Action on Smoking and Health

Tag Archives: WHO


Tobacco and the Developing World

Around 1.1 billion people aged 15 and over smoke, with 80% living in LMICs (low and middle income
countries). Tobacco growing and consumption have become concentrated in the developing world where
the health, economic, and environmental burden is heaviest and likely to increase. July 2019.

Tobacco and the Developing World

ASH Daily News for 26 October 2018

UK

  • Study: Early death ‘twice as likely’ in most deprived parts of England

International

  • Opinion: WHO not taking on board expert opinion around tobacco and harm reduction
  • US: Marlboro maker axes flavoured e-cigarettes

Parliamentary Activity

  • Parliamentary Questions

Link of the Week

  • New NHS Maternity Statistics for England 2017-18

UK

Study: Early death ‘twice as likely’ in most deprived parts of England

A new study published in the Lancet has found that rates of premature mortality are two times higher in the most deprived area of England (Blackpool), compared to the most affluent areas (Wokingham, Surrey, Windsor and Maidenhead, and West Berkshire).

Although rates of premature death have fallen since 1990, half of all premature deaths in 2016 were linked to risk factors including tobacco use, unhealthy diet, alcohol and drug use, obesity and high blood pressure.

Lung cancer and COPD were among the top 4 causes of premature death along with ischaemic heart disease and cerebrovascular disease. The association with deprivation was particularly strong for lung cancer, and chronic obstructive pulmonary disease which are strongly linked to tobacco smoking.

Source: The Spectator, 26 October 2018

The Lancet: Changes in health in the countries of the UK and 150 English Local Authority areas 1990–2016: a systematic analysis for the Global Burden of Disease Study 2016

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International

Opinion: WHO not taking on board expert opinion around tobacco and harm reduction

In this opinion piece Lizi Jenkins, board member at the tobacco industry funded UK Vaping Industry Association along with other figures from the global vape industry discuss the World Health Organisations stance on vaping and harm reduction.

They are critical of the WHO’s reluctance to treat vaping as distinct from smoking and highlight the importance of vaping as part of a broader harm reduction approach.

Source: Financial Times, 26 October 2018

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US: Marlboro maker axes flavoured e-cigarettes

Altria, the parent company for Philip Morris which owns the popular Malboro cigarette brand, has decided to stop selling several of its e-cigarette products in the US. The company will only sell tobacco, menthol and mint flavours for its remaining vaping devices.

This follows a US Food and Drug Administration investigation into the appeal of e-cigarette marketing to under-18s. Altria also said it would support moves to make 21 the minimum age for purchasing tobacco products.

Source: BBC, 25 October 2018

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Parliamentary Activity

Parliamentary Questions

Parliamentary Question 1: Smoking cessation

Asked by Jonathan Ashworth (Leicester South)
To ask the Secretary of State for Health and Social Care, what comparative assessment his Department has made of the advice on the efficacy of e-cigarettes as a stop smoking aid between Public Health England’s document entitled Stop smoking options: guidance for conversations with patients and NICE’s document entitled Stop smoking interventions and services guidance.

Answered by Steve Brine, The Parliamentary Under-Secretary for Health and Social Care
Public Health England (PHE) and the National Institute for Health and Care Excellence (NICE) agree that, although not risk free, e-cigarettes are substantially less harmful than smoking. PHE and NICE also agree that e-cigarettes can help smokers to quit and that it is important for a smoker to quit smoking completely to get the full benefits to their health.

PHE’s document ‘Stop smoking options: guidance for conversations with patients’ and NICE’s document entitled ‘Stop smoking interventions and services guidance’ are also well aligned with advice from the British Medical Association, the Royal College of Physicians and the Royal College of General Practitioners.

Source: Hansard, 25 October 2018

Link: https://www.parliament.uk/business/publications/written-questions-answers-statements/written-question/Commons/2018-10-17/180852/

Parliamentary Question 2: E-cigarettes

Asked by Jonathan Ashworth (Leicester South)
To ask the Secretary of State for Health and Social Care, with reference to Public Health England’s document, Stop smoking options: guidance for conversations with patients, published on 20 August 2018, what evidence Public Health England assessed to inform its recommendation that E-cigarettes can help people quit smoking, with similar or better results than NRT.

