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
Smoking in Pregnancy Challenge Group welcome NHS England progress in reducing stillbirths
An estimated 600 stillbirths could be prevented every year if maternity units adopted national best practice, calculates NHS England in the wake of an independent evaluation of the Saving Babies Care Bundle guidance. There are currently around 665,000 babies born in England each year, but despite falling to its lowest rate in 20 years, one in every 200 is stillborn.
The Smoking in Pregnancy Challenge Group, a coalition of health organisations, welcomed the progress made, but insisted that work still needed to be done to ensure a consistent approach around the country, including providing effective support to help women quit smoking during pregnancy.
Professor Linda Bauld, deputy director of the UK Centre for Tobacco and Alcohol Studies and co-chair of the Smoking in Pregnancy Challenge Group, said: “Too many places are still not implementing best practice for supporting women to quit smoking. This has a real cost in babies’ lives. It’s good to see this NHS initiative is having an impact but eight years after national guidance was issued there is no excuse for variation in practice.”
See also: Public Health England, Health of women before and during pregnancy: health behaviours, risk factors and inequalities
Source: OnMedica, 30 July 2018
Warwickshire: Illicit tobacco factory disguised as potato farm
A large illicit tobacco factory has been discovered on a farm in Warwickshire, with the farm being disguised as a potato processing business. Nearly 7 tonnes of illicit tobacco was found hidden in hundreds of potato bags. A cutting machine, counterfeit packaging and over 10,000 cigarettes were seized.
Source: Convenience Store, 30 July 2018
Stockton: E-cigarettes are making a difference in the fight to cut smoking
Encouraging the use of e-cigarettes to reduce the number of smokers in Stockton has been defended amid an agreement to fund services helping people kick the habit until 2020. Both Stockton and Hartlepool Councils have held a joint contract with North Tees and Hartlepool NHS Foundation Trust to fund stop smoking services.
Councillor Jim Beall, Stockton’s cabinet member for adult social care and health, told panellists at a meeting on Thursday how the council’s “targeted approach” had reaped rewards so far and praised the role e-cigarettes had played. He said: “The good news is smoking figures are coming down through medication and e-cigarettes – that’s something to celebrate.”
Source: Teeside Live, 30 July 2018
Scotland: More 18-24 year old girls than boys smoking in Argyll and Bute
Teenage girls in Argyll and Bute are to be the focus of a renewed drive to cut down on smoking in the area. The move follows a recent report that found smoking rates were higher among young women aged 18-24 than among young men of the same age, in Argyll and Bute.
Argyll and Bute’s Health and Social Care Partnership (HSCP) is now set to repeat its programme aimed at mid-secondary school pupils to discourage them from smoking. It will also continue its projects for younger secondary pupils, along with those in the late stage of primary school, on the dangers of tobacco.
A spokesperson for the HSCP said: “Within the 18 to 24 years old age group [in Argyll and Bute], the most recent report in 2015 reveals 24% of females smoke compared to 18% of males.”
Source: Helensburgh Advertiser, 31 July 2018
Health inequalities lead to striking differences in life expectancy between the rich and poor in England
The life expectancy gap between rich and poor people in England has been widening for nearly two decades. Stockton-on-Tees is the town with England’s biggest gap in life expectancy.
In Stockton-on-Tees, those living in the wealthier areas can expect to live as much as 18 years longer than those in the more deprived parts of the town. Nationally, on average, a boy born in one of the most affluent areas of England will outlive one born in one of the poorest parts by 8.4 years.
Smoking rates are typically much higher in more deprived groups, something that exacerbates the differences in life expectancy.
See also: Public Health England, Health state life expectancies by national deprivation deciles, England and Wales: 2014 to 2016
Source: BBC News, 30 July 2018
USA: Study suggests residential smoking bans will help more low-income smokers quit
Enforcing residential bans on smoking could help large numbers of low-income people quit smoking, according to an analysis of federally funded national surveys by a California research team. The finding comes as public housing authorities across the country face a July 31st deadline from the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) to implement indoor no-smoking policies.
