ASH Daily News for 7 November 2019



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UK

  • Illicit tobacco sellers ordered to pay back £20,000 of illegal profits

International

  • China’s tobacco monopoly means big risks for e-cigarette startups
  • Study: Vaping could impact cardiovascular health

Parliamentary Activity

  • Parliamentary question

UK

Illicit tobacco sellers ordered to pay back £20,000 of illegal profits

A pair of illicit tobacco sellers have been ordered to pay back £20,000 of illegal profits. The two men were found in possession of more than 200 pouches of illegal tobacco during an investigation by Cornwall Council Trading Standards. Trading standards officers also froze a bank account containing £20,000.

Councillor Rob Nolan, Cornwall Council’s Cabinet Member for Environment and Public Protection said: “Illegal tobacco trade harms everyone. All tobacco is harmful, but when it is also cheap and easily sourced, it makes it harder for people to quit and be smoke free. Children and young people are often easy targets. The loss of tax revenue also means less money is being spent in local communities on schools or on health care. The illegal tobacco trade also has strong links to crime including drug dealing.

“Our message is clear – selling illegal tobacco is a crime which can carry fines, community orders or prison. The number of reports we are seeing shows more people have had enough and are providing us with information to stop local criminals selling and trading tobacco. Whether you are a shopkeeper or an individual, chances are you will be reported. Our crackdown will continue.”

Source: Cornwall Live, 4 November 2019

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International

China’s tobacco monopoly means big risks for e-cigarette startups

Writing for Reuters, Josh Horwitz examines the barriers and opportunity facing e-cigarette manufacturers in China:

“Here at the Shenzhen offices of e-cigarette start-up RELX Technology, workers scramble to keep pace with the rush of firms vying for sales in the world’s biggest tobacco market. Their potential-customer base starts with 300 million Chinese smokers of traditional cigarettes – about nine times the number in the United States. RELX aims to become China’s answer to Juul Labs Inc, the San Francisco startup that captured a huge share of the US vaping market.

“RELX makes an almost identical product: a stick-shaped device that uses high-nicotine liquids packaged in plug-in “pods.” But it won’t have to compete with the US e-cigarette giant. Juul has yet to crack China’s market even as it expands elsewhere in Asia and faces regulation in the United States. Juul’s delayed entry into China – potentially its most lucrative market – underscores the complexity and risk of operating here.

“E-cigarette sales have grown slowly in China compared to other industrialized nations. Its market is about one-ninth the size of the United States, according to market research firm Euromonitor. One main reason: China Tobacco, which is both the government-owned cigarette company and the national tobacco regulator. The state monopoly has not clearly signalled how it will regulate e-cigarettes or whether it will sell them. If it does, it has the power to regulate its competitors out of the business.

“The government has sent conflicting messages on whether it intends to regulate e-cigarettes or sell them itself. In March, state broadcaster CCTV aired a segment highlighting the potential health risks from inhaling nicotine and other chemicals in e-cigarette liquids.

“Industry players say they struggled to interpret the government’s message in the segment. They hoped it signalled that the tobacco monopoly would continue allowing e-cigarette sales but start regulating their quality and safety. Many industry observers, however, continue to believe China Tobacco will eventually enter the e-cigarette market itself.”

Source: Reuters, 7 November 2019

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Study: Vaping could impact cardiovascular health

A US study published in the Cardiovascular Research journal has found e-cigarettes could impact cardiovascular health [although there is a lack of evidence on the health impact of e-cigarettes in the long term].

The researchers analysed preclinical and clinical data extracted from short and long-term studies on the cardiovascular effects of e-cigarette use, and found that that exposure to e-cigarettes could be a potential cardiovascular health concern.

The number of people vaping globally has increased from around 7 million users in 2011 to 41 million in 2018 with a projected increase to more than 55 million by 2021, according to the World Health Organisation.

Traditional cigarette smoking is the most significant preventable risk factor for cardiovascular disease and death. Because of vaping’s reduced risk compared to smoking, many smokers have switched to e-cigarettes or a combination of the two.

Source: The Independent, 7 November 2019

See also:
Cardiovascular Research: Cardiovascular risk of electronic cigarettes: a review of preclinical and clinical studies

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Parliamentary Activity

Parliamentary question

Tobacco: EU Action

Asked by Martyn Day, Linlithgow and East Falkirk
To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer, what plans his Department has to review track-and-trace arrangements to ensure that they comply with the FCTC Protocol to Eliminate Illicit Trade in Tobacco Products; and what steps he is taking to ensure that key roles in that system are not delegated to the tobacco industry after the UK leaves the EU.

Answered by Mr Simon Clarke, Exchequer Secretary to the Treasury
HM Revenue and Customs (HMRC) is responsible for implementing the track and trace system and ensuring compliance with the WHO Framework Convention for Tobacco Control (FCTC) Protocol to Eliminate Illicit Trade in Tobacco Products. Since the system came into force on 20 May 2019 and there is a 12 month sell through period for unmarked stock, HMRC’s approach has been to educate and support businesses as they familiarise themselves and adapt to the new requirements.

Strict criteria for determining independence from the tobacco industry is set out in Part 5 of the Tobacco Products (Traceability and Security Features) Regulations 2019.

If we leave the EU with a deal, the current arrangements will continue to apply for the duration of the implementation period. If we leave with no deal, we will suspend the current system while we develop a stand-alone system as quickly as possible and with the minimal changes necessary to the current system. This would include retaining the current independence criteria.

Source: Hansard, 1 November 2019

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