Answered by Steve Brine, The Parliamentary Under-Secretary for Health and Social Care
Public Health England (PHE) referenced two papers in the guidance that helped inform its recommendation. They were:
– ‘Electronic cigarettes for smoking cessation: a randomised controlled trial’ by Bullen and others.
– ‘Real‐world effectiveness of e‐cigarettes when used to aid smoking cessation: a cross‐sectional population study’ by Brown and others.

PHE’s recommendation is also supported by evidence from local stop smoking services in England, where people using e-cigarettes and stop smoking medicines consecutively have the highest rates of success, with 75% quitting successfully compared to 50% for those using medicines alone.

Source: Hansard, 24 October 2018
Link: https://www.parliament.uk/business/publications/written-questions-answers-statements/written-question/Commons/2018-10-16/180204/

Parliamentary Question 3: Smoking cessation funding

Asked by Jonathan Ashworth (Leicester South)
To ask the Secretary of State for Health and Social Care, what assessment his Department has made of the effect of changes in the level of funding for smoking cessation services on health inequalities.

Answered by Steve Brine, The Parliamentary Under-Secretary for Health and Social Care
Smoking rates vary considerably across the country and local authorities are best-place to take decisions about the services required to meet the needs of their populations.

Source: Hansard, 24 October 2018
Link: https://www.parliament.uk/business/publications/written-questions-answers-statements/written-question/Commons/2018-10-16/180203/

Link of the Week

New NHS Maternity Statistics for England 2017-18

The NHS has published the latest annual data on maternity activity for England. Among other things, the data shows that 31% of women aged under 20 were recorded as a current smoker at their booking appointment.

Source: NHS Digital, 25 October 2018

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ASH Daily News for 9 October 2018

UK

  • Brexit: How ‘no deal’ could change tobacco warnings

International

  • Daily Bulletin 2: Framework Convention Alliance at the WHO FCTC Meeting of the Parties
  • Ireland: Tax rise on cigarettes in budget

UK

Brexit: How ‘no deal’ could change tobacco warnings

The government has announced that the current graphic warnings on cigarette packets will be replaced by Australian versions in the event that the UK leaves the EU with ‘no-deal’. The current set of images will potentially need to be replaced after Brexit because the copyright is owned by the European Commission.

According to the Department of Health and Social care: [In the event of a ‘no-deal’ Brexit] “manufacturers will need to ensure that tobacco products produced from exit day onwards feature new picture warnings, which have been secured by agreement with the Australian government. Tobacco products featuring pictures from the EU library, produced before exit day, may be sold for 12 months after exit day.”

Source: BBC, 9 October 2018

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International

Daily Bulletin 2: Framework Convention Alliance at the WHO FCTC Meeting of the Parties

Today is Day 2 of the Meeting of the Parties (MOP) to the Illicit Trade Protocol (ITP). Today’s bulleting discusses the involvement of the tobacco industry in the illicit trade of tobacco and the challenge of implementing Article 12 of the FCTC in ‘Free Zones’.

The bulletin also includes a story on the success of the UK’s anti-smuggling strategy:
“The UK Government held its nerve and continued to increase taxes, while implementing a tough anti-smuggling strategy, which included strict supply chain controls and financial sanctions very much along the lines of the Protocol. Between 2000 and 2016, the last year for which there are figures, the size of the illicit market for cigarettes fell by nearly 60 per cent from 17 to 7 billion sticks, with revenue losses down from US$3.67 billion to US$2.36 billion (at current exchange rates). Illicit trade is a major and growing global problem but the lesson from the UK is clear. The Illicit Trade Protocol can help countries raise taxes, increase revenues and drive down smoking prevalence.”

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Ireland: Tax rise on cigarettes in budget

The Irish government has published their Budget for 2019 which includes a €0.50 increase in the excise tax on cigarettes.

This follows a recent survey showing high levels of public support for higher taxes on cigarettes. Amarách Research surveyed over 1000 adults and found that 71% of people want the cost of cigarettes to be increased by €5 in the 2019 budget and the extra money to be ring-fenced for cancer treatment.

