Action on Smoking and Health

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ASH Daily News for 12 September 2018


  • Tobacco firms used to pay Suffolk council pensions
  • Shisha smoke warning campaign


  • Nigeria: Online stores flout country’s tobacco control law
  • US: Montana is voting on whether the tobacco industry should pay for Medicaid expansion
  • US: Study finds high levels of nicotine in popular e-cigarettes

Parliamentary activity

  • Parliamentary Questions


Tobacco firms used to pay Suffolk council pensions

Tobacco firms are sill being used to grow Suffolk County Council’s pension fund, despite figures that show smoking costs Suffolk almost £160 million a year. Specifically, ASH estimates smoking costs Suffolk £98 million a year in lost working days (through smoking-related illness or dying under retirement age); £20.7 million in social care annually for those living with chronic conditions; and it costs the NHS £40 million in smoking-related admissions.

Ipswich MP Sandy Martin said, “As a county councillor I led a debate on which the county council overwhelmingly voted to disinvest from tobacco companies – they have not done so. Either they are missing the point or choosing to ignore it. It’s very frustrating that people are not making the changes they need to be – if they had more integrity they would disinvest willingly.”

Source: East Anglian Daily Times, 11 September 2018

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Shisha smoke warning campaign

The dangers of smoking Shisha will be highlighted in a new public health campaign in Liverpool.

Shisha smoking is traditionally used by people from Middle Eastern or Asian community groups, but it is becoming increasingly popular in cities such as Liverpool, particularly among young people aged 18-25. Also known as hookah, narghile, waterpipe, or hubble bubble smoking, Shisha is a way of smoking tobacco, sometimes mixed with fruit or molasses sugar, through a bowl and hose or tube. The tube ends in a mouthpiece from which the smoker inhales the smoke deep into their lungs. Studies show an hour’s smoking is the equivalent of having between 100-200 cigarettes.

Dr Sandra Davies, Director of Public Health, said “We have had huge success in reducing the smoking rate in Liverpool… however, we risk some of this great work being undone as a result of people smoking Shisha, which has the potential to be far more harmful due to the intensity of deep inhalation of chemicals and poisons.”

Source: ITV, 12 September 2018

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Nigeria: Online stores flout country’s tobacco control law

Tobacco control advocates continue to criticise the Nigerian government for their lack of resolve in the fight against tobacco. More than 17,500 tobacco-related deaths have occurred in Nigeria, at least 20 billion sticks of cigarettes are consumed annually in the country, and 4.5 million adults currently use tobacco products.

In the latest hurdle, an investigation by Premium Times suggests online retailers in Nigeria are defying the Tobacco Control Law by marketing tobacco products to the public through their websites and failing to ensure prospective buyers are 18 and above.

Jumia, a retailer contacted as part of the investigation, insisted the company had not violated any law in the country, claiming it operates an online marketplace that allows vendors to sell their products through its platform while also ensuring that they abide by the provisions of relevant laws and regulations.

Source: Premium Times, 12 September 2018

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US: Montana is voting on whether the tobacco industry should pay for Medicaid expansion

In November Montana voters will get to choose whether to increase taxes on all tobacco products to fund Medicaid expansion, and the tobacco industry has spent more than $9 million to persuade them to vote “no.”

Earlier this year, a number of health organisations, including the American Heart Association, the American Cancer Society Cancer Action Network and the Montana Hospital Association, collected enough signatures to secure the ballot initiative to allows voters to determine the future of the Medicaid program. Advocates of the ballot initiative, which would raise the taxes on a pack of cigarettes by $2, say that the Medicaid expansion has helped provide health coverage to many Montanans who otherwise would not have it. “It’s one of the best things to happen to Montanans and the only way to sustain that is through a source of revenue,” said Jonathan Schleifer, executive director of the Fairness Project.

The groups’ decision to make the tobacco industry pay for permanent expansion put them up against a powerful adversary. The opposition campaign, Montanans Against Tax Hikes, is almost entirely funded by tobacco companies like Altria, Inc., which is the parent company for Phillip Morris. In its most recent state campaign finance filing, which covers the period from July 28 to August 27, Altria had given the PAC more than $7 million.

