From Action on Smoking and Health <[email protected]>
Subject ASH Daily News for 2 April 2024
Date April 2, 2024 12:07 PM
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** 2 April 2024

** UK

** Scottish health chiefs call for minimum pricing on e-cigarettes on tobacco (#1)

** Supermarkets face backlash over smoked salmon ‘hidden sugar traps’ (#2)

** 10m Brits feared to be junk food addicts, costing the NHS £15b a year (#3)

** ‘She still carries an aura of spectacular failure’: why hasn’t Liz Truss gone away? (#4)

** International

** Ireland’s smoking ban 20 years on: how an unheralded civil servant triumphed against big tobacco (#5)

** Biden administration US ban on menthol cigarettes delayed (#6)

** UK

** Scottish health chiefs call for minimum pricing on e-cigarettes on tobacco

Scottish health chiefs have called for a minimum price for e-cigarettes and tobacco to be introduced, over concerns prices are kept “artificially low”.

According to Public Health Scotland (PHS) the prevalence of youth vaping has risen rapidly.

In 2022, 25 per cent of 15-year-olds reported having used a vape in the last 30 days compared to just 7 per cent in 2018.

A PHS report, titled ‘Stopping tobacco smoking and youth vaping’, says research shows that “the tobacco industry keeps the price of its cheapest cigarettes artificially low to encourage smoking initiation and maintenance”, and that e-cigarettes are also cheap.

“The importance of product price is recognised by the UK and Scottish governments,” the report reads.

“One option that could be considered is the introduction of a minimum price for e-cigarettes and a higher minimum price for tobacco.”

The report’s authors also state that restricting the availability of these products “needs consideration”, and supports government proposals for plain packaging for e-cigarettes.

“E-cigarettes are advertised widely in our communities and online,” the report reads.

“E-cigarette advertising could be banned nationally and locally to reduce their appeal.”

There were over 8,000 smoking-related deaths in Scotland in 2022, and smoking is a major cause of health inequalities in Scotland.

People living in the most deprived communities are almost four times more likely to smoke than those living in other areas, according to the 2022 Scottish Health Survey.

Smoking causes cancer, heart disease, stroke, lung diseases, diabetes, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) and early death, while according to PHS, “smoking during pregnancy is the leading modifiable risk factor for poor birth outcomes, significantly increasing the risk of preterm birth, stillbirth and death in the first year of life”.

Source: The Scotsman, 2 April 2024

See also: Public Health Scotland - Stopping tobacco smoking and youth vaping ([link removed])
Read Here ([link removed])

** Supermarkets face backlash over smoked salmon ‘hidden sugar traps’

Supermarkets are facing a backlash over smoked salmon ‘hidden sugar traps’ amid concerns shoppers are unaware of the ingredients going into their breakfasts.

Grocery bosses have been accused of “peddling addictive products” by selling breakfast items which shoppers may view as healthy options - but which have sugar included in the recipes.

Former health minister James Bethell this weekend lashed out at what he claimed were “hidden sugar traps” in products including smoked salmon and orange juice. “British supermarkets need to wake up to the fact they play an integral role in the health of the nation.”

Lord Bethell, who served in Boris Johnson’s government during the pandemic, said: “Given the absence of meaningful legislation from the Government to curb the egregious amount of cheap sugar which is pushed out to the public, supermarkets have, with vested interests, peddled these addictive products.”

Research by the Telegraph found smoked salmon slices on sale at supermarkets including Tesco, Sainsbury’s, Waitrose and Asda lists sugar among the ingredients.

This is despite one of the UK’s biggest smoked salmon producers H Forman & Son claiming recipes should not include sugar.

It comes amid growing concerns over stalling progress on efforts to deal with obesity in the UK. The Government shelved plans to introduce a junk food advertising watershed from 9pm and to ban buy-one-get-one-free deals on unhealthy products until 2025.

Research from the Tony Blair Institute has suggested that obesity is costing the UK economy almost £100bn a year. It is expected to grow by another £10bn over the next 15 years.