Source: Irish Times, 9 October 2018

See also: Most people want cost of cigarettes increased by fiver to fund cancer treatments

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ASH Daily News for 8 October 2018

UK

  • New anti-smoking TV adverts hit the screens
  • BBC investigation: Children sold vaping products
  • Vapers to get the same insurance rates as non-smokers for the first time

International

  • WHO vows broader action against tobacco industry interference
  • Daily Bulletin 1: Framework Convention Alliance at the WHO FCTC Meeting of the Parties
  • Daily Bulletin 6: Framework Convention Alliance at the WHO FCTC Conference of the Parties (Saturday 6 October)

UK

New anti-smoking TV adverts hit the screens

Two ex-smokers are appealing to the public to quit, in a hard-hitting new campaign launched by tobacco control organisation Fresh. Maggie Bratton, from Newcastle, was diagnosed with smoking-related mouth cancer at just 45, which led to her undergoing a gruelling operation to remove her palate. The mother-of-two is now forced to wear a piece of plastic in the roof of her mouth every day just to be able to eat and speak. Father Tony Osborne, who was diagnosed with cancer of the voice box on his 52nd birthday, also features.

The campaign was put together by Fresh who are the regional tobacco control office in the North East. Fresh’s director, Ailsa Rutter OBE, said: “Tony and Maggie are two incredibly brave people who want their experiences of smoking to be heard. They don’t want other people to have to go through the pain and the life-limiting surgery they went through at a relatively young age. Tony and Maggie’s stories do not make comfortable viewing, but campaigns are one of the most powerful ways to encourage people to stop and young people not to start in the first place.”

Source: Daily Mail, 8 October 2018

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BBC investigation: Children sold vaping products

BBC 5 Live followed investigations by Camden trading standards, to see if shops would sell nicotine products to a 16-year-old girl. The age of sale for vaping products is 18.

Hazel Cheeseman, Director of Policy at ASH, was interviewed as part of the station’s reflections on the investigation which found 1 in 3 shops sold to a 16 year old.

See also: 5 Live, Children Sold Vaping Products (Hazel can be heard from 18 minutes, 30 seconds in)

Source: BBC, 8 October 2018

Watch Video

Vapers to get the same insurance rates as non-smokers for the first time

Most insurance companies treat e-cigarette users the same as smokers. However, a new comparison targeted at e-cigarette users will give them the option to save almost half of what they currently pay for life and critical illness insurance.

David Mead, chief executive of Future Proof Insurance who have launched the comparison website, said: “We wanted to bring an easy to use price comparison site to help vapers save money. The biggest winners are people who have only been vaping and… not been using tobacco products for at least 12 months.”

Source: The Sun, 8 October 2018

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International

WHO vows broader action against tobacco industry interference

The World Health Organization (WHO) unveiled a global strategy on Saturday to scale up the tobacco control agenda and to prevent further interference by tobacco industry in public health policies.

The strategy, titled the Medium-Term Strategic Framework (MTSF), aims to strengthen implementation of the WHO Framework Convention for Tobacco Control (FCTC), with a roadmap to guide the work of the convention parties, the secretariat and other stakeholders with regards to tobacco control from 2019 to 2025.

“The adoption of this strategy marks a key milestone in strengthening the FCTC,” said Vera Luiza da Costa e Silva, head of the WHO FCTC Secretariat. “This strategy provides a very clear path forward, with priorities and objectives to reinforce government policies and accelerate global action for more effective implementation of the tobacco control treaty.”

The strategy was concluded during the eighth session (COP8) of the FCTC, which brought together over 1,200 participants, including delegations from 148 parties to the global tobacco control treaty and representatives of UN agencies, other intergovernmental organisations and civil society.

Source: The Asian Independent, 7 October 2018

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Daily Bulletin 1: Framework Convention Alliance at the WHO FCTC Meeting of the Parties

The first Meeting of the Parties (MOP) to the Illicit Trade Protocol (ITP) starts today, 8 October. There will be an FCA Bulletin released each day of the MOP. This bulletin focuses on the background to the ITP.

