ASH Daily News for 8 July 2019


  • Labour criticises public health cuts as declines in smoking in pregnancy stall
  • Lynton Crosby lobby firm works with high-sugar drinks brand
  • Netflix to introduce smoking warnings to its ratings system
  • The future of tobacco may be going up in smoke
  • Smoking rates in Doncaster and Sheffield are the lowest ever recorded


  • India: Health advocates welcome excise duty on tobacco products



Labour criticises public health cuts as declines in smoking in pregnancy stall

Labour is blaming cuts to stopsmoking services of £2 a head for the stall in the decline in rates of smoking during pregnancy. Shadow Health Secretary Jon Ashworth has highlighted several sustainability and transformation partnership (STP) areas which have smoking at time of delivery rates of around 16%, above the national average of 10.6%. Data published last week shows prevalence rates vary between clinical commissioning groups (CCGs) from less than 2% to over 25% nationally. Ministers want the national figure to be reduced to 6% by 2022.

Mr Ashworth said: “It is outrageous that progress on reducing the numbers of pregnant smokers has stalled.”

Further research from the University of Nottingham and University of York has previously found that within six months of giving birth, 43% of women who manage to give up during pregnancy will go back to smoking, according to data from 11 trials involving almost 600 women.

Deborah Arnott, chief executive of Action on Smoking and Health, said: “While it’s vital that pregnant smokers quit to give their baby the best start in life, the risk of serious harm from smoking doesn’t disappear once the baby is born. And all smokers in the home need to be encouraged to quit, or at least not to expose the baby to tobacco smoke, as whoever or wherever it comes from, tobacco smoke increases the risks of breathing problems and sudden infant death.”

Source: The Mirror, 6 July 2019

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Lynton Crosby lobby firm works with high-sugar drinks brand

The firm run by Lynton Crosby, Crosby Textor Fullbrook Partners (CTFP), whose business partner Mark Fullbrook is helping Boris Johnson run his Tory leadership bid, lobbies in Australia on behalf of a major flavoured milk brand that contains more sugar than Coca-Cola, it has emerged. The company does not say which firms it represents in the UK.

Last week Johnson announced that as prime minister he would launch a review into so-called ‘sin taxes’ including a tax introduced last year that places a levy on high-sugar drinks. The sugar levy does not cover sugary milk-based drinks but the health secretary, Matt Hancock, has suggested this could happen as a way of tackling childhood obesity.

Jon Trickett, the shadow Cabinet Office minister, said he was concerned about the situation: “There is a clear responsibility on MPs to avoid actual or perceived conflicts of interest,” he said. “Crosby must immediately register his firm with the lobbying register and provide a full list of the clients he represents. Johnson must also come clean as to what role Crosby had in formulating his sugar tax proposals.”

CTFP has denied that the company has anything to do with Mr Johnson’s campaign announcements saying that this suggestion is “completely and utterly wrong and deliberately misleading.”

The winner of the Conservative leadership contest and next prime minister will be announced on Tuesday 23rd July. Theresa May is due to visit Buckingham Palace and give the Queen her resignation following PMQs on Wednesday 24th July, when the new Conservative Leader will take over as Prime Minister almost immediately.

Source: The Guardian, 5 July 2019

See also
The Mirror: When will the next Prime Minister be chosen? Tory leadership election timetable

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Netflix to introduce smoking warnings to its ratings system

Netflix is to add smoking to its online rating system, listing it alongside scenes of sex and violence. Classic films that will be branded for their tobacco content include The Good, The Bad and The Ugly, in which Clint Eastwood is rarely seen without a cigarillo between his lips.

All future Netflix content aimed at young people (a TV-14 or below rating for television, PG-13 or below for film) will be smoking-free except “for reasons of historical or factual accuracy”. New projects with higher age ratings will omit smoking unless the writer and director can prove it is “essential to the creative vision” of the project.

The Netflix decision puts pressure on the BBC, which adheres to guidelines which state that smoking “must not be condoned, encouraged or glamorised” in programmes broadcast before the watershed or “likely to be widely seen, heard or used by children and young people unless there is editorial justification”. However, this rule does not account for shows such as Fleabag which include smoking and are aimed at adults but are popular among teenagers.

