From Action on Smoking and Health <[email protected]>
Subject ASH Daily News for 11 March 2024
Date March 11, 2024 1:58 PM
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** 11 March 2024

** UK

** Revealed: How 350 young adults are still getting hooked on smoking every day (#3)

** Health charity responds to budget decisions on tobacco and vaping (#1)

** ‘Unexploded bombs’: call for action after 11 deaths in UK due to e-bike fires (#2)

** Bust Britain: As more councils go bankrupt, the nation’s public realm is dying (#4)

** UK

** Revealed: How 350 young adults are still getting hooked on smoking every day

Around 350 young adults start smoking regularly in the UK every day, new analysis suggests.
Research has found that the equivalent of 127,500 people aged between 18 and 25 pick up smoking each year.

The figures have been described as ‘devastating’ by experts, who warned that young people risk a ‘lifetime of addiction’ by picking up the habit.

The analysis was carried out for Action on Smoking and Health (ASH) by researchers from University College London (UCL).

Deborah Arnott, chief executive of ASH, said: "It is shocking to realise that hundreds of young adults start smoking every day, risking a lifetime of addiction. Raising the age of sale is vital if we are to put an end to the dreadful toll of disease, disability and premature death caused by smoking."

Once someone starts smoking, it takes an average of 30 attempts to stop and many never succeed. Despite the majority of smokers wanting to stop, two out of three who do not manage to quit will die from their smoking, figures suggest.

Dr Sarah Jackson, from the UCL Institute of Epidemiology and Health Care, said: “Most people take up smoking when they’re young and don’t intend for it to become a life-long habit. But they quickly become addicted and then find it very difficult to quit in later life.”

“Smoking at any age has severe health consequences, but these are particularly pronounced among those who start young. Raising the age of sale will lead to fewer young adults taking up smoking and reduce the burden of smoking-related death and disease for the next generation.”

Source: The Daily Mail, 9 March 2024

See also: ASH PR Every day 350 young adults aged 18-25 start smoking regularly ([link removed] )
Read Here ([link removed] )

** Health charity responds to budget decisions on tobacco and vaping

In the Spring Budget on March 6, 2024, Jeremy Hunt, the chancellor, announced that “the government is introducing a new duty on vaping and increasing tobacco duty from October 2026, raising revenue to support public services like the NHS.”

This will maintain the current financial incentive to choose vaping over smoking.

The excise tax on vaping will raise £120m in 2026-7, rising to £445m by 2028-9.

The additional tobacco duty will raise a further £110m in 2026-7 and £170m in 2027-8 and in 2028-9.

A 12-week consultation on the policy design and technical details was launched today. Registrations for the vaping duty will open on April 1, 2026.

The rates will be:
• £1.00 per 10ml for nicotine free liquids
• £2.00 per 10ml on liquids that contain 0.1-10.9 mg nicotine per ml, and
• £3.00 per 10ml on liquids that contain 11mg or more per ml

The government will also introduce a one-off tobacco duty increase of £2.00 per 100 cigarettes or 50 grams of tobacco from October 1, 2026.

Deborah Arnott, chief executive of Action on Smoking and Health, said, “Putting excise duty on vapes gives much needed additional powers to Border Force and HMRC to stop the import of illegal vapes which are flooding the market and need to be brought under control. These are powers they already have for tobacco which helped reduce the consumption of illegal cigarettes by 80 per cent between 2000 and 2021.

“The additional increase in tobacco taxes is welcome, as keeping vaping cheaper than smoking is vital to encourage smokers trying to quit to switch to vapes, which are the most effective stop smoking aid available over the counter.

“However, it’s smokers and those trying to quit and stay quit who will be paying these extra taxes. It takes the average smoker thirty attempts before they successfully quit, and specialist support and anti-smoking campaigns can increase the likelihood of success many times over. These new taxes should be used to plug the cuts in prevention measures and help the government achieve its smokefree 2030 ambition.”

