ASH Daily News for 22 May 2019


  • English councils face funding gap of £50 billion


  • Opinion: Tobacco should be recognised as a lethal non-communicable disease
  • USA: Beverly Hills vote to ban sale of tobacco products
  • India: Opinion, why does India want safer alternatives to smoking banned?
  • China: Boy band member apologises after caught smoking inside Beijing restaurant



English councils face funding gap of £50 billion

English councils are set to face a funding “black hole” of £50 billion over the next six years, unless extra money is made available. The County Councils Network has said rising costs of care alongside increased demand for services mean that yearly council tax rises and improving services efficiency will not be enough to bridge the gap. Research by PWC, to be published later this week, found that even if all reserves were used and taxes rose as much as possible, there would still be a significant shortfall in funding.

Paul Carter, County Councils Network chairman, said: “If government does not provide additional funding for councils over the medium term, many local authorities will resort to providing the bare minimum, with many vital services all but disappearing.”

Staffordshire County Council leader Philip Atkins has called for a cross party debate on the issue of funding for adult social care while a government spokesperson has said that the government will be looking into funding as part of a spending review.

Source: BBC News, 21 May 2019

See also: A Changing Landscape: Stop Smoking Services and Tobacco Control in England
This joint report by ASH and Cancer Research UK highlights the financial pressures that councils in England are currently under and the impact this has had on stop smoking services.

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Opinion: Tobacco should be recognised as a lethal non-communicable disease

Most smokers find it difficult to quit smoking due to nicotine physically altering the brain. It is because of these physical changes and the huge number of people tobacco dependence affects, that we should view it as a chronic non-communicable disease, alongside hypertension, diabetes, or heart disease, writes Dan Xian and Chen Wang, professors at the WHO Collaborating Centre for Tobacco Cessation and Respiratory Disease Prevention.

Currently, tobacco dependence is listed in the latest Diagnostic Statistical Manual for Mental Disorders as a mental health disorder. Redefining tobacco dependence as a non-communicable disease would encourage the development of specific disease management programmes within healthcare systems, with objective monitoring and continuous assessment of treatment outcomes. It would also help develop new treatments for tobacco dependence and encourage more research into the effects of nicotine on the body and brain. Reclassifying tobacco dependence would move it up the global health agenda and attract the attention of governments that have yet to sign up to the World Health Organisation’s tobacco control framework. Low and middle-income countries, where most smokers live, would also benefit, as the prevention of tobacco dependence would also help reduce the prevalence of other non-communicable diseases linked to smoking, such as heart disease.

Source: The BMJ, 21 May 2019

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USA: Beverly Hills vote to ban sale of tobacco products

The Beverly Hills council is due to vote on whether to ban the sale of all tobacco products from retail outlets within the city, including convenience stores, pharmacies, news stands and gas stations. The only exception to this rule would be high-end cigar lounges found in hotels.

The Council are expected to hold their preliminary vote this week, with a later final vote in June to decide whether to proceed with the ban. If the council vote to implement the ban, it will be the first US city to prevent the sale of tobacco products. While there are no state or federal laws which would prohibit banning the sale of tobacco, the Council is expecting to face legal challenges if it carries out the ban.

Source: Fox News, 21 May 2019

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India: Opinion, why does India want safer alternatives to smoking banned?

India, a country with more than 100 million adult smokers, is currently pushing for bans and increased regulation around e-cigarettes, but this will only further their tobacco epidemic, writes Carrie L Wade, Director of Harm Reduction Policy at the R Institute. Other countries see these devices and other Electronic Nicotine Delivery Systems (ENDS) as not only a safer alternative to smoking, but as method for smoking cessation. If India’s leaders are committed to reducing the 13% of premature deaths caused by tobacco there are three key steps that need to be taken.

Firstly, don’t ban alternatives to smoking. In 2017 the ministry for health and welfare deemed ENDS as carcinogenic and addictive as traditional tobacco, contradicting nearly every academic study on the topic to date. Smokers will find it harder to quit if India removes access to these alternatives to smoking that many other studies and countries deem safer than traditional tobacco. Secondly, develop balanced regulation for ENDS, including appropriate taxation, age of sale and public use guidelines.

Finally, end legal discrimination that promotes traditional tobacco. Under an ENDS ban, domestically made cigarettes are given preferential legal treatment over imported e-cigarettes, which could be seen as a way for the government to unfairly maintain revenue generated from the sale of traditional tobacco.

Source: Quartz India, 22 May 2019

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China: Boy band member apologises after caught smoking inside Beijing restaurant

Wang Yuan, member of one of China’s biggest boy bands TFBoys, has apologised after smoking in a Beijing restaurant despite the cities ban on smoking in public places. The singer, who was previously ranked as among the countries most “socially responsible” has posted an apology on Weibo (micro blogging social media site) which has received hundreds of thousands of comments.

Beijing Health Supervision Authority has issued a statement reiterating the ban on smoking in all public places in Beijing and said that Wang will be punished according to the law. Meanwhile, social media users are debating whether he can be forgiven for smoking illegally or whether this will mark the end of his career.

Source: BBC News, 21 May 2019

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