Bristol shopkeeper jailed for 31 months for illicit tobacco
A Bristol shopkeeper is facing a prison sentence for being found with over 700,000 illicit cigarettes. The resale value was £1 million and in total nearly £230,000 in duty was evaded. HMRC used sniffer dogs which helped uncover a massive stash of illicit tobacco in a self-storage unit.
Source: Bristol Post, 20 August 2018
Fresh ‘Keep it Out Campaign’
BBC’s You and Yours programme ran a piece on the Fresh “Keep It Out” campaign, focussing education initiatives in the North East and of the impact of illegal tobacco. The section with Fresh starts at 27 minutes 42 seconds in. Durham Trading Standards are also interviewed and they highlight the effectiveness of the Fresh campaign.
India: New images for pictorial warnings and mandatory ‘quit line’ number on tobacco product packs
The health ministry has issued new images for the pictorial warnings on cigarette packs and other tobacco products. The images will have to be accompanied with a mandatory quit line number. The government has released two separate sets of pictorial warning images, which will each be used for 12 months. The rules apply to both manufactured and imported cigarettes. India has more than 100 million smokers and the government says smoking kills nearly a million people every year.
Source: The Times of India, 21 August 2018
Turkey considers strict new measures to curb smoking rates
The Turkish government is considering a range of new laws designed to reduce tobacco consumption. Potential measures include raising the age of purchase to 21, increasing taxes on tobacco products, running public health campaigns to increase awareness about the risks of smoking and stricter controls over smoking in enclosed spaces.
One of the proposals is particularly striking: to introduce positive discrimination for non-smoking employees by increasing their annual leave and taxing them at a lower rate.
Source: Ahval, 20 August 2018
Philip Morris International under fire over ‘disgraceful’ PR stunt
Philip Morris International (PMI), the world’s largest tobacco firm, has been accused of staging “a disgraceful PR stunt” by offering to help NHS staff quit smoking to help mark the service’s 70th birthday. PMI made an ‘offer’ in a letter sent to all NHS bodies in England and also to Simon Stevens and Matt Hancock.
Mark MacGregor, PMI’s director of corporate affairs in the UK and Ireland, said in the widely distributed letter: “To support the 70th anniversary of the NHS, we are keen to work with you to help the 73,000 NHS employees who currently smoke, to quit cigarettes. This would be a collaborative campaign: you would provide cessation advice for quitting nicotine altogether, and for smokers who do not quit we can help them switch to smoke-free alternatives.”
Paul Burstow, the former Liberal Democrat health minister in the coalition government, said in a letter to Simon Stevens: “Any such collaboration with the tobacco industry would be completely inappropriate and a breach of the UK government’s obligations as a party to the WHO FCTC.”
Bob Blackman, chair of the APPG on Smoking in Health said: “They have the cheek to say they want to support the 70th anniversary of the NHS, but it’s clearly just a commercial opportunity to use the NHS to promote their heated tobacco products.”
Steve Brine, the public health minister said he would tell NHS trusts not to get involved. Brine said: “Our aim to make our NHS – and our next generation – smoke-free must be completely separate from the commercial and vested interests of the tobacco industry.”
Deborah Arnott, chief executive of ASH said: “This is a disgraceful PR stunt. PMI is pretending partnership would benefit the NHS, when actually it would give them a massive commercial advantage. They could promote their own harm-reduction products as NHS-endorsed.”
Source: Guardian, 19 July 2018
British Government orders Phillip Morris to stop advertising “healthier” tobacco products, or face legal action
The Government will take one of the world’s largest tobacco firms to court unless it stops illegally targeting UK consumers with tobacco adverts, a Minister has said.
Yesterday the Department of Health sent a formal order to Phillip Morris International, which makes Marlboro cigarettes, telling it to remove poster adverts for “healthier” tobacco products from shops around the UK. PMI has been supplying newsagents across Britain with window posters promoting new iQOS tobacco heaters.
The iQOS posters are in breach of a strict, long-standing ban on advertising tobacco and tobacco-related products, the Department for Health and the National Trading Standards Institute have confirmed.
