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Anti-tobacco conference: China, India, others may be barred

To avert compromised outcome, countries owning tobacco entities may be barred from participating in the 2016 anti-tobacco conference scheduled to hold in New Delhi, India. In a document, organizers called for support for the conference to “ensure the exclusion of representatives and officials from fully or partially state-owned tobacco industries, including state tobacco monopolies.”

The conference, which functions as an international parliament on tobacco control, is slated to hold November 7-12 . It will feature delegates from over 180 nations.

World Health Organization holds a tobacco control conference every two years through a sub-agency called the Framework Convention on Tobacco Control (FCTC).

According to statistics at the FCTC, governments are responsible for over 40% of the world’s tobacco production, while many nations maintain tobacco research centres and fund promotional agencies to support tobacco exports.

China, Cuba, Egypt, Bulgaria, Thailand and the convention’s host country, India, for the conference may have a hard time having delegates approved to attend the event and vote on issues that impact their citizens.

FTCT justifies the possible exclusion of countries who pay dues toward the event because representatives from tobacco-producing countries “may have prevented public health interests from prevailing in the policy discussions” at previous conferences.


Commission participation to the Eurasia Tax Forum 2015 Letter

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World No Tobacco Day: Marching to Big Tobacco’s tune?

Has World No Tobacco Day 2015 – this Sunday – been manipulated by Big Tobacco’s lobbying agenda? Where the tobacco lobby is concerned, it would be naive to think there’s smoke without fire.

One of the dirtier secrets of the international tax world – and yes, the bar is quite high – is the role of tobacco companies in seeking to manipulate policies that might reduce the number of people smoking dying because they consume tobacco.

The main angle taken by the lobby has been to direct attention towards ‘illicit’ tobacco, where customs duties and tax may not have been paid.

Now I care a lot about tax, but even I can see that whether tobacco was taxed before being consumed is barely even a second-order issue, when compared to the question of whether people are dying because of their consumption – which they are, and will continue to do, in their millions.

But the thematic focus of the World Health Organisation’s World No Tobacco Day 2015 is not directly on stopping tobacco consumption, as the name might suggest.

Instead it turns out to be… ‘Stop the illicit trade in tobacco products‘.

This is a long post, looking at the human impact of tobacco consumption, the role of the tobacco lobby, and the substantive basis for arguments to address ‘illicit’ tobacco trade.

The conclusion is two-fold:

· First, while the WHO has sought to resist Big Tobacco, it seems that the focus of World No Tobacco Day is nonetheless a reflection of the lobby’s concerted efforts to shift policy attention away from measures that cut consumption (and death).
· Second, the tobacco lobby benefits from the effective support – inadvertent or otherwise – of some major players (corporate and individual) in international tax, who should be taking a long, hard look at their role.

Human impact of tobacco

Tobacco kills. And overwhelmingly, it kills poorer rather than richer people; and as time goes by, it kills people in poorer rather than richer countries.

My former Center for Global Development colleague Bill Savedoff has been doing great work highlighting the human and development cost of tobacco – see e.g. his latest blog and a great podcast, from which this section draws.

In a rich country like the United States, leading researcher Prabhat Jha and colleagues find that:

“the rate of death from any cause among current smokers was about three times that among those who had never smoked… The probability of surviving from 25 to 79 years of age was about twice as great in those who had never smoked as in current smokers (70% vs. 38% among women and 61% vs. 26% among men). Life expectancy was shortened by more than 10 years among the current smokers, as compared with those who had never smoked.”

Overall, the study suggests that smoking may be responsible for a quarter of deaths of those aged 25-69.

But it is in lower-income countries where most smokers and other tobacco consumers are, and will be – and the same for tobacco-related deaths (data from Tobacco Atlas, figure from CGD). Over 4 million a year, more than TB, malaria and HIV/AIDS combined.

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And the costs are likely only to rise, since the number of daily smokers continues to grow, from 721 million in 1980 to 967 million in 2012 (despite a drop in smoking prevalence).

So call it a billion daily smokers. That’s a big market, for something expensive and addictive, where most people who start are unlikely to cease. (Well, not until they themselves do.)

The role of the tobacco lobby…

The most visible activity of the tobacco lobby is that carried out by the International Tax and Investment Center. The Financial Times covered the ITIC in October, under the headline ‘Tobacco lobby aims to derail WHO on tax increases‘:

“A tobacco-industry funded lobby group will attempt to derail a World Health Organisation summit aimed at agreeing increased taxes on smoking, according to leaked documents seen by the Financial Times.

The International Tax and Investment Center, which is sponsored by all four major tobacco groups, will meet on the eve of the WHO’s global summit on tobacco policy in Moscow later this month in a bid to head off unwanted duty increases.”

The article goes on to identify the four tobacco groups: “British American Tobacco, Philip Morris International, Japan Tobacco and Imperial Tobacco are sponsors of the ITIC and have representatives on its board of directors, along with other large multinationals.”

