Sheffield: Shop landed with £777,600 tax bill for selling black market tobacco
As part of a new HM Revenue and Customs crackdown on illicit tobacco, HMRC has sent tax bills to businesses which have repeatedly been caught selling illicit tobacco. A total of 51 tax bills totalling £11.5 million have been issued across the country.
As part of this recent uptick in HMRC activity, a Sheffield store has been landed with a £777,600 fine for selling tobacco on the black market. The huge tax bill came after investigations revealed illegal income from the sale of illicit tobacco was equal to 89% of this particular business’ declared turnover.
Source: The Star (Sheffield), 25 September 2018
New Asean tobacco atlas reveals extent of tobacco addiction in South East Asia
The fourth edition of the Association of South East Asian Nations (Asean) Tobacco Control Atlas was released yesterday (26 September), by the Southeast Asia Tobacco Control Alliance (SEATCA) at the 3rd UN High-Level Meeting on Non-Communicable Diseases. Among more than 7 million people killed by tobacco-related diseases globally each year, more than 500,000 occur in Southeast Asia, according to the latest data. Among Asean countries, male adult smoking prevalence is highest in Indonesia at 66% and lowest in Singapore at 21.1%.
All 10 Asean countries have implemented pictorial health warnings on cigarette packs, four of which are among the biggest in the world – Thailand (85% front and back of the pack), Brunei, Laos and Myanmar (75%), while Singapore and Thailand are in advanced preparatory stages to require plain packaging. Tobacco tax policies have been strengthened in Brunei, Indonesia, Myanmar, Philippines, Singapore and Thailand and have helped to reduce affordability of tobacco products. However cigarette prices remain affordable and low (less than $1 per pack) in Cambodia, Laos, Myanmar and Vietnam.
Source: The Nation (Thailand), 27 September 2018
British American Tobacco’s use of social media influencers to sell cigarettes faces legal complaint in Brazil
British American Tobacco (BAT) faces a new legal complaint in Brazil for the company’s use of social media influencers to advertise cigarettes on social networks like Facebook, Instagram and Twitter. Brazil is the second country in which legal action has been initiated as the result of big tobacco’s clandestine use of social media to advertise cigarettes.
Filed with the Public Prosecutor’s Office in Sao Paulo and Brazil’s Consumer Protection Agency, the complaint details how social media campaigns for Kent, Lucky Strike and Dunhill cigarettes have violated Brazilian laws designed to curb smoking rates. The complaint was filed by ACT Brazil, a leading Brazilian advocacy group, and was supported by several Brazilian and international public health groups. The social media campaigns identified in Brazil featured industry-driven hashtags with social media influencers hired to promote cigarette brands, making it difficult for consumers to identify this tactic as paid advertisements for cigarettes.
Source: PR Newswire, 26 September 2018
Industry groups call on World Health Organisation to change stance on vaping
An international coalition of vaping industry groups has called on the World Health Organisation (WHO) to reform its stance on vaping regulations. Vaping advocacy groups from sixteen countries have called on the agency to reverse its stance that members states can ban vaping products outright as part of their tobacco control plans.
Lead by the UK Vaping Industry Association (which includes tobacco industry members), the group is demanding the WHO aligns its guidance with states such as the UK and New Zealand, which advocate smokers switching to vaping to wean smokers off conventional tobacco products, as part of harm-reduction policy.
Source: City A.M. 26 September 2018
Barnsley: Council warned market smoke ban might be ‘unlawful’
Barnsley Council intends to prevent the sale of smoking related goods in a new shopping complex that will fully open later this year. However, solicitors acting on the behalf of market traders have challenged the upcoming ban and have written to the council arguing that the ban would be in conflict with traders’ legal rights.
The council is planning a range of measures for new developments, with an aim to improve the town’s health. This includes encouraging healthy eating food outlets and extending its work to reduce smoking, putting tobacco use out of the sight of children, so they have no ‘role model’ to follow in future.