Public Health Minister, Steve Brine, said: “We have been explicit that the promotion of tobacco products is unlawful – as my letter to Phillip Morris International makes abundantly clear. We expect PMI to stop this unlawful advertisement of tobacco products and we will not rule out legal action if they continue.”
Source: The Telegraph, 18 July 2018
North-East: Smokers’ stories wanted for ‘hard-hitting’ health campaign
Tobacco control group Fresh wants people in the North-East affected by smoking to share their real life experiences. The aim is to put smokers’ real stories at the heart of a ‘hard hitting’ new campaign later this year, warning of the dangers of smoking. They are hoping to hear from former smokers who have been personally affected by ill-health or family members whose loved ones have suffered from a smoking-related illness.
Ailsa Rutter, director of Fresh, said: “It is a brave step to share your experiences with others, but we know that it can have a powerful impact in encouraging others to quit. If you want to make a difference and are interested in backing the campaign, we would love to hear from you.”
Source: The Northern Echo, 19 July 2018
Lancashire: More seizures of illicit tobacco in Nelson
Action against illegal tobacco in central Nelson has resulted in a further seizure in under a week at one shop, and a manufacturing operation being uncovered at another. An inspection by Lancashire County Council Trading Standards and Lancashire Police on Tuesday, July 17, found a further 88 packs behind the counter at one shop, after a raid the previous Thursday netted over 2,200 packs worth £10,000.
Officers then visited a second shop just outside Nelson town centre, where they found a production line for manufacturing packs of counterfeit rolling tobacco in an upstairs room.
Source: This is Lancashire, 18 July 2018
Scotland: Avoidable death rate highest in the UK
Scotland has the highest rate of avoidable death in the UK and the figures are getting worse, a BBC analysis has found. In 2016, the rate stood at 301 deaths per 100,000 people, compared with 287 in 2014. Experts blame social deprivation, with easy access to alcohol, tobacco and fast food also a factor.
Dr Andrew Fraser, from NHS Health Scotland, said: “We know that people in poorer areas experience more harm from alcohol, tobacco and fast food than those in more affluent areas. Part of the reason for this is that it is easier to access the things that harm our health in those areas.”
“To prevent death, disease and harm we need to take actions where and when they are needed. We must address harm from alcohol, tobacco, being overweight or obese. However, these are often common factors, co-existing in communities, groups and individuals, and so we must also address the environment we live in.”
Source: BBC News: 19 July 2018
Scotland: Dundee has one of the highest smoking rates in Britain
New figures from the Office for National Statistics show Dundee still has one of the highest rates of smoking in Britain, with more than one in five adults smoking. However, the number of smokers in Dundee is decreasing, due to a successful and sustained tobacco control strategy from the government. In 2011, 27.3% of Dundee’s population smoked 2017 and by this figure had dropped to 20.8%.
Source: Evening Telegraph, 18 July 2018
UN-backed treaty against illicit tobacco trade set to take effect in September
A UN-backed treaty aimed at stopping the illicit trading of tobacco products, is set to take effect on the 25th of September. The package of measures agreed by countries which 45 Parties and the European Union have ratified is known as the Protocol to Eliminate Illicit Trade in Tobacco Products. It was developed in response to a growing illegal trade in tobacco products, often across borders.
The Protocol aims to make the supply chain of tobacco products secure through a series of governmental measures. It requires the establishment of a global tracking and tracing regime within five years of its entry into force. Other provisions to ensure control of the supply chain include licensing, record keeping requirements, and regulation of internet-sales, duty-free sales and international transit.
Source: Government World Magazine, 18 July 2018 x
Japan: First anti-smoking law gets go ahead – but it is lax and partial
Japan has approved its first national legislation banning smoking inside of public facilities, but the watered-down measure excludes many restaurants and bars and is seen as toothless.
The legislation aims to lower secondhand smoking risks ahead of the 2020 Tokyo Olympics amid international calls for a smokefree Games. But ruling party lawmakers with strong ties to the tobacco and restaurant industries opted for a weakened version.
The new national law bans indoor smoking at schools, hospitals and government offices. Smoking will be allowed at existing small eateries, including those with less than 100 square meters (1,076 square feet) of customer space, which includes more than half of Japanese establishments. Larger and new eateries must limit smoking to designated rooms.