The WHO sees the ITIC’s actions as so extreme that it has called for governments not even to engage with them:

“Itic have used their international conferences, such as in Moscow in 2014 and in New Delhi earlier this month, to lobby government officials against tobacco taxation. This is despite tobacco taxation being the most effective and efficient measure to reduce demand for tobacco products. Parties to the WHO framework convention on tobacco control are obliged to protect their public health policies from interference by the tobacco industry and its allies. In this light, WHO urges all countries to follow a non-engagement policy with Itic.”

This is damning. With such a position taken by a major UN body, the ITIC cannot be seen as legitimate in its claim to provide objective analysis to governments around the world.

…and the international tax arena

But within the tax sphere, many leading actors work with the ITIC.

As the Observer highlighted, the former permanent secretary of HM Revenue and Customs (head of the UK tax authority) became a director of ITIC just a year after stepping down. His justification, given to the paper, was that he is not an executive director and is unpaid; and that around 50 other “leading figures in taxation” are involved in the same way.

The ITIC’s ‘Senior Advisors‘ list is certainly an impressive one from the tax perspective, including a number of respected researchers and tax officials, with Jeffrey Owens – former head of the OECD’s tax arm, the Centre for Tax Policy and Administration – singled out as a ‘Distinguished Fellow’.

I haven’t spoken with any of these people about ITIC, and can only imagine (and hope) that they simply haven’t registered that the ITIC is a tobacco lobby group. The ITIC certainly doesn’t present itself as such.

Similarly, it’s unclear why non-tobacco multinationals like Goldman Sachs or ExxonMobil would want to associate themselves with this lobby, not to mention the professional services firms which include big 4 accounting firms, and lawyers such as Pinsent Masons.

The ITIC explains it this way: “Sponsors recognize the tremendous value added by ITIC in the countries in which they operate, through the promotion of an environment that welcomes business.”

But commercial organisations of this size can surely promote such an environment without the taint of tobacco lobbying.

There could hardly be a clearer message for the sponsors and fellows to find an alternative to the ITIC, than for a major UN organisation like the WHO actively warning governments not even to engage with it.

The ‘illicit’ tobacco argument

So far you might say I’ve played the man, rather than the ball. What about the substantive basis for the arguments made by the ITIC?

The main claim made is that taxing tobacco creates incentives for illegal tobacco trade. This in turn reduces the revenue benefits of the tax, and also encourages criminal activity:

“This growing and dangerous problem is not just a tax issue – beyond substantial government revenue losses, the impact of illegal trade constrains economic development and raises barriers and costs for international trade,” said Daniel Witt, President of the International Tax and Investment Center (ITIC). “It also poses significant health risks, and presents numerous challenges for law enforcement, from violations of intellectual property rights to money laundering and organized crime activity.”

I’m all for development, and the curtailing of illicit financial flows. But does this position stand up to scrutiny?

Arguments along these lines have been used in seeking to influence tax policy – that is, against higher tobacco taxes – from Ukraine to the Philippines, with critics arguing that the estimates provided tend to systematically overstate the case.

A recent study published in the British Medical Journal’s Tobacco Control, for example, looks at estimates produced for Hong Kong, and finds that “The industry-funded estimate was inflated by 133–337% of the probable true value.”

And as Bill Savedoff highlights in this CGD podcast, the broader evidence simply does not support the claim that higher tobacco taxes lead to illicit tobacco trade. Significant tax rises over the last 10-15 years have not been associated with any increase in the proportion of tobacco that is illicit (about 9%-11%). Other factors like enforcement and effective tax administration seem much more important.

In addition, as Bill puts it:

“What’s particularly ironic about this argument from the tobacco companies is that they are the ones that have been responsible for most smuggling…

Essentially, to get the magnitude of smuggling that you would need, to have an impact on the tobacco tax, or consumption, you have to have the complicity, if not the actual responsibility, of the tobacco companies themselves.

The EU, UK, other countries had huge settlements with tobacco companies about their responsibility for smuggling in the 90s, and now they’re turning around and saying ‘Smuggling is the reason you shouldn’t tax our industry’? I don’t think they have much credibility on that score.”

Bill also shreds the claim that tobacco taxation is regressive. In fact the majority of tobacco tax revenues will come from richer, not poorer people. And the behavioural responses mean that poorer people benefit disproportionately in health terms. So this is that rare thing, a sales tax which is progressive – and powerfully so.

Finally Bill, and also Michal Stoklosa of the American Cancer Society in this great Tobacco Atlas piece, argue that tobacco taxation has been shown to be the most effective tool to reduce tobacco consumption.

Stoklosa puts the overall point: “most importantly, it is clear that the measures that aim at reducing demand for cigarettes more generally are crucial in reducing the illicit trade problem.”

“So even if we buy the importance of the illicit trade here, we should keep doing what we’re doing, including higher taxes.”


There is no doubt that illicit trade in tobacco exists; and nobody argues it’s a good thing. But it’s clearly not the big issue about tobacco consumption – that would be, er, tobacco consumption.