Source: The Telegraph, 30 March 2024
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** 10m Brits feared to be junk food addicts, costing the NHS £15b a year

Britain's obesity crisis is now so bad doctors are pushing for food addiction to be classed as dangerous as drink and drugs.

Cheap, widely-available, fast food is blamed for a catalogue of killer conditions conspiring to make the UK one of the sickest on earth.

As many as 10 million are now feared to be hooked on junk despite knowing it causes serious harm.

Next month respected medics and nutritionists, including Dr Chris van Tulleken, will gather at the International Food Addiction Consensus Conference as part of the first concerted push to make World Health Organisation [WHO] bosses categorise addiction to ultra-processed food a substance use disorder, similar to cocaine, opioid, nicotine, and alcohol misuse.

Food addiction was first described in 1956 at a time busy families wanted to eat in front of their new televisions. Seven decades later obesity is costing the NHS £58 billion a year.

The problem is so widespread that the WHO, an agency of the United Nations responsible for international public health based in Geneva, Switzerland, could update its classification of substance use disorders when it next revises the classification of diseases and related health disorders.

If it does, food addiction would officially be as dangerous as other addictions like drugs including ketamine and phencyclidine, MDMA, stimulants such as amphetamines, hallucinogens, sedatives and online gaming. Specialist intervention, like rehab, would then be more widely available.

Source: The Express, 1 April 2024
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** ‘She still carries an aura of spectacular failure’: why hasn’t Liz Truss gone away?

Writing in the Guardian, author and professor of politics at Cambridge University, David Runciman discusses Liz Truss's new political venture and the launch of the "Popular Conservatism".

Her 49 days in power ended in catastrophe, yet the shortest serving prime minister in British history is back, launching a new conservative movement with global ambitions.

She has hitched her wagon to a newly launched organisation called Popular Conservatism – or PopCon for short. It seeks to champion a low-tax, small-state, libertarian brand of rightwing politics. What makes it distinctive, however, is its all-comprehending view of the forces lined up against it. These include the Conservative party in Westminster, the law courts, the civil service and the media, which have all been infected with a stifling economic conformism.

The PopCon mission statement makes the scale of the challenge clear. It declares: “Successive Conservative leaders and governments have discovered that a majority in the House of Commons is no longer enough to turn us away from the path of Blairite declinism. The institutions of Britain – from the Office for Budget Responsibility (OBR) to the Supreme Court to the Climate Change Committee – now also stand in the way of meaningful reform.”

Speaking from the PopCon official launch event in Westminster, Runciman writes: I have never been among such unhealthy-looking people. It wasn’t just the pallid complexions (this was also, unsurprisingly, an extremely white audience). Quite a few were overweight, their three-piece suits and tightly buttoned shirts straining to contain them. The room also had a distinct and increasingly unfamiliar odour: stale cigarette smoke. As no smoking was allowed here, they must have brought it in with them, from wherever they would normally gather to exercise their freedom to resist the dead hand of the nanny state. These people, it was clear, were out of shape on principle.

Truss was the star turn, and she spoke last. The warm-up acts included Mark Littlewood, former director general of the Institute for Economic Affairs (55 Tufton Street), now director of Popular Conservatism (which he mistakenly referred to as “Popular Conservativism” throughout). Littlewood began with a few housekeeping remarks, which meant gleefully pointing out that by having so many people crammed into an inadequate space, they were in breach of the building’s health and safety regulations. He was followed by Jacob Rees-Mogg, Lee Anderson (then still a Tory MP, before his recent defection to Reform UK, though he was already showing clear signs of strain) and Mhairi Fraser, the prospective Conservative candidate for Epsom and Ewell, who railed against Covid lockdowns, smoking bans and the dark threat of restrictions on an Englishman’s right to buy two packets of biscuits. I think the idea was to make Truss look statesmanlike.

Truss believes in the wisdom of the markets. It is the unaccountable power of quangos, civil servants and law courts she fundamentally mistrusts. So what caused the banks and the currency exchanges to turn against her? Are they communists, too?