Violators can face fines of up to 300,000 yen ($2,700) for smokers and up to 500,000 yen ($4,500) for facility managers. The ban will be implemented in stages and fully enter into force in April 2020.
Source: Medical Xpress, 18 July 2018
USA: Campaign helps smokers to quit
The ongoing Tips from Former Smokers (Tips) campaign, which features stories of former smokers living with smoking-related diseases and disabilities, has had a considerable impact, according to a report from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
The Tips campaign engages health care providers so that they can encourage their smoking patients to quit. In addition, resources are provided for health care providers, public health professionals, and mental health providers. More than nine million smokers were estimated to have attempted to quit during 2012 to 2015 as a result of the Tips campaign; conservative estimates indicate that over half a million smokers have quit for good.
There were 267,594 calls attributable to the Tips campaign in 2017, which ran from January 9 to July 30. An estimated 1.83 million smokers attempted to quit and 104,000 quit for good as a result of the 2014 campaign. Non-smokers reported increased conversations with family and friends about the dangers of smoking and had greater knowledge of smoking-related diseases as a result of the Tips 2012 campaign. An estimated 1.64 million smokers made a quit attempt and 100,000 smokers quit for good as a result of the 2012 campaign.
“Smokers who have seen Tips ads report greater intentions to quit within the next 30 days and next six months, and smokers who have seen the ads multiple times have even greater intentions to quit,” according to the report.
Source: Medical Xpress, 18 July 2018
North-East: NHS not doing enough to help smokers, says Fresh
The tobacco control group Fresh, thetobacco control programme in the North-East, has backed calls from the Royal College of Physicians for the NHS to offer smokers routine support to quit when they receive hospital care, regardless of their condition.
Fresh said it would support the broader work led by local authorities and complement their local community stop smoking services.
Ailsa Rutter, Director of Fresh, said: “Smoking is our biggest killer and cause of ill health. “Our doctors, nurses and GPs are in a unique position to alter the course of a patient’s long term health and help them to quit. Not doing so means we are failing our patients. The evidence is strong that helping smokers to stop is very cost effective, saves lives and will save the NHS millions of pounds, and will help the North-East get to a point when five per cent or fewer people smoke.”
Source: Darlington & Stockton Times, 27 June 2018
Cheshire: Sniffer dogs uncover £12000 of illegal cigarettes in raids
Around £12,000 of illegal cigarettes and tobacco has been seized after raids on several properties.
Cheshire East Council’s trading standards officers have carried out the operations, with the aid of sniffer dogs, at premises in Crewe and Macclesfield. More than 50,000 cigarettes were discovered after they had been concealed in places such as a false wall, in light fittings and under floor boards. The seizure followed a tip-off that cigarettes were secretly being stored in a number of residential and business locations.
Councillor Janet Clowes, Cheshire East Council cabinet member with responsibility for safer communities, said: “As an enforcing council, we work hard to keep harmful products off the streets and will crack down on businesses, criminal gangs or individuals who flout the law. All tobacco is harmful but the illegal black market in tobacco, and in particular the availability of cheap cigarettes, makes it harder for smokers to quit and remain smoke free.
Source: Stoke on Trent Live
East Dunbartonshire: Poster plea to be smokefree
Local primary schools took part in tobacco workshops, led by the East Dunbartonshire Tobacco Alliance, before participating in a competition to design a poster to deter smoking within play parks, urging adults not to smoke where children play. The winning poster will soon be displayed in all parks across Bishopbriggs and Auchinairn in the latest drive to stamp out smoking in East Dunbartonshire.
Smokefree play parks have already been created in Bearsden, Kirkintilloch, Milton of Campsie, Bishopbriggs and Auchinairn. It is hoped that the project will be rolled out to all 67 play areas in East Dunbartonshire.
Source: Kirkintilloch Herald, 26 June 2018
Strong public support for public health interventions
Britons strongly support interventions on health issues, a survey suggests. The briefing, produced for the BBC, found that almost three quarters (72%) supported the ban on smoking in public spaces. The paper concludes that there is “surprisingly strong public support for these types of intervention”.
The authors, from The King’s Fund, the Health Foundation, the Institute for Fiscal Studies and the Nuffield Trust, added: “If government is serious about improving the public’s health, it must do more to tackle the wider determinants of health through a more co-ordinated approach to policy-making.”