Source: Dental Nursing, 8 March 2024

Read Here ([link removed] )

** ‘Unexploded bombs’: call for action after 11 deaths in UK due to e-bike fires

Eleven people were killed in fires caused by e-bikes in the UK last year and now ministers face calls for urgent action over the sale of dangerous products.

E-bike fires can be particularly deadly because they can rapidly ignite in a fireball, and because the bikes are routinely left to charge overnight in hallways, they can block what may be the only exit. Campaigners compare the most dangerous products to “unexploded bombs”.

New figures produced by the Office for Product and Safety Standards (OPSS), drawn from data from UK fire and rescue services, reveal what is believed to be the highest number of deaths recorded from e-bike fires in the UK last year.

MPs and safety groups are calling for third-party certification to ensure e-bikes, e-scooters and their batteries are approved by an independent body before being available for sale. This is already the case for other high-risk products such as fireworks.

Fire safety officers say consumers should buy from a reputable retailer and warn e-bikes fitted with conversion kits or fitted with batteries bought online may pose a greater risk.

London Fire Brigade warns e-bikes and e-scooters are now the fastest growing fire risk in the capital. It recorded 149 e-bike fires in 2023, and three deaths, and 87 e-bike fires in 2022, with no deaths recorded. An analysis by the service of 73 e-bike fires in the capital in the first six months of last year found at least 40% were believed to involve a converted e-bike.

Source: The Guardian, 9 March 2024

Editorial note: This article has been included to put in context concerns about e-cigarette batteries. Although e-cigarette batteries also carry a fire risk, between 2017 and 2021 the London Fire Brigade (LFB) reported only 15 fires caused by vaping products and no fire-related injuries or deaths from vaping-related fires. This compares with 676 injuries and 46 deaths from cigarette related fires. See [link removed]

The LFB says that the fire risks around vaping tend to come from counterfeit or faulty products, and poor charging practises and provides advice on how to mitigate the risks.
[link removed]


Read Here ([link removed])

** Bust Britain: As more councils go bankrupt, the nation’s public realm is dying. How did it come to this?

An article in the New Statesman investigates the state of local councils in the UK as they face continued financial insecurity. The article highlights Somerset council, which is facing a £100m savings target with £35m in cuts. The council has declared a "financial emergency" and is on the brink of filing a "Section 114" notice, akin to local government bankruptcy.

The decline is not unique to Somerset; eight councils have gone bankrupt since 2010, including major ones like Nottingham and Birmingham. The financial crisis is attributed to the austerity measures implemented by the Conservative–Lib Dem coalition, reducing council spending by 60% since 2010. Councils were encouraged to generate revenue through commercial ventures, but mismanagement, risky investments, and failed projects exacerbated the problem.

The strain is felt across different councils with diverse problems, such as Birmingham's equal-pay claim costing £1.15bn, Croydon's housing developer collapse, Woking's £2bn debt from property investments, and Nottingham's failed energy company. The consequences are evident in towns like Thurrock, where residents face rising taxes, overflowing bins, and deteriorating public facilities.

The mismatch between funding and rising budget pressures, termed the "jaws of doom," is exacerbated by increased demand for social care, housing shortages, and inflation. Somerset’s central government grant in 2009 was £80m – now, it’s closer to £8.4m, and two-thirds of its entire budget goes on social care. Something has to give, leading to a decline in public services and amenities.

The article criticizes the government's approach to funding councils, relying on outdated council tax valuations and imposing caps on tax increases. It points out that the government's allocated £64bn for councils in 2024-25 is insufficient, prompting calls from over 40 Tory MPs for increased central funding.

The author notes that no major political party has presented a comprehensive plan to rescue councils. The Conservative government, despite advocating for "levelling up," has been criticized forunder funding local councils. Labour's proposals are also subject to the same economic constraints and there are concerns that the party’s plans for a “fair-wage deal for carers” might exacerbate financial issues for councils.

The collapse of councils reflects broader issues within the British state, including austerity, short-termism, and a failure to address key policy challenges. The article concludes by highlighting the decay across various sectors, from healthcare and welfare to national infrastructure and public services.

Source: The New Statesman, 6 March 2024

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