She had no answer to this question at the launch of PopCon, not least because she did not take any questions. But in front of a very different audience at the Institute for Government (IfG) last September, she tackled what had gone wrong head on. She told a roomful of financial journalists and policy wonks that her economic plans had been scuppered by the failure of key institutions like the Bank of England, the OBR and the BBC and the wider media to support her.

Truss must know that she is not going to get a chance to have another go herself. Her party is on its way out of government and it may not be back for a long time. Even if the coming general election produces a rump Conservative party in Westminster that turns to a leader from one of its far-right factions, it will not be Truss, and nor will it be Rees-Mogg. They are damaged goods, whatever your ideological persuasion. Mark Littlewood acknowledged at the launch of PopCon that his new organisation was not in the business of trying to find someone to replace Rishi Sunak. He said that the Tories’ five families of infighters and backstabbers were enough – no one needed a sixth. And he is right: nothing about Popular Conservatism suggests a group of people who have discovered their path back to power.

Source: The Guardian, 30 March 2024

See also: Tobacco Tactics - Mark Littlewood ([link removed])
Read Here ([link removed])

** Link of the week

** Ireland’s smoking ban 20 years on: how an unheralded civil servant triumphed against big tobacco

Exactly 20 years ago an Irish civil servant named Tom Power won a remarkable battle against the tobacco industry when Ireland enacted the world’s first ban on smoking in bars, restaurants and workplaces.

“Tom Power was an encyclopaedia on the tobacco industry,” says Micheál Martin, who was health minister at the time. “He understood every move the tobacco industry would make.”

“Tom told us who on the political side were the dangers and who was the enemy,” says Luke Clancy, a respiratory physician who chaired Action on Smoking and Health (ASH) Ireland, a group that was part of an alliance that lobbied for the ban.

Behind the scenes Power shepherded the alliance through a test of strength with big tobacco and its proxies, says Clancy. “They saw Ireland as a crucial element. If they could beat Ireland it wouldn’t spread to other countries. Tom would organise and coordinate and tell us: ‘So-and-so will come from this angle’.”

The ban’s success and replication elsewhere has obscured the fact it was not inevitable. New York, San Francisco and other cities in North America had introduced bans and some British cities were planning to follow – but even with mounting evidence of harm from passive smoke few thought a nationwide ban was feasible.

They couldn’t have been more wrong. Soon after Ireland, Norway became the second country to implement a workplace smoking ban in 2004, followed within four years by Sweden, New Zealand, Italy, the UK, France, 11 German states and India. Today more than 70 countries ban smoking in workplaces and public places.

But at the time in Ireland it seemed a remote, even outlandish, proposition. Activists had been lobbying for greater restrictions for a decade. A voluntary code in 1992 had been widely ignored even though smoking was the leading cause of preventable death.

A legislative committee report in 1999, however, documented the effect of environmental tobacco smoke, paving the way for a national anti-smoking strategy.

It found a champion in Power, a civil service veteran from County Tipperary who was in the public health division and had a reputation for being unorthodox and headstrong.

When Martin became health minister in a Fianna Fáil government in 2000, Power urged him to target tobacco. “We kind of struck it off straight away. I was up for this,” Martin, who is now foreign minister and tánaiste (deputy prime minister), says.

Martin doubted the health ministry would have the necessary zeal, so he appointed Power to head a newly established office of tobacco control. “That meant we could hire people to do research. It gave us capacity to deal with the issue,” he says.

The minister and official drafted legislation commissioned a working group to study evidence of passive smoking and forged alliances with ASH and other advocacy groups.

“Having Tom Power there meant it didn’t gather dust,” says Wally Young, who advised ASH Ireland and is now a board member of the Irish Heart Foundation. “He was like an engineer in the background and had the knowledge to make it happen.”

Source: The Guardian, 29 March 2024
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** Biden administration US ban on menthol cigarettes delayed

