ASH Daily News for 9 March 2020


  • Government commits to protect public health policy from tobacco industry interference
  • Coronavirus: Advice for people who smoke
  • Illegal product raids in Calderdale see 9,500 cigarettes seized by trading standards


Government commits to protect public health policy from tobacco industry interference

The Government is committed to protect public health policy from the interference of the tobacco industry, Public Health minister Jo Churchill told the Parliament on Thursday night (5 March). The minister’s statement follows recent revelations that a leading tobacco manufacturer, Philip Morris International, has attempted to subvert the UK Government’s tobacco policy.

During an adjournment debate on the topic, Bob Blackman MP, who is the Chairman of All Party Group on Smoking and Health, asked the minister to reaffirm the Government’s commitment to the UK’s obligation to Article 5.3 of the WHO Framework Convention on Tobacco Control and its guidelines. The Article urges the countries to protect public health policies regarding tobacco control from the commercial and vested interests of tobacco companies in terms of formulation and implementation of these policies.

“In answer to my honourable friend’s direct question we will absolutely remain firmly committed to the Convention and importantly Article 5.3 during the transition period and beyond,” the minister said in response.”

The minister also said that the government’s response to the Prevention Green Paper consultation will be published shortly.

Bob Blackman MP said: “In the Prevention Green paper the Government promised to consider how tobacco manufacturers could be made to fund tobacco control measures, in line with the polluter pays approach in place in the US. This would raise a fixed sum from tobacco manufacturers, without in return giving them a seat at the table to influence tobacco policy.”

Source: Pharmacy Business, 7 March 2020

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Coronavirus: Advice for people who smoke

Coronavirus can affect anyone, but it appears that people who are older, those with weakened immune systems and people who have underlying chronic conditions including asthma, diabetes or heart disease are more at risk of severe effects.

Deborah Arnott, chief executive of public health charity, ASH, advises that people who smoke should quit or switch to alternative products to lower their risk.
“Smokers are more likely to get respiratory infections and twice as likely to develop pneumonia as non-smokers,” she said.

“Quitting smoking is good for your health in so many ways and smokers should see coronavirus as further motivation to give quitting a go to build up their body’s defences now before coronavirus becomes widespread in the UK.”

Last week, Chief Medical Officer Chris Whitty, highlighted that smokers may be at elevated risk while giving evidence to MPs on the Health Select Committee.

Source: BBC News, 6 March 2020

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Illegal product raids in Calderdale see 9,500 cigarettes seized by trading standards

Authorities in Calderdale have undertaken a multi-agency operation resulting in the seizure of over 9500 cigarettes and 34.6kg of hand rolling tobacco. ‘Operation Maltese’ was executed in five premises across Calderdale and was undertaken by trading standards officers, West Yorkshire Police, British Gas Revenue Protection, Calderdale Licensing and tobacco detection dogs from Wagtail UK.

If genuine, the value of the cigarettes seized would be over £4800 and the hand rolling tobacco more than £17,000 bringing the total value of the goods seized to be over £22,000. Operation Maltese was part of a wider plan to tackle criminality in Calderdale, targeting hot spot areas and businesses identified from intelligence and complaints passed to West Yorkshire Trading Standards by members of the public.

Councillor Steve Sweeney, Member of the West Yorkshire Joint Services Committee which oversees the work of Trading Standards said “All tobacco – both legal and illegal – kills half of all long term smokers. We know that most smokers want to give up smoking, but their quit attempts are really undermined if somebody offers them a cheap supply of tobacco. It’s also really worrying that children are being targeted by unscrupulous dealers.”

Source: Halifax Courier, 5 March 2020

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