ASH Daily News for 30 October 2019



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UK

  • Are cigarettes responsible for modern marketing methods?
  • Channel 5 News: Is vaping still a safer alternative to smoking?
  • More than four million illicit cigarettes seized at Belfast docks
  • NHS Trust celebrates high compliance with new smokefree policy

International

  • Study: Smokefree laws don’t benefit all Americans equally

 

UK

Are cigarettes responsible for modern marketing methods?

Tim Hartford writes in the BBC on the historic marketing of tobacco:

“Nowadays, the awesome power of branding is hardly news. Back then, it was only just beginning to become apparent […] Early big-name brands included Kellogg’s cereal, Campbell’s soup and Colgate toothpaste. But nowhere was branding more crucial than with cigarettes […] Cigarette historian Robert Proctor argues: “It is probably fair to say that the industry invented much of modern marketing”. So, why did cigarettes lead the way?

“[…]the starring role goes to an inventor from Virginia called James Bonsack and his clever machine […] Bonsack’s father owned a wool factory. The son looked at the factory’s carding machine – which helped turn fibres into yarn – and wondered if he could adapt it to roll cigarettes. The contraption he designed weighed a ton, but churned out 200 cigarettes a minute – almost as many as a human, rolling by hand, could make in an hour. The significance was clear to tobacco entrepreneur James Buchanan Duke, who promptly cut a deal with Bonsack, and set about cornering the cigarette market.

“But Duke’s opportunity was also a challenge. He could make lots of cigarettes – but could he sell them? At the time, cigarettes were seen as lower-status than cigars, which – crucially – were proving altogether harder to mechanize. Duke wasn’t daunted, and saw what he had to do: advertise. He came up with gimmicks like coupons and collectable cards, and by 1889, was spending some 20 per cent of his revenues on promotion, which was simply unheard-of. And it worked. By 1923, cigarettes had become the most popular way for Americans to consume tobacco. Many early advertising campaigns now raise eyebrows. Lucky Strikes, for instance, were pitched as an aid to slimming. “Reach for a Lucky instead of a sweet,” ran the tagline. […] one Lucky Strike campaign: “20,679 Physicians say ‘Luckies are less irritating'”. If that didn’t persuade you, how about: “More doctors smoke Camels than any other cigarette”?

“In the 1950s, American regulators decided they shouldn’t allow cigarette adverts to reference doctors or body parts. It looked like a crisis for advertisers, but turned out to be liberating, as dramatised in the television series Mad Men. “This is the greatest advertising opportunity since the invention of cereal,” says ad man Don Draper. “We have six identical companies making six identical products. We can say anything we want.” Mr Draper may be fictional, but the insight was on point. When products are essentially indistinguishable, companies can compete on price – but that erodes their profit margins. Much better to compete on branding. Make people think the products are different, so you can appeal more effectively to different buyers.

“In the 1960s, Americans bought more cigarettes than ever. Perhaps you smoked Marlboro to associate yourself with the rugged masculinity of the Marlboro Man. Maybe you’d see the slogan “You’ve Come A Long Way, Baby,” and signal your approval of feminism by smoking Virginia Slims. […] Many countries have duly banned television adverts and sports sponsorship for cigarettes. Some insist on plain packaging, with brand names rendered in a uniform typeface. […] Around the world, about six trillion cigarettes are still made every year. Put them end to end, and every four months you’d have one long enough to reach the Sun. […] The China National Tobacco Corporation is the country’s [China’s] most profitable company, and it sells 98% of cigarettes. State-owned, it contributes up to a tenth of government revenues. Perhaps it’s no surprise, then, that China has been late to restrict cigarette advertising. As recently as 2005, adverts assured that “Smoking removes your troubles and worries”. One brand warned that “Quitting smoking would bring you misery, shortening your life”. That brand’s name? Longlife. […] According to one study, just 10% of smokers in China are aware that brands labelled “light” and “low tar” are no less harmful to your health than other cigarettes. It seems the power of brands to create credulity is still as strong as ever.