Helen McKenna, senior policy adviser at The King’s Fund, said: “It is essential that national and local government use all the means at their disposal to improve the public’s health.
This should include being bolder in using tax and regulation where this can be effective. Although politicians may balk at the idea of the ‘nanny state’, our research suggests these types of intervention may enjoy stronger public support than they often assume.”
The Kings Fund, The public and the NHS
BBC, Tax and regulate more to improve health
Belfast Telegraph, Strong public support for sugar tax and other “nanny state” interventions – poll
Source: Times Series, 27 June 2018
Germany: Do smoking bans lead to more or less smoking in the home?
In the first systematic review to focus on children’s SHS exposure at home before and after the introduction of smoke-free legislations, Sarah Nanning and colleagues at the University of Bremen, Germany, have looked at 15 studies which were published between 2007 and 2016.
The studies all included proportions of children (most aged between 5 and 15 years) exposed to SHS at home before and after the introduction of smoke-free legislation. Sample sizes ranged from 118 to 68,000 participants.
The findings indicate that children’s SHS exposure at home did not increase after the introduction of public smoking bans. The comprehensive laws (those that require worksites, restaurants, and bars to be smoke-free) and mixed smoke-free laws (where there are regional differences in the type or extent of public smoking bans within a country or with an exceptional rule for certain types of hospitality venues such as small bars) all yielded reductions of SHS exposure at home.
See also: BMC Public Health, Impact of public smoking bans on children’s exposure to tobacco smoke at home: a systematic review and meta-analysis
Source: BMC, 26 June 2018
US: NYC public health department targets Chinese men
Nearly a quarter of Asian men smoke cigarettes, and lung cancer among Chinese men in New York City has increased by 70% over the past 15 years, according to the city’s health department.
Targeting Chinese men in particular, the department launched a public service campaign earlier this month encouraging them to quit the habit. The city has started running public service ads in Cantonese and Mandarin on Chinese-language television and in newspapers.
Chinese smokers can get free quit-smoking medication and confidential counselling from the Asian Smokers’ Quitline — a nationwide service funded by the Centres for Disease Control and Prevention.
“We have made considerable progress in driving down the rates of smoking among adults, but Chinese men still have disproportionately high rates of smoking,” said Dr. Mary T. Bassett, the city’s health commissioner. “We hope this campaign motivates Chinese men to quit smoking — it is the most important thing they can do to improve their health.”
Source: China Daily, 27 June 2018
Mexico: Children still toil in tobacco fields as reforms fail to fix poverty
A series of exposés in the 1990s in Mexico revealed widespread use of child labour and banned agrochemicals, and detailed abysmal living and work conditions in Nayarit’s tobacco fields. Industry and government have since made steps to tackle child labour in Mexico’s tobacco fields, but low incomes for working families slows this progress.
In an effort to eradicate Mexico’s child labour, the Prospera scheme, launched in 1997, offers small cash incentives to impoverished parents to keep children in school and attend health checks and workshops on nutrition, hygiene and family planning. The government paid out $500m to 6.1 million families in 2016, but audits suggest the impact on child labour has been modest. No matter how hard some families try to get away from these plantations, poverty drags them back.
Jennie Gamlin of University College London, who investigates structural violence and health inequalities, said: “Tobacco workers are the poorest of the poor forced to work and live in poor conditions which expose them to preventable harms that reproduce inequalities. Parents know that it is harmful and wrong according to law for children to work in tobacco, but they’re poor, need the money and don’t see another option. Even when the kids aren’t working, they are playing and sleeping within the tobacco.”
Source: The Guardian, 27 June 2018
Opinion: How we can fight child labour in the tobacco industry
Many of the world’s most popular brands of cigarettes may contain tobacco produced by vulnerable child workers. The world’s largest multinational tobacco product manufacturers, including the UK giants British American Tobacco (Lucky Strike, Camel, and Dunhill) and Imperial Brands (Davidoff and Gauloises Blondes), say that they are doing everything they can to end exploitative child labour, stop abuses in their supply chains and have policies to safeguard workers.
