ASH Daily News for 4 February 2020



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UK

JTI’s menthol cigar an attempt evade UK ban, say campaigners

Health devolution commission launched

Comment: What bans? Big Tobacco is still hot on social media

Fears over funding for stop smoking services in Northumberland

Parliamentary Activity

Parliamentary questions

UK

JTI’s menthol cigar an attempt evade UK ban, say campaigners

Japan Tobacco, the maker of Camel cigarettes outside the US, has launched a cigarette-sized menthol cigar in the UK that campaigners say is an attempt to evade an impending ban on flavoured cigarettes. The Sterling Dual Capsule cigarillo is the same size as a normal cigarette but is classified as a cigar-type product as it is wrapped in tobacco leaf. The cigarillo, which is marketed under the same name as one of JTI’s cigarette brands, will be sold in packs of 10, costing around half the price of normal cigarettes.

The UK is due to outlaw the sale of menthol cigarettes in May under the EU Tobacco Directive as part of efforts to crack down on youth smoking. Authorities in the US are considering a similar ban after health authorities found that more than half of 12- to 17-year-old smokers chose menthol cigarettes. Rules for cigar products in the UK are less stringent than for cigarettes as they have traditionally been categorised as a luxury item. While cigarettes must be sold in plain packaging and in minimum pack sizes of 20, cigars can be sold in smaller, branded packs, making them more affordable and visible to customers.

Deborah Arnott, chief executive of the anti-tobacco campaign group Action on Smoking and Health, said: “The tobacco manufacturers pay vast sums of money to delay implementation of anti-tobacco laws and, once legislation is in place, to try to find loopholes. This is just the latest example, and the government must act quickly to put a stop to it.”

Source: Financial Times, 3 February 2020

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Health devolution commission launched

An independent cross-party commission including five former health ministers and senior local government figures has been launched today to examine health devolution. In a statement, the commission said the centralisation of decision making had hindered the development of services that meet local need and created problems in meeting national performance targets.

The commission added health devolution, such as the model introduced in Greater Manchester in 2015, “slipped off” the last government’s agenda but said “the tide may have turned” with Brexit and the promise of a devolution white paper this year. The commission will be co-chaired by mayor of Greater Manchester Combined Authority mayor Andy Burnham and former health minister Norman Lamb.

Mr Burnham, who was health secretary between 2009 and 2010, said devolution in Greater Manchester had enabled organisations to work closer together and focus on prevention. He added: “However, we know that ours is only one way of approaching health devolution and that this is an area that would benefit from much more research, evidence and debate.”

Source: Local Government Chronicle, 3 February 2020

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Comment: What bans? Big Tobacco is still hot on social media

Writing in the Independent, Andrew Rowell, senior research fellow at the University of Bath, argues that smoking giants are flouting and skirting around Facebook and Instagram’s advertising rules.

“Big Tobacco likes to stay ahead of the curve – to survive, it has to. Its fundamental problem is that one in two of its long-term users die from tobacco-related diseases. To hook a new generation into addiction, it has to try every advertising and marketing trick in its playbook. And it has to be innovative. As one ex-marketing consultant remarked: “The problem, is how do you sell death?”

“For years, the industry fought regulators who slowly and belatedly restricted where and how it could advertise. Then came the internet, which was a dream come true for a tobacco marketeer. The industry could run riot in an unregulated haven. One commentator noted in Wired magazine in 2017 that the internet was a contemporary incarnation of the wild west.

“The old rules no longer applied, and Big Tobacco began using internet platforms, including Facebook and Instagram, to bypass advertising bans. They began paying social media influencers to promote traditional tobacco products as well as e-cigarettes. And they were very successful at it.

“In August 2018, the New York Times investigated Big Tobacco’s social media influence. The paper found 123 hashtags associated with companies’ tobacco products, which had been viewed a staggering 25 billion times.

“In December 2019, in a landmark decision, the UK Advertising Standards Authority ruled against British American Tobacco and three other firms for promoting their products on Instagram, after a complaint by Action on Smoking and Health, Campaign for Tobacco-Free Kids and Stopping Tobacco Organisations and Products, of which the University of Bath’s Tobacco Control Research Group is a partner.

Caroline Renzulli of Campaign for Tobacco-Free Kids said: “In the weeks since the announcement that influencers would be banned from promoting tobacco and e-cigarettes, tobacco companies have continued to exploit influencer marketing on Facebook and Instagram to advertise addictive products to young people without consequence.”