The study analyses data from the National Cancer Institute funded Tobacco Use Supplement to the U.S. Census Bureau’s Current Population Survey—which asked about smoking habits, whether people allowed smoking in their homes, and whether they were able to quit—over a 10-year period from 2002 to 2011.
It found that, while low-income smokers were significantly less likely to live in smokefree homes, those who did live in such homes were much more likely to be successful quitters. Implementing smokefree policies in low-income housing is one way to increase the number of smokefree homes, and the authors said this has the potential to affect a large group of vulnerable people.
Source: Medical Xpress, 30 July 2018
USA: Study finds smokers who use e-cigarettes are at equal risk of oral cancer as those who only smoke
Scientists at the University of California, San Francisco discovered dual-users of e-cigarettes and tobacco may not be at less risk from cancers of the throat and mouth than they were when they were only smoking cigarettes.
Researchers looked at markers of overall nicotine intake, and levels of a group of carcinogens called tobacco-specific nitrosamines (TSNAs). When they measured these in the urine of some 49,000 Americans who smoke, use smokeless tobacco and non-smokers, they found that there were more similarities between users of smokeless tobacco and smokers than between the former and non-smokers.
However, those only using e-cigarettes were found to have lower levels of the two chemicals associated with oral and lung cancers. It was only dual-users of tobacco (including smokeless products) and e-cigarettes who had a similar risk for these cancers.
Note: the research has not been published yet; the findings were revealed in a poster-presentation
Source: Eureka Alert, 28 July 2018
Is the UK’s vape shop boom about to end?
There has been a rapid increase in the number of specialist vape shops in the UK in recent years. This reflects the popularity of the devices, which for many smokers are used as a way to quit smoking.
Fraser Cropper is the managing director of Totally Wicked, the UK’s biggest vaping shop chain with 140 stores, and is sceptical about the sustainability in the growth of the industry. “There’s definitely a change from undersupply to oversupply [of vape shops], I think we’re in a period of rationalisation now”. He also said a lot of stores need investment otherwise they will be forced to close.
The UK Vaping Industry Association (which has tobacco companies as members) says there are around 2,000 UK vaping outlets. This number is likely to grow “exponentially”, mirroring the growth of coffee and mobile phone shops, it adds.
Source: BBC News, 20 June 2018
Campaign to tackle illicit tobacco reports hundreds of tip offs
Tobacco control group Fresh has announced that their ‘Keep it Out’ campaign, launched in the North East in November, has successfully raised awareness about illegal tobacco. Local authority trading standards teams have since received more than 350 anonymous pieces of information about illegal tobacco sales and dealers
The campaign, to help the public report illegal tobacco and discourage smokers from buying it, has subsequently been rolled out in West Yorkshire.
Keep It Out featured radio adverts, a leaflet drop to 360,000 North East households, posters and flyers for local communities, beer mats for pubs and a guide for retailers.
A poll found that 60% of people who saw the campaign felt more concerned about illegal tobacco in their community, 40% said they would be less likely to buy it and more likely to report local sales, and 30% said they thought it would make illegal tobacco dealers think twice.
Source: Talking Retail, 20 June 2018
Vaping helps smokers quit – even if they don’t want to, study finds
Vaping helps smokers quit – even if they do not want to, new research suggests. Some 17% of e-cigarette users said they used to enjoy smoking and once had no intention of quitting, a study funded by Cancer Research UK has found.
The researchers interviewed 40 vapers, who were asked how long they used e-cigarettes, their favourite flavours and why they took up the habit, as well as about their previous attempts to quit smoking.
Lead author Dr Caitlin Notley, from the University of East Anglia, said: “We found that vaping may support long-term smoking abstinence. Not only does it substitute many of the physical, psychological, social and cultural elements of cigarette smoking, but it is pleasurable in its own right, as well as convenient and cheaper than smoking. Our study group also felt better in themselves – they noticed better respiratory function, taste and smell.”