“The ITP aims to eliminate all forms of illicit tobacco but has a particular focus on securing the supply chain of legally manufactured tobacco products. Latest estimates suggest that approximately 60–70% of the illicit market is tobacco industry product, indicating that, at the very least, tobacco companies are failing to control their supply chain in the knowledge that their products will end up on the illicit market.

The ITP requires a global track and trace system to reduce tobacco smuggling which will be achieved by each party requiring that every pack manufactured in or imported to their territory has a unique, secure marking providing information on manufacture, shipping and distribution.”

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Daily Bulletin 6: Framework Convention Alliance at the WHO FCTC Conference of the Parties (Saturday 6 October)

Saturday was the final day for the WHO FCTC Conference of the Parties. The final bulletin highlights the new Global Strategy and funding issues.

“There have been significant achievements at COP8, most notably the new Global Strategy to Accelerate Tobacco Control, which should guide our collective efforts through to 2025. And yes, that will include an implementation Review Mechanism (IRM), albeit only as a pilot project. We hope we will learn from that pilot and be in a position to endorse the IRM at COP9.

In Committee B, there were also successes. Parties agreed to shift core funding so that some of the work outlined in the Global Strategy can begin in 2020. They also mandated the Convention Secretariat to explore new mechanisms for fundraising for the Secretariat’s workplan and budget.

There were disappointments too, such as the COP’s decision to keep the budget frozen for another biennium. We can only hope that future budgets, closely tied to the Global Strategy, will convince governments to loosen the purse strings.

And then there was the atmosphere of COP8. The frustration of enduring industry proxies’ efforts to delay, distract, and obstruct – in this respect, a sad repeat of COP7. And too much time – even amongst the good-faith delegates – spent haggling over words, rather than discussing our shared objective of reducing tobacco-caused deaths as quickly as possible.”

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ASH Daily News for 3 October 2018

UK

  • Cost of cigarettes must rise to reflect environmental damage from tobacco industry, WHO says

International

  • Daily Bulletin 3: Framework Convention Alliance at the WHO FCTC conference of the parties
  • US: FDA seizes documents from Juul in latest e-cigarette crackdown
  • Philip Morris lobbying on e-cigarettes hidden from Australian public
  • Study: US teenagers’ use of e-cigarettes and tobacco linked

UK

Cost of cigarettes must rise to reflect environmental damage from tobacco industry, WHO says

A new report published by the WHO has recommended that the cost of cigarettes should rise to reflect the wide-ranging environmental damage caused by the tobacco industry, and compares the industry’s carbon footprint to that of an entire country. In the UK, which has very little domestic tobacco production, smoking cigarettes “is done entirely at the expense of other nations’ resources and environmental health”, the report said.

Cigarette production and consumption has risen in recent decades with around 6 trillion cigarettes manufactured annually for an estimated 1 billion smokers. Tobacco farms take up more than 20,000 square miles of land globally and use over 22 billion tonnes of water. This is in addition to a range of environmental and social costs including high levels of pesticide use, soil depletion and child labour.

Professor Nick Voulvoulis, co-author of the report, said: “The environmental impacts of cigarette smoking, from cradle to grave, add significant pressures to the planet’s increasingly scarce resources and fragile ecosystems.” Dr Nicholas Hopkinson, co-author of the report, added: “Tobacco transnationals based in high income countries are literally and metaphorically burning the resources and the future of the most vulnerable people on our planet.”

Source: Independent, 2 October 2018

WHO: Cigarette smoking: an assessment of tobacco’s global environmental footprint across its entire supply chain, and policy strategies to reduce it.

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International

Daily Bulletin 3: Framework Convention Alliance at the WHO FCTC conference of the parties

Highlights from today’s agenda include implementing the ban on Tobacco Advertising, Promotion and Sponsorship – in the digital age; Switzerland’s relationship with the tobacco industry; PMI’s Foundation for a Smoke-Free World; the financial case for investment in tobacco control; the WHO’s new report on the environmental impact of the tobacco industry (see above); and tobacco price fixing in Sri Lanka.