Illicitness, in this case, is not associated with any greater health damage. And overall tax revenues losses do not seem to result from well-administered rises in tobacco taxation that cuts consumption, because illicit trade has tended not to increase. (As an aside: unlike some taxes, revenue is not the prime reason for ‘sin’ taxes – in this case the aim is, explicitly, to reduce the tax base and eventually the revenues, by curtailing damaging behaviour.)

Should the WHO then use their biggest awareness-raising moment of the year to focus on illicit trade? From the outside, it seems clear that ‘No Tobacco’ would have found a stronger expression in a theme that sought to reduce all tobacco consumption.

I don’t mean to suggest anything illicit in the WHO’s adoption of this theme. Clearly they have taken a very direct stance against the well-funded lobbying of the ITIC.

But if we ask whether this theme would have been chosen, absent ITIC lobbying over recent years, it seems likely the answer is no. I hope the WTO can stick to the mission of the day – that is, of No Tobacco.

For now, chalk one up for the ITIC.

But then ask: Of the many individuals; the chairmen, co-chairmen and directors; and the professional services firms and non-tobacco multinationals that are working with the ITIC, how many would see this as a win?

Do they each mean to lend their names and reputation to an organisation that has consistently lobbied individual governments, especially in developing countries, and international organisations, against tax measures that are proven to reduce tobacco consumption, and all the health damage and needless death that results?

If not – and I very much hope not – then World No Tobacco Day 2015 seems like a fine time to step away from the ITIC.

Video pranksters drench smokers in public to promote World No Tobacco Day

A prankster from MerlionTV splashing water from a bottle on a woman who was smoking in public. -- PHOTO: SCREENGRAB FROM YOUTUBE

A prankster from MerlionTV splashing water from a bottle on a woman who was smoking in public. — PHOTO: SCREENGRAB FROM YOUTUBE

SINGAPORE – Notorious pranksters MerlionTV are at it again – their latest video shows one member drenching unsuspecting people who were smoking in public.

Done purportedly to promote World No Tobacco Day, which falls on May 31, the four-minute video titled “#StopThePuff PRANK! – World No Tobacco Day” was uploaded on YouTube on May 3.

It has since garnered more than 16,000 views.

The video starts off with a man, who introduces himself as “Sebas” from MerlionTV, explaining the purpose of the prank. It is followed by him committing several pranks targeted at what appeared to be members of the public smoking in the open.

The faces of the victims were blurred to hide their identities. The four pranks included a man and a woman being splashed in the face with a bottle containing water, a man being kicked into a swimming pool and another man having a bucket containing ice water poured over his head.

Comments on Youtube ranged from supportive messages to those who criticised their actions. “This is not funny and it’s very mean,” said user Louis Kuan.

MerlionTV was in the news earlier this year when they posted a controversial two-minute video of them posing as plainclothes officers to terrorise illegal cigarette peddlers in Geylang, which sparked a police investigation.

Another questionable video prank by the group featured a masked, knife-wielding man scaring passers-by.

World Bank exits event funded by tobacco companies

NEW DELHI: The World Bank has pulled out of the tax conference, which was to be co-organized by a consortium funded by several transnational tobacco companies.

Till Thursday, the bank’s name featured on the website of the 12th Annual Asia Pacific Tax Forum, which is to be held in New Delhi from May 5-7. The organizers of the event — Indian Council for Research on International Economic Relations (ICRIER) and International Tax and Investment Centre (ITIC) had thanked the bank for “supporting” the event with “technical contributions and the participation costs of several governments”.

However, on Friday, the World Bank said it has decided not to participate or financially support the event. “The 12th Annual Asia Pacific Tax Forum had sought technical and financial support from the World Bank. However, after careful consideration, the bank has decided not to participate/financially support the event,” the bank said in response to an email query sent by ToI on Wednesday.

Meanwhile, the acknowledgement on tax event’s website has been taken off.

World Bank, popular for its anti-tobacco stand, had come into spotlight after its name featured among supporters of the event on the website of Asia Pacific Tax Forum. Bangalore-based Institute of Public Health (IPH) had also written to the bank requesting it to withdraw its support to the event.

The list of sponsors on the ITIC website includes four tobacco companies – Philip Morris International, Imperial Tobacco Ltd, British American Tobacco and JT International that was formerly Japanese Tobacco. ITIC’s Board of Directors also includes representatives from Philip Morris International, British American Tobacco, Imperial Tobacco and JTI.

“ITIC materials that are publicly available and internal tobacco industry documents made public through US-based litigation settlements show that ITIC as part of the tobacco industry has worked for more than two decades to undermine tobacco control policies around the world. ITIC therefore has the core interest of the tobacco industry in its agenda and work,” IPH said in its letter to World Bank.