She added: “Facebook and Instagram are uniquely positioned to cut off Big Tobacco’s easiest access point to kids and young people around the world – but without swift enactment and strict enforcement of new policies, the announcement is yet another hollow statement from a company that no longer has any excuse for inaction on this issue.”

Source: The Independent, 4 February 2020

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Fears over funding for stop smoking services in Northumberland

In January, Ash and Cancer Research UK published a report on Stop smoking services and tobacco control work in English local authorities.

The report recommends that:
• The Government must reverse cuts to public health funding and deliver new investment in local tobacco control by imposing a ‘polluter pays’ charge on the tobacco industry;
• The NHS and local authorities should work together to ensure that new NHS services developed in response to the Long Term Plan are integrated with wider community stop smoking support;
• Local authorities should ensure that all smokers have access to behavioural support to help them quit smoking.
Northumberland County Council’s director of public health, Liz Morgan, said: “The council commissions a stop smoking service as part of its responsibilities to improve population health and wellbeing.

“We work with partners to reduce the number of people who smoke in the population, using a comprehensive approach to tobacco control. This includes a regional office for tobacco control, a specialist Stop Smoking Service and a training and brief advice function delivered by our Integrated Wellbeing Service, as well as stop smoking support delivered in primary care by GP practices and pharmacies.

“Northumberland County Council, Northumbria Healthcare NHS Foundation Trust, Northumberland Clinical Commissioning Group, and Cumbria, Northumberland, Tyne and Wear Trust are working together to ensure that action implemented as part of the Long Term Plan is coordinated and complementary.”

Source: Northumberland Gazette, 31 January 2020

See also:
Action on Smoking and Health (ASH) and Cancer Research UK (CRUK). Many Ways Forward: Stop smoking services and tobacco control work in English local authorities. 2020.

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Parliamentary Activity

Parliamentary questions

PQ 1: Smoking in pregnancy

Asked by Mr Tanmanjeet Singh Dhesi, Slough
To ask the Secretary of State for Health and Social Care, what steps he is taking to help reduce smoking rates among pregnant women.

Answered by Jo Churchill, Parliamentary Under-Secretary for Health and Social Care
The Government is committed to reducing the prevalence of women smoking during pregnancy to 6% or less by 2022. The NHS Long Term Plan makes provision for smoking cessation support to all pregnant women and their families in secondary care, and this includes a new smoke-free pregnancy pathway with focused sessions and treatments. In addition, Public Health England continues to work collaboratively with NHS England on the Maternity Transformation Programme to reduce the number of pregnant women who smoke.

Source: Hansard, 3 February 2020
https://www.parliament.uk/business/publications/written-questions-answers-statements/written-question/Commons/2020-01-28/9134/

PQ2: E-cigarettes

Asked by Mr David Jones, Clwyd West
To ask the Secretary of State for Health and Social Care, what the Government’s policy on electronic nicotine delivery systems will be at the ninth session of the Conference of the Parties to the World Health Organisation Framework Convention on Tobacco Control; and if he will make a statement.

Answered by Jo Churchill, Parliamentary Under-Secretary for Health and Social Care
At the 9th World Health Organization Framework Convention on Tobacco Control Conference of the Parties, officials will continue to communicate the United Kingdom Government’s position on e-cigarettes. That is, although not risk free, e-cigarettes have helped some smokers to quit tobacco use who would not have quit through other means. We have introduced a proportionate regulatory framework and continue to keep the evidence base on e-cigarettes under review.

Source: Hansard, 3 February 2020
https://www.parliament.uk/business/publications/written-questions-answers-statements/written-question/Commons/2020-01-28/8976/

PQ3: E-cigarettes

Asked by Mr David Jones, Clwyd West
To ask the Secretary of State for Health and Social Care, what assessment he has made of the implications for his policies of the position taken by the World Health Organisation on electronic nicotine delivery systems.

Answered by Jo Churchill, Parliamentary Under-Secretary for Health and Social Care
The World Health Organization recommends regulating e-cigarettes in order to protect non-smokers and youth from accessing these products. The United Kingdom regulatory framework recognises this.

Although not risk free, in the UK, e-cigarettes have helped some smokers to quit tobacco use who would not have quit through other means. We continue to keep the evidence base on e-cigarettes under review.

Source: Hansard, 3 February 2020
https://www.parliament.uk/business/publications/written-questions-answers-statements/written-question/Commons/2020-01-28/8975/