Article 13 – A comprehensive ban on Tobacco Advertising, Promotion and Sponsorship (TAPS) – is key to reducing the uptake of tobacco and reducing tobacco-related harm. Changing patterns of media consumption present challenges to effectively banning TAPS, particularly cross-border TAPS.

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US: FDA seizes documents from Juul in latest e-cigarette crackdown

On Tuesday the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) seized over 1,000 pages of documents from e-cigarette manufacturer Juul Labs, as part of its ongoing investigation into the company’s sales and marketing practices.

Last month the regulator announced that it was considering a ban on flavoured e-cigarettes due to concerns around youth uptake.

Juul makes up around 72% of the US e-cigarette market and has come under increasing scrutiny for its marketing practices, having released over 50,000 pages of documents to the FDA since April.

Source: Reuters, 2 October 2018

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Philip Morris lobbying on e-cigarettes hidden from Australian public

Philip Morris International (PMI) has been lobbying Australian MPs to overturn the ban on vaping. This has been effectively hidden from the public due to a loophole in the Australian lobbying oversight system which allows companies to avoid signing up to the country’s lobbying register if they use lobbyists from within their own company rather than hiring a third party lobbyist.

PMI has been seeking meetings with MPs to discuss the vaping ban and engages a number of former government officials, including one registered lobbyist. The company argues that these merely provide advice and do not lobby on PMI’s behalf.

PMI has also taken advantage of an exemption in Australia’s tobacco advertising ban by placing prominent job ads in two major newspapers calling for staff to help it achieve a “future without cigarettes” and a “smoke-free Australia”.

Source: The Guardian, 2 October 2018

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Study: US teenagers’ use of e-cigarettes and tobacco linked

A new study by the Rand Corporation has suggested that use of e-cigarettes among teenagers is linked with increased regular cigarette use, and vice versa. Youths who reported vaping at 17 years of age (8%) had a cigarette smoking rate of 6%. By the time they reached 19 years of age the proportion of young people who vaped increased to 9%, whereas the proportion who smoked cigarettes increased to 12%.

The study surveyed over 2,000 youths in California from when they were teenagers continuing until they were young adults.

Study author, Michael Dunbar said: “This highlights the importance of taking steps to prevent youth from vaping in the first place.”

The UK currently bans all forms of tobacco advertising and restricts advertising for e-cigarettes. Age of sale of both tobacco and e-cigarettes is 18.

Source: The Guardian, 2 October 2018

Editorial note: The researchers found that use of e-cigarettes increases the likelihood of youth smoking and vice versa and that there are common risk factors for both.

A recent survey conducted by ASH found that 0.3% of 11-18 year olds who had never smoked were currently using e-cigarettes.

Smoking rates among young people in the UK continue to fall.

See also: ASH survey on youth e-cigarette use

Nicotine & Tobacco Research: Disentangling Within- and Between-Person Effects of Shared Risk Factors on E-cigarette and Cigarette Use Trajectories From Late Adolescence to Young Adulthood

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ASH Daily News for 2 October 2018

UK

  • Stoptober 2018: Public Health England Campaign to quit smoking revealed
  • London: Southwark Council issues shisha warning this Stoptober
  • North West: First hospital to offer addiction therapy to all smoking patients

International

  • Daily Bulletin 2: Framework Convention Alliance at the WHO FCTC conference of the parties
  • Philip Morris sues South Korea over e-cigarette info disclosure
  • Campaigners urge WHO to give vaping a chance
  • Tobacco control measures are working, but too slowly for low and middle-income countries

UK

Stoptober 2018: Public Health England Campaign to quit smoking revealed

PHE’s Stoptober campaign, aimed at helping people to quit smoking, has launched this week.

Launched in 2012, the campaign offers free support and resources for those looking to stop smoking, including through medications, apps, social media groups and personal support from local health services. Today, the campaign is the largest and most popular event in the UK aimed at getting masses of people to give up smoking.

Since launching in 2012, Stoptober has led to more than 1.5 million quit attempts in the UK. In addition, a 2017 report by the University College of London has showed that quitting success rates in the UK are the highest they’ve been in at least a decade, up to 19.8% for the first six months of 2017 and considerably higher than the ten-year average of 15.7%.