Source: Daily Mail Online, 20 June 2018
See Also: London South Bank University: The unique contribution of e-cigarettes for tobacco harm reduction in supporting smoking relapse prevention
Study pushes back earliest date of tobacco usage in North America
A newly discovered tobacco pipe found at a tribal site in present-day Alabama indicates tobacco was used by the first Americans much earlier than previously thought.
The pipe, carved from limestone, tested positive for nicotine. It dates back about 3,500 years, making it about 1,500 years older than a pipe previously considered to be the oldest evidence of tobacco use in North America.
“This new discovery changes how we think about the past,” Dr. Stephen Carmody, an assistant professor of anthropology at Troy University in Alabama, said. “Tobacco is one of the most, if not the most, important plants to native peoples. We’ve now dated its use in our area 1,500 years earlier than the earliest dates we had.”
Source: Indianz, 19 June 2018
Telford: Figures coming down as midwife supports pregnant smokers to quit
Telford and Wrekin had a much higher than average number of women who smoked at the time of giving birth in 2016/17. A total of 21% of pregnant women were smoking when their babies were born compared to the national average of 10.5%.
However numbers have reduced over the past year after a new role was created to tackle the problem head-on.
Telford & Wrekin Clinical Commissioning Group and Telford & Wrekin Council decided to jointly commission a public health midwife role to try to tackle the issue. Figures show that since Michelle Powell who had been a local midwife for over 25 years was appointed to the position, the number of women still smoking at the time of birth has dropped. The current 2017/18 figure shows a decline to 17.2%.
Michelle, who works alongside a support midwife, encourages mothers-to-be to stop smoking using nicotine replacement therapies, offers advice and monitors their progress.
Source: Shropshire Star, 17 May 2018
Nottinghamshire: £2.4 million of illicit cigarettes and tobacco seized in county in one year
More than 124,000 illicit cigarettes and 6,000kg of tobacco were seized in Nottinghamshire last year, with 44 arrests made.
During 2017/18, officers from Nottinghamshire County Council’s trading standards team conducted a total of 124 inspections at premises in the county. In 45 instances there were seizures of illicit tobacco.
Source: Nottingham Post, 16 May 2018
Obesity linked to increased risk of taking up smoking and smoking frequency
A team of researchers based in France and the UK set out to determine whether genetic markers associated with obesity play a direct (causal) role in smoking behaviour.
They analysed genetic variants with known effects on body mass index (BMI), body fat percentage and waist circumference for nearly 450,000 individuals from the UK Biobank database and the Tobacco and Genetics (TAG) consortium, using a technique called Mendelian randomisation.
The results show that each 4.6 kg/m2 increase in BMI was associated with an 18% increased risk of being a smoker in UK Biobank and a 19% increased risk in the TAG consortium data.
Each increase in BMI was also estimated to increase smoking frequency by around one cigarette per day (0.88 in UK Biobank and 1.27 in the TAG consortium).
If it could be established that obesity influences smoking behaviour, this would have implications for prevention strategies aiming to reduce these important risk factors.
Source: Medical Express, 16 May 2018
US: Man first to die from vape pen malfunction
A man has died after his vape pen exploded. Tallmadge D’Elia suffered traumatic head injuries and burns to over 80% of his body due to the malfunctioning e-cigarette, a post-mortem found.
The 38-year-old had being using the product on May 5th when the device exploded, igniting a blaze at the beach resort home of his parents in St Petersburg, Florida.
Mr D’Elia’s death is understood to be the first recorded death due to a vape pen explosion in the United States.
Source: The Mirror, 17 May 2018
26 October 2017
Official estimates released today by HM Revenue & Customs show that while the size of the illicit market for cigarettes in 2016/17 has remained fairly stable since 2010, as smoking prevalence has declined significantly, it has become a higher proportion of the total market. More promisingly the amount and proportion of the handrolled tobacco market that is illicit has continued to fall. However, because cigarettes form the largest part of the market with the highest taxes, and taxes have increased over the years, this means the total tax gap has grown from £1.9 billion in 2010/11 to £2.5 billion today. 
