ASH Daily News for 25 April 2019


  • Tobacco salesman given 1,200 free cigarettes a month has inoperable lung cancer


  • Study: Poverty and other disadvantages linked to higher smoking rates in US
  • Study: Rates of physician-patient discussions about lung cancer screening very low and declining in US


  • ASH #ActOnTobacco Campaign



Tobacco salesman given 1,200 free cigarettes a month has inoperable lung cancer

British American Tobacco (BAT) and other tobacco companies face a new legal threat today from former employees who were given free cigarettes encouraging them to smoke, a practice which ASH has discovered was common place. In the early 1980s the tobacco industry employed over 30,000 people in manufacturing alone. Some now face serious smoking-related illness. ASH is calling on people who took up smoking before the 1990s, became addicted, and are now suffering from serious smoking-related diseases to get in touch and tell their stories.

Simon Neale, 57, was given 1,200 cigarettes a month to give away or use, becoming a regular and heavy smoker while he worked for Rothmans, which later merged with BAT. “It’s staggering looking back on it, but I was told when I joined the company that I’d be getting 1,200 free cigarettes a month,” he said. “Working at Rothmans, I went from being an occasional smoker, a social smoker, to being a heavy smoker because I had so many cigarettes given to me. Last autumn, I was diagnosed with inoperable lung cancer and it knocked me for six. The worst thing was telling the children. The lung cancer has all come about from me working for Rothmans.”

At BAT’s Annual General Meeting today (Thursday 25th April), ASH will be demanding that the company reveal full details of its policy of handing out free cigarettes to employees and the public.

Deborah Arnott, Chief Executive ASH, said “Simon Neale is not the only one. Many thousands of employees were given free cigarettes, and free cigarettes were also doled out to the public. Big tobacco promoted its products while hiding from the public – and its own employees – its own evidence that smoking was heavily addictive. We’d encourage anyone now suffering serious smoking-related disease who took up smoking before the 1990s to come forward and tell us their story.”

Lawyer Richard Meeran, of Leigh Day, acting for Mr Neale, said: “We believe that giving employees huge quantities of highly addictive, powerfully cancer-causing cigarettes, free of charge, and placing them in a work environment in which they are encouraged to smoke, is a flagrant breach of an employer’s duty of care.”

Source: The Independent, 25 April 2019

See also:
ASH: Contact us – if you were a tobacco company employee
Bloomberg: BAT could face legal action after giving salesman 1,200 free cigarettes a month
ITV: Tobacco salesman given 1,200 free cigarettes a month has inoperable lung cancer
Daily Mail: Former tobacco salesman, 57, has terminal lung cancer and plans to sue the firm which gave him 1,200 cigarettes for free every month in the 80s
Northern Echo: British American Tobacco facing free cigarettes legal threats

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Study: Poverty and other disadvantages linked to higher smoking rates in US

The more adversities people face, the more likely they are to start smoking and the less likely they are to quit, a US study suggests. Researchers examined data from a decade of annual national surveys, focusing on 278,048 adults who were asked about smoking as well as six socioeconomic or health-related disadvantages: unemployment, poverty, low education, disability, serious psychological distress and heavy drinking.

About 14% of people without any of these forms of adversity smoked, researchers report in JAMA Internal Medicine. With each added disadvantage, smoking rates climbed, rising to 58% among people with all six forms of adversity. Similarly, for people with no forms of adversity, or just one or two, smoking odds declined each year from 2008 to 2017, the study found. However, among people with three or more disadvantages smoking odds were unchanged over time.

“Our study makes the striking discovery that a variety of types of disadvantages, spanning poverty, being disabled, having mental illness, and others – each of which are very different from one another – all add up to the same outcome: they increase your risk of smoking,” said lead study author Adam Leventhal, director of the University of Southern California Health, Emotion & Addiction Laboratory.

Source: Reuters, 24 April 2019

JAMA Internal Medicine: Association of Cumulative Socioeconomic and Health-Related Disadvantage With Disparities in Smoking Prevalence in the United States, 2008 to 2017

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Study: Rates of physician-patient discussions about lung cancer screening very low and declining in US

In 2017, patient-physician discussions about lung cancer screening occurred in only 4.3% of interactions with the general patient population and 8.7% of interactions with smoking patients, down from 6.7% and 12% respectively in 2012, a new study has found.

The study’s author Assistant Professor Huo and colleagues analyzed data from the National Cancer Institute’s Health Information National Trends Survey (HINTS) in 2012, 2014, and 2017. The HINTS survey included questions on whether a respondent had talked with their doctor about having a test to check for lung cancer in the past year and their smoking status.

Lung cancer is the leading cause of cancer-related death in women and men in the United States and worldwide. In 2011, the National Lung Screening Trial (NLST), the largest trial of lung cancer screening ever conducted, demonstrated that low-dose computed tomography (CT) scan reduced lung cancer mortality by 20%, evidencing the importance of lung cancer screening. Assistant Professor Huo said “our results suggest that lung cancer screening is substantially underutilized and not reaching high-risk smokers who would benefit the most.”

Source: EurekAlert!, 25 April 2019

Cancer Epidemiology, Biomarkers & Prevention:
Low rates of patient-reported physician–patient discussion about lung cancer screening among current smokers: Data from health information national trends survey

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ASH #ActOnTobacco Campaign

Today is the second day of a week long campaign by ASH and our partners, highlighting how Big Tobacco’s big profits continue to be built on a lethal trade and shady dealings.

In today’s blog, Dr Nick Hopkinson chair of the Board of Trustees of ASH, is asking smokers with serious diseases caused by smoking to tell ASH your stories so we can hold the industry to account.

The campaign is running to coincide with the British American Tobacco (BAT) and Philip Morris International (PMI) AGMs taking place on 25th April and 1st May.

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