Source: BBC, 30 October 2019

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Channel 5 News: Is vaping still a safer alternative to smoking?

A Channel 5 news report on the relative safety of vaping compared to smoking in light of reports of lung injury and death related to vaping in the US, featuring Professor Ann McNeill, Professor of Tobacco Addiction at King’s College London, and Professor John Britton, Professor of Epidemiology at the University of Nottingham and Director of the UK Centre for Tobacco & Alcohol Studies.

From the report: “Electronic cigarettes are substantially less harmful than smoking tobacco, so for the smoker it is a no-brainer, you should switch to vaping as soon as you can.” Professor John Britton

Source: Channel 5 News, 28 October 2019

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More than four million illicit cigarettes seized at Belfast docks

A trailer containing 4,869,000 cigarettes has been detained by HM Revenue and Customs in a joint operation involving the Border Force and the PSNI.

The load, which was destined for an address in Co Armagh, was worth around £1,825,875 in evaded duty. Steve Tracey, Assistant Director, Fraud Investigation Service, HMRC, said: “Tobacco fraudsters undercut legitimate retailers depriving the UK of money needed to fund our public services. We work closely with Border Force and other partners to tackle and disrupt this illicit trade. HMRC will continue to target the supply of illicit tobacco, which costs the UK around £1.8 billion a year.”

Source: Belfast Telegraph, 29 October 2019

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NHS Trust celebrates high compliance with new smokefree policy

Sandwell and West Birmingham Hospital Trust are celebrating high compliance with their smokefree policy. Since implementation in summer, just 6 fines have been issued for breach of the policy.

The NHS trust also made international headlines when it became the first in the UK to open vape shops at Sandwell Hospital, encouraging staff who smoke to switch by offering discounts.

Toby Lewis, the Trust’s Chief Executive, said: ““We continue to enforce our trust-wide smoking ban, including in cars parked on our grounds […] This month is Stoptober and so we also want to take this opportunity to remind people that there are a number of ways they can quit the habit, which includes using the local Stop Smoking Service or by accessing Sandwell’s Everyone Health Stop Smoking Service […] Inpatients continue to be offered smoking alternatives such as nicotine replacement therapy.”

Source: Express and Star, 30 October 2019

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International

Study: Smokefree laws don’t benefit all Americans equally

Smokefree laws have helped Americans cut down on combustible cigarettes and helped protect nonsmokers from second-hand smoke, but not all United States regions have benefited equally, a study suggests.As of July 2019, 25 of the 50 U.S. states had adopted comprehensive 100% smoke-free laws in workplaces, restaurants, and bars, and 11 more had laws covering at least one of these areas, the study authors report. Many states, however, do not have strong laws, and people in those states are disproportionately burdened by tobacco use.

Between 2000-2009, U.S. Asians and Hispanics benefited most from smoke-free laws, as many of them lived where these laws were passed, the research team found. Non-Hispanic African Americans received the least protection from these laws, as many of them live in the tobacco-growing states of the south, or in the mid-west, where fewer smoke-free laws exist. “Historically, tobacco was a powerful political force in these places,” said study author Stanton Glantz, director of the Center for Tobacco Control Research and Education at University of California. This began to change in 2004, after manufacturers backed a move to end a price support program for tobacco farmers. The farmers started growing other crops and no longer opposed tobacco control policies, the authors write. “Health groups are doing better at getting tobacco control laws passed in these regions now,” Glantz said. “They haven’t caught up with the rest of the country, but things are moving there.”

Previous research found no-smoking laws roughly halved non-smokers’ exposure to secondhand smoke. The laws were also associated with reductions in hospital admissions for cardiovascular and respiratory disease, and lower smoking rates among adolescents. States with no-smoking laws also had more support services to help smokers quit. The way forward, said Glantz, is a “matter of people getting organized and putting pressure on legislators and governors” to bring in smoke-free rules.

Source: Reuters, 29 October 2019

American Journal of Public Health: Uneven access to smoke-free laws and policies and its effect on health equity in the United States: 2000–2019

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