Minister of state for finance Jayant Sinha has also refused to participate in the event. Sinha’s name also featured earlier on the website among guests. However, names of several other key government officials continue to be there on the guest list of the event, including revenue secretary Shakti Kant Das, Central Board of Direct Taxes chairperson Anita Kapur and Central Board of Excise and Customs chairman Kaushal Srivasatava.

Public health activists have raised concern that participation of government officials in such an event may amount to violation of WHO Framework Convention on Tobacco Control (FCTC), to which India is a signatory. FCTC acknowledges the influence of tobacco industry and its allies in tobacco control policymaking. Health ministry officials also approve of the concern

Article 5.3 of FCTC states, “In setting and implementing their public health policies with respect to tobacco control, Parties shall act to protect these policies from commercial and other vested interests of the tobacco industry in accordance with national law”.

Though World Bank maintains it has decided not to participate in the event, names of executives of World Bank continue to feature on the agenda of the event.

The 16th World Conference on Tobacco or Health

The 16th World Conference on Tobacco or Health: Not exactly “World”


Robert Stempel College of Public Health and Social Work, Florida International University, Miami, Florida

Two years ago, I was invited to serve on the scientific committee for the 16th World Conference for Tobacco or Health (WCTOH). I was particularly happy to serve, since this was the first time such an important event was planned in the Middle East, where most of my career has been focused.

Over the past decade, several colleagues and I were greatly involved in initiatives aiming at seeding tobacco control research and training of tobacco control professionals from the region, with support from the US National Institute of Health.

The decision to hold the 16th WCTOH in Abu Dhabi (UAE) was only good news for me; a homecoming of years of efforts to seed science and evidence-based tobacco control principles in the Middle East. To build momentum, we started planning events that combine research and capacity building for tobacco control in the region, with conferences held in Abu Dhabi in 2013 and Qatar in 2014. We supported regional researchers to attend these conferences and conducted special research training workshops for junior researchers from the Middle East. This was complemented by a seed-grant program, for pilot studies in tobacco control in different countries in the region. Given the great opportunity presented by WCTOH for those grantees, we organized a special symposium during the WCTOH for our seed grantees to present their research results.

This was really going well all around, and personally I was looking forward to a highlight of my career efforts in the region.

My excitement withered as the conference drew closer, when I started receiving worried messages from researchers in the region about a delay in their visa and travel arrangements. It became clear certain countries, not individuals, were the focus of visa denials. These were Syria, Iraq, Tunisia, and Bangladesh. I had a flashback from a year earlier, as I and my wife preparing for the 2014 waterpipe conference in Abu Dhabi, when her visa was denied while I had no problem. My wife is a tobacco control researcher from the University of Miami, and has years of work in tobacco control in the region. The only difference between us is that I had couple of months before received my new US citizenship, while she was still a permanent residence awaiting her citizenship and had to travel with her Syrian passport. When I brought this issue to the attention of one of the WCTOH organizers and warned about its grave potential for the WCTOH, he kept brushing the issue aside as of no concern.

Eventually, about 60 conference participants were denied entry to UAE, including 3 out of 6 participants in my symposium for young researchers in the region (Syria, Iraq, Tunisia). The conference organizers issued a statement that such denial is to be expected, and that it is actually less than previous similar occasions. However, I expect that in most similar occasions in the past visa denial was based on a case by case consideration not nationality, since I travelled to all of them since 2000 on my “cursed” Syrian passport. Still, I would have accepted this as related to the country’s policy with little that one can do about it. The main problem here is that the policy was well known to the local organizers based on previous experience, such as mine, but it was kept hidden from both the international organizing committee and conference participants. In the words of one of the conference Chairs, the local organizers assured everybody that “bona fide delegates would be allowed to enter the country”.

The largest delegation denied visas came from Bangladesh, one of the most active countries in Asia in tobacco control. It is also the home of second largest migrant working population in UAE, and has a lot to do with the construction and development boom of UAE, mostly under appalling conditions. What is worse is that the local organizers kept all participants from “shady” countries waiting even as the conference started (sometimes spending more than a day in the airport or with friends waiting for news) without telling them to go home based on what they knew of the extreme unlikelihood that they will receive a visa. Even two weeks after the conference, no official apology or responsibility declaration has been issued by any of the bodies related to the organization of WCTOH. This is unheard of from a community like ours that aspires to the highest moral values and respect for human dignity.

Tobacco control has been the cause of my life and career. Having a strong tobacco control community and successful international gatherings is vital for international cooperation and collaboration. If we remain silent about such mishandlings we risk repeating them or becoming accomplices in them. This is why I think such an incident requires a clear response from the organizers, and calls on us as community to create a better process for selecting host countries and organizing future World Conferences. Much more say in such decisions should be given to tobacco control activists from developing countries, who are at most risk of being refused visas, to ensure they have the opportunity for full participation.

