Link of the week
Norfolk man jailed after being caught with more than 1.5 million illegal cigarettes
A Norfolk man who was caught with more than 1.5 million illegal cigarettes disguised as road surfacing material in a warehouse has been jailed. Three men were found hiding at the back of a unit at an industrial estate in South Shields, near Newcastle when HM Revenue and Customs (HMRC) officers swooped.
They uncovered an illegal haul, worth £526,397 in unpaid duty, during the raid when they discovered 24 pallets loaded with packages containing a total of 1,508,300 non-paid UK duty-paid cigarettes. The cigarettes were hidden in wooden containers coated in bitumen, which is often used for road surfaces, and then wrapped in packaging.
Source: Eastern Daily Press, 24 August 2018
USA: Study finds vapers who use e-cigarettes every day are at higher risk of heart attack
Researchers analysed the 2014 and 2016 results of The National Health Interview Survey, which includes interviews from adults living in the US. Some 69,452 participants were asked: ‘Have you ever been told by a doctor or other health professional that you had a heart attack (also called myocardial infarction)?’. The analysis of the increased risk of heart attacks was based on answers to this question.
The researchers found that people who smoke tobacco and use e-cigarettes were most likely to have had a heart attack.
Editorial note: This study does not establish a causal relationship between heart attacks and the use of e-cigarettes. Rather it shows that at the point they were surveyed people who smoked and/or vaped were more likely to have had a heart attack in their lifetime. The study was not able to determine when the heart attack took place, whether it followed or preceded use of an e-cigarette. It is therefore inaccurate to say this research shows that vaping leads to an increased risk of a heart attack. The link between tobacco smoking and heart attacks is well established. See our fact sheet for more information. ASH fact sheet: Smoking, the Heart and Circulation.
Source: Daily Mail, 23 August 2018
USA: FDA bans e-cig liquid products that look like snacks, candies
After warnings sent to a number of e-liquid manufacturers in May, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration has banned a number of products which come in packaging that strongly resembles that for candies, cookies and other snacks popular with kids.
The agency told the companies that labels and ads for the nicotine-containing e-liquids were false or misleading, and potentially dangerous. In addition, several of the companies were previously cited for illegally selling the products to minors, the FDA said.
Examples of the products targeted in the warning letters included: “One Mad Hit Juice Box”, which resembled children’s apple juice boxes; “Whip’d Strawberry”, which resembled a dairy whipped topping; “Twirly Pop”, which resembled a Unicorn Pop lollipop and was shipped with one; and “Unicorn Cakes”, which included images of a strawberry beverage and unicorns eating pancakes, similar to those used by the My Little Pony television and toy franchise.
Source: Medical Xpress, 23 August 2018
Link of the week
Labour Communities & Local Government report: Trading Standards
Labour’s latest Local Government ‘Health Check’ report has highlighted deep cuts to England’s Trading Standards where spending has been halved since 2010 (£213m to £105m).
A time to quit: supporting smoking cessation in general practice
Following evidence released by the British Lung Foundation (BLF) showing a 75% decline in the number of stop smoking aids dispensed between 2005 and 2017, Practice Business has highlighted what GP practices can do to support cessation and help reduce smoking rates.
Practices play a key role in providing information and advice about smoking cessation services and motivating smokers to quit. Health professionals should identify smokers and offer advice and cessation support, particularly when the patient has a health condition which is caused or exacerbated by smoking.
National risk assessments should be used to identify people aged between 40 and 74 who are at risk of heart disease, stroke, kidney disease, type 2 diabetes and certain types of dementia, so that they can receive advice on achieving and maintaining a healthy lifestyle, and be referred to stop smoking support where relevant.
Source: Practice Business, 20 August 2018
Lancashire County Council health lead backs MPs e-cigarette report
Lancashire County Council’s health lead, Councillor Shaun Turner, has backed the Science and Technology Select Committee’s recommendation that vaping be encouraged as an alternative to smoking.
The Committee highlighted evidence showing that e-cigarettes are significantly less harmful than tobacco cigarettes and could help to accelerate already declining smoking rates.
Councillor Turner said: “E-cigarettes can also help as an alternative way to quit. Cancer Research UK highlight that all the evidence so far points to e-cigarettes being far less harmful than tobacco products and that they can help people stop smoking. We would only recommend them as a tool to help people stop smoking. We’d never recommend people to take up vaping if they don’t currently vape or smoke.”
Source: Lancashire and Morecambe Citizen, 20 August 2018
Scotland: NHS Highland joins campaign to stop adults buying tobacco for under-18s
NHS Highland’s improvement team and Highland Council’s trading standards team have been working with ASH Scotland to support the charity’s #notafavour initiative.
The initiative consists of a series of videos, produced with the help of students at Inverness College UHI, highlighting the problem of adults buying cigarettes for under-18s.
Inverness College UHI’s wellbeing officer Claire Killburn-Young said: “Inverness College UHI is also a member of ASH Scotland’s Charter for a Tobacco-free Generation, so it’s an issue we are really passionate about. We hope these videos have the desired effect and discourage adults form purchasing tobacco for young people.”
Source: The Press and Journal, 20 August 2018
US: Child passive smoking increases chronic lung risk
A recent study published in the American Journal of Preventative Medicine (AJPM) shows that non-smoking adults have a higher risk of dying from chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) if they grew up with parents who smoked.
The researchers found that secondhand smoke exposure in both childhood and adulthood was associated with a higher risk of mortality from COPD and vascular disease, and warn that childhood passive smoking was “likely to add seven deaths to every 100,000 non-smoking adults dying annually”.
Hazel Cheeseman, Director of Policy at ASH, said: “This latest study adds to the compelling case to take smoke outside to protect children from harm. The best way to do this is for parents to quit.”
Dr Nick Hopkinson, medical adviser to the British Lung Foundation, agreed, saying: “Passive smoking has a lasting impact well beyond childhood. Unfortunately, stop smoking services in the UK are being cut. We need to make sure that everyone, especially parents of young children and pregnant women who smoke, get the help they need to quit.”
Source: BBC, 19 August 2018
American Journal of Preventative Medicine: Secondhand Smoke Exposure in Childhood and Adulthood in Relation to Adult Mortality Among Never Smokers
Australian tobacco taxes set to rise again
Australia—which has the world’s highest tax rate on cigarettes—is set to raise its tobacco tax rate by 12.5% from 1 September.
However, tobacco can be purchased at a lower price from black market sellers and discount tobacco websites that charge up to 70% less than retailers.
The Australian Taxation Office and the Department of Home Affairs estimates that illicit tobacco costs the government $600 million every year.
Source: Mail on Sunday, 20 August 2018
Japan: British American Tobacco to raise prices alongside October tax rise
British American Tobacco Japan (BATJ) is set to raise its tobacco product prices alongside the planned tobacco tax increase on 1 October.
This would see BATJ product prices rising by ¥30 to ¥40 per 20 pack, in addition to the ¥1 per cigarette tax increase.
In addition, Philip Morris plans to file for a price increase of ¥40 which would see the cost of Marlboro cigarettes rise from ¥470 to ¥510.
Source: Japan Times, 20 August 2018
US: Small study finds potential link between e-cigarette use and DNA damage
A small study at the University of Minnesota has found a potential link between regular e-cigarette use and DNA damage which could contribute to cancer.