See also: Birmingham Mail, Stoptober is here – here’s what happens to your body when you quit smoking

Source: MSN News, 01 October 2018

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London: Southwark Council issues shisha warning this Stoptober

There are many misconceptions that surround shisha and this Stoptober Southwark Council is highlighting how smoking shisha tobacco can affect your health.

Research data suggests that the vast majority of people do not realise the dangers of smoking shisha, often seeing it as a safer alternative to regular cigarettes. A 2014 survey of 1,200 people in south east London found that 64% of people did not know that shisha usually contains tobacco. A further 53% of people did not think that shisha represented any danger to their health.

In partnership with ‘It’s Still Tobacco’, a community and advocacy group, Southwark Council will be raising awareness of the health impacts of smoking shisha tobacco on social media and via posters around the borough.

Source: Southwark Council, 01 October 2018

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North West: First hospital to offer addiction therapy to all smoking patients

Wythenshawe Hospital in Greater Manchester has become the first in the UK to offer addiction treatment to all of its patients that smoke. Patients admitted to the hospital, which is part of Manchester University NHS Foundation Trust, will be prescribed medication and offered intensive support to stay smokefree. This is part of the CURE programme being launched at the hospital to coincide with the first day of Stoptober.

The CURE is modelled on the Ottawa Model for Smoking Cessation which has helped 35% of smoking patients to quit and led to marked falls in re-admissions and mortality rates in Canada.

CURE forms part of Greater Manchester Health and Social Care Partnership’s Making Smoking History programme. Following an initial six-month phase at Wythenshawe, the programme is due to be rolled out in hospitals across Greater Manchester by 2020. As well as transforming lives, the trust noted that the initiative would free up thousands of hospital beds each year and save the NHS in Greater Manchester an estimated £10m a year.

Source: Nursing Times, 01 October 2018

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International

Daily Bulletin 2: Framework Convention Alliance at the WHO FCTC conference of the parties

The eighth session of the Conference of the Parties (COP8) to the World Health Organisation (WHO) Framework Convention on Tobacco Control (FCTC) is now onto its second day.

Today’s bulletin is titled ‘Global Strategy and IRM – Let’s Shift Gears’. It refers to the proposed ‘Global Strategy to Accelerate Tobacco Control’ which calls for coordinated action on a small number of high-impact interventions in order to reduce tobacco use between now and 2025. According to the bulletin, if endorsed the strategy will be an important tool for raising the visibility of the treaty and for helping to fund tobacco control at the global and national level.

The bulletin goes on to add that the kind of problem-solving and knowledge exchange such a strategy would make possible “is truly valuable and will support implementation of the FCTC.”

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Philip Morris sues South Korea over heat-not-burn info disclosure

Philip Morris Korea has filed a lawsuit against the South Korean government, demanding the disclosure of information from recent tests that concluded heat-not-burn products contain harmful substances.

Seoul’s Ministry of Food and Drug Safety said in June after a study that up to five cancer-causing substances were found in the heated smoking devices, and the level of tar discovered in two products, including Philip Morris’ iQOS, exceeded that of regular cigarettes. The ministry’s announcement ran counter to the U.S.-headquartered company’s claim that its heated tobacco product is less likely to cause disease than traditional cigarettes, citing studies conducted in Germany, Japan and China.

Philip Morris said the government study wrongly centered on tar, which is only applicable to smoke created by regular cigarettes, while the electronic devices do not generate smoke.

See also: Financial Times, Philip Morris sues Seoul over e-cigarette information disclosure

Source: Reuters, 01 October 2018

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Campaigners urge WHO to give vaping a chance

Seventy public health experts and tobacco control campaigners have urged the World Health Organization (WHO) to adopt a more sympathetic attitude to e-cigarettes and other alternatives to smoking in a letter to the WHO Director General, stating that the devices “have the potential to bring the epidemic of smoking-caused disease to a more rapid conclusion”.

Their joint letter to Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, WHO director-general, is intended to influence this week’s conference of the Parties to the Framework Convention on Tobacco Control.