16th World Conference on Tobacco or Health

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COSH: Support Tobacco Tax Increase” Online Signatory Campaign

Dear heads of environmental groups in Hong Kong,

“Support Tobacco Tax Increase” Online Signatory Campaign for Prevention of Youth Smoking and Promotion of Smoking Cessation

In order to prevent youth smoking and encourage smoking cessation, Hong Kong Council on Smoking and Health (COSH) advocates the Government to adopt multi-ponged tobacco control policy, including raising tobacco tax. However, the Government has frozen tobacco tax for two consecutive years and tobacco tax in Hong Kong is still below the World Health Organization suggested at least 70% of the retail price.

We are inviting support for raising tobacco tax from all sectors in Hong Kong. The name and the logo of organizations and individuals will be submitted to the Chief Executive and the Financial Secretary by stages for formulation of the Policy Address and Budget 2014-15.

You are cordially invited to join us by completing and returning the enclosed Reply Slip (Appendix A) on or before 24 January 2014. Reasons for Raising Tobacco Tax (Appendix B) are listed for your reference. Please also help disseminate this meaningful event to your colleagues/members/students and invite them to support at our website (

Raising tobacco tax is a most effective measure to encourage smoking cessation and is a global trend. Your support will be counted and is crucial for the success of this event. Please join us to strive for a smoke-free Hong Kong!

Should you have any queries, please do not hesitate to contact Mr Lawrence CHU from COSH Secretariat on 2185-6388.

Yours sincerely,



Vienna LAI

Executive Director

ASH News and Events Bulletin – 16-31 October 2013

ASH News and Events Bulletin – 16-31 October 2013

Tobacco News
Australia’s ‘plain packaging’ stubs out cigarette branding, prompting backlash
Opinion: Communication is a determinant of public health
Opinion: Menthol cigarettes: Stub out these seductive smokes
Opinion: Tobacco companies are savvy about the power of branding
Reducing tobacco consumption among low-income smokers
Scotland set to go it alone with standard packs for cigarettes
Should advertising for e-cigarettes be more tightly regulated?
Should we raise the legal age for buying cigarettes?
The benefits of Stoptober
UK medical journals will no longer consider research funded by tobacco industry
USA: Getting schooled on tobacco
What’s smoking doing to your body?
Parliamentary News
Debate: Tobacco Products Directive
Parliamentary question: E-cigarettes
Parliamentary question: E-cigarette
Parliamentary question: Smoking trends
Parliamentary question: Smoking: Young People
Parliamentary question: Passive Smoking: Children
Jane Ellison: All hands on deck
Industry Watch
Price hikes offset sliding sales at cigarette maker Philip Morris
BAT apologises for advertising e-cigarette in kids’ app
Japan Tobacco International posts revenue growth despite volume dip
US cigarette industry registered a 4% drop in sales through 2012
Are tobacco stocks no longer bulletproof?
Nicolites ‘kicks butt’ with sales campaign
Recent Research
New statistic model forecasts effect of tobacco consumption on childhood asthma
Novel delivery systems for NRT
Perceptions of users of plain and branded cigarette packs
Smoking might influence pain tolerance


E-Cigarette Summit: Science, Regulation and Public Health
Going Local: Tobacco control in the new public health landscape
Sex, Drugs and Roll ups: Risky behaviour and public health
Reducing Smoking Prevalence through Tobacco Control and Smoking Cessation Conference
SmokeFree Sports Research Seminar
Smoking Cessation: Protecting the Health of the Nation


Tobacco news

Tobacco News

Scotland: Plain cigarette packaging wins government support

Cigarettes and other tobacco products should be sold in plain packaging, the Scottish government has said.

The pledge makes Scotland the first part of the UK to officially support standardised packaging, following a consultation which began last year.

Scottish Public Health minister Michael Matheson announced the move in a new strategy to help people stop smoking.

He also set a target to reduce the number of smokers in Scotland from 23% to 5% by 2034.

Sheila Duffy, chief executive of ASH Scotland, welcomed the government strategy, adding: “The tobacco-free generation is a vision well worth striving for – that a child born now in any part of Scotland will reach adulthood breathing clean air, being free from tobacco addiction, and living in a community where to smoke is unusual. We owe it to our children to make this happen.”

Deborah Arnott, chief executive of ASH, said: “It’s excellent news that the Scottish government wants to introduce standard packaging for all tobacco products. Now it’s time for the UK government to follow Scotland’s lead and commit to legislation in the Queen’s speech in May.

“Australia has proved that introducing standardised packaging is easy to implement and causes no problems for retailers. There’s good evidence that standard packs are much less attractive particularly to children, which is why the public and the experts support this measure.

“It’s over six months since the consultation closed. What is the government waiting for?”

See also:
– Tobacco Control Strategy – Creating a Tobacco-Free Generation
– Ministers aim to make Scotland ‘tobacco free’ by 2034, BBC News
– Campaigners back plan for plain cigarette packaging, Herald Scotland
– Cigarettes and tobacco to be sold in plain packs, The Scotsman
– Scotland to ban smoking in parks, The Telegraph

Source: The Huffington Post – 27 March 2013

Children starting smoking has risen by 50,000 a year

The number of children who have taken up smoking in the UK has risen by 50,000 in just one year, research suggests.

