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
Doncaster: Man sentenced for smuggling illegal tobacco
A man from Doncaster has been sentenced after 850kg of illegal tobacco was discovered in the back of a hired van when officers visited a rented storage unit. The tobacco represented £153,300 in unpaid duty.
Eden Noblett, Assistant Director at the Fraud Investigation Service, HMRC said: “Brennan aimed to put this illegal tobacco on the UK streets and pocket the profit, which was enough money to pay the salaries for six trainee firefighters for a year. He thought he could get away with it, but he was wrong. The black market trade in illegal tobacco…is stealing money from taxpayers that is needed for public services we rely on. I encourage anyone with information on this type of fraud to report it to HMRC online, or contact our Fraud Hotline.”
Source: The Star, 4 September 2018
What are the health risks of hookah smoking?
Using a hookah pipe (also known as a water pipe or shisha) exposes a person to tobacco smoke, which contains harmful components, such as carbon monoxide. The water in the hookah does not filter out these components. Even if a person does not smoke directly from the hookah, they can still inhale secondhand smoke.
As with all tobacco smoking, hookah smoking increases the risk of lung and heart conditions, as well as cancer.
Source: Medical News Today, 4 September 2018
Tobacco control is ‘major component’ of environmental protection efforts
The head of the UN tobacco control watchdog has said that tobacco production and its use by consumers is “tremendously destructive” for the environment, although control measures could curb its effects.
According to a report by the FCTC Secretariat and the UN Development Programme (UNDP), tobacco crops require large amounts of chemical fertilizers and pesticides, which pollute the ground and nearby waterways. The production process also presents serious health hazards for farmers and their families. Growing tobacco leads to accelerated soil degradation, and is a major cause of pollution. Moreover, cigarette butts have become the most discarded waste item worldwide, with some 4.5 trillion thrown away each year. This represents 1.69 billion pounds of toxic rubbish annually.
The Secretariat of the WHO FCTC is therefore calling on governments to better regulate tobacco agriculture and to work on helping tobacco farmers worldwide, switch to environmentally-friendly alternative crop production. This is being encouraged through the use of incentives such as access to credit, and by providing training on environmentally-friendly practices, among other measures.
The WHO Framework Convention on Tobacco Control, An accelerator for sustainable development
Source: Government World, 4 September 2018
US: Chain pharmacies sell tobacco to minors
A new study has found that over the past six years, the US Food and Drug Administration has caught several chain pharmacies selling tobacco products to minors. The biggest offender, Walgreens, sold products to minors 1,296 times, representing about once in every 10 inspections between 2012 and 2017.
Arnold Levinson from the Colorado School of Public Health in Aurora, who wasn’t involved in the research, said “The FDA data are the best we have available, but they only measure how often the pharmacies got caught selling tobacco to minors during undercover enforcement tests…The problem is much bigger than these results suggest. If pharmacies are serious about being in the health business, they need to stop selling this deadly product – and not just to kids.”
JAMA Pediatrics, US Food and Drug Administration inspection of tobacco sales to minors at top pharmacies, 2012-2017
Source: Reuters, 4 September 2018
US: Kentucky expands efforts to help people give up tobacco
Kentucky has the the US’ second-highest smoking rate, with 24.6 percent of the state’s residents reporting daily tobacco use. The state’s public health department says more than 8,000 Kentuckians die each year due to tobacco-related diseases, including lung cancer.
A new public information campaign by the Department for Public Health is therefore attempting to help people quit. The campaign includes broadcast, print and digital ads, and also features outreach to medical providers and community engagement initiatives aimed at boosting public awareness.
The program offers a free tobacco quit line — 1-800-QUIT NOW. The statewide telephone service provides free counselling and support for people wanting to stop smoking or using other tobacco products.
Source: Associated Press, 4 September 2018
Macau: Resort approved for smoking lounges
‘Studio City’ resort has become the second casino in Macau to receive authorisation to provide smoking lounges. Smoking on casino floors was banned by the Macau government in October 2014. However, an exception for smoking lounges that didn’t offer gaming activity was made.
Now, all casinos that want to continue to offer on-site smoking in the new year must apply to the city’s Health Bureau for authorisation. Out of the 47 casinos and slot parlors in Macau, 13 have already applied for authorisation to operate smoking lounges.
Source: Calvin Ayre, 31 August 2018