Council’s vaping project with British American Tobacco labelled ‘a disgrace’
Emails obtained under the Freedom of Information Act have revealed that British American Tobacco (BAT) and Birmingham City Council are piloting a project to promote BAT’s vaping products to smokers who want to kick the habit. The emails show that, while the council refused to allow BAT to present the deal as a partnership, the company approached other local authorities on the back of its work with Birmingham as it touted for more business with the public sector.
Public health campaigners said Birmingham’s actions were in breach of guidelines which stipulate that the tobacco industry “must not be a partner in any initiative linked to setting or implementing public health policies” and that all interactions between both sides must be transparent.
Steve Brine, public health minister, said:
“Stop-smoking services exist to save lives – it is a disgrace that British American Tobacco is seeking to exploit them for its own profit. I am committed to working towards a smoke-free generation – and councils play a vital role in this – but we have a duty to protect our public health services from the commercial interests of the tobacco industry.”
Deborah Arnott chief executive of the charity Action on Smoking and Health (Ash) said:
“Birmingham signed the local government declaration on tobacco control, promising to protect its public health policies from the commercial and vested interests of the tobacco industry. That should have prevented any involvement with BAT on the e-cigarette pilot, which BAT has misrepresented as a ‘partnership’ in its efforts to gain access to other local authorities up and down the country. Birmingham’s experience is a salutary warning to all local authorities that any engagement with tobacco manufacturers should be avoided unless it’s absolutely necessary.”
Source: The Observer, 9 September 2018
Hampshire County Council tobacco pension investment under fire
Hampshire County Council is facing criticism after continuing to invest its pension funds in cigarette manufacturing, despite running anti-smoking campaigns. The council has more than £80m invested in tobacco firms which opposition councillors say conflicts with its health promotion role. Its own Tobacco Control Strategy stated smoking caused the death of more than 1,800 people in the county each year.
Advice from the Department for Communities and Local Government states that council pension funds’ “predominant concern” should be perusing a financial return, but could consider other factors “provided that doing so would not involve significant risk of financial detriment to the scheme”.
Source: BBC news, 7 September 2018
Bristol hospital trust to implement smoking ban across all sites
A total ban on smoking and vaping is to be implemented at the University Hospital site in Bristol next year. The ban will include all areas within the Trust’s boundaries.
Matt Joint, director of people at UH Bristol, said: “As a healthcare provider we have a role to play in promoting healthy living and offering support to staff and patients who want to give up smoking. As part of this we’re committed to going completely smoke free, which is something Public Health England has asked all Trusts to do. We receive regular complaints from patients, visitors, parents of children and staff about people smoking in our entrances or near buildings where windows might be open and as a healthcare provider it’s important that we address these issues.”
Source: Bristol Post, 9 September 2018
Trading standards find retailers in North Yorkshire sold cigarettes to teens
Undercover test purchasing conducted by a trading standards team found 16 out of 47 retailers tested in North Yorkshire sold cigarettes to a 15-year-old. The inspection team carry out regular test purchasing in the county to ensure businesses are not selling cigarettes to under-18s.
The volunteers who help North Yorkshire County Council’s trading standards team have strict rules to follow and are instructed to tell the truth at all times, as well as provide identification showing their true age if requested.
Councillor Andrew Lee, said: “Cigarettes are age-restricted to protect the health of our young people and retailers are urged to be aware of the implications of underage sales.’’
Source: The Northern Echo, 8 September 2018
South West: More smokers in Poole admitted to hospital this year
Poole has seen a small rise in the number of smoking related hospital admissions in 2017, bucking the regional and national trend which shows steadily decreasing rates of smoking related admissions. NHS figures show that there were 1,665 hospital trips across the borough for diseases linked to smoking, 30 more than in 2016.
Data shows that smoking rates in England are decreasing, with the exception of smoking rates for pregnant smokers which have remained unchanged since 2016.
Deborah Arnott, chief executive of charity Action on Smoking and Health (ASH), said: “ASH supports the government’s vision, set out in the Tobacco Control Plan for England, of a smokefree generation. But smoking must become history for all of society not just for the wealthy. Cuts in public health funding and lack of treatment for smoking on the NHS mean poorer more heavily addicted smokers, including those who are pregnant, are not getting the help they need to quit.”
Source: Daily Echo, 10 July 2018
West Midlands: Fines for smoking on Sandwell Hospital grounds
Sandwell Hospital is aiming to go ‘smokefree’ from next summer, as hospital bosses seek to stop smoking outside hospital entrances.
Penalties will be applied to anyone caught breaking the new rules, which accompany a wider expectation from Public Health England that all hospitals will eventually become smokefree, providing support and treatment to help smokers quit. The trust which runs Sandwell General opted to implement the new policy in 2019 in light of major delays to the opening of the new Midland Metropolitan Hospital.
Toby Lewis, chief executive of the trust said, “We will continue to invest time, care and money to supporting people in our community to quit smoking. We will institute a fining system for anyone, staff, patients or visitors who smoke on our sites after the now agreed date.”
Source: Express & Star News, 10 July 2018
East Midlands: Young adults in West Lindsey giving smoking the red card
Rates of smoking among 18-24 years olds are on the decline as more and more young people choose not to smoke.
Office of National Statistics data shows that in West Lindsey, Lincolnshire, the percentage of the population who have never smoked has risen by 21% since 2011. This is consistent with UK-wide declines in smoking rates among 18-24 year olds, which have dropped from over 25% in 2011 to 17.8% in 2017.
Duncan Selbie, chief executive of Public Health England, said, “Smoking rates have dropped by almost a quarter in five years, a triumphant step in eliminating the nation’s biggest killer…we are tantalisingly close to creating the first ever smokefree generation in England.”
Source: Gainsborough Standard, 10 July 2018
Indonesia: Tobacco control and children’s rights
Indonesia has the highest uptake of smoking among youths in the world. Weak tobacco control policies and the tobacco industries’ aggressive marketing strategies have contributed to a male smoking rate of 67.4%.
The last two decades have seen smoking rates double for 10-14 year olds and triple for 5-9 year olds, culminating in a smoking rate of 41% for Indonesian children aged 13-15. Despite regulations banning smoking on school premises, many schools are surrounded by cigarette advertisements which target young people.
Indonesia also has among the cheapest cigarette prices in Southeast Asia and cigarettes can be purchased in single sticks which are easily affordable for children. The Convention on the Rights of the Child, ratified by Indonesia in 1990, commits the government to protecting children’s right to health. If children are to be protected from the harmful effects of smoking, the tobacco control community must show that smoking undermines this human right.
Source: The Jakarta Post, 11 July 2018
Tony Lloyd MP, Labour, Rochdale
To ask the Secretary of State for Health and Social Care, what steps his Department is taking to reduce lung health inequalities in deprived areas.
Steve Brine, Secretary of State for Health and Social Care
Two of the most significant respiratory health issues that impact deprived areas are poor air quality and smoking.
Minimising health inequalities is a core part of Public Health England’s (PHE’s) Mission and Strategic Vision for 2020. PHE was commissioned by the Department to review the evidence for effective interventions on air quality and provide recommendations that will significantly reduce harm from air pollution and impact on health inequalities at the local level.
PHE (Public Health England) has also published a number of reports on urban design which aim to support reductions in air pollution.
Smoking is a leading cause of a number of respiratory diseases including lung cancer and chronic obstructive pulmonary disease and is the leading cause of health inequalities. The Government’s Tobacco Control Plan for England, published in July 2017, re-emphasises the important role of local areas in providing support for smokers to stop smoking. As part of a comprehensive programme of national and local tobacco control activity, this is an important means of tackling inequalities in lung health in disadvantaged communities.
Source: TheyWorkForYou, 9 July, 2018