In their letter, the advocates of harm reduction, most of whom are university or medical school professors, urged the WHO not to let uncertainty about long-term effects of e-cigarettes block their introduction: “It is true we will not have complete information about the impacts of new products until they have been used exclusively for several decades — and given the complex patterns of use, we may never,” they wrote. “But we already have sufficient knowledge based on the physical and chemical processes involved, the toxicology of emissions and exposure markers, to be confident these non-combustion products will be much less harmful than smoking.”

Source: Financial Times, 01 October 2018

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Tobacco control measures are working, but too slowly in less-developed countries

“Great progress” has been made in tackling tobacco consumption and saving lives but more needs to be done to challenge the industry’s attempts to “bypass” international regulations, the World Health Organization (WHO) said on Monday.

The 181 Parties to the WHO Framework Convention for Tobacco Control (WHO FCTC) have developed strategies “to prevent tobacco industry interference with tobacco control policies”. As a result of the treaty, countries have increased taxes on tobacco, established smokefree spaces and made it obligatory for manufacturers to show graphic health warnings on their products, as well as using plain packaging.

Despite these advances, “this is not a time to be complacent,” said Dr Vera Luiza da Costa e Silva, head of the WHO FCTC Secretariat. “With astronomical budgets, the tobacco industry continues its furious efforts to undermine the implementation of our treaty.”

See also: Mail on Sunday, Battle for lungs and minds as tobacco control treaty meeting opens

Source: UN News, 01 October 2018

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ASH Daily News for 27 September 2018

UK

  • Sheffield: Shop landed with £777,600 tax bill for selling black market tobacco

International

  • New Asean tobacco atlas reveals extent of tobacco addiction in South East Asia
  • British American Tobacco’s use of social media influencers to sell cigarettes faces legal complaint in Brazil
  • Industry groups call on World Health Organisation to change stance on vaping

UK

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

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International

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

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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

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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

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ASH Daily News for 18 September 2018

UK

  • Barnsley: Council warned market smoke ban might be ‘unlawful’
  • Sheffield: Council targets shisha users in health campaign

International

  • World Health Organisation calls on Pakistan to introduce uniform tobacco taxation structure
  • Finns accused of smuggling tonnes of Swedish snus across the border

UK

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

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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

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International

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

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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

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ASH Daily News for 4 June 2018

UK

  • Guernsey: Islander picks up cigarette butts from dawn until dusk for WNTD
  • Cornwall: How much smoking is really costing the region
  • Tower Hamlets: Thousands of pounds worth of illegal tobacco seized

International

  • Shocking World Health Organisation video reveals how smoking damages the heart
  • Indonesia: lax smoking laws are helping next generation to get hooked
  • USA: Hollywood silent on request to give R rating to movies with smoking
  • USA: Cigarette prices increase in New York

 

UK

Guernsey: Islander picks up cigarette butts from dawn until dusk for WNTD

Andrew Munro, of Pick it Up Guernsey, walked from 5am to 9pm collecting hundreds of cigarette butts in aid of World No Tobacco Day. He also picked up general litter and invited people, and the police, to join them for an hour over lunch. He said that outside the hospital was one of the worst areas.

Andrew said “This is hopefully growing awareness about how bad cigarette butts can be – they are very nasty. I don’t think people realised that they don’t biodegrade either.”

Source: Guernsey Press, 1 June 2018

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Cornwall: How much smoking is really costing the region

Research from Action on Smoking and Health (ASH) has found that smoking is costing Cornwall more than £120m every year. This number encompasses the cost to healthcare and to businesses.

Across the south west, the annual cost is £277.2 million to the NHS, and £72.4 million to local authorities from smoking-related social care needs.

Whilst Hospital bosses say that smoking remains the largest cause of preventable death in the region, a 2016 audit found that more than 1 in 4 hospital patients were not asked if they smoke and 50% of front line staff are not given routine smoking cessation training.

ASH Chief Executive Deborah Arnott said: “The Five Year Forward View calls for a ‘radical upgrade in prevention and public health’ but this has not been followed through and smokers are not getting the support they need to quit from the NHS. In some areas, Local Authority Stop Smoking Services have been reduced due to cuts in local authority funding. Cuts to public health budgets need to be reversed and the NHS needs to step-up and play a larger role in supporting smokers to quit.”

