ASH Daily News for 4 June 2019


  • Is it time to treat sugar like smoking?
  • Yorkshire: Bassetlaw Hospital goes smokefree


  • Philippines: Proposed increase to tobacco excise tax
  • Altria takes majority steak in Burger Sohne’s oral nicotine business
  • Australia: Service helps man curb 100 a day cigarette addiction


Is it time to treat sugar like smoking?

The Institute for Public Policy Research’s (IPPR) latest report proposes that a similar approach taken by public health officials towards tobacco now needs to be taken towards sugar, in order to tackle the UK’s obesity epidemic. From the smoking ban in 2007 to the introduction of plain packaging a decade later, everything has been done to help reduce smoking rates, and sugar might be heading the same way. Following the sugar tax already applied to drinks, the IPPR is now suggesting that sweets, snacks and sugary drinks should be packaged in plain packaging, similar to tobacco, to make them less appealing.

Industry has been quick to object with similar arguments put forward historically by the tobacco industry. Trade body The Food and Drink Federation stated that branding is a “fundamental commercial freedom” and “critical to competition”, but successive governments have shown an appetite to toughen up regulation. Over the last decade tobacco control campaigners have shown the unlikely can soon become the likely, and the approach seems to be working – smoking rates have fallen by a third in over 10 years.

Other proposals from the report include:

  • Extending the sugar tax on soft drinks to sweets and cakes as well as milkshakes,
  • A ban on day-time TV adverts for junk food, sweets, soft drinks and processed food,
  • Free fruit for pupils and a ban on fast-food outlets within 160 metres of school gates,
  • Supermarkets to be ordered to provide cookery lessons,
  • Raising the legal age for buying cigarettes from 18 to 21,

Source: BBC News, 4 June 2019

See also: Daily Mail – Sweets and fizzy drinks are to be sold in cigarette-style plain packaging in latest bid to tackle UK’s obesity epidemic

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Yorkshire: Bassetlaw Hospital goes smokefree

Bassetlaw Hospital, in Yorkshire, made its premises smokefree to mark World No Tobacco Day. From now on patients and visitors will no longer be allowed to smoke on site. All smokers who are admitted as patients will be offered nicotine replacement therapy during their stay and referred to local stop smoking services. This is part of the hospitals “cultural shift” towards proactively helping smokers to quit, as opposed to simply preventing them from smoking on hospital grounds.

Cindy Storer, acting deputy director of Nursing, Midwifery and Allied Health Professionals at the Trust, said: “Were asking for support from the public, our patients and staff as we go smokefree. We know that smoking is the single greatest cause of preventable death, disability and illness, and it is therefore appropriate that we keep the hospital site smoke free and ask people not to smoke on site. One in two smokers die prematurely due to their smoking and whilst they are in hospital we have support to help them to break their addiction”

Source: Retford Guardian, 3 June 2019

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Philippines: Proposed increase to tobacco excise tax

World Health Organisation (WHO) representative to the Philippines, Dr. Gundo Weiler, has proposed an increase in excises taxes on tobacco products as a “win-win” solution for the country in terms of health benefits and a boost to the economy. With regards to the economy, the tax would discourage smoking, leading to a healthier and more productive workforce, but would also help fund measures like the national health insurance programme, Universal Healthcare Provision.

Source: Manila Bulletin, 4 June 2019

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Altria takes majority steak in Burger Sohne’s oral nicotine business

Altria is taking an 80% stake in Swiss tobacco company Burger Sohne’s business On, worth $372 million. As part of the deal Altria will provide global distribution for On, the companies oral nicotine business. On products are small pouches of nicotine, consumed like chewing tobacco but without containing any tobacco, and come in various flavours. After the transaction is complete in the second half of the year, On will become part of Altria’s newly formed subsidiary Helix Innovations.

This deal marks Altria’s latest move to diversify as its traditional cigarette business shrinks.

Source: CNBC, 3 June 2019

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Australia: Service helps man curb 100 a day cigarette addiction

A man from Queensland has opened up about his addition to tobacco which at one point lead him to smoke 100 cigarettes a day. Mr Humphries, who started smoking when he was 13 years old, would start smoking at 5am in the morning and not stop until 10pm. After being diagnosed with Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease (COPD) he has successfully cut down to 10 cigarettes a day, with the help of Quitline – Queensland stop smoking service.

A Quitline spokeswoman said: “Our advice is to keep trying. There are numerous techniques to quitting smoking that have proven successful for many people that you can try”.

Source: Mail Online, 3 June 2019

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