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
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
Tobacco companies have a long history of misleading politicians and the public. As understanding developed of the adverse effects smoking has on life expectancy and wellbeing, industry pro-tobacco arguments diversified.
Now the industry has been forced to concede that smoking kills, efforts are increasingly concentrated on building libertarian and economic arguments against policies to reduce smoking prevalence, as scare tactics to deter policymakers from supporting tobacco control policies.
The Tobacconomics report, produced by ASH, reveals how the tobacco industry uses pseudo economic arguments to divert attention away from the health consequences of smoking to block new health regulations and ultimately protect its revenues. As the report shows, this goes as far as repeatedly misleading its own shareholders.
In propagating their economic arguments the tobacco firms have established a disparate and loose coalition of lobbyists, smaller retailers and businesses.
Some of these groups can be seen as no more than ‘fronts’ for industry interests. Many groups, however, have sided with the economic arguments used by the industry because it has roused their fears that tobacco regulation will damage their livelihood.
The three major pro-tobacco arguments developed by the industry and its lobbyists, which are recycled again and again for each new policy intervention, can be summarised as follows:
• Standing up for small businesses and defending workers’ jobs
• Raising the alarm about counterfeit and smuggled tobacco
• Denying the effectiveness of tobacco control measures
The report gives examples of how these arguments are developed and debunks the claims that support them.
However, no matter how spurious the economic arguments might be and how plain the evidence is to the contrary, these assertions capture media attention and assume an influence on policy makers disproportionate to their accuracy by dint of repetition and through powerful lobbying by vested interests.Tobacconomics