The move was welcomed by the health charity Action on Smoking and Health (ASH). Its chief executive, Deborah Arnott, said: “Netflix has taken a major step forward by committing to making its programmes for young people free from smoking. However, we don’t think they’re going far enough. Adding warnings to programmes for older age groups that do contain smoking won’t be effective. Children don’t just watch programmes made for them, and they aren’t going to be put off by warnings.”

Source: The Telegraph, 4 July 2019

See also:
Truth Initiative: While you were streaming: Tobacco use sees a renormalization in on-demand digital content, diluting progress in broadcast and theaters

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The future of tobacco may be going up in smoke

Investors have long been under ethical pressure to boycott tobacco companies, but now a leading pension scheme is abandoning the industry because it says it represents a bad investment.

Nest, the workplace pension scheme set up by the UK government, manages £6 billion on behalf of eight million savers who are auto-enrolled into default company pension schemes. By the late 2020s it is expected to manage a third of the working population’s pension savings. Over the coming weeks it is to sell £40 million of tobacco-related holdings, not for ethical reasons but because of poor performance.

The MSCI World Tobacco Index has fallen 35% in the past two years, compared with a gain of 11% for the MSCI World Index (which covers 23 developed stock markets). Last year was especially bad. Shares in British American Tobacco (BAT), one of the world’s largest tobacco companies, fell 50% after the US regulator toughened its approach to the industry. Stocks in the tobacco company, Philip Morris also fell 37%. In June BAT’s share price fell 5% in a day when it warned that global cigarette sales would be slower than anticipated this year.

Mark Fawcett, Nest chief information officer, says: “Tobacco is a struggling industry which is being regulated out of existence. [Its] business model looks increasingly unsustainable.” He highlights strict worldwide regulation of tobacco products, increasingly aggressive legal action by governments against the industry and falling global smoking rates.

Source: The Times, 6 July 2019

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Smoking rates in Doncaster and Sheffield are the lowest ever recorded

In Yorkshire and the Humber smoking prevalence declined by 0.3 percentage points to 16.7% in 2018. This decline – to the lowest level ever recorded – comes with strong support from the public for Government to do more to limit tobacco and to enforce stronger regulations on tobacco companies.

A YouGov poll commissioned by Action on Smoking and Health (ASH), found that more than three quarters (77%) of adults in Yorkshire and the Humber support activities to limit smoking or think government should do more, with the proportion thinking government should do more growing significantly over time.

Deborah Arnott chief executive of health charity ASH said: “Smoking rates in Yorkshire and Humber fell last year, but while this is the lowest ever recorded, the rate of decline is slower than the national average and people in the region want Government to do more to limit smoking. In its forthcoming Prevention Green Paper the Government must respond to public demand and impose a ‘polluter pays’ levy on the tobacco industry, as well as implementing tougher laws on smoking, such as increasing the age of sale for cigarettes to 21.”

Source: The Sheffield Star, 8 July 2019

ASH: Support for new tobacco regulations

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India: Health advocates welcome excise duty on tobacco products

Doctors, economists and public health advocates have welcomed the announcement in Friday’s (5 July) budget that excise duty will continue to be levied on all tobacco products in the Union Budget 2019-20.

Public health organisations applauded Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman for bringing back excise duty on cigarettes, ‘bidis’ and smokeless tobacco. They said levying excise duty on all tobacco products and retaining these in the highest tax band in GST (Goods and Services Tax) will ensure tobacco products do not become more affordable. This will provide a solid foundation for reducing tobacco usage among vulnerable populations and have a long-lasting impact on the lives of the country’s 268 million tobacco users.

Bhavna B. Mukhopadhyay, Chief Executive, Voluntary Health Association of India, said: “Even though this is a nominal increase, it sends the right message that the government is serious about reducing tobacco consumption by making it less affordable. WHO recommends that total tax burden on all tobacco products should be about 75 per cent of retail price. Therefore, there is still enough room to increase taxes on any tobacco products in India to reach the recommended rates by the WHO.”

Source: The Health Site, 8 July 2019

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