Source: Washington Post, 11 September 2018

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US: Study finds high levels of nicotine in popular e-cigarettes

E-cigarettes contain fewer toxins than conventional cigarettes. Dr Andrew Hyland, principal investigator of the national Population Assessment of Tobacco and Health Study, stated “Studies show that the overall number and levels of toxins are much lower in vaping products compared with conventional cigarettes, which, in comparison, are incredibly toxic, with thousands of chemicals and dozens of carcinogens that cause harm to every organ system in the body.”

He went on to say, “We know that many e-cigarette users are trying to quit cigarette smoking, and some cigarette smokers report that flavored e-cigarettes offer an appealing alternative when they are looking for a way to quit smoking cigarettes,” says Dr. Hyland. “Getting off of cigarettes first is much more important than what voltage or flavor people choose in an e-cigarette.”

However, with new research reporting adolescent users of Juul are absorbing nicotine at levels approaching nicotine exposure from traditional combustible cigarettes, there is concern that e-cigarettes may promote nicotine addiction in younger people. Unlike conventional cigarette advertising, which is restricted by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA), e-cigarettes in the US are legally marketed and promoted. With this concern in mind, the FDA is investigating the company behind the leading e-cigarette brand Juul.

See also:
Tobacco control, High exposure to nicotine among adolescents who use Juul and other vape pod systems (‘pods’)

Source: MedicalXpress, 11 September 2018

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Parliamentary Questions

Asked by Mr Philip Hollobone, Kettering
To ask the Secretary of State for Health and Social Care, what progress his Department has made in tendering for the grant scheme relating to external stakeholder support for the tobacco control plan.

Answered by Steve Brine, The Parliamentary Under-Secretary for Health and Social Care
The grant scheme to secure additional support to assist in the delivery of commitments made in the tobacco control plan was advertised in May and June 2018. Ten eligible organisations applied for this funding.

The Department reviewed these applications as per Cabinet Office guidelines in July and finalised this in August. Action on Smoking and Health (ASH) in a partnership application with FRESH North East scored the highest. All applicants have been informed of the results and paperwork is currently being finalised in order to award the grant to ASH and FRESH North East.

Source: Hansard, 11 September 2018

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Asked by Mr Philip Hollobone, Kettering
To ask the Secretary of State for Health and Social Care, what the strategic objectives of his departmental delegation will be at the eighth conference of the parties to the World Health Organisation framework convention on tobacco control in October 2018.

Answered by Steve Brine, The Parliamentary Under-Secretary for Health and Social Care
The United Kingdom Government will be represented at the eighth Conference of the Parties (CoP) to the World Health Organization Framework Convention on tobacco control (FCTC) by three officials from the Department and the UK Permanent Representation to the European Union. The delegation will be led by Tim Baxter, Deputy Director of Healthy Behaviours at the Department.

A figure for the costs associated with attendance at the CoP is not yet available. Every effort has been made to keep costs to a minimum to ensure value for money.

As a world leader in tobacco control the UK has been, and will continue to be, a highly active participant in the FCTC. The UK will participate in the CoP as a member state of the European Union. The UK will continue to support measures to reduce global harms from tobacco, building on its strong domestic record in reducing smoking, and will work to ensure that the work of the FCTC secretariat is both effective and provides value for money.

Source: Hansard, 11 September 2018

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Asked by Martin Vickers, Cleethorpes
To ask the Secretary of State for Health and Social Care, what steps he is taking to ensure the availability of a reliable body of independent research on heat-not-burn products.

To ask the Secretary of State for Health and Social Care, what gaps his Department has identified in the available independent research into the safety of heat-not-burn products.

To ask the Secretary of State for Health and Social Care, what discussions his Department has had with health departments of governments overseas on the development of research into heat-not-burn products.

Answered by Steve Brine, The Parliamentary Under-Secretary for Health and Social Care
The Government has committed Public Health England (PHE) to annually reviewing the evidence on e-cigarettes and novel tobacco products, such as heated tobacco products, until the end of Parliament in 2022. PHE’s current review was published in February 2018. The review looked at the latest available evidence on heated tobacco products and, based on that evidence, concluded that these products were less harmful than cigarettes, but more harmful than e-cigarettes. This is in agreement with the Committee on Toxicity (CoT), who concluded in December 2017 that there is a likely reduction in risk for smokers switching to heated tobacco products.

