.

“The 11 finalised cigarette health warnings represent the most significant change to cigarette labels in more than 35 years and will considerably increase public awareness of lesser-known, but serious negative health consequences of cigarette smoking,” Mitch Zeller, director of the FDA’s Center for Tobacco Products, said.

“Research shows that the current warnings on cigarettes, which have not changed since 1984, have become virtually invisible to both smokers and nonsmokers, in part because of their small size, location and lack of an image. Additionally, research shows substantial gaps remain in the public’s knowledge of the harms of cigarette smoking, and smokers have misinformation about cigarettes and their negative health effects,” Zeller said. “The new cigarette health warnings complement other critical FDA actions, including outreach campaigns targeted to both adults and youth, to educate the public about the dangers associated with using cigarettes, as well as other tobacco products.”

Source: CNN, 18 March 2020

See also: FDA – FDA requires new health warnings for cigarette packages and advertisements
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Tobaccopoli: The Secret Battle to Control Italy’s Cigarette Market

An Organised Crime and Corruption Reporting Project (OCCRP) investigation reveals how Philip Morris International built a network of corrupt officials in Italy’s customs agency, the very organisation tasked with overseeing the country’s efforts to make the industry more transparent. Read the full article by clicking the button below.

Source: OCCRP, 11 March 2020
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