Source: Barnsley Chronicle, 18 September 2018
Sheffield: Council targets shisha users in health campaign
Sheffield council has launched a health campaign aimed at shisha users, saying that smoking shisha for an hour is equivalent to smoking 100 cigarettes. Since June, Sheffield City Council has prosecuted a number of bars across the city, issuing £15,000 in fines for breaking the ban on smoking in work places.
The authority is now targeting users in a campaign on social media.
Greg Fell, director of public health in the city, said some people believe it is safer than smoking traditional cigarettes. “We want people to know shisha is not safe and to inform them about the risks”, he added.
Source: BBC News, 18 September 2018
World Health Organisation calls on Pakistan to introduce uniform tobacco taxation structure
The World Health Organisation (WHO) has called upon the government of Pakistan to simplify its tobacco taxation. Its core suggestions are to implement a uniform tax structure, increase tobacco taxation to 70% of the retail price and immediately withdraw the ‘third tier’ of taxation introduced by the previous government. Cigarette brands sold in Pakistan are placed into three tiers of tax, with most in the ‘third tier’ which applies the lowest taxes.
The prevalence of tobacco product use in Pakistan is very high (19.1%), particularly among men (31.8%). Moreover, 70% people in Pakistan are exposed to secondhand smoke at indoor workplaces which is also damaging.
Pakistan has signed and ratified the WHO Framework Convention on Tobacco Control and there are many measures it is yet to enforce. Stricter implementation of existing laws on tobacco control, a comprehensive ban on tobacco advertising, promotion and sponsorship and increase in tobacco taxation have the potential for visible impact.
Source: The News, 18 September 2018
Finns accused of smuggling tonnes of Swedish snus across the border
Snus, moist oral tobacco snuff, has been banned from being sold anywhere in the EU since 1992, apart from in Sweden which negotiated an exemption to the ban when it joined the Union in 1995. Eight people are now suspected of having smuggled more than 12 tonnes of snus from Sweden to neighbouring Finland between 2016 and 2018, the Finnish customs authority said on Monday. The eight suspects are accused of smuggling and aggravated tax fraud.
Source: The Local Sweden, 18 September 2018
Claims that e-cigarettes could be taxed to raise £20 billion for NHS
Vaping could be taxed in an attempt by the Treasury to fund the extra £20 billion pledged to the NHS. It is reported that a Whitehall source believes vapers may see a tax increase above VAT at the next budget.
Users typically spend around £275 a year on vaping fluid. This means a five per cent tax would cost them £13.75 a year, raising almost £40 million.
Express, Vape tax intended to raise extra £40 million set to harm UK’s 2.9 million vapers
Daily Mail, E-cigarettes could be taxed for the first time as Treasury looks to raise £20 billion promised to the NHS
Source: The Sun, 1st August 2018
Vype e-cigarettes recalled over fire safety fears
A safety notice has been issued after some consumers have reported problems with Vype eTank Pro devices, owned by British American Tobacco. The issue relates to the potential for the battery in the e-cigarettes to short circuit, which may pose a fire risk. Vype is therefore asking customers who purchased the device or its standalone battery to return the product, so it can be replaced.
See also: Daily Mail, Vype e-cigarettes sold at Sainsbury’s have been urgently recalled
Source: The Sun, 1st August 2018
Sheffield: Potential smoking ban at bus and tram stops
Smokers in Sheffield could be stopped from smoking at bus and tram stops, after the council confirmed it was looking at introducing smokefree shelters across the city. Moving forward, members of the public could be asked to give their views on smokefree bus and tram shelters as well as smokefree school gates and public family events.
“We will do further consultation for any public space. It’s never a ban, it’s a smokefree ask,” said Sarah Hepworth, Health Improvement Principal.
