ASH Daily news for 20 March 2015



  • BAT shares hit by Bloomberg anti-smoking fund
  • Guernsey: Tobacco prices set to increase
  • Blackburn Rovers FC trial smoking area outside stadium at half-time
  • Leicester: House fire caused by faulty e-cigarette charger
  • France to introduce plain packaging on cigarettes
  • Tasmania may ban tobacco sale from 2018
  • World Conference on Tobacco or Health News
  • Parliamentary motions
  • Parliamentary question: Future of the European tobacco producing sector

    BAT shares hit by Bloomberg anti-smoking fund

    Shares in British American Tobacco are among the biggest losers on the London stock market after news of a $4m (£2.7m) anti-smoking fighting fund.

    Shares in the London-based tobacco company dropped nearly 3% to £36.90, making them the second-biggest faller on the FTSE 100 index.

    Source: The Guardian – 19 March 2015

    Guernsey: Tobacco prices set to increase

    Tobacco prices are set to see big increases in Guernsey, under new health proposals aimed at stamping out smoking.

    The health department wants the annual increases on cigarettes to rise by RPI +5%.

    It also wants even bigger price hikes on rolling tobacco, which it believes is being seen as a ‘cheap’ alternative.

    Rolling tobacco would rise by RPI + 7.5% under the latest plans, which are part of the tobacco control strategy.

    Longer term, the department is working on other ways of reducing the health impact of smoking, and it says it will investigate controls and regulations for e-cigarettes.

    Source: ITV – 20 March 2015

    Blackburn Rovers FC trial smoking area outside stadium at half-time

    Blackburn Rovers has amended the smoking restrictions at its stadium to allow supporters to smoke at half-time. The club has confirmed a trial on Tuesday was a success and will be expanded as the season continues.

    Five minutes before half-time in the Championship clash, supporters were allowed to exit via doors at the back of the Bryan Douglas Darwen End.

    A section of open-air concourse remained enclosed and supporters were not allowed to leave or enter it from outside. The enclosure was closed on the resumption of play for the second half.

    Source: This is Lancashire – 19 March 2015

    Leicester: House fire caused by faulty e-cigarette charger

    A fire which broke out in the lounge of a house  in Leicester has been blamed on a faulty e-cigarette charger.

    An ambulance was called as someone had suffered minor injuries. The lounge was severely heat damaged and partly smoke damaged.

    Source: Leicester Mercury – 19 March 2015

    France to introduce plain packaging on cigarettes

    French MPs have agreed a number of anti-smoking amendments to a Health Bill being debated in Parliament. As well as neutral cigarette packaging, the country’s smokers can expect a crackdown on smoking in cars with children, ‘vaping’ bans in some public places and sanctions on electronic cigarette flavours.

    The amendments to the Health Bill were made at a parliamentary committee meeting held on 18th March, reflecting the measures proposed by Health Minister Marisol Touraine in September 2014.

    As of 20th May 2016, all tobacco packaging will be standardised, with all packets made the same shape, size, colour and with the same typeset, reports Le Figaro. Brand logos will also be prohibited, although the printing of brand names is permitted. This concerns not only cigarettes and loose tobacco, but all smoking paraphernalia, including tobacco rolling papers and filters.

    Source: The Riviera Times – 19 March 2015

    Tasmania may ban tobacco sale from 2018

    International campaigners for a ban on tobacco sales to anyone born after 2000 say they are hopeful a bill will soon be adopted by parliament in Australia’s island state of Tasmania.

    Under the legislative proposals to be voted on next week (Tuesday), Tasmania would then lift the age at which people can legally buy cigarettes – currently 18 – a year at a time to achieve a “tobacco-free generation”.

    See also:
    – Campaign hopes for Tasmanian tobacco-free generation law, Yahoo!/AFP

    Source: The Rakyat Post – 20 March 2015

    World Conference on Tobacco or Health News

    WHO global report on trends in prevalence of tobacco smoking 2015, India Environment Portal

    Anew WHO report shows a declining rate of tobacco use and an increase in numbers of non-smokers. But governments must intensify action to combat the tobacco industry and dramatically reduce consumption of tobacco products to, in turn, protect public health says the report released at the World Conference on Tobacco or Health.

    [includes link to report]

    Department of Health awarded American Cancer Society “Exemplary Leadership” award for tobacco policy achievements, Medical News Today

    In the week that the standardised tobacco packaging regulations passed into law, the UK Department of Health has been recognised as an International Tobacco Control Leader by the American Cancer Society.

    During the 2015 Luther L. Terry Awards ceremony at the World Conference on Tobacco or Health taking place in Abu Dhabi, the Department of Health was presented with an award for Exemplary Leadership in Tobacco Control.

    Ireland: Industry ‘spent millions’ to scupper cigarette-pack plan, Irish Examiner

    A single tobacco company employed 161 lobbyists and spent millions of euros in an “unprecedented” attempt to derail a key EU directive behind Ireland’s groundbreaking plain-packaging cigarette laws.

    Children’s Minister James Reilly revealed the extent of the pressure to scrap the plan during a speech to the World Health Organization.

    See also:
    – Ireland refused to be bullied by Big Tobacco, Irish Examiner

    Hold tobacco industry liable: Turn the cost-benefit ratio upside down, Modern Ghana

    WHO FCTC Article 19 envisages a world where governments hold the power to protect people from harmful products like tobacco, can recover the costs of treating tobacco-related disease from the tobacco industry, and can use their legal systems to ensure their right to do so.