About 207,000 children aged 11 to 15 started to smoke in 2011, a sharp rise from 157,000 in 2010, Cancer Research UK said.

The charity said the figure equates to 567 children taking up the habit each day.

Source: The Huffington Post – 22 March 2013

Tobacco duty increase ‘not enough’

Tax on tobacco was increased in line with the previously defined duty escalator of 2% above inflation year on year in the Chancellor’s budget on 20 March.

However public health campaigners had been campaigning for an increase of 5% above inflation.

Deborah Arnott, chief executive of ASH, said: “This is disappointing. If the Government had increased tobacco tax by 5% as we requested it would have increased Government revenues and helped more smokers to quit smoking.”

Source: AOL Money – 20 March 2013

EU: Ombudsman investigates big tobacco lobbyist on Ethics Panel

The European Ombudsman is investigating the European Commission’s reappointment of Michel Petite, the former head of the Commission’s Legal Service-turned-lawyer for Big Tobacco, to the ad hoc ethical committee.
Source: Public Service Europe – 21 March 2013

E-cigarettes: A challenge to Big Tobacco

Electronic cigarettes, once dismissed as a novelty, now pose a serious threat to cigarette companies. The Economist takes a look at e-cigarettes and their possible impact on the tobacco industry.

See also:
– E-cigarettes: No smoke. Why the fire?, The Economist
– Growth in electronic cigarette use a ‘real opportunity’, Public Service Europe

Source: The Economist – March 2013

Smoking in Latin America: A bastion of tobacco addiction introduces a ban

The Economist reports on the recent significant introduction of a smoking ban in Chile where over 40% of adults are smokers and a growing number of teenagers are taking up the habit.
Source: The Economist – 27 March 2013

South Africa: Current and future tobacco regulation

Tobacco legislation in South Africa is constantly changing, and ignorant smokers may find themselves on the wrong side of the law with fines of up to R100 000. The article summarises existing regulations and possible future changes.
Source: All Africa – 18 March 2013
Parliamentary News

Parliamentary question: Standardised packaging

Catherine McKinnell: To ask the Secretary of State for Health when he intends to publish his Department’s summary report of responses to its consultation on standardised packaging of tobacco products; and when he intends to bring forward any policy proposals arising from this consultation.

Anna Soubry: The Department has received many thousands of responses to the consultation on standardised packaging of tobacco products. A summary report of consultation responses will be published in due course.

The Government has an open mind on this issue and any decisions to take further policy action will be taken only after full consideration is given to the consultation responses, evidence and other relevant information.

Column 538W

Source: Hansard – 18 March 2013

Parliamentary question: EU tobacco subsidies

Jesse Norman: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs what information he holds on the subsidies which have been paid by the EU for the growing or production of tobacco in each of the last 10 years.

Mr Heath: The EU tobacco regime was reformed in 2004 so that, among other things, direct payments to farmers linked to the production of tobacco would be phased out over the period 2006 to 2010. The effect can be seen in the following table which is based on EU budget out-turn data for those direct payments:

€ million
2005 – 918

2006 – 811

2007 – 335

2008 – 301

2009 – 301

2010 – 296

2011 – (1)2.4

2012 – (1)0.5

2013 – (2)0.5

(1) Figures for 2011 and 2012 are believed to be in respect of residual payments related to applications under schemes prior to 2011. (2) Figures for 2013 represent the budget allocation.
Similar data prior to 2005 is not available.

Column 17W

Source: Hansard – 11 March 2013

Parliamentary question: Tobacco workers

Dan Jarvis: To ask the Minister for the Cabinet Office how many people in (a) Barnsley Central constituency, (b) South Yorkshire and (c) England were employed in the tobacco sector in the latest period for which figures are available.

Mr Hurd: The information requested falls within the responsibility of the UK Statistics Authority. I have asked the authority to reply.

Letter from Glen Watson, dated March 2013:

As Director General for the Office for National Statistics, I have been asked to reply to your recent Parliamentary Question concerning how many people in (a) Barnsley Central constituency, (b) South Yorkshire and (c) England are employed in the tobacco sector in the latest period for which figures are available.

Annual employment statistics are available from the Business Register and Employment Survey (BRES). Table 1 following contains the latest figures available, which show the number in employment in 2011 for industries considered to be in the tobacco sector.

National and local area estimates for many labour market statistics, including employment, unemployment and claimant count are available on the NOMIS website at:

Notes: 1. Cells containing an asterisk ‘*’ represent disclosive data that cannot be published. 2. South Yorkshire refers to the former metropolitan county of South Yorkshire.