Source: Pirate FM, 4 June 2018

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Tower Hamlets: Thousands of pounds worth of illegal tobacco seized

Tower Hamlets Council’s Trading Standards Officers and detection dogs found £8,000 worth of illegal tobacco hidden inside cereal boxes, coat pockets and behind display panels during a recent two-day operation. Officers found illegal products in 10 of the 18 premises visited.

Overall 12,360 cigarettes, 2,250g of hand-rolled tobacco and 68 pots of chewing tobacco were seized.

Source: Brit Bangla, 1 June 2018

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International

Shocking World Health Organisation video reveals how smoking damages the heart

Released by the World Health Organization (WHO) for World No Tobacco Day, the video aims to raise awareness of the effect of cigarettes on the heart and encourage smokers to quit.

The 30-second clip starts with a heart beating slowly, as it asks viewers if they were aware that tobacco is a major cause of heart disease. But as the video proceeds, it beats quicker and more smoke can be seen puffing from its valves – designed to mimic being overworked.
The footage ends with the message ‘protect your heart and choose health – not tobacco’.

Dr Tedros Adhanom, from WHO called for more awareness of the links between smoking and heart disease. He said: “Most people know that using tobacco causes cancer and lung disease, but many people aren’t aware that tobacco also causes heart disease and stroke.”

Source: Daily Mail Online, 1 June 2018

See also: Tobacco breaks hearts – World No Tobacco Day 2018

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Indonesia: lax smoking laws are helping next generation to get hooked

It is estimated that smoking-related diseases kill nearly 250,000 Indonesians every year.

Indonesia is the only country in Asia that has not signed and ratified the World Health Organization’s Framework Convention of Tobacco Control (FCTC) which endorses restrictions on the extent to which tobacco companies can lobby governments, and recognises that a complete ban on tobacco marketing activities is an effective way of reducing youth smoking uptake.

This is most likely a result of the influence large tobacco companies such as Philip Morris and British American tobacco have in the Indonesian market.

Cigarettes continue to be sold cheaply with a pack of 20 Marlboro available for US$1.55, compared to around US$20 in Australia.

Indonesia is the only country in the region that still allows direct tobacco advertising. To reduce exposure to children and teenagers, advertising is restricted on TV and radio to between 9:30 p.m. and 5 a.m. But youngsters are still exposed through billboards, roadside stalls, music concerts, sporting events and the internet. There are shops and restaurants branded with tobacco advertising everywhere.

Source: The Jakarta Post, 4 June 2018

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USA: Hollywood silent on request to give R rating to movies with smoking

In August 2017, the American Heart Association and 16 other health and medical groups bought trade adverts and sent a letter to the six major movie studios represented by the Motion Picture Association of America (MPAA), urging them to apply an R rating to any motion picture with tobacco imagery submitted for classification after Friday 8th June 2018. The only exceptions would be biographical films about people who smoked or when the film depicted the dangers of smoking.

However with the June deadline here, Chris Ortman, vice president of corporate communications for the MPAA, declined to comment.

Source: American Heart Association News, 31 May 2018

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USA: Cigarette prices increase in New York

New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio has raised the cost of a pack of cigarettes from $10.50 to $13, the equivalent of $17 Australian dollars, to take effect this month.

Whilst this tax increase is a step in the right direction, other countries such as Australia, Japan and New Zealand continue to lead the way in having some of the highest tobacco taxes – a pack of cigarettes in Australia reaching nearly $40 Australian dollars in this year’s budget. Increases in taxation are one of the most effective mechanisms for prompting quit attempts.

Source: Daily Mail Online, 4 June 2018

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lllicit Tobacco: What is the tobacco industry trying to do?

ASH Briefing –  Illicit Tobacco: What is the tobacco industry trying to do? Produced for World No Tobacco Day, May 2015, the briefing reports on the tobacco industry’s conflicting positions on the illicit trade.

Illicit_tobacco_industry_action.pdf
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