The researchers analysed saliva samples from five e-cigarette users for traces of chemical compounds which are known to damage DNA. Compared with people who don’t vape, four of the five e-cigarette users showed increased DNA damage. The study does not show how this compares to the damage caused by smoking cigarettes.
Source: ecancer News, 20 August 2018
US: FDA to support development of nicotine replacement therapies
The US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has revealed plans to support the development of new nicotine replacement therapies (NRTs) to help eliminate addiction to combustible cigarettes.
The public health agency aims to also create policies that will regulate the use of nicotine and tobacco in the country with a focus on implementing measures to help existing addicted smokers stop using combustible cigarettes. Specifically, the FDA will work towards developing new forms of nicotine delivery that are in line with its public health goals.
FDA commissioner Scott Gottlieb said: “Part of this work requires that we recognise that nicotine, while highly addictive, is delivered through products posing a continuum of risk – with combustible cigarettes at one end, to nicotine replacement therapy (NRT) products at the other. We’re working on multiple fronts to recognise the role that more novel forms of nicotine delivery could play in achieving our public health goals, as part of an appropriately regulated marketplace.”
Source: Pharmaceutical Technology, 7 August 2018
US: Tobacco-funded group sues over Montana tax measure
An initiative in Montana is seeking to raise the state’s tax on a pack of cigarettes by $2 to $3.70, on snuff to at least $3.70 per 1.2-ounce can and tax e-cigarettes and vaping products for the first time. The new revenue, estimated to reach $74 million a year by 2023, would be used to pay for the state’s share of Medicaid expansion and stop smoking programmes.
Voters will decide whether to introduce the tax in November, but a tobacco industry-funded group wants to change the wording of the citizen’s ballot in an effort to prevent the increase. A lawsuit filed with the Montana Supreme Court Monday by ‘Montanans Against Tax Hikes’ takes issue with specific phrasing contained in the 135-word ballot statement. It claims that the language is incorrect, will cause confusion and prevent voters from casting an informed ballot.
“Big Tobacco will try anything to protect their profits at the expense of Montana’s health,” said Amanda Cahill, a spokeswoman for the pro-initiative group and a campaigner for the American Heart Association. “Pursuing an unnecessary legal challenge while wasting taxpayer dollars appears to be part of Big Tobacco’s playbook nationwide — it’s unfortunate to see it happening Montana.”
Source: Associated Press, 7 August 2018
US: American Medical Association calls for greater e-cigarette regulation
The American Medical Association (AMA) has adopted several policies to improve the regulation of tobacco products, including e-cigarettes.
The AMA is urging the federal government to move quickly to regulate e-cigarettes and require manufacturers to list the ingredients and nicotine content clearly on product labels, as well as a warning of the addictive quality of nicotine. In addition, the association says that the sale of any e-cigarette cartridge that does not include a complete list of ingredients on its packaging (in the order of prevalence) should be prohibited.
“We are concerned that consumers have an inaccurate reflection of the amount of nicotine and type of substances they’re inhaling when using e-cigarettes,” AMA President Barbara L. McAneny, M.D., said in a statement. “The AMA will continue to advocate for more stringent policies to help keep all harmful tobacco products, including e-cigarettes, out of the hands of our nation’s youth.”
Editorial note: UK regulation already requires e-cigarette packaging to list the nicotine content and ingredients. An expert review of the latest evidence for PHE concludes that e-cigarettes are around 95% safer than smoked tobacco and they can help smokers to quit.
Source: Medical Xpress, 7 August 2018
London: Vape, don’t smoke, warn fire brigade after fire at flat
A “carelessly” discarded cigarette may have started a blaze that destroyed a flat in Finsbury Park. Fire investigators believe a bed ignited when smoking materials, such as a cigarette or match, were carelessly disposed of. No one was injured in the fire.
A London Fire Brigade spokesman said: “We would rather people didn’t smoke at all but if they do, vaping is a safer option. If you do choose to smoke cigarettes, it is absolutely vital you ensure your cigarette is completely out when you’ve finished smoking it. If you don’t, you risk causing a fire which could not only destroy your home, but also cost you your life.”
Source: Islington Tribune, 3 August 2018
Scotland: The reality of the prison smoking ban
Smoking will be banned in all Scottish prisons on the 30th of November 2018. Tobacco products will no longer be sold to prisoners and they will be prohibited from smoking in either the buildings or the grounds. The Scottish Government says the ban is a further step towards its goal of creating a “tobacco-free generation” by 2034, and that it will improve the air quality for prisoners and the working conditions of wardens.
Phil Fairlie, chairman of the Prison Officers’ Association Scotland, welcomed the positive contribution the ban could make towards a healthy workplace. However he also said, “To suddenly…remove one of the most highly addictive substances out there, to do that without any proper consideration or thought as to how you do that without providing smoking cessation programmes and the opportunity to come off cigarettes, could simply add to what is already a very difficult working environment for the staff, so it needs to be managed carefully.”
Source: The Herald, 5 August 2018
Opinion: A tax on vaping would lead to more smoking deaths
Daniel Pryor, Head of Programmes at the Adam Smith Institute, which has accepted money from the tobacco industry, discusses rumours of tax on e-cigarettes.
“If rumours are to be believed, the Treasury is planning to raise money for the NHS by giving people cancer. This would be the effect of a tax on vaping: raising the cost of switching from cigarettes to a popular alternative that is at least 95% safer, according to Public Health England.
If you tax something, you get less of it and people stick to alternatives. In this case, it will be more people continuing to smoke. Funding the NHS by taxing vaping is like funding the fire service by taxing smoke alarms. The government is putting lives at risk for a pittance.”
The Times, Chancellor warned off duty on vaping
Talking Retail, Vaping industry hits back at reports of new tax on e-cigs
The Sun, Taxing e-cigarettes makes ‘no sense’ as they help people quit smoking, experts warn
Conservative Home, A vaping tax would kill people
Source: The Times, 6th August 2018
Cigarettes could cost £20 in 2020
Cigarettes could double in price to £20 a packet in 2020. A 100% price increase to cigarettes has been mooted by health experts in an attempt to help smokers quit.
These experts say current prices around £10 for 20 cigarettes is not high enough to force people to quit. They claim the addiction is still “too affordable”, and that the issue is not just with cigarettes, but roll-ups too.
Dr Rob Branston, from University of Bath, said: “Smokers can currently offset tax rises by adjusting their smoking behaviour so they don’t get a strong enough push to quit the deadly habit. Larger tax rises are needed to make smokers realise it is unaffordable. We would suggest that the UK government follow the lead of the Australian government. They have announced large yearly price rises up to 2020 which will result in the price in the shops exceeding the equivalent of £20 a packet.”
Edinburgh evening news, Experts call for cigarette prices to rise to £20 by 2020 to deter smokers
This is Lancashire, Call for larger tax rises to ‘make smoking unaffordable’
Source: Daily Star, 4 August 2018
Heatwave sees golf courses ban smoking while playing
Hundreds of golf clubs have banned smoking in an “unprecedented” move to reduce the risk of fires starting on dried out courses. Sustained hot weather has prompted them to tell golfers they can no longer light up while playing.
The Golf Club Managers Association (GCMA) found 60% of clubs in the UK have temporarily banned smoking because of the heatwave conditions this summer. They said courses should “urgently consider the measure”. Many golfers who smoke will lay cigarettes down on the grass to keep their hands free while playing shots, increasing the potential risk for fires starting.