Greg Fell, Director of Public Health at Sheffield City Council said “Enforceability is a very important thing. We’re not going to send police marching up and down the moor trying to take people’s cigarettes from them, if we head towards that [further smokefree places] we have to do it with the support of the people of Sheffield.”
Source: Yorkshire Post, 1st August 2018
London: Smoking rates declining in Southwark
Southwark’s labourers, cleaners and hospitality staff appear to be switching smoking for e-cigarettes, according to statistics.
The percentage of smokers in routine and manual occupations has dropped from more than 25% in 2015, to 18.5% in 2016 – below the London average of 25%, and the country-wide rate of 27%, according to Southwark Council documents. Smoking prevalence across the borough is also reducing, with 15.3% of residents smoking in 2016, compared to 15.9% in 2015.
However, Southwark Council’s director of health and wellbeing, Kevin Fenton, said the sharp decline in smokers in routine and manual jobs could not be confirmed as a trend until next year’s data becomes available. Speaking to the council’s health and wellbeing board, he said: “One of the things you learn is that we never look up one year’s data and then celebrate, so we are waiting and we are looking forward to the data from 2017 to confirm the trend.”
The 2017 data is yet to be included in this analysis but can be accessed here.
Source: News Shopper, 1st August 2018
What happens when you quit cigarettes?
Smoking increases the risk of developing heart disease, stroke and lung cancer and harms nearly every organ of the body. Indeed, about 90,000 people die every year in the UK because of their smoking habit.
According to the NHS, the positive health effects begin just 20 minutes after quitting, since the pulse rate returns to normal. Then, after eight hours, nicotine and carbon monoxide levels in blood reduce by more than half, and oxygen levels return to normal. After 12 hours, the total amount of carbon monoxide in the body returns to normal, and the heart doesn’t have to pump so hard to push oxygen around the body. Three days into quitting it’s significantly easier to breathe, and patients have more energy.
Over the next three months, circulation throughout the body improves and becomes more efficient. The lungs become stronger and clearer, and the risk of heart attack has been reduced. Indeed, after one full year, the risk of heart disease is about half compared with a person that’s still smoking, and ten years later, the chances of developing lung cancer are about half that of a smoker. Another five years on, heart attack risk is the same as someone that’s never smoked a single cigarette.
Source: Express, 1st August 2018
US: New wearable sensor technology may help quit smoking
Using wearable sensor technology, researchers have developed an automatic alert system that may help people to quit smoking by sending video messages. The smartphone app automatically texts 20 to 120-second video messages to smokers when sensors detect specific arm and body motions associated with smoking.
According to the researchers, the mobile alert system may be the first that combines an existing online platform with mindfulness training and a personalised plan for quitting smoking. It also combines a personalised text-messaging service that reminds the user of either their own plan to quit, or sends video messages that stress the health and financial benefits of quitting.
Science Direct, Are you smoking? Automatic alert system helping people keep away from cigarettes
Source: The Asian Independent, 2nd August 2018
US: Modest exercise can curb weight gain after quitting smoking
A new study suggests that even a modest amount of weekly exercise can minimise weight gain after quitting smoking. Nearly 7 of 10 US adult smokers say they want to quit, according to the Center for Disease Control and Prevention, but the fear of gaining weight discourages some from doing so. For three years, the study team tracked 4,717 female smokers, ages 50 to 70, who were participating in the long-term Women’s Health Initiative study. The 2,282 women who quit smoking gained an overall average of 3.5 kilograms (7.72 lb).
“We found even a little bit of physical activity minimised weight gain after women stopped smoking,” study leader Juhua Luo of the School of Public Health at Indiana University in Bloomington told Reuters Health. They found that even walking for a weekly total of about 90 minutes at three miles per hour was enough to minimise weight gain after smoking cessation. The best results were seen when women engaged in 150 minutes of moderate intensity activity per week.
Menopause, Physical activity and weight gain after smoking cessation in postmenopausal women
Source: Reuters, 1st August 2018