Source: Hansard – 25 March 2013
Industry Watch

BAT trials ‘less toxic’ cigarettes

British American Tobacco has announced it has started testing “less toxic” cigarettes. The trial involving 250 German volunteers will last 22 weeks and uses prototype cigarettes with a new kind of filter and tobacco prepared following a new process.
Source: Morning Advertiser – 22 March 2013

Former U.S. Surgeon General joins E-cigarette board

Former U.S. surgeon general Dr. Richard Carmona, who highlighted the dangers of secondhand smoke and supported a ban on all tobacco products, is joining the board of directors for NJOY Inc., the nation’s leading electronic cigarette company – a move that could bring increased legitimacy to e-cigarettes as a viable alternative to traditional cigarettes.
Source: The Huffington Post – 24 March 2013

UK cigarette industry controlled by Imperial Tobacco with a 44% value share

The UK cigarette market experienced a 4% volume decline and 6% current value growth from 2010, to reach 44.9 billion sticks and £14.7 billion in 2011.

Despite the value of the UK cigarette market increasing in recent years, a long-term decline in volume sales has become more apparent. This is due to a number of factors which have affected consumer opinions regarding smoking, while new legislation has also has a significant effect on the volume of cigarettes being sold.

Source: MyNewsDesk – 21 March 2013
Recent Research

Smoke alarm: mental illness and tobacco

The dramatic decline in smoking rates in the UK and other countries in recent history is an achievement to be proud of. Millions have led happier and healthier lives as a result. But not everyone has benefited. Since 1993, smoking prevalence in the UK as a whole has fallen by a quarter, but among people with mental health disorders, it has hardly changed at all. Smoking and mental health, a joint report by the Royal College of Physicians and the Royal College of Psychiatrists released today, speaks of a group left behind by progress.
Source: The Lancet – 28 March 2013

Failure to stop smoking may be down to genes not willpower

Scientists have identified genetic variants that increase a person’s likelihood of becoming a lifelong heavy smoker.

Researchers studied almost 1,000 New Zealanders from birth to the age of 38 to identify those at a greater genetic risk of smoking.

Participants with a high-risk genetic profile were more likely to smoke every day as teenagers. At 38, they had smoked heavily for more years, were more susceptible to nicotine addition, and were more likely to have failed in attempts to quit.

The results, reported in the journal JAMA Psychiatry, are based on genetic risk scores derived from previous studies that scoured the whole genetic code for associations with smoking.

Belsky, D., et al., Polygenic Risk and the Developmental Progression to Heavy, Persistent Smoking and Nicotine Dependence: Evidence From a 4-Decade Longitudinal Study, JAMA Psychiatry. [Arch Gen Psychiatry.] 2013;70(2):1-9. doi:10.1001/jamapsychiatry.2013.736

Source: The Huffington Post – 27 March 2013

Cigarette relighting tied to tough economy

In what is believed to be a first of its kind, a study by researchers at The Cancer Institute of New Jersey has found that a trend of smokers relighting cigarettes is related to economic factors, and that the practice has implications for tobacco dependence treatment and policy.
Source: Science Daily – 18 March 2013

Smokefree workplaces linked to smokefree homes in India

According to data from the Global Adult Tobacco Survey India, 2009/2010, 64 per cent of adults who work in smokefree environments live in a smokefree home, compared with 42 per cent of those who work where smoking is permitted. The proportion of smokefree homes is higher in states with higher proportions of smokefree workplaces.

The authors of the study, from Imperial College London and the Public Health Foundation of India (PHFI), say the findings suggest that the implementation of smokefree legislation in India may have resulted in substantial health benefits for the population, particularly for women and children.

Source: Medical Xpress – 25 March 2013

Canada: Contraband tobacco use hinders smoking cessation

People who smoke low-cost contraband cigarettes in Canada are less likely to stop smoking in the short term compared with people who smoke more expensive premium or discount cigarettes, according to a study published in CMAJ (Canadian Medical Association Journal).

Mecredy, G., et al.,Association between use of contraband tobacco and smoking cessation outcomes: a population-based cohort study, CMAJ March 4, 2013 First published March 4, 2013, doi: 10.1503/cmaj.111861

Source: Medical Xpress – 04 March 2013

Financial incentives for smoking cessation in pregnancy


Smoking during pregnancy and in the postnatal period is a major cause of low birth weight and a range of adverse infant health outcomes. Stop smoking services can double quit rates, but only 17% of pregnant women smoking at the time they book for antenatal care use these services. In a recent Cochrane review on the effectiveness of smoking cessation interventions in pregnancy, financial incentives were found to be the single most effective intervention. We describe a single arm intervention study offering participation in a financial incentive scheme for smoking cessation to all pregnant smokers receiving antenatal care in one area in England. The aim of the study is to assess the potential effectiveness of using financial incentives to achieve smoking cessation in pregnant women who smoke, to inform the use of financial incentive schemes in routine clinical practice as well as the interpretation of existing trials and the design of future studies.

500 consecutive pregnant smokers are offered participation in the scheme, which involves attending for up to 32 assessments until six months post-partum, to verify smoking cessation by self report and a negative exhaled carbon monoxide measurement. At each visit when cessation is verified, participants receive a shopping voucher starting at a value of £8 and increasing by £1 at each consecutive successful visit. Assessments decline in frequency, occurring most frequently during the first two weeks after quitting and the first two weeks after delivery. The maximum cumulative total that can be earned through the scheme is £752.