Both PHE and CoT identified shortcomings in the current evidence base: there are no long term studies as these products are relatively new, and a majority of the research is carried out by the tobacco industry. The Department will review and consider where there are gaps in evidence for further independent research, and continues to collaborate and share knowledge both in the United Kingdom and internationally to help develop the research base and understanding of these products. The UK Government is also represented on the Global Tobacco Regulators’ Forum, which brings together a number of countries, as well as the European Union and World Health Organization, to discuss regulatory issues of common interest, including research into heated tobacco products.

Source: Hansard, 11 September 2018

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Tobacco’s environmental footprint

My name is Nick Voulvoulis. I’m a Professor of Environmental Technology here at Imperial College in the Centre for Environmental Policy. My work is mainly on the interface between human systems and natural systems; so understanding how we interact with the environment and live more sustainably.

The problems we face around the planet has to do with how we consume resources. We create waste and pollute, forcing the planet to it limits. Global cigarette consumption has grown dramatically in the last decades with annual production and consumption have been significantly increasing in the developing world.

This summer here at Imperial, with Maria, we worked on trying to understand the environmental impact of the whole of the supply chain of tobacco from cultivation all the way to smoking and final disposal. We tried to capture the resource needs and also the emissions and environmental impact of cigarette smoking. We did this using life cycle analysis and material flow analysis, two popular tools in capturing the environmental footprint in different products.

Using figures based on the year 2014, a total of 32.4 million tonnes of green tobacco leaf were cultivated on 4 million hectares of land, across 125 countries, producing 6.48 million tonnes of dry tobacco, used to manufacture in nearly 500 factories worldwide, making 6 trillion cigarettes sticks that were used in 2014. There are significant resource needs and emissions and waste produced at every stage of the supply chain. The global contribution of the tobacco industry to climate change is around 84 million tonnes of CO2 equivalent. When you add it all up, it doesn’t sound fair to expend valuable resources on things that create hospital admissions and cancer in the end.

Smoking does not just affect our health but limits people’s ability to prosper. Sooner or later, the industry will have to face the question of what it has done for us.

Unless we can prove that it is not just for the pockets of multinational companies it will be very difficult to make a case for this to keep going on.

See the original video here



Exposing the global harm caused by the tobacco industry

Today sees the start of a co-ordinated week of action by ASH and our partners to highlight the global harm caused by the tobacco industry.

This action is timed to coincide with annual general meetings of two of the largest transnational tobacco companies — British American Tobacco (BAT) and Philip Morris International (PMI).

Tobacco kills around 6 million people every year [1] — a figure greater than the number of people living in Denmark [2].

Smoking is the largest preventable cause of death and disease across the world.

Despite the widespread harm caused by the tobacco industry, the businesses involved continue to harvest enormous profits. BAT alone made a profit of £5.2 billion in 2016 [3] from their global market share of about 11%. [4]

The harm from the tobacco industry extends beyond that caused to individuals who smoke or are exposed to second-hand smoke. Tobacco farming takes valuable land that could be used to produce food and other more useful resources, and increases poverty in low income countries.

Child labour is used extensively in tobacco farming and production, harming efforts to improve educational outcomes [1], while the adult labour involved could be put to more productive and beneficial work. Many workers involved in harvesting tobacco, especially children, fall ill with a condition called green tobacco sickness. [1]

Hundreds of millions of trees are felled every year to make way for tobacco crops [5], accelerating deforestation and contributing negatively to climate change.

Throughout the next eight days we will be exposing the global harm caused by the tobacco industries — to individuals, families, societies, the global economy and our environment. Please join us in sharing these messages and encourage governments to #ActOnTobacco.

Here are some ways in which you can get involved in the campaign.

All hyperlinks accessed on 20 April 2017
[3]$FILE/medMDAKPK62.pdf?openelement page 2
[5] Leppan W, Lecours N, Buckles D. (Editors). Tobacco control and tobacco farming: Separating myth from reality. International Development Research Center. New York: Anthem Press; 2014