From Action on Smoking and Health <[email protected]>
Subject ASH Daily News for 18 March 2024
Date March 18, 2024 12:12 PM
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** 18 March 2024

** UK

** Rishi Sunak braced for major rebellion over smoking ban in just days with 70 MPs to revolt (#2)

** Isle of Wight stop smoking services give £2.5m boost (#4)

** Cheshire: (#1) Winsford couple quit smoking thanks to Leighton Hospital staff (#1)

** Lucky Strike maker commits to London stock market despite Sunak’s smoking ban (#3)

** Tories and Labour urged to show ‘courage’ to act on unhealthy food (#6)

** UK

** Rishi Sunak braced for major rebellion over smoking ban in just days with 70 MPs to revolt

The Express understands that Downing Street is looking to bring its flagship anti-smoking legislation before Parliament next week, in a rush to disprove allegations that the Government isn’t working hard enough.

Mr Sunak hopes to pass the legislation, which will stop anyone born after 2008 from ever legally being allowed to buy tobacco, as a sign he is enacting change before the general election.

However amid swirling concerns about his leadership, the crunch vote will only serve to underline the Tory party’s deep-rooted splits over policy and ideology.

In December, the Express revealed that up to 50 Conservative MPs are planning to vote down the seminal Sunak legislation, meaning the Government will be relying on the votes of Labour MPs.

Sir John Hayes, a leading rebel, warned that the smoking ban Bill is “evidently unworkable, impractical and deeply unconservative”.

It is now understood that the number of anti-ban rebels has since increased to as many as 70 Tory MPs.

Source: Express, 15 March 2024

Editorial note: This article doesn’t give any sources which is why it was not picked up by other media outlets. To date only a handful of MPs have come out in opposition to the Bill and a letter to the PM by Giles Watling MP opposing the Bill which was published in the Mail in January only had his name and that of Liz Truss attached to it. [link removed]
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** Isle of Wight stop smoking services give £2.5m boost

More than £2.5 million will be spent on boosting stop smoking services on the Island as the Isle of Wight Council signs up to create a smokefree generation.

It is in line with the government's plans to make smoking obsolete across the country with the money specifically allocated to increase smoking cessation and prevention services.

Figures from 2022 determined around 9.5 per cent of adults on the Islanders smoked, including approximately nine per cent of pregnant women.

The current services provided by Smokefree Island help more than 500 smokers quit each year and prevents children and young people from taking up the habit.

The council has also signed up to the ‘Local Government Declaration on Tobacco Control’ which is a public statement of the council's commitment to action on tobacco control and protect residents from the harm caused by smoking.

Speaking at the council's cabinet meeting yesterday (Thursday), Simon Bryant, the Isle of Wight's public health director, said there had been some complacency around smoking, with smokers not considering it a key health issue.

He said the money will help the council increase its services and signing up to the declaration shows "our really strong commitment".

The council said smoking continues to be the single most preventable cause of ill health and premature death on the Island as well as the main driver of health inequalities.

It revealed that every year 612 Islanders die and a further 1,381 residents are admitted to hospital because of smoking.

A total of £2,547,480 will be given to the Isle of Wight Council over the next seven years to expand the core smoking cessation offer and will encourage other partners on the Island to follow suit and “push towards a smokefree 2030”.

Source: Isle of Wight County Press, 15 March 2024
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** Cheshire: Winsford couple quit smoking thanks to Leighton Hospital staff

A couple has quit smoking thanks to the support of hospital staff.

Paul and Karen Whitney from Winsford had been smoking for more than 45 years between them, smoking about eight cigarettes every day and spending more than £400 each month on their addiction.

This eventually culminated in Paul, 50, suffering a heart attack which he took as a “sign he needed to stop.”

Paul had been smoking for 15 years while Karen, 46, had been living with tobacco dependence for 30 years. Each week they spent around £105 on cigarettes.

Following the heart attack, Paul underwent surgery at the Royal Stoke University Hospital and had two stents fitted.

He and Karen followed the support of the CURE programme, launched by Mid Cheshire Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust in 2020.

