20 March 2024


80% of Trading Standards professionals support Smokefree Generation Policy

Revealed: Sunak’s plan to avoid major smoking rebellion

Why smoking as a teenager can impact the rest of your life

Vaping ‘linked to cancer and damages body like smoking’

Letter: Why MPs must back vape controls

Retailers who break new smoking ban face on-the-spot fines in UK

Sheffield ban on adverts for unhealthy food, gambling, smoking and fossil fuels


80% of Trading Standards professionals support Smokefree Generation Policy

A survey of local authority Trading Standards professionals has found that 80% of respondents support the government’s plan to stamp out smoking in a generation.

The proposed Smokefree Generation Bill, which is being laid today (20 March), aims to prohibit the sale of tobacco to people born after 1 January 2009, effectively ensuring they will not legally have access to tobacco in their lifetime.

CTSI lead officer for vaping, Kate Pike, said: “It is great news that Trading Standards Officers so strongly support the proposal to phase out smoking.

“We look forward to helping retailers introduce the changes and as always, we will take action against the minority who flout the law. We welcome this opportunity to help protect our communities from the harms of tobacco.”

Deputy chief executive of Action on Smoking and Health (ASH), Hazel Cheesman, said: “Trading standards professionals know what they are talking about when it comes to protecting young people from smoking.

“Enforcement of regulations over the last 20 years by trading standards has played a major role in bringing teen smoking down to an all time low. Raising the age of sale to 18, point-of-sale display restrictions and standardised tobacco packaging only work because they’re enforced.

“It is great to have the profession’s backing for the creation of a smokefree generation and their commitment to enforce further regulations to end the terrible burden of smoking on society.”

Source: Talking retail, 20 March 2024

See also: DHSC - Smokefree generation one step closer as Bill introduced


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Revealed: Sunak’s plan to avoid major smoking rebellion

Conservative MPs attempting to derail Rishi Sunak’s crackdown on smoking and vaping may be blocked by party whips despite the pledge of a free vote, it has emerged.

A bill to outlaw the sale of tobacco to people turning 15 this year and anyone younger will be introduced to Parliament today.

The Government is to allow a free vote on the legislation, which will also ban the promotion of vapes to children.

Yet i understands that despite the presumption of a free vote, the Government will nevertheless work with Tory whips to ensure the bill remains “sensible” and is not hijacked by amendments designed to throw the laws off course.

With Mr Sunak already facing dissent among his MPs over his leadership, the suggestion that there could be conditions placed on a free vote risks further fuelling Tory anger over the bill.

Many Conservatives, including those on the libertarian wing, are alarmed that the bill goes too far by banning adults from buying tobacco.

Opponents also insist the Prime Minister has no mandate to introduce the ban, as it was not in any Conservative election manifesto.

The Government’s Tobacco and Vapes Bill, if passed unamended, would raise the age of sale every year from 2027, making it illegal to sell tobacco to anyone currently aged 14 and under, as well as on-the-spot fines of £100 for people who sell cigarettes or vapes to children, across the UK.

The measures have widespread support from ministers, public health leaders, medical experts and charities.

Shops selling vapes will have to introduce plain packaging and be restricted from displaying them prominently to children, although the details will be set out later in secondary legislation rather than in the bill.

Source: The i, 20 March 2024

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Why smoking as a teenager can impact the rest of your life

The Prime Minister's office has published an article written by Professor Sanjay Agrawal, National Specialty Adviser for Tobacco Dependency at NHS England, on 'why smoking as a teenager can impact you for the rest of your life'.

Prof Agrawal writes that almost all the patients who smoke that he sees in his lung clinics and Intensive Care Unit started in their early teenage years, and at the time did not know how addictive the nicotine in tobacco was.

Prof Agrawal sets out why smoking is so addictive and what the risks are for young people. Stating that “it doesn’t take long for addiction to tobacco to take hold” and that “the addiction to tobacco is both powerful and lethal – and young people are especially vulnerable to it.” The risks to young people range from infections in their ears and lungs to triggering asthma exacerbations and affect mental health conditions. This leads to cancer, heart attacks and strokes when they become adults, along with reduced fertility and chronic pain syndrome, among many others.

Prof Agrawal summarises by saying that those who smoke at a young age will experience ill health and on average will die 10 years earlier than those who don’t, so it is imperative to stop young people smoking. In addition, those who already smoke can massively benefit from quitting as a study found that those who stopped smoking “at age 30, 40, 50 or 60 gained, respectively, 10,9,6 and 3 years of life relative to those who continued to smoke.”

Professor Sanjay Agrawal is the National Specialty Adviser for Tobacco Dependency at NHS England, Special Advisor on tobacco to the Royal College of Physicians and Consultant in Respiratory and Intensive Care Medicine. 

Over the past decade Professor Agrawal has highlighted the need to address the treatment of tobacco dependency and is now supporting the NHS Long Term Plan programme to implement tobacco dependency treatment services across the NHS.

Source: Prime Ministers Office, 20 March 2024


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Vaping ‘linked to cancer and damages body like smoking’

People who vape suffer similar changes to their DNA as smokers who develop cancer, researchers have revealed.

Scientists at University College London analysed samples of cheek cells from vape users and compared these with those from cigarette smokers. Both groups had similar changes to the DNA of cells in their mouth.

These changes were, in turn, linked to the future development of lung cancer in smokers.

The authors of the study, published in the journal Cancer Research, said the findings did not prove e-cigarettes cause cancer but show that “the devices might not be as harmless as originally thought”.