Human Rights Watch has been in regular contact with many tobacco companies since we started this work. Several companies have adopted new policies or strengthened existing polices to prohibit suppliers from allowing children to do dangerous tasks on farms. But no company prohibits those under 18 from all work involving direct contact with tobacco in any form – the policy that would offer the greatest protection, in line with international standards.
Most companies maintain that their policies are carried out throughout global supply chains, but we believe many do not report transparently about their monitoring and what they find. Without this information, we have to take their word for it that they’re doing enough to address rights abuses in their supply chains. Companies should provide credible, transparent information on human rights problems and steps they take to fix them.
Source: Margaret Wurth and Jane Buchanan of Human Rights Watch in The Guardian, 27 June 2018
Opinion: Stop rising tobacco use in Africa and the Middle East
As tobacco use has steadily declined in most of the world, two large regions are bucking the trend. In the Middle East and Africa, 180 million men are predicted to be smoking by 2025 — twice as many as in 2000. To reverse this, governments need to more firmly confront the tobacco industry’s efforts to recruit the next generation of smokers.
Few Middle Eastern and African countries have fully imposed and enforced a comprehensive suite of tobacco control measures, such as raising tobacco taxes; requiring large graphic health warnings on cigarette packs; prohibiting smoking in restaurants and other public spaces; and banning tobacco advertising.
Tobacco use is the single greatest preventable cause of death. Public health specialists in developed countries have spent decades learning how to fight back — and have saved lives by the millions. Countries in the Middle East and Africa need to follow suit.
Source: Bloomberg, 26 June 2018
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Efforts to cut number of smokers across North East by half are praised in parliament
Work across the North East to almost half the number of smokers has been recognised in Parliament. Public Health Minister Steve Brine and Shadow Public Health Minister Sharon Hodgson discussed the work of Fresh Smokefree North East during a debate to reflect on 70 years of the NHS.
Smoking has fallen in the North East from 29% in 2005 to 17.2% in 2016, with the region also having the highest quit success rates over the past decade and the largest fall in smoking during pregnancy, from 22.2% in 2009/10 down to 16% in 2016.
Source: Sunderland Echo, 18 May 2018
Most women find smokers unattractive and are slightly more likely to date an e-cigarette user, survey finds
Women are more likely to find smoking unattractive than men are, a new survey has found. Around 56 percent of women said they would not date someone who smokes with nearly 70 percent saying they find it unattractive. There was a lesser degree of unwillingness to date someone who vapes, often marketed as a less harmful alternative to traditional cigarettes.
Among the participants, 46 percent of women said they would not date a vaper with around 55 percent saying it was unattractive.
The survey, conducted by Inogen, a supplemental oxygen company, looked at 1,006 single people between the ages of 18 and 76.
Source: Mail on Sunday, 17 May 2018
Hull: Smoking puts 10 people in hospital every day
The latest figures from Public Health England have revealed that in the year 2016 to 2017, there were 3,731 occasions in Hull where people were admitted to hospital for smoking-related diseases. That’s up from 3,650 similar cases seen in the year before, which was the highest number on record.
In total, these cost the NHS nearly £6m to treat people in Hull for these diseases in hospital last year, which works out at £22 for every man, woman and child living here. Across the country, 244,470 people died from smoking between 2014 and 2016-1,681 of those were from Hull.
Hazel Cheeseman, director of policy at Action on Smoking and Health (ASH), said: “These figures demonstrate that the NHS is not doing enough to support smokers to quit. A recent audit found that three out of four hospital patients who smoke are not offered help to stop. If they were, hospitals would not only see fewer smoking related deaths and admissions but also an improvement in the effectiveness of many treatments including chemotherapy and surgery.”
Source: Hull Daily Mail, 17 May 2018
USA: Vast majority of heavy smokers not screened for lung cancer despite USPSTF recommendations
An analysis of 1,800 lung cancer screening sites nationwide found that only 1.9% of more than 7 million current and former heavy smokers were screened for lung cancer in 2016, despite United States Preventive Services Task Force (USPSTF) and ASCO screening recommendations. This study, the first assessment of lung cancer screening rates since those recommendations were issued in 2013, will be presented at the upcoming 2018 ASCO Annual Meeting in Chicago.