Currently supporting more than 50 smokers, the programme provides tailored nicotine replacement therapy and support from specialist nurses, such as Jo.

Dr Duncan Fullerton, respiratory consultant and clinical lead for the CURE programme, said: “Smoking has a huge impact on a person’s health. It’s still the single largest preventable cause of death in this country and almost every minute of every day someone is admitted to a hospital in England with a smoking-related disease.

“Tobacco addiction is a chronic and relapsing disease and the CURE programme is about hospital teams working together to tackle this. I’m delighted that our amazing staff were able to make such a difference to Paul and Karen’s lives. Quitting is quite simply the best thing any smoker can do for their health and it’s never too late to stop.”

Source: Northwich & Winsford Guardian, 16 March 2024
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** Lucky Strike maker commits to London stock market despite Sunak’s smoking ban

The tobacco giant behind Lucky Strike has committed to the London stock market despite Rishi Sunak’s plan to ban smoking in the UK.

Tadeu Marroco, chief executive of British American Tobacco (BAT), branded the idea of shifting the company’s listing from London to New York a “distraction”.

He told the Financial Times he was “not sure the benefit would be as evident as some suggest”, adding: “There is nothing to suggest that it’s a no-brainer to go to the US.”

BAT’s commitment to the UK comes even as the prime minister pushes ahead with plans to make Britain a smoke-free nation.

Mr Marroco said there were “many other things” BAT needed to focus on, including reversing a fall in cigarette sales in the US and developing smoke-free alternatives.

BAT, which also owns the Dunhill and Pall Mall brands, is aiming to make half its revenues from smoking alternatives such as its Vuse vapes by 2035.

Mr Marroco admitted that BAT was “late to the category” of heated tobacco but insisted the company could use its significant market share in the US to catch up.

Source: The Telegraph, 17 March 2024
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** Tories and Labour urged to show ‘courage’ to act on unhealthy food

Britain’s political parties have been urged to show courage by forcing food producers to make their products healthier, as new polling shows two-thirds of voters back the move.

Compelling food manufacturers to strip out large amounts of fat, salt and sugar would help “denormalise” the routine consumption of unhealthy food, Sarah Woolnough, the chief executive of the King’s Fund, told the Guardian.

She challenged the Conservatives and Labour to face down the “commercial self-interest” of the food and advertising industries, which are likely to oppose mandatory reformulation, in order to tackle the rising tide of diet-related illnesses such as cancer, heart disease and dementia.

Overall, 67.3% of Britons agree that the government should require companies to reduce the amount of fat, salt and sugar they put in their products, a survey for the influential health thinktank undertaken by Ipsos Mori found. Only 5% disagreed.

Almost as many – 64.6% – want to see tough new restrictions imposed on the advertising of unhealthy food and drink, a move that Rishi Sunak has resisted. Only 5.2% were opposed.

Woolnough said ministers should ignore the “nanny state” arguments advanced by libertarian-minded MPs and thinktanks against government intervention on bad diet. The Institute for Government last year identified that as a key reason why successive administrations had done too little on obesity over recent decades as Britain had become one of the fattest nations in Europe.

Woolnough, who while working for Cancer Research UK helped to persuade the last Labour administration to introduce the ban on cigarette advertising and on smoking indoors, took over as the boss of the King’s Fund in January after performing senior roles at several health charities.

She pointed to that government’s success in getting food companies to cut the amount of salt in their products, and also the fact that the sugar tax that began in 2018 had made many fizzy drinks healthier, as route maps for how ministers could ensure food becomes healthier.

But in order for reformulation to succeed it would have to be mandatory, and include “milestones” – dates by which certain reductions in fat, salt and sugar have to be achieved – and also the threat of financial penalties for those who do not comply, she said. Ministers requiring all producers to do it would mean that no company could gain an advantage over its competitors by continuing to use unhealthily large amounts of those ingredients.

Fewer than half of the 1,115 respondents in the King’s Fund’s survey agreed that the government was doing enough to improve health.

Source: The Guardian, 16 March 2024

See also: The Kings Fund - Tackling obesity: The role of the NHS in a whole-system approach ([link removed])
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