Source: 2018 BBC News, 4 August 2018
US: Vaping draws strong support from robots
Social media accounts run by internet robots may be driving much of the discussion around the health threats posed by e-cigarettes, according to a study led by San Diego State University researchers, who also found that most of the automated messages were positive toward vaping.
More than 70% of the tweets analysed in the study appeared to have been put out by robots, whose use to influence public opinion and sell products while posing as real people is coming under increased scrutiny.
The discovery of the apparent robot promotion of vaping was unexpected. The team originally set out to use Twitter data to study the use and perceptions of e-cigarettes in the United States and to understand characteristics of users discussing e-cigarettes.
Source: MedicalXpress, 6 August 2018
US: Smoking ban in public housing might make quitting easier
A new US ban on smoking in public housing may make it easier for low-income smokers to quit, a new study suggests. Last week, the US Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) implemented a ban on cigarettes, cigars, and pipes inside apartments, common areas and outdoor spaces within 25 feet of public housing properties. This ban doesn’t cover e-cigarettes.
While the primary goal of the ban is to improve indoor air quality and reduce residents’ exposure to secondhand smoke, new research suggests it may also help low-income smokers be more successful at quitting. People with smokefree homes were 60% more likely to quit smoking for at least 30 days than people without this prohibition, the study also found. However, the prevalence of smokefree homes was 33% lower among low-income people than among more affluent individuals.
Source: Reuters, 3 August 2018
Claims that e-cigarettes could be taxed to raise £20 billion for NHS
Vaping could be taxed in an attempt by the Treasury to fund the extra £20 billion pledged to the NHS. It is reported that a Whitehall source believes vapers may see a tax increase above VAT at the next budget.
Users typically spend around £275 a year on vaping fluid. This means a five per cent tax would cost them £13.75 a year, raising almost £40 million.
Express, Vape tax intended to raise extra £40 million set to harm UK’s 2.9 million vapers
Daily Mail, E-cigarettes could be taxed for the first time as Treasury looks to raise £20 billion promised to the NHS
Source: The Sun, 1st August 2018
Vype e-cigarettes recalled over fire safety fears
A safety notice has been issued after some consumers have reported problems with Vype eTank Pro devices, owned by British American Tobacco. The issue relates to the potential for the battery in the e-cigarettes to short circuit, which may pose a fire risk. Vype is therefore asking customers who purchased the device or its standalone battery to return the product, so it can be replaced.
See also: Daily Mail, Vype e-cigarettes sold at Sainsbury’s have been urgently recalled
Source: The Sun, 1st August 2018
Sheffield: Potential smoking ban at bus and tram stops
Smokers in Sheffield could be stopped from smoking at bus and tram stops, after the council confirmed it was looking at introducing smokefree shelters across the city. Moving forward, members of the public could be asked to give their views on smokefree bus and tram shelters as well as smokefree school gates and public family events.
“We will do further consultation for any public space. It’s never a ban, it’s a smokefree ask,” said Sarah Hepworth, Health Improvement Principal.
Greg Fell, Director of Public Health at Sheffield City Council said “Enforceability is a very important thing. We’re not going to send police marching up and down the moor trying to take people’s cigarettes from them, if we head towards that [further smokefree places] we have to do it with the support of the people of Sheffield.”
Source: Yorkshire Post, 1st August 2018
London: Smoking rates declining in Southwark
Southwark’s labourers, cleaners and hospitality staff appear to be switching smoking for e-cigarettes, according to statistics.
The percentage of smokers in routine and manual occupations has dropped from more than 25% in 2015, to 18.5% in 2016 – below the London average of 25%, and the country-wide rate of 27%, according to Southwark Council documents. Smoking prevalence across the borough is also reducing, with 15.3% of residents smoking in 2016, compared to 15.9% in 2015.
However, Southwark Council’s director of health and wellbeing, Kevin Fenton, said the sharp decline in smokers in routine and manual jobs could not be confirmed as a trend until next year’s data becomes available. Speaking to the council’s health and wellbeing board, he said: “One of the things you learn is that we never look up one year’s data and then celebrate, so we are waiting and we are looking forward to the data from 2017 to confirm the trend.”
The 2017 data is yet to be included in this analysis but can be accessed here.
Source: News Shopper, 1st August 2018
What happens when you quit cigarettes?
Smoking increases the risk of developing heart disease, stroke and lung cancer and harms nearly every organ of the body. Indeed, about 90,000 people die every year in the UK because of their smoking habit.
According to the NHS, the positive health effects begin just 20 minutes after quitting, since the pulse rate returns to normal. Then, after eight hours, nicotine and carbon monoxide levels in blood reduce by more than half, and oxygen levels return to normal. After 12 hours, the total amount of carbon monoxide in the body returns to normal, and the heart doesn’t have to pump so hard to push oxygen around the body. Three days into quitting it’s significantly easier to breathe, and patients have more energy.
Over the next three months, circulation throughout the body improves and becomes more efficient. The lungs become stronger and clearer, and the risk of heart attack has been reduced. Indeed, after one full year, the risk of heart disease is about half compared with a person that’s still smoking, and ten years later, the chances of developing lung cancer are about half that of a smoker. Another five years on, heart attack risk is the same as someone that’s never smoked a single cigarette.
Source: Express, 1st August 2018
US: New wearable sensor technology may help quit smoking
Using wearable sensor technology, researchers have developed an automatic alert system that may help people to quit smoking by sending video messages. The smartphone app automatically texts 20 to 120-second video messages to smokers when sensors detect specific arm and body motions associated with smoking.
According to the researchers, the mobile alert system may be the first that combines an existing online platform with mindfulness training and a personalised plan for quitting smoking. It also combines a personalised text-messaging service that reminds the user of either their own plan to quit, or sends video messages that stress the health and financial benefits of quitting.
Science Direct, Are you smoking? Automatic alert system helping people keep away from cigarettes
Source: The Asian Independent, 2nd August 2018
US: Modest exercise can curb weight gain after quitting smoking
A new study suggests that even a modest amount of weekly exercise can minimise weight gain after quitting smoking. Nearly 7 of 10 US adult smokers say they want to quit, according to the Center for Disease Control and Prevention, but the fear of gaining weight discourages some from doing so. For three years, the study team tracked 4,717 female smokers, ages 50 to 70, who were participating in the long-term Women’s Health Initiative study. The 2,282 women who quit smoking gained an overall average of 3.5 kilograms (7.72 lb).
“We found even a little bit of physical activity minimised weight gain after women stopped smoking,” study leader Juhua Luo of the School of Public Health at Indiana University in Bloomington told Reuters Health. They found that even walking for a weekly total of about 90 minutes at three miles per hour was enough to minimise weight gain after smoking cessation. The best results were seen when women engaged in 150 minutes of moderate intensity activity per week.
Menopause, Physical activity and weight gain after smoking cessation in postmenopausal women
Source: Reuters, 1st August 2018
Understanding employment laws around e-cigarettes
There are around 3 million that use e-cigarettes in the UK. Whilst smokers have to leave the office to smoke, the rules for vaping vary between organisations. This can pose issues for businesses trying to understand the current laws.
In practice, businesses can decide whether or not they allow e-cigarettes inside an office. There are benefits from allowing it; it can help people replace smoking and also keep them in the office for longer, rather than going out for a smoke every hour or two. There is also strong evidence that it is less harmful than smoking, so many business owners are willing to accept it.