“Lung cancer screening rates are much lower than screening rates for breast and colorectal cancers, which is unfortunate,” said lead study author Danh Pham, MD, a medical oncologist at the James Graham Brown Cancer Center, University of Louisville, Kentucky. “It is unclear if the screening deficit is due to low provider referral or perhaps patient psychological barriers from fear of diagnosis. Lung cancer is unique in that there may be stigma associated with screening, as some smokers think that if cancer is detected, it would confirm they’ve made a bad lifestyle choice.”
Source: Medical Xpress, 17 May 2018
European Commission prioritises tobacco and sacrifices global health in trade negotiations with Latin America
The European Public Health Alliance, along with Latin American and global partners, has written to the EU Trade Commissioner Cecilia Malmström and First Vice-President Frans Timmermans to put health ahead of the interests of the tobacco industry in the EU’s trade negotiations with Mexico, Chile and the Mercosur trade bloc (Argentina, Brazil, Paraguay and Uruguay).
The EU is being called to publicly change its stance and to drop tobacco as an EU “Offensive Interest” in its negotiations with Mercosur. Another change being pushed by activists is for the EU to commit to completely exclude tobacco lobbyists from influencing policy positions on international trade.
Source: European Public Health Alliance, 18 May 2018
USA: Shisha responsible for over half of tobacco smoke inhaled by young smokers
Smoking tobacco from a waterpipe, also known as a shisha pipe, accounted for over half of the tobacco smoke volume consumed by young adult shisha and cigarette smokers in the U.S., a new University of Pittsburgh School of Medicine analysis has discovered.
Toxicant exposures – such as tar, carbon monoxide and nicotine – were lower, yet substantial, for those young adults who just smoked shisha pipes, compared to those who smoked both wateripes and cigarettes. The research, funded by the National Cancer Institute, is published today in the journal Tobacco Control.
In the U.S., waterpipe tobacco smoking rates are increasing and cigarette smoking rates are decreasing, especially among young adults.
Source: Science Newsline, 17 May 2018
See also: BMJ Tobacco Control, Waterpipe tobacco use in college and non-college young adults in the USA
Dutch insurer NN group quits tobacco investments
Dutch insurer NN Group will no longer invest in the tobacco industry and said on Thursday it aims to divest all tobacco-related holdings on its own accounts and in the funds of its asset manager within a year.
NN’s step follows similar moves by BNP Paribas Asset Management and insurers AXA, Aviva and Scor, which all decided to sell out of the industry because of the health, social and environmental costs linked to tobacco smoking.
“Tobacco no longer fits with our responsible investment approach,” NN Chief Investment Officer Jelle van der Giessen said. “It is not possible to use tobacco products responsibly.”
Source: Insurance Journal, 17 May 2018
Nigeria: Tobacco consumption contributes to 12% of deaths from heart diseases
The chairman of the Nigerian Heart Foundation, Dr. Olufemi Mobolaji-Lawal, recently addressed journalists in Lagos to discuss tobacco control in the run-up to World No-Tobacco Day. He lamented the low levels of implementation of the WHO Framework Convention on Tobacco Control (FCTC) across African countries. Journalists were told that tobacco consumption contributes to around 12% of heart disease deaths in Nigeria.
Source: All Africa, 17 May 2018
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Big Tobacco is desperate to prevent ‘plain packaging’ spreading around the world
Coming up to a year after standardised ‘plain packaging’ was fully implemented in the UK on 20 May 2017, the Tobacco Manufacturers’ Association (TMA) and now Japan Tobacco International (JTI) have claimed that it’s a failure.
Why is Big Tobacco bothering, when it’s clear the UK is tough on tobacco, won its case in the courts and is not going to reverse the legislation? The reason is obvious, this is a last ditch and desperate attempt to delay and discourage the many other governments coming down the same track. Three countries have fully implemented plain packs to date (France, Australia and the United Kingdom), by the end of this year it will be six, with seven more having passed legislation and more following on behind. The dominoes are falling, markets around the world are going dark, and Big Tobacco is running scared. The WTO decision on the legality of plain packs is expected shortly, and the outcome, a defeat for the tobacco industry, has already been leaked.
Source: ASH (on Medium), 18 May 2018