The results of this study will inform the use of financial incentive schemes in routine clinical practice as well as the interpretation of existing trials and the design of future studies. The main results are (a) an estimate of the proportion of pregnant smokers who enrol in the scheme; (b) estimates of the proportion of pregnant smokers who participate in the scheme and who achieve prolonged abstinence at: i. delivery and ii. six months postpartum; (c) predictors of i. participation in the scheme, and ii. smoking cessation; and (d) estimates of the adverse effects of using incentives to achieve quitting as indexed by: i. the delay in quitting smoking to enrol in an incentive scheme and, ii. false reporting of smoking status, either to gain entry into the scheme or to gain an incentive.

Marteau, T., et al.,Financial incentives for smoking cessation in pregnancy: protocol for a single arm intervention study, BMC Pregnancy and Childbirth 2013, 13:66 doi:10.1186/1471-2393-13-66

Source: BMC – 15 March 2013

Marijuana use may raise nicotine dependence

People who have used marijuana may be more susceptible to the addictive properties of nicotine, researchers from the National Institute on Drug Abuse reported in the journal Neuropsychopharmacology.
Source: MediLexicon – 18 March 2013

The unequal health of Europeans: successes and failures of policies


Europe, with its 53 countries and divided history, is a remarkable but inadequately exploited natural laboratory for studies of the effects of health policy. In this paper, the first in a Series about health in Europe, we review developments in population health in Europe, with a focus on trends in mortality, and draw attention to the main successes and failures of health policy in the past four decades. In western Europe, life expectancy has improved almost continuously, but progress has been erratic in eastern Europe, and, as a result, disparities in male life expectancy between the two areas are greater now than they were four decades ago. The falls in mortality noted in western Europe are associated with many different causes of death and show the combined effects of economic growth, improved health care, and successful health policies (eg, tobacco control, road traffic safety). Less favourable mortality trends in eastern Europe show economic and health-care problems and a failure to implement effective health policies. The political history of Europe has left deep divisions in the health of the population. Important health challenges remain in both western and eastern Europe and signify unresolved issues in health policy (eg, alcohol, food) and rising health inequalities within countries.

Source: The Lancet – 27 March 2013

15 April 2013 – Publication of “Saving Lives and Preventing Misery”, Memoirs of Professor John Crofton, by Dr David Kilpatrick

Professor John Crofton (1912-2009) was one of the outstanding physicians of the 20th century. He led the pioneering medical team that first established that tuberculosis could be cured by combination chemotherapy (“the Edinburgh method”). He was also a prominent public health campaigner who did much to change public and political attitudes towards tobacco smoking and helped in the foundation of ASH.

His memoirs describe his childhood years, his student days and climbing holidays, his war years in the RAMC, his radical approach to the treatment of TB, his roles as Edinburgh University Vice-Principal and President of the Royal College of Physicians of Edinburgh, and finally his extensive public health campaigns waged after his retirement from medical practice.

The book can be ordered online (ISBN 978-178035-541-2) or by post from 15th April at a price of £18.

Contact: FastPrint Publishing, 9 Culley Court, Bakewell Road, Orton Southgate, Peterborough PE2 6XD

22 April 2013 – European Primary Prevention Conference (EPPC)

A conference focused on early tobacco-alcohol-drug prevention for young people and their families
Venue: Tallinn Health Care College, Tallinn, Estonia

31 May 2013 – World No Tobacco Day 2013

Every year, on 31 May, The World Health Organisation and partners everywhere mark World No Tobacco Day, highlighting the health risks associated with tobacco use and advocating for effective policies to reduce tobacco consumption.

The theme for World No Tobacco Day 2013 is: ban tobacco advertising, promotion and sponsorship.

Venue: Everywhere

20 June 2013 – ASH Scotland 40th Anniversary Conference: Towards a Generation Free From Tobacco

Bringing together delegates from Scotland, the rest of the UK and across the world, the conference will provide an opportunity for tobacco control advocates, policy makers, researchers, health practitioners and community development professionals to learn from international good practice and innovation.

Themes to be explored include industry and regulation, protection from second-hand smoke, youth smoking prevention, cessation services in our communities and the role of advocacy in driving policy.

There will be a special focus on addressing health inequality and new ways of working with hard-to-reach groups.

Venue: The John McIntyre Conference Centre Holyrood Park, University of Edinburgh, Scotland

27 June 2013 – UK National Smoking Cessation Conference

Key topics for 2013 include the NICE guidance on tobacco harm reduction, e-cigarettes, electronic aids to cessation, getting the most out of current treatments, smoking cessation and mental health, international comparisons of tobacco treatment, treating pregnant smokers and the politics of tobacco growing – making it an essential event for everyone in the smoking cessation and tobacco control fields.
Venue: Victoria Park Plaza, London