Public Health England (PHE) declared in 2016 the need to have policies for vaping in the workplace. This includes having rules that outline whether vaping is permitted or not and under what circumstances. All stakeholders in the organisation should have an understanding of whether e-cigarettes are permitted or not and this can be reinforced through the use of signs, written declarations and official company policies.
PHE recommends that all companies in the UK move towards having a smokefree environment, providing employees with evidence of the health risks associated with smoking.
Source: Business Matters, 31 July 2018
Hackney: Dalston off-licence accused of selling smuggled tobacco
A Dalston off-licence is facing an uncertain future after an unannounced visit by the authorities uncovered a stash of illicit tobacco. Following an anonymous tip-off, Hackney Trading Standards visited Kingsland Wine on 5 December 2017 in a joint operation with Her Majesty’s Revenue & Customs (HMRC).
The investigation found a stash of ‘duty avoided tobacco’ in a covert hiding place above the door to the staff toilet. Also discovered was a substantial quantity of foreign labelled tobacco under the counter. A total of 4,260 king-size cigarettes and 1.9kg of rolling tobacco believed to be “duty avoided” were seized.
Source: Hackney Citizen, 31 July 2018
Secondhand smoking is causing thousands of stillbirths in developing countries
In developing countries, it is typically uncommon for women to smoke and so pregnant mothers rarely smoke cigarettes. However their exposure to secondhand smoke during pregnancy is a lot higher than in developed countries, according to a recent study which was carried out in 30 developing countries.
Exposure to secondhand smoke during pregnancy increases the risk of stillbirth, congenital malformations and low birth-weight. Despite this, smoking in indoor public and private spaces is still common in many countries. The study was based on self-reported surveys from pregnant women.
In Armenia, Indonesia, Jordan, Bangladesh and Nepal more than 50% of pregnant women reported exposure to household secondhand smoke. These countries are closely followed by Egypt, Pakistan and Sierra Leone, where more than 40% of all pregnant women were exposed to secondhand smoke, almost on a daily basis.
Source: The News Minute, 1 August 2018
Study: Lung cancer mortality rates among women projected to increase by over 40% by 2030
The global age-standardized lung cancer mortality rate among women is projected to increase by 43% from 2015 to 2030, according to an analysis of data from 52 countries.
“While we have made great strides in reducing breast cancer mortality globally, lung cancer mortality rates among women are on the rise worldwide,” said study author Martínez-Sánchez. “If we do not implement measures to reduce smoking behaviours in this population, lung cancer mortality will continue to increase throughout the world.”
“Different timelines have been observed in the tobacco epidemic across the globe,” said Martínez-Sánchez. “This is because it was socially acceptable for women to smoke in the European and Oceanic countries included in our study many years before this habit was commonplace in America and Asia, which reflects why we are seeing higher lung cancer mortality rates in these countries.”
See also: Cancer Research, Projections in Breast and Lung Cancer Mortality among Women: A Bayesian Analysis of 52 Countries Worldwide
Source: Medical Xpress, 1 August 2018
Australia: Four in five lung cancers preventable through healthy lifestyle
Link of the Week
South Yorkshire: Rother Valley MP calls for Government to keep up the push to cut smoking deaths
Following yesterday’s parliamentary debate to review the Tobacco Control Plan, Sir Kevin Barron, MP for Rother Valley, has written an article calling on the government to increase funding for smoking cessation services to ensure that the targets set out in the plan are met.
In the article he criticises the misrepresentation of evidence surrounding e-cigarettes in the media: “It is very unfortunate that sensationalist media reports are creating an air of uncertainty around e-cigarettes and deterring many smokers from making the switch. It would be a tragedy if thousands of smokers who could quit with the help of an e-cigarette are being put off due to false fears about their safety.”
Public Health England has said that e-cigarettes are at least 95 per cent less harmful than cigarettes and that the main chemicals in e-cigarettes have not been associated with any serious risk.
Source: Retford Guardian, 20 July 2018
NHS Response: Vaping and using nicotine patches in pregnancy
The NHS has responded to a recent study from the US which linked vaping and the use of nicotine patches in pregnancy to cot death (Sudden Infant Death Syndrome). The UK media’s reporting of the study was sensationalised, playing down the fact that the research was on rats, and the findings related to rats with depleted serotonin.
The researchers found that exposure to nicotine during pregnancy limited the ability of serotonin-deficient rats to recover back to normal breathing and heart rates following a period of oxygen deprivation.
The NHS recommends that smokers planning a pregnancy should use nicotine replacement therapies, such as patches, to help them quit smoking before trying for a baby.
Source: NHS Choices, 20 July 2018
Editorial Note: Francine Bates, Chief Executive of The Lullaby Trust and co-chair of the Smoking in Pregnancy Challenge Group (SPCG), put out this statement: “We don’t think parents should worry about the findings of this study as it was conducted on laboratory rats, not human babies. Research that has been conducted on women who used NRT patches in pregnancy showed that there was no increase in infant mortality up to the age of two years old, compared to women who used a placebo. While there is currently no research linking electronic (or ‘e’) cigarettes to an increased risk of sudden infant death syndrome (SIDS), using an e-cigarette appears to be much safer than continuing to smoke during pregnancy and once your baby is born. Tobacco cigarettes contain toxins that cause harm to an unborn baby by starving them of oxygen, but these toxins are not present in e-cigarettes or NRT.”
“Smoking tobacco cigarettes before or after pregnancy significantly increases the chance of SIDS. That’s why we strongly encourage any pregnant women or new parents who smoke to keep their baby smoke-free. Whilst it’s always best for pregnant women to quit using nicotine completely, those who find it hard to do so should not stop using NRT or e-cigarettes on the basis of this research. We would advise anyone who is concerned about smoking to contact their midwife or GP who can offer advice and refer them to stop smoking services.”
SPCG Guide: Use of electronic cigarettes in pregnancy
West Midlands: Thousands of illegal tobacco products seized in Dudley
Over 150,000 illegal cigarettes and 1,000kg of tobacco were seized by Dudley Council last year as part of their efforts to crack down on illegal tobacco.
The operation has resulted in two prosecutions with several more pending, and several shops have had their alcohol licences suspended or revoked for dealing with illegal tobacco products.
Councillor Ruth Buttery, Dudley’s cabinet member for health and wellbeing, said: “Whilst all tobacco is harmful, the illegal tobacco market, and in particular the availability of cheap cigarettes, undermines government health policies aimed at reducing the cost to the NHS of treating diseases caused by smoking.”
Source: Stourbridge News, 19 July 2018
Social Smoking: Just how bad is it for you?
Although many people who smoke socially might not describe themselves as a smoker, they are not exempt from many of the health issues associated with smoking. Social smokers are still susceptible to lung infections, smoking-related cancers, shorter life expectancy and accelerated signs of ageing.
Even if social smokers aren’t addicted to nicotine they can still be addicted to the psychoactive experience of smoking in social situations. Professor Robert West, an expert on smoking from the University College London, describes the desire to smoke occasionally as a “situational craving” – explaining why you may only feel like a cigarette when you drink. “One way addiction works is by forming an association between situations where a person would typically smoke, which then creates the impulse to smoke when they find themselves in that situation again,” he says.