    “FCTC Article 19 is one of the least well implemented articles of the treaty. As a result it provides immense untapped potential to be able to shift the cost-benefit ratio for the way the tobacco industry operates and thereby hold it to account and make it pay the high costs of harms it causes to people around the world” said Cloe Franko, Chair of Network for Accountability of Tobacco Transnationals (NATT) and Senior International Organizer of Challenge Big Tobacco campaign at Corporate Accountability International.

    Philippines cited for tobacco control campaign, Malaya Business Insight

    The Philippines has been recognized by the Bloomberg Philanthropies Awards for Global Tobacco Control as one of six honorees in the fight against the global tobacco epidemic under its MPOWER method, considered the most effective means of demand-reduction tobacco control.

    Bloomberg Philanthropies recognized the Philippines under the “R” category of its MPOWER awards, “Raising taxes on tobacco,” where the Departments of Finance and Health were cited for their role in the passage of the 2012 Sin Tax Law.

    Kenya: WHO Calls Tobacco Firms ‘Cockroaches’ After Failed MPs Retreat, All Africa

    World Health Organization (WHO) has ridiculed plans by cigarette manufacturers in Kenya to fly some local politicians to a beach resort for a “sensitisation retreat”.

    The cigarette makers are fighting stiff anti-smoking regulations that the ministry of health has proposed.

    Head of WHO’s department for prevention of non-communicable diseases Dr Douglas William Bettcher said the tobacco firms were behaving like cockroaches.


    Parliamentary motions

    Two motions moved by Earl Howe were considered and approved in Grand Committee on 19 March:

    †Nicotine Inhaling Products (Age of Sale and Proxy Purchasing) Regulations 2015
    Earl Howe to move that the draft Regulations laid before the House on 25 February be approved.
    Relevant document: 25th Report from the Joint Committee on Statutory Instruments,

    †Proxy Purchasing of Tobacco, Nicotine Products etc. (Fixed Penalty Amount) Regulations 2015 Earl Howe to move that the draft Regulations laid before the House on 25 February be approved.
    Relevant document: 25th Report from the Joint Committee on Statutory Instruments

    Source: Parliament – 19 March 2015

    Parliamentary question: Future of the European tobacco producing sector

    Written question by Norbert Erdős (PPE):

    Tobacco, which has been produced in Europe for centuries, gives a livelihood to 80 000 growers and employs 350 000 seasonal workers every year, most of them in poor regions of Bulgaria, Spain, Greece, Italy, Poland, Hungary and Romania.

    It is a well-known fact that the European tobacco industry differs from that of the major exporting countries of the developing world in that it produces smaller quantities, but of higher quality, which are more stable and more easily traceable. These last characteristics contribute to mitigating the health consequences of smoking.

    As part of the reform of the CAP, contrary to the opinion of the European Parliament, the Commission has brought about a total halt to EU support for tobacco production from 2015. European tobacco production, which takes place under controlled conditions, will fall significantly, and so imports of tobacco products from outside the EU, produced with fewer controls, as well as illegal imports, may increase significantly.

    I therefore have the following questions for the Commission:

    1. What effect will the halting of EU subsidies for tobacco production have on smoking and on public health? How does the Commission propose to prevent imports of less tightly controlled or illegally imported tobacco from gaining ground?
    2. How will the Commission guarantee that generic (neutral) packaging does not lead to a price war between processers, who will do anything to maintain their market position, pushing down procurement prices for raw materials, thus squeezing out better quality tobacco?
    3. How does the Commission propose to resolve the issue of employing the (mostly unskilled) people who have lost their jobs thanks to the phasing out of tobacco production?

    Answer given by Mr Hogan on behalf of the Commission: 

    1. The Commission cannot pursue policies that encourage tobacco production, while at the same time aiming to protect citizens from the hazardous effects tobacco consumption. Direct subsidies for production of tobacco have been phased out. The Commission is committed to fighting the illicit trade in tobacco products together with Member States and has presented its strategy in June 2013(1). Also the Tobacco Products Directive(2) (TPD) contains strict measures in this respect.

    2. If a Member State plans to introduce any provision on technical standards and regulations, it must notify the Commission of the draft legislation. It is assessed under Directive 98/34/EC(3) which is a tool for assessing its compliance with EC law before adoption. The assessment is based on information provided, scientific studies and impact assessments relating to various stakeholders. The Commission did not deliver an opinion on the recent UK and Irish notifications relating to plain packaging.

    3. As to the economic and social implications of any structural changes in tobacco production the EU rural development policy offers numerous instruments that provide financial assistance for the re-orientation of the tobacco sector towards alternative sources of income(4). Provided that the workers’ redundancies can be linked to trade related globalisation or to the global financial and economic crisis, Member States have the possibility to apply for support from the European Globalisation Adjustment Fund (EGF)(5).

    (1) COM(2013) 324 Communication from the Commission to the Council and the European Parliament ‐Stepping up the fight against cigarette smuggling and other forms of illicit trade in tobacco products — A comprehensive EU Strategy.
    (2) Directive 2014/40/EU of the European Parliament and of the Council of 3.4.2014 on the approximation of the laws, regulations and administrative provisions of the Member States concerning the manufacture, presentation and sale of tobacco and related products.
    (3) Directive 98/34/EC of the European Parliament and of the Council of 22.6.1998 laying down a procedure for the provision of information in the field of technical standards and regulations, OJ L 204, 21.7.1998, p. 37‐48.
    (4) Regulation (EC) No 1305/2013 of the European Parliament and of the Council of 17.12.2013 on support for rural development by the European Agricultural Fund for Rural Development (EAFRD).
    (5) Regulation (EU) No 1309/2013 of the European Parliament and of the Council of 17.12.2013 on the European Globalisation Adjustment Fund (2014-2020).

    Source: European Parliament – 11 March 2015