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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

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