Even light smoking can cause DNA mutations which increase the likelihood of developing cancer. Dr Richard Russell, Consultant Respiratory Physician and medical advisor to the British Lung Foundation, said: “It’s the toxic chemicals you are inhaling. Even occasional smoking puts your health at risk – the only safe level of smoking is nothing at all.”
Source: Sheerluxe, 19 July 2018
Australia: Four in five lung cancers preventable through healthy lifestyle
Researchers at the University of New South Wales (UNSW) in Sydney have found evidence to suggest that the majority of lung cancers are related to smoking.
Using data from the Centre for Big Data Research in Health, the researchers showed that lung cancer risk remained elevated for 40 years after people stopped smoking, with the risk approximately halving every 10 years.
Dr Maarit Laaksonen, Senior Research Fellow at UNSW, said: “More than three out of four lung cancers are caused by ever smoking. Current smoking is responsible for more than half of lung cancers and past smoking for nearly a quarter. Our findings strongly support the dual importance of preventing the uptake of smoking and assisting quitting.”
Source: MedicalXpress, 19 July 2018
Centre for Big Data Research in Health: Population-level relevance of risk factors for cancer
Parliamentary debate to review the tobacco control plan
The transcript of yesterday’s Government Debate on the Tobacco Control Plan can be found here.
Source: Hansard, 19 July 2018
Link of the Week
New Secretary of State for Health and Social Care Speech
Today, Matt Hancock, the new Secretary of State for Health and Social Care, delivered his debut speech setting out his priorities for the health and social care system.
He talks extensively about the importance of preventative measures to ease the pressures on staff, improve patient outcomes and keep people out of hospital: “prevention… is mission critical to making the health and social care system sustainable.”
Source: gov.uk, 20 July 2018
Link of the week
Tobacco giant buys stake in medical cannabis
One of the UK’s biggest tobacco manufacturers is seeking to diversify from the under-pressure cigarette market by taking a stake in a start-up researching medical uses of cannabis.
Imperial Brands, the FTSE 100 company behind Winston and Gauloises cigarettes, is investing in Oxford Cannabinoid Technologies (OCT). It is thought to be the first time that a Big Tobacco company has invested in cannabis research in the UK.
Deborah Arnott, chief executive of Action on Smoking and Health, said: “Imperial talks of there being ‘significant potential’ in cannabinoid products but they’re not a pharmaceutical company, they’re a recreational drug company. This is all about developing the expertise they need to market cannabis not as a medicine, but as a recreational drug. It’s a bad move for a start-up like OCT to besmirch its reputation by taking money from an industry responsible for killing more than seven million people a year. And it bucks the trend. Major investors all round the world, from banks and pension funds, to insurers and sovereign wealth funds, are all getting out of tobacco.”
See also: BBC, ‘Tobacco giant Imperial Brands invests in medical cannabis’
Source: The Times, 29 June 2018
North West: Burnley women urged to stop smoking
Burnley has the second highest rate of women smokers in the country. In Burnley 25.5% of women are smokers, second only to Hastings in East Sussex, with fellow Lancashire area South Ribble having the least amount of women smokers at just 4%.
Lancashire County Council has commissioned a ‘Quit Squad’ which encourages people to stop smoking, and includes support for pregnant women to quit in partnership with midwifes, health visitors and children’s centres.
Shaun Turner, Lancashire County Council’s cabinet member for health and wellbeing, said: “We know how difficult it is to stop smoking, but we’re here to help. Current figures show that 16% of Lancashire’s population smokes, which is just above the national average. Rates in the county are falling. However, we are aware of tobacco use hotspots such as Burnley and our targeted work with communities will help us address them. Our aim is to cut smoking rates in Lancashire to 12% or less by 2022.”
Source: Burnley Express, 28 June 2018
The protocol to eliminate illicit trade in tobacco products is live
On the 27 June 2018, the conditions for the entry into force of the first legally binding instrument adopted under the WHO FCTC were met. The ratification of United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland, meant the necessary number of Parties to the Protocol to Eliminate Illicit Trade in Tobacco Products was reached, paving the way to eliminate illicit trade of tobacco products.
This achievement is a milestone in the history of tobacco control, as the Protocol contains a full range of measures to combat illicit trade distributed in three categories: preventing illicit trade, promoting law enforcement and providing the legal basis for international cooperation. Moreover, it aims to secure the supply chain of tobacco products, through licensing, due diligence and record keeping, and requires the establishment of a global tracking and tracing regime that will allow Governments to effectively follow up tobacco products from the point of production to the first point of sale.
The Parties can now hold the First session of the Meeting of the Parties to the Protocol (MOP1) in Geneva, Switzerland, from the 8th to the 10th of October 2018, following the Eighth Conference of the Parties (COP8) of the WHO FCTC.
Source: FCTC, 28 June 2018
Australia: WTO backs plain cigarette packets
Australia has won a major trade dispute over its pioneering plain packaging for cigarettes, in a decision handed down by the World Trade Organization (WTO).
Australia made it mandatory in 2011 for cigarettes to be sold in plain packets that carry health warnings. Seven years on, the WTO has rejected complaints from four nations that the laws violate international trade. Unless there is a successful appeal, the decision is expected to hasten similar regulations around the world.
“Australia has achieved a resounding victory,” its government said in a statement on Friday. Cuba, Honduras, Dominican Republic and Indonesia – all tobacco producers – had argued that plain packaging infringed on trademarks and intellectual property rights. But the WTO rejected those arguments and assertions that alternative measures could achieve an equivalent benefit to public health.
Financial Times, Australia wins landmark WTO ruling over cigarette packaging
The Guardian, ‘Resounding victory’: Australia wins tobacco plain packaging dispute
Daily Mail Online, ‘Australia wins landmark WTO ruling on plain tobacco packaging’
Source: BBC News, 29 June 2018
China: Low funding cited as top reason for lackluster smoking control
Lack of funding has become a major obstacle to the enforcement of tobacco control regulations, according to a new report based on feedback from the governments of 18 major cities on the Chinese mainland. Wang Zhenyu, the head of the law firm that carried out the study, said “We found that lack of government funding is the biggest difficulty in tobacco control for many cities, and the problem has not improved over the past few years.”
Of the 18 cities, nine disclosed the amount of money allocated for tobacco control for 2016. Beijing was top, with total funding of about 4.8 million yuan ($724,000), followed by Guangzhou, Guangdong province, at 4.6 million yuan. Funding on all the other seven cities was below 500,000 yuan.
However, Jiang Yuan, director of the tobacco control office of the Chinese Center for Disease Control and Prevention, said that although Beijing has placed more emphasis on tobacco control than most other cities in China, but the funding level is still far from adequate. She said, “Per capita funding is far below many other countries and regions, such as Hong Kong.”
Source: China Daily, 29 June 2018
China: Paternal smoking linked to miscarriage risk
Would-be fathers may increase their partner’s risk of miscarriage by smoking during the pregnancy, or even during the time leading up to conception, a large study from China suggests.
Based on data for nearly 6 million pregnancies, researchers found that women whose partner smoked during the first few months of the pregnancy were 17% more likely to miscarry than women with nonsmoking partners. Women whose partners quit smoking around the time of conception had an 18% lower risk of miscarriage than those whose smoking partner didn’t quit, the study team reports in the Journal of Epidemiology & Community Health.