The study involved data from 4,000 people, and looked at cell samples from hundreds of smokers, as well as vapers who don’t regularly use tobacco. This showed that cells in the mouth, which are exposed to tobacco and vape smoke, were “substantially” altered. The changes were also seen in the lung cancer tissue of smokers who developed cancer.

Dr Ian Walker, executive director of policy at Cancer Research UK, said: “This study contributes to our understanding of e-cigarettes, but it does not show that e-cigarettes cause cancer.

“Decades of research has proven the link between smoking and cancer, and studies have so far shown that e-cigarettes are far less harmful than smoking and can help people quit.

“This paper does, however, highlight that e-cigarettes are not risk-free, and so we need additional studies to uncover their potential longer-term impacts on human health.

“Smoking tobacco causes 150 cases of cancer every single day in the UK, which is why we look forward to seeing the government’s age of sale legislation being presented in parliament. Nothing would have a bigger impact on reducing the number of preventable deaths in the UK than ending smoking, and this policy will take us one step closer to a smoke-free future.”

Source: The Times, 19 March 2024

See also: Herzog C, Jones A, Evans I, Raut JR, Zikan M, Cibula D, Wong A, Brenner H, Richmond RC, Widschwendter M. Cigarette smoking and e-cigarette use induce shared DNA methylation changes linked to carcinogenesis. Cancer Res. 2024

Cancer Research UK - Can vaping cause changes in our cells?

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Letter: Why MPs must back vape controls

Writing in The Times, Professor Sir Chris Whitty, Chief Medical Officer and all other chief, deputy and former chief medical officers, jointly signed a letter advocating for MPs to support a "smoke-free generation and restrictions of marketing of vapes to children."

They write about the "millions of smokers" who want to quit, but cannot due to their nicotine addiction, and how 80% of smokers start before they are 20 years old due to persistent marketing to younger people.

They insist that to be pro-individual choice, you should be against the deliberate advertising of products to children that can fatally harm them. Going on to point out that smoking "remains Britain’s biggest preventable killer, resulting in about 80,000 deaths a year" and is a "major driver of socioeconomic and geographic inequalities".

They finish by strongly advocating that the new Smokefree Generation bill that is currently being tabled in Parliament will "produce enormous public health benefit and, we hope, lead to a smoke-free generation."

Source: The Times, 19 March 2024

See also: DHSC - Smokefree generation one step closer as Bill introduced

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Retailers who break new smoking ban face on-the-spot fines in UK

Powers to issue £100 on-the-spot fines are to be handed to council officers enforcing a landmark law banning future generations from smoking, which Rishi Sunak has hailed as a chance to “save thousands of lives and billions of pounds”.

The prime minister’s plan will raise the legal age of smoking every year by a year across the UK so that eventually no one will be able to buy tobacco.

In a move that could prompt further anger, the bill will also strengthen the powers of council enforcement officers who monitor and investigate retailers, giving them the power to levy £100 fines for the new offence.

This is in addition to the maximum £2,500 fine which local authorities can impose on shops and other traders. It will also be illegal to give out free samples of vapes to under-18s.

Downing Street heralded the introduction of the bill with the release of statements from charities and the chief medical officer for England, Chris Whitty.

“Smoking causes harm across the life course. This includes stillbirth, asthma, heart disease, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, 15 different types of cancer, stroke and dementia.

“If passed this will be a major public health measure which reduces illness, disability, and premature deaths for children today and future generations.”

Deborah Arnott, chief executive of Action on Smoking and Health (Ash), described the legislation as “groundbreaking”.

“Smoking is the silent killer that hides in plain sight, killing more people than Covid at the height of the pandemic. Ending this scourge on society cannot come soon enough,” she said.

The number of people who smoke has dropped dramatically over the last 50 years as a result of concerted government action, rising awareness of the risks involved and the cost of tobacco.

In 1974 across the UK, 46% of all adults smoked. But by last year that proportion had fallen to just 12.9%. Similarly, the proportion of 11 to 15-year-olds who smoke has fallen from 19% in 2000 to 3% in 2021.

However, about 350 young adults aged 18-25 across the UK still start smoking regularly every day, according to an analysis for ASH by researchers at University College London published earlier this month.

Source: The Guardian, 20 March 2024

See also: ASH - Estimating uptake of smoking among 18-25-year-olds: analysis for ASH March 2024

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Sheffield ban on adverts for unhealthy food, gambling, smoking and fossil fuels

Sheffield City Council is bringing in the ban for all advertising hoardings, online media and sponsorship opportunities that fall under its control. Council director of public health Greg Fell said the idea was to “set a tone” rather than see it as a cure for problems such as obesity and gambling.

A meeting of Sheffield City Council’s finance committee (March 18) agreed to the policy.

The committee report said that potentially revenue could drop but evidence from other local authorities which have brought in similar bans have not seen that as affected brands are switching to spaces which are outside a council’s control.

Council advertising and sponsorship officer Nicola Allen said the advertising industry is dominated by companies whose products are harmful to health and the environment, such as HFSS food and drinks and fossil fuels brands.

Cllr Toby Mallinson said: “We really welcome this, think it’s fantastic, a lot of hard work’s gone into it and background research. The ethical side of it, the categories being covered are very good.”

The AdFree Cities study showed that 60% of advertisements in Sheffield are found in the poorest three deciles (areas) of the city. Just 2% are sited in the most affluent three deciles.

Committee chair councillor Zahira Naz welcomed the “ambitious” policy, adding: “We have to limit exposure to products that are contradicted to better outcomes for people and the planet.

“I think this policy is going in the right direction on that but we have also taken a balanced approach to ensure that Sheffield can still attract ambitious opportunities for the city, allow support for local businesses.”

Source: The Star, 19 March 2024

See also: Adfree Cities - Unavoidable Impact

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