In 2016 smoking prevalence fell to its lowest recorded level of 15.8%, 4 percentage points below 2010 when it was 20.2% of the adult population, with the biggest fall of 1.4 percentage points occurring between 2015 and 2016.  As a result the proportion of the market accounted for by illicit has increased between 2015 /16 and 2016/17 from 13% to 15% of cigarettes although it has continued to fall from 32% to 28% of handrolled tobacco.
In 2010/11 the volume of illicit tobacco on the market was estimated by HMRC to be 5 billion cigarettes and 4.2 million kilogrammes of handrolled tobacco, in 2016/17 it was 5.5 billion cigarettes and 2.7 million kilogrammes of tobacco. Although the published data appear to show a significant rise in the size of the illicit from 2015/16 to 2016/17 from 5 to 5.5 billion, these are rounded figures and the actual change is much smaller from 5.1 billion to 5.3 billion. 
In the long run achieving the Government’s objective of a ‘smokefree generation’ when fewer than 5% of adults smoke  will lead to declines in tobacco tax revenues. In the interim tax revenues can be maximised by continuing to drive down illicit trade and increasing tobacco taxes. However, cuts to local enforcement teams are undermining this opportunity.
HMRC’s illicit tobacco strategy has been in place since 2000 and has been well funded and effective. However the success of the strategy in recent years has been undermined by cuts in funding to local authorities, limiting their ability to carry out enforcement activity. In 2009 spending on trading standards was £213 million by 2016 this had fallen to £124 million.  Teams have been cut to the bone, with the NAO calculating that the number of full-time equivalent Trading Standards staff decreased by 56% in seven years, from 3,534 in 2009 to 1,561 in 2016, with 81% of trading standards teams reporting that funding reductions have had a negative impact on their ability to protect consumers in their area. 
There is also a pressing need for Government to do more to require the tobacco companies to control their supply chains. The majority of the illicit market is made up of tobacco company products smuggled in to the UK from other countries.
In response to these challenges ASH today calls on the Government to introduce a licensing system for tobacco manufacturers and retailers to provide funding for improved enforcement and other measures to reduce smoking prevalence. There is strong public support for the licensing of tobacco retailers (net support 76%) and for requiring tobacco manufacturers to pay for measures to reduce smoking prevalence (net support 71%).  Surveys of small retailers show strong support for licensing with 69% of retailers supporting the introduction of a tobacco license that retailers could lose if they broke the law. 
Deborah Arnott, Chief Executive of public health charity Action on Smoking and Health (ASH) said:
“Funding cuts to local authorities and the failure of the tobacco companies to prevent diversion of their products to the smuggled market have undermined the effectiveness of the Government’s anti-smuggling strategy for tobacco. We call on the Government to introduce licensing for tobacco manufacturers and retailers and to make the big tobacco companies pay for it. The US does this and there’s no reason why the UK can’t follow suit. It’s strongly supported both by the public and by retailers and would help achieve the Government’s ambition for a ‘smokefree generation’ as well as increasing tax revenues.”
While tobacco companies are keen to highlight the issue of counterfeit tobacco it is their legitimate product which makes up the largest share of the illicit market with counterfeit products estimated to be only around 8% of the illicit market. Over many years companies have been shown to be complicit in smuggling activity through a failure to control their own supply chains and at times supplying products knowing they will return to the UK market as illicit tobacco.  Better controls of the tobacco industry require both domestic and international action. The UK Government must ratify the Illicit Trade Protocol at the earliest opportunity to support the global effort to clamp down on the illicit market in authentic tobacco products.
Deborah Arnott added:
“The tobacco industry has a history of fuelling the trade in illicit tobacco, that’s why an international treaty has been negotiated to stop it doing so in future. Tobacco smuggling is a global problem and requires a global solution, the UK can’t succeed on its own and we call on the Government to ratify the Illicit Trade Protocol without further delay.”
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.