“Although we have known for a long time that if the mother smokes there is an increased risk for adverse pregnancy outcomes, dads who smoke also influence the ‘success’ of the pregnancy,” Dr. Alison Holloway, a professor of obstetrics and gynecology at McMaster University in Hamilton, Ontario.
Source: Reuters, 27 June 2018
Japan: Smoke exposure during pregnancy and infancy tied to hearing loss
Kids exposed to tobacco smoke in the womb and early in infancy could have double the odds of developing hearing loss compared with children who were not exposed to tobacco at all, a Japanese study suggests.
Researchers examined data on 50,734 children born between 2004 and 2010 in Kobe City, Japan. Overall, about 4% of these kids were exposed to smoking during pregnancy or infancy, and roughly 1% had tobacco exposure during both periods.
Hearing tests done when kids were 3 years old found that 4.6% of the children had hearing loss. They were 68% more likely to have hearing loss if they were exposed to tobacco during pregnancy, and 30% more likely if they inhaled second-hand smoke during infancy, the study found. When kids had smoke exposure during both periods, they were 2.4 times more likely than unexposed kids to have hearing loss.
Source: Reuters, 28 June 2018
US: Opinion: 12-year-olds can’t buy cigarettes. Why can they work in tobacco fields?
In the US, a 12-year-old cannot legally walk into a store and buy cigarettes, but the law allows that same child to work in a tobacco field. A 16-year-old child tobacco worker told Human Rights Watch that tobacco was “the hardest of all the crops we’ve worked in. You get tired. It takes the energy out of you. You get sick, but then you have to go right back to the tobacco the next day.”
When the seminal legislation the Fair Labor Standards Act was passed in 1938, it exempted agriculture from its extensive labor protections, including child labor. In 2011-12, the Obama administration attempted to ban teen work in tobacco, but farm groups claimed this would “kill the family farm” and the Obama administration promised to never implement them again during Obama’s tenure. Now, the Trump administration is working to remove hazardous work restrictions for students and apprentices that would allow minors to use chainsaws, meat slicers, compactors and other dangerous machinery for longer hours than currently allowed.
We call on the tobacco industry to raise the minimum age of work on tobacco farms to 18 in the US and around the world immediately. It’s bad enough that the tobacco industry is willing to kill its customers with a dangerous product; it really should move to protect the workers who produce that product.
See also: Guardian, ‘The US children working in tobacco fields’
Source: Guardian, 29 June 2018
Link of the week
Cigarettes and Chimneys
In a short 15 minute programme, Radio 4 tells the story of how Richard Doll’s research in the 1950s identified that smoking caused lung cancer and how the Royal College of Physicians (RCP) had to weigh in to ensure that government took the evidence seriously.
When lung cancer, a new deadly disease, began to grip the nation, the NHS was focused on treatment, not prevention. Lung cancer was a disease that doctors couldn’t treat. The suggestion that something you could prevent – cigarette smoking – might be causing it, led to a radically new way of thinking about the role of the health service.
The RCP has been in the forefront of promoting this change in perspective since its seminal 1962 report Smoking and Health, and it continues to promote the role of prevention in the NHS today with its latest report Hiding in plain sight.
Many other RCP reports are also available for free to download on the RCP website.
Source: BBC Radio 4, 25 June 2018
Link of the week
Liam Fox caught in fresh “lobbyists as advisers” scandal
Transparency campaigners have accused International Trade Minister Liam Fox of “having trouble again seeing the line between adviser and privately-backed lobbyist” after it emerged that one of Fox’s key advisors has also become an advisor to one of the UK’s biggest corporate lobbying firms. Shanker Singham, who recently joined the Institute of Economic Affairs (IEA), is now a senior adviser to the trade minister.
Singham is a member of Liam Fox’s ‘committee of experts’, a five-person group advising him on trade deals. Singham, a one-time Washington lobbyist, is director of the International Trade and Competition Unit at the IEA.
Hazel Cheeseman, director of policy at the campaign group Action on Smoking and Health (ASH), said: “The Institute for Economic Affairs has long acted as a paid lobbying agency for the tobacco industry. It’s very worrying to see one of their staff playing such a key role in shaping Britain’s trade deals as we leave the EU.”
Source: Open Democracy, 21 June 2018
Warwickshire raids find 15,000 illicit cigarettes
Almost 15,000 cigarettes and more than 9kg of hand rolling tobacco were seized in raids on shops carried out by Warwickshire County Council’s Trading Standards Service, supported by Warwickshire Police and Border Force.
Tobacco sniffer dogs were used to hunt for counterfeit and non-duty paid cigarettes and tobacco hidden in corner shops, mini supermarkets and parked vehicles. Officers used local intelligence to identify shops where cheap illegal cigarettes were being sold.
Andy Crump, Warwickshire County councillor, said: “The sellers of cheap illegal cigarettes don’t care who they sell to, making it easier for children and young people to obtain cigarettes and get hooked on smoking and making it harder for adults to quit.”
Source: Talking Retail, 21 June 2018
Ireland: Offer e-cigarettes to help smokers quit, says senator
Catherine Noone, a Fine Gael senator has urged the government to develop their policy on e-cigarettes, to reduce the number of smokers in Ireland.
The Department of Health has said it does not have enough evidence to recommend vaping as part of the Tobacco Free Ireland programme. The initiative aims to reduce smoking from the current rate of 22% to under 5% by 2025.
Noone pointed out that England and Scotland have policies that recommend e-cigarettes.
She said: “I’m known for having nanny state policies on alcohol, sugar and things like that, so I’m not in favour of e-cigarettes really. I think they look a bit ridiculous but they help people quit smoking and we need to develop a policy that recognises that. They [government] said there is not enough evidence but neighbouring countries that support their use have the same evidence. If we want people to stop smoking we have to help them any way we can and if e-cigarettes work, we need to offer them.”
Source: The Times, 22 June 2018
PQ1: Tobacco Control Plan
Kevin Barron Chair, Committee on Standards, Chair, Committee on Privileges
To ask the Secretary of State for Health and Social Care, with reference to his Department’s single departmental plan, for what reason the intention to work with Public Health England to deliver the new Tobacco Control Plan under Objective 1.1 was removed in the update of 23 May 2018.
Steve Brine The Parliamentary Under-Secretary for Health and Social Care
The Single Departmental Plan published on 23 May 2018 is a concise summary of the highest level objectives for the financial year 2018-19 rather than a comprehensive account of all the activities the Department is planning to undertake. The fact that a commitment or activity has not been included in the summary does not imply that there is no intention to work on it.
The Government is continuing to reduce harm caused by tobacco. Last year we published a new tobacco control plan to build on that success and on 7 June 2018 we published a delivery plan setting out actions for meeting the aims of the tobacco control plan and how progress will be monitored. A copy of the delivery plan is available at the following link: https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/tobacco-control-plan-delivery-plan-2017-to-2022
Source: Hansard, 21 June 2018
PQ2: Effect of plain cigarette packaging
Royston Smith Conservative, Southampton, Itchen
To ask the Secretary of State for Health and Social Care, what assessment his Department has made of the effect of the introduction of plain cigarette packaging on smoking.
Steve Brine The Parliamentary Under-Secretary for Health and Social Care
The Standardised Packaging of Tobacco Products Regulations 2015 came into force on 20 May 2016. It is too soon to effectively evaluate the impact of this legislation. However, the Government is committed to completing and publishing a full post-implementation review before 20 May 2021 and to publishing subsequent reports at intervals not exceeding five years.
