Action on Smoking and Health

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ASH Daily News for 18 July 2018

UK

  • Worcestershire: Cuts to stop smoking aids
  • York: MP criticises lack of help for smokers to quit
  • Tower Hamlets: The illegal tobacco roadshow
  • Opinion: Dark money lurks at the heart of our political crisis

International

  • US: Smoking in and near public housing will be banned at the end of July
  • South Africa: Tobacco bill decrees restrictions on smoking in homes
  • West Africa: Research shows increased tax on tobacco products will curb smoking

Parliamentary Activity

  • Parliamentary Question – General debate: The Tobacco Control Plan

UK

Worcestershire: Cuts to stop smoking aids

The British Lung Foundation has found that the local authority in Worcestershire fully decommissioned its stop smoking services in April 2016, and neighbouring Clinical Commissioning Groups (CCGs) then advised that no prescriptions for nicotine patches, gum, lozenges and sprays should be written for new patients.

The findings were part of a wider study by the charity which found a 75% decline in stop smoking aids being prescribed by GPs and pharmacists in England in 2016/17 compared with 2005/6.

Alison Cook, director of policy at the British Lung Foundation, said all smokers should be able to expect their GP to provide access to stop smoking medication and cutting aids would only achieve short-term savings.

Source: The Shuttle, 18 July 2018

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York: MP criticises lack of help for smokers to quit

A report by the British Lung Foundation has found that the Vale of York Clinical Commissioning Group (CCG) no longer directly funds stop smoking prescriptions and that GPs have been asked not to prescribe stop smoking medications due to their cost. As a result, the number of prescriptions for stop smoking medications has fallen by 64% in one year.

Alison Cook, director of policy at the British Lung Foundation said, “Our report shows that for patients in the city of York, services are only open to people in a priority group. This leaves some smokers without any support to stop smoking. The postcode lottery for treatment needs to end, and it must not be forgotten that tobacco dependency is an illness that requires urgent treatment.”

York MP Rachael Maskell has branded the treatment of smokers in York as “incredibly judgemental,” stating, “It’s disgraceful that the CCG will not fund stop smoking services while at the same time denying access to surgery. This has an impact on socially deprived areas because people will not be able to afford these treatments.”

Source: The Press, 18 July 2018

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Tower Hamlets: The illegal tobacco roadshow

Today the illegal tobacco roadshow will be in Chrisp Street Market, Tower Hamlets, to give advice to people wanting to quit smoking and raise awareness about the impact illegal tobacco. This will also be an opportunity for residents to raise any concerns they may have about fake cigarettes and tobacco being sold in their area.

Between 10am and 5pm residents will have the opportunity to meet health support services and the council’s trading standards team (including the dogs responsible for locating illegal tobacco).

John Biggs, Mayor of Tower Hamlets, said: “Tower Hamlets has a zero tolerance approach to illegal tobacco and this is a fantastic opportunity for residents to find out more about the work we do. Illegal tobacco is sold cheaply but has particular health risks, and this is something we need to protect our residents from. It also encourages and often funds other crimes in our community.”

Source: Tower Hamlets, 17 July 2018

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Opinion: Dark money lurks at the heart of our political crisis

In this opinion piece George Monbiot takes a look at organisations such as the Institute of Economic Affairs (IEA) that refuse to reveal who funds them, and the impact this is having on our democracy.

“The problem is exemplified, in my view, by the IEA. In the latest reshuffle, two ministers with close links to the institute, Dominic Raab and Matthew Hancock, have been promoted to the frontbench, responsible for issues that obsess the IEA: Brexit and the NHS.

Hancock, in his former role as cabinet office minister, notoriously ruled that charities receiving public funds should not be allowed to lobby the government. His department credited the IEA with the research that prompted the policy. This rule, in effect, granted a monopoly on lobbying to groups such as the IEA, which receive their money only from private sources. Hancock has received a total of £32,000 in political donations from the IEA’s chairman, Neil Record.

So what is this organisation, and on whose behalf does it speak? If only we knew. The only hard information we have is that, for many years, it has been funded by British American Tobacco (BAT), Japan Tobacco International, Imperial Tobacco and Philip Morris International. When this funding was exposed, the IEA claimed that its campaigns against tobacco regulation were unrelated to the money it had received.”

Source: The Guardian, 18 July 2018

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International

US: Smoking in and near public housing will be banned at the end of July

People won’t be able to smoke in or near public housing starting on the 31st of July. Lit cigarettes, cigars and pipes will have to be kept at least 25 feet away from public buildings, though e-cigarettes will still be permitted.

The policy was announced two years ago by the Department of Housing and Urban Development, but the agency gave the nation’s more than 3,300 local public housing authorities nearly two years to begin enforcement.

The rule will be part of residents’ leases, accompanied with information about how to quit smoking. Though tenants who break this rule could be evicted, HUD has said eviction after just one violation “is not grounds for eviction,” and that smoking on public housing premises is a civil violation, not a crime.

Source: CNN, 13 July 2018

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South Africa: Tobacco bill decrees restrictions on smoking in homes

The latest South African Tobacco Bill has included provisions which protect domestic workers or gardeners from secondhand smoke. People who smoke in the presence of this workforce could now be fined or jailed. The Bill also stipulates that you may not smoke in your home if you use it for teaching, tutoring or commercial childcare.

The Health Department’s Popo Maja said: “The bill seeks to ensure that employees are treated equally, including those working in private spaces. A private space used as a workplace will be regulated like other workplaces.”

Source: IOL, 17 July 2018

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West Africa: Research shows increased tax on tobacco products will curb smoking

This week at a dissemination event in Senegal for the Action Research Project on Tobacco Taxation in West Africa, the Consortium for Economic and Social Research (CRES) called for increased taxation of tobacco products in the West African region to curb smoking.

Abdoulaye Diagne, the Executive Director of CRES said, “Tobacco consumption is only declining significantly and continuously in countries that have adopted a policy of strong and steady increase in the selling price of tobacco products through a significant increase in tax levels.”

Smoking accounts for the death of six million people worldwide annually. However, a WHO forecast said that by 2020 tobacco will kill more than 10 million victims per year and remain the leading cause of death.

Source: Journal du Cameroun, 17 July 2018

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Parliamentary Activity

Parliamentary Question

Question from Jim Shannon, Shadow DUP Spokesperson (Health)
“To ask the Secretary of State for Health and Social Care, what steps he is taking to ensure that people who smoke are aware of the health risks caused by smoking.”

Answer from Steve Brine, Parliamentary Under Secretary for Health and Social Care
“Alerting the public to the serious risks of smoking, and supporting smokers to quit, are priorities for Public Health England (PHE) and are at the centre of the Government’s Tobacco Control Plan for England, published last year.

PHE runs a programme of smoking cessation marketing activity including an annual television and digital advertising campaign focused on tobacco health harms. Information on the harms smoking tobacco causes is available on the Smokefree website and via the Smokefree National Helpline. Further information on PHE’s smoking cessation campaigns, including the harm caused by smoking, is available at the following link: www.nhs.uk/smokefree

PHE provides clinical tools and blogs to support health professionals to advise their patients about the risks of smoking. PHE also supports Health Education England and the National Centre for Smoking Cessation and Training, which provide a range of resources and guidance to help people stop smoking.”

Source: Hansard, 17 July 2018

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General debate: The Tobacco Control Plan

On Thursday the 19th of July there will be a General Debate on the Tobacco Control Plan in the Main Chamber. You will be able to watch the debate online here.

Source: Parliamentary Calendar

See Parliamentary Calendar

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