ASH Daily News for 2 July 2019


  • Gambling firms pledge £60 million to help people addicted to gambling after criticism
  • Smoking ‘damages eyes as well as lungs’
  • Greenwich council launches regional campaign to crackdown on illegal tobacco


  • Smoking banned in some outdoor areas in Sweden
  • New law bans indoor smoking at Japan’s government buildings and schools


Gambling firms pledge £60 million to help people addicted tp gambling after criticism

The UK’s biggest gambling firms have agreed to contribute more money to fund treatment for people addicted to gambling. The owners of William Hill, Ladbrokes Coral, Paddy Power Betfair, Skybet and Bet 365 will increase their voluntary levy on gambling profits from 0.1% to 1% starting in 2023 – a contribution of £60m.

It comes amid criticism of how little the industry spends to help people addicted to gambling compared with its marketing budget. Earlier this month, NHS England chief executive Simon Stevens warned betting firms could be taxed to pay for addiction treatment. Mr Stevens condemned the “fraction” spent by industry on helping those struggling with addiction, compared with the amount spent on advertising and marketing.

A source said the industry had to act: “The industry is on a precipice – if we don’t get ahead of this, we will end up where the alcohol industry was 10 years ago, and tobacco 30 years ago. The fear is that we face a ban on touchline advertising or football shirt sponsorship.”

Source: BBC, 2 July 2019

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Smoking ‘damages eyes as well as lungs’

Millions of people in the UK are putting their sight at risk by continuing to smoke, warn specialists. Despite the clear connection, only one in five people recognise that smoking can lead to blindness, a poll for the Association of Optometrists (AOP) finds. Smokers are twice as likely to lose their sight compared with non-smokers because tobacco smoke can cause and worsen a number of eye conditions, says the Royal National Institute of Blind People.

In the poll of 2,006 adults, only 18% correctly said that smoking increased the risk of blindness or sight loss, while three-quarters (76%) knew smoking was linked to cancer. The AOP says stopping or avoiding smoking is one of the best steps you can take to protect your vision, along with having regular sight checks.

Aishah Fazlanie, Optometrist and Clinical and Regulatory Adviser for the AOP, said: “People tend to know about the link between smoking and cancer, but many people are not aware of the impact that smoking can have upon the eyes…Smoking increases the risk of sight-threatening conditions, such as age-related macular degeneration, which is an important reason why smokers should consider quitting.”

Source: BBC, 2 July 2019

See also: ASH – Factsheet: Smoking and eye disease

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Greenwich council launches regional campaign to crackdown on illegal tobacco

Greenwich council is highlighting that over £100 million a year is made from London’s trade in illegal tobacco, undermining efforts to support smokers to quit, as part of the Stamp It Out London campaign.

The London wide campaign aims to make it less socially acceptable to buy and sell illegal tobacco, and was launched on 29th June at the Royal Greenwich Get Together and Armed Forces Day in Woolwich. The roadshow included a sniffer dog called Pippa who helps detect illegal tobacco, and tips about the different types of illegal tobacco to look out for.

Councillor Jackie Smith said: “Royal Greenwich is proud to support the Stamp It Out London campaign – working together, our trading standards and public health teams, and our partners, will continue to tackle this issue and stamp out illegal tobacco.”

Source: Local London, 1 July 2019

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Smoking banned in some outdoor areas in Sweden

An outdoor smoking ban in some public places, including playgrounds and train station platforms, has taken effect in Sweden. The ban, which started 1st July 2019, means smoking in outdoor sections of restaurants and entrances to designated booths for smokers is prohibited. The ban also includes e-cigarettes.

Official figures show only 11% of the Swedish population smoked daily in 2016, with about 10% smoking occasionally. In May 2005, Sweden banned smoking in bars and restaurants.

Source: Daily Mail, 1 July 2019

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New law bans indoor smoking at Japan’s government buildings and schools

A new law took effect on 1st July 2019 banning people from smoking in government agency, school and hospital buildings, with more establishments like bars and restaurants to face similar rule changes next year.

Under the revised Health Promotion Law, fines of up to ¥300,000 (£2,196) could be imposed on smokers and up to ¥500,000 (£3,660) on facility managers for breaking the law. The scope of the law will be expanded in April 2020 to include some eateries and bars as well as offices, railway buildings and hotel lobbies, among other places, ahead of the Tokyo Olympic and Paralympic Games starting July 2020.

While the law starting April 2020 will impact eateries and bars, the places where people are most frequently exposed to secondhand smoke, the change has sparked controversy due to the government’s approach to exemptions. Existing eateries and bars with initial capital of up to ¥50 million (£366,000) and customer seating areas of up to 100 square meters will be exempted from the indoor smoking ban, and will not be required to have separate smoking areas if they display “smoking allowed” signs at their entrances. Critics claim the exceptions will allow smoking at more than half of the eateries and bars across the country.

Source: The Japan Times, 1 July 2019

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