Source: Hansard, 21 June 2018
Link of the week
Scottish Government’s latest Tobacco-Control action plan
The Scottish Government recently launched their latest Tobacco-Control plan. It’s an ambitious document where they recommit to their aim of creating a ‘tobacco-free’ generation by 2034.
Source: Scottish Government
Glasgow health board signs ASH Scotland’s Charter for a Tobacco-Free Generation
Scotland’s largest health board has thrown its weight behind a health charity’s goal to create a tobacco-free generation by 2034.
The director of NHS Greater Glasgow and Clyde (NHSGGC), John Matthews OBE, has signed ASH Scotland’s Charter for a Tobacco-Free Generation, designed to further help drive down smoking rates. Despite the continuing drop in Greater Glasgow and Clyde’s smoking rates, smoking remains the biggest single preventable cause of ill-health and premature death in Scotland.
John Matthews OBE, chair of the board’s Public Health Committee, said: “Tobacco is still the most common preventable cause of death in Scotland with smoking to blame for around a quarter of all deaths.
Signing this charter today is important as it shows our continued commitment to reducing smoking and our determination to ensure that all children will grow up free from the harmful effects of tobacco.”
Source: Glasgow Live, 12 June 2018
Cigarette butts and filters the most common pieces of litter on Europe’s beaches
The European Environment Agency (EEA) has released new data about litter found on Europe’s beaches. Based on nearly 700,000 collected items, disposable plastics are the biggest contributor to marine litter, with cigarette butts and filters being the most commonly found individual items.
A new EEA analysis on marine litter showcases data collected by volunteer groups at beaches across Europe’s four regional seas — the Baltic Sea, the Black Sea, the Mediterranean Sea and the North-East Atlantic Ocean.
Using the EEA’s Marine LitterWatch mobile app, volunteer groups collected litter data at 1,627 beach clean-up events between 2014 and 2017.
Source: Chartered Institution of Wastes Management, 8 June 2018
Global Electronic Cigarette Market expected to generate $26.83bn of revenue in 2023
The global electronic cigarette market is expected to be worth $26,839 million by 2023, up from $8,610 million in 2016, registering a compound annual growth rate of 17.4% from 2017 to 2023.
The figures are based on data from the commercial research organisation Research and Markets.
Source: Cision PR Newswire, June 2018
Desmond Swayne Conservative, New Forest West
To ask the Secretary of State for Health and Social Care, what assessment he has made of the level of vendor compliance with the tobacco and related products regulations in respect of vaping; and if he will make a statement.
Steve Brine The Parliamentary Under-Secretary for Health and Social Care
The Department commissioned the Chartered Trading Standards Institute (CTSI) to assess compliance with the Tobacco and Related Products Regulations 2016 including e-cigarettes. The CTSI published its latest report ‘A Rapid Review of Nicotine Inhaling Product Compliance with the Tobacco and Related Products Regulations’ in May 2018 and is available at the following link: https://www.tradingstandards.uk/news-policy/tobacco-control/tobacco-compliance-and-rapid-reviews
Source: Hansard, 11 June 2018
Link of the week
Smokers trying to quit should use stronger e-cigarettes, to protect their health, experts say
Researchers from London South Bank University have found that smokers who want to switch to vaping may be better to start with higher, rather than lower, nicotine levels to reduce compensatory behaviour and the amount of e-liquid used.
Dr Lynne Dawkins, from London South Bank University, said: “Some vapers might believe that starting out on a low nicotine strength is a good thing. But they should be aware that reducing their nicotine concentration is likely to result in the use of more e-liquid”. This is because when trying get the same hit as a high-nicotine e-cigarette, you have to puff harder, and for longer which exposes people to higher levels of toxins, including formaldehyde – which is formed when the e-cigarette is heated.
Source: The Sun, 8 June 2018
Minister announces smoking ban in prisons has not caused unrest among prisoners
A smokefree ban is now in place in all 102 high and medium secure prisons across England and Wales with open prisons only allowing smoking in designated outside areas.
Rory Stewart, Prisons Minister said there was no evidence of a decline in safety to prisoners or staff, and that it had only contributed to some low level disorder and a small number of more serious incidents. Stewart said as smokefree prisons were rolled out the number of inmates using e-cigarettes have gone up, with 50,000 vaping products, including re-fill packs being bought every week.
Source: The Today Programme, BBC Radio 4, 8 June 2018
Starting time: 4 minutes 50 seconds
North East: Sustained efforts to go smokefree by Mental Health Trusts reap rewards for patients and staff
Research by Teesside University and Fuse, the Centre for Translational Research in Public Health, shows that the number of patients in mental health hospitals who smoke in the North East is falling thanks to a sustained approach by partner organisations.
In March 2016 two mental health trusts in the region; Northumberland, Tyne and Wear NHS Foundation Trust and Tees, Esk and Wear Valleys NHS Foundation Trust, went fully smoke free.
The report outlines figures from Public Health England which found there was a considerable drop in smoking prevalence recorded across both organisations. In one of the Trusts, clinical audit showed that the proportion of inpatients that smoked fell from 43% in 2015 to 21% in 2018.
The report also highlights the preliminary work undertaken to prepare for the smoke free policy and noted that both Trusts had prepared 18 months in advance and introduced a range of measures to aid successful implementation. This included training staff to give advice on quitting, appointing stop smoking advisers on every unit and providing patients with Nicotine Replacement Therapy (NRT) within 30 minutes of admission.
Source: North East Connected, 8 June 2018
USA: Huge drop in teens smoking tobacco: Centre for Disease Control report reveals 20% drop in under-18s lighting up since 2011
Tobacco use is continuing to fall among children and teenagers in the US, an encouraging sign that the leading cause of preventable death in the US is finally falling out of fashion, a new report from the Centre for Disease Control and Prevention reveals.
According to the report the number of middle and high school students that use tobacco products has fallen by 20% since 2011.
In the last five years, e-cigarette use, or vaping, has overtaken smoking as the favourite nicotine delivery system for students.
Source: Daily Mail, 7 June 2018
US: E-cigarette sellers turn to scholarships to promote brands
A growing number of e-cigarette sellers have started offering college scholarships as a way to get their brands listed on university websites.
The scholarships, ranging from $250 to $5,000, mostly involve essay contests that ask students to write about the dangers of tobacco or whether vaping could be a safer alternative. At least one company asks applicants to write about different types of e-cigarettes and which one they recommend.
Although some of the scholarships are limited to students 18 and older (the nation’s legal age to buy vaping products), many are open to younger teens or have no age limit.
Source: Mail Online, 8 June 2018
India: Philip Morris plans to target Indian smokers with IQOS device
Philip Morris International is planning to launch its iQOS (Heat not burn) smoking device in India, as the tobacco giant seeks a foothold in a country with the world’s second-biggest smoker population.
India has stringent laws to deter tobacco use, which the government says kills more than 900,000 people every year. But the country still has 106 million adult smokers, second only to China according to the World Health Organisation (WHO), making it a lucrative market for Philip Morris to target.
If Philip Morris are to persuade officials, it would need to convince a government that has in recent years raised cigarette taxes, ordered companies to print bigger health warnings on tobacco packs and launched a quit-smoking helpline.
