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
This briefing is a position statement by Action on Smoking and Health and FairPensions which aims to inform stakeholders in local authority pensions, including councillors, pension fund members, local taxpayers and pension fund trustees.Local authority pension funds and investments in the tobacco industry
This briefing is a position statement by Action on Smoking and Health and FairPensions which aims to inform stakeholders in local authority pensions, including councillors, pension fund members, local taxpayers and pension fund trustees.ASH Briefing: Local authority pension funds and investments in the tobacco industry