 HMRC. Tobacco Tax Gaps data. All figures based on mid-range estimates. October 2017.
 Office for National Statistics. Adult smoking habits in the UK: 2016. 15 June 2017.
 Data provided by HMRC to ASH.
 Department of Health. Towards a smoke-free generation: tobacco control plan for England. July 2017.
 CTSI. Total GB trading standards spend falls to £1.99 per person, per year. August 2016.
 National Audit Office. Report by the Comptroller and Auditor General: Protecting consumers from scams, unfair trading and unsafe goods. NAO. HC851. 2016.
 Opinion research by YouGov for ASH. Total sample size was 12696 adults. Fieldwork was undertaken between 16th February 2017 and 19th March 2017.
 ASH. Counter arguments: How important is tobacco to small retailers? ASH, October 2016.
 World Health Organisation Protocol to Eliminate Illicit Trade in Tobacco Products
24 October 2017
The Government received a timely reminder of the importance of effective taxation and regulation of tobacco products from public health experts in a meeting yesterday with the Exchequer Secretary to the Treasury. The meeting was ahead of the Budget on November 22nd.
Representatives from Action on Smoking and Health (ASH), the UK Centre for Alcohol and Tobacco Studies, and Cancer Research UK met with the Minister to outline their priorities and recommendations for the 2017 Budget, as endorsed by 35 other public health organisations. These include a continued commitment to the tobacco tax escalator to raise tax on tobacco above inflation every year during this parliament.
Deborah Arnott, Chief Executive of public health charity Action on Smoking and Health, said:
“Raising taxes on tobacco to reduce affordability is the most effective way to reduce smoking.  We call on the Government to renew the tobacco tax escalator which increases taxes above inflation for this parliament. This will demonstrate that the Government’s stated commitment to a smokefree generation is genuine.” 
New research on tobacco industry pricing by the University of Bath and Kings College London, and funded by NIHR, has just been published  and shows that the tobacco industry has undermined tobacco tax policy to keep tobacco cheap. The Government is urged to take action to prevent this in future.
Professor Anna Gilmore, senior author on the study and Director of the Tobacco Control Research Group at the University of Bath, said:
“The tobacco industry uses cheap products to hook children into a deadly habit and keep smokers who would otherwise quit, smoking. The government has closed some loopholes enabling it to do this, but more needs to be done. It should increase the tax on roll your own tobacco which is much lower than that of factory made cigarettes and ensure minimum excise taxes are uprated at every budget.”
Also on the agenda for the meeting was the sale of illicit tobacco. One of the most effective ways to reduce this illicit trade, which harms the public purse as well as consumers, is to implement a tobacco supply chain licensing system which should be independent of, but paid for by the tobacco manufacturers, as required by the terms of the WHO Framework Convention on Tobacco Control Illicit Trade Protocol.
Professor John Britton, Director of the UK Centre for Tobacco and Alcohol Studies, said:
“The tobacco industry has a history of fuelling the trade in illicit tobacco.  It is only right that they should meet the costs of a new system to prevent such skulduggery in the future.”
The Department of Health published its Tobacco Control Plan for England in July, called “Towards a Smokefree Generation”.  The plan sets out several ambitious targets for reducing smoking prevalence. These ambitions will only be realised by ensuring that tobacco products continue to be made less affordable and by providing adequate funding for stop smoking services and initiatives that limit smoking initiation, especially among young people.
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 Hazel Cheeseman on 07754 358 593.
 WHO report on the global tobacco epidemic 2015. Raising taxes on tobacco.
 Towards a smoke-free generation: tobacco control plan for England. Department of Health, July 2017
 Hiscock R. Branston JR. McNeill A. Hitchman SC. Partos TR. Gilmore AB. Tobacco industry strategies undermine government tax policy: evidence from commercial data. Tobacco Control 2017.
NB The study was funded by the NIHR Public Health Research Programme (project number 13/43/58).
 See evidence set out in ASH/UKCTAS budget submission page 8 points 36-38
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