Source: Reuters, 8 June 2018
Link of the week
Department of Health and Social Care publish ‘Delivery Plan’ for the Tobacco Control Plan for England
On the 7th June 2018, the Department for Health and Social Care released a ‘Delivery Plan’, setting out how the Tobacco Control Plan for England is to be delivered.
The delivery plan will monitor how the aims of the tobacco control plan for England are being met, setting out specific milestones and what is expected at national and local levels.
28 March 2018
Action on Smoking and Health (ASH) welcomes new guidance published today (Wednesday 28th March) by NICE  on how to best support smokers to quit. It also welcomes the clear recommendations from NICE to health professionals about the advice smokers should be given on e-cigarettes.
However, the charity is deeply concerned that there are a declining number of specialist services around the country to implement this guidance.
An ASH/ Cancer Research UK  report published in January looking at the state of local support for people to quit found that in 2017 budgets for stop smoking services were reduced in half of local authorities in England, following reductions in 59% of local authorities in 2016, and in 39% of local authorities in 2015. In 2017, a specialist stop smoking service open to all smokers was provided by only 61% of local authorities.
Financial pressures due to the cuts to public health funding and the wider pressures on local government finances is the major culprit for the declining provision. A recent analysis by the King’s Fund found that in 2017/18 local authority funding for wider tobacco control faces reductions of more than 30%. Stop smoking services are one of the top four services in absolute planned cuts (£16 million). 
The lack of services for smokers are of particular concern for vulnerable groups such as pregnant smokers and those with a mental health condition. While smoking rates are steadily falling for the population as a whole there has been little change in people with a mental health condition  and rates among pregnant women have not fallen at all over the last 12 months .
Director of Policy, Hazel Cheeseman, said:
“It’s important to have good guidance but without services to make the guidance a reality then it becomes an academic exercise. This countries stop smoking services have been the envy of the world but they are being squeezed as a result of funding pressures. The Government needs to take action nationally to reverse this trend.”
ASH and other health organisations have been calling on the Government to plug the gap in funding through placing a levy on the tobacco industry to pay for the support smokers need .
Hazel Cheeseman added:
“Tobacco companies are among the most profitable in the world. In these difficult financial times it would be a win-win for the Government to legislate to require Big Tobacco to cover the cost of supporting smokers to quit.”
The new guidance from NICE provides welcome clarity for health professionals about e-cigarettes. The guidance is clear that they should provide accurate information to smokers about the substantially reduced risks of vaping compared to smoking and that people who smoke should not be discouraged from switching to e-cigarettes because the evidence is still developing. 
As there are no products currently licensed as medicines NICE was unable to recommend prescribing e-cigarettes at this time. If licensed products do become available then this could change in the future. Nicotine replacement therapies like gum and patches are cheap and highly cost-effective medicines and e-cigarettes would be a welcome addition to the armoury.
Hazel Cheeseman added,
“As e-cigarettes are the most popular aid for quitting it is good news that NICE recommends that health professionals should reassure smokers that they are substantially less harmful than smoking. Looking to the future it is hoped that some e-cigarettes will be licensed as medicines and could then be prescribed providing doctors with another tool to help smokers who want to quit.”
Notes and Links:
Action on Smoking and Health is a health charity working to eliminate the harm caused by tobacco use. For more information see: www.ash.org.uk/about-ash
ASH receives funding for its programme of work from Cancer Research UK and the British Heart Foundation.
ASH staff are available for interview and have an ISDN line. For more information contact ASH on 020 7404 0242 or out of hours Deborah Arnott on 07976 935 987 or Hazel Cheeseman on 07754 358 593.
 Feeling the Heat, the decline of stop smoking services in England: ASH/Cancer Research UK, Jan 2018 by ASH, funded by Cancer Research UK
 Local spending on public health: death by a thousand cuts, D Buck, King’s Fund, 3 Jan 2018
 The Stolen Years, ASH, May 2016
 Smoking at Time of Delivery Data, NHS Digital, March 2018
 Smoking Still Kills, ASH, 2015
 See NICE guidance NG92 on Stop smoking interventions and services 1.5.1:
For people who smoke and who are using, or are interested in using, a nicotine-containing e-cigarette on general sale to quit smoking, explain that:
Tuesday 27th March
Action on Smoking and Health today appeared before Parliament’s Science and Technology Select Committee to provide evidence for the Committee’s inquiry into e-cigarettes. New data from the charity, published today, was presented to the committee providing the most recent figures on the level of use and attitudes towards e-cigarettes.
The latest figures come from the annual ASH Smokefree GB survey completed in March by polling agency YouGov .
The new figures show that:
Appearing in front of the Committee were ASH Chief Executive Deborah Arnott and Director of Policy Hazel Cheeseman. They also represented the Smoking in Pregnancy Challenge Group  and the Mental Health and Smoking Partnership .
Key issues they raised with the committee included:
Deborah Arnott, Chief Executive of Action on Smoking and Health, said:
“We are pleased to be sharing this evidence with the Science and Technology Committee. It is important that policymakers and the public understand the potential benefits of e-cigarettes in reducing the harm caused by tobacco. Good evidence should continue to inform the approach we take to regulation in this country as we seek to maximise the benefit to public health from e-cigarettes.”
Notes and Links
Action on Smoking and Health is a health charity working to eliminate the harm caused by tobacco use. For more information see: www.ash.org.uk/about-ash. ASH receives funding for its programme of work from Cancer Research UK and the British Heart Foundation.
ASH staff are available for interview and have an ISDN line.
For more information contact ASH: 020 7404 0242, or out of hours, Deborah Arnott on 07976 935 987 or Hazel Cheeseman on 07754 358 593.
 ASH supplementary evidence to the Science & Technology Committee. The adult survey is conducted by YouGov for ASH Fieldwork for 2018 survey was undertaken between 8th February and 6th March. The survey was carried out online. Total sample size was 12767 GB adults and the figures have been weighted and are representative of all GB adults (aged 18+). The youth survey is also conducted by YouGov for ASH The survey is conducted online via parents for 11-15 year olds and directly with 16-18 year olds. The 2018 survey had a sample of 2291 and the figures have been weighted and are representative of all GB 11-18 year olds. The fieldwork was carried out between 28th February and 17th March.
The full evidence provided by ASH is here: http://data.parliament.uk/writtenevidence/committeeevidence.svc/evidencedocument/science-and-technology-committee/ecigarettes/written/75354.html
 The Smoking in Pregnancy Challenge Group is a coalition of voluntary sector, academia and professional groups. For more information and full membership see here: http://smokefreeaction.org.uk/smokefree-nhs/smoking-in-pregnancy-challenge-group/
The full evidence provided by the Group is here: http://data.parliament.uk/writtenevidence/committeeevidence.svc/evidencedocument/science-and-technology-committee/ecigarettes/written/75321.html
 The Mental Health and Smoking Partnership is a coalition of voluntary sector, academia and professional groups. For more information and full membership see here: http://smokefreeaction.org.uk/smokefree-nhs/smoking-and-mental-health/
The full evidence provided by the Partnership is here:
On 27 March 2018 experts from ASH gave evidence to the Science and Technology Committee in Parliament. The evidence related to electronic cigarettes. You can read the full submission below.ASH supplementary evidence for the Science and Technology Select Committee
In December 2017 ASH made a submission to the House of Commons Science and Technology Committee inquiry into e-cigarettes. You can read the submission by following the link below.ASH response to Science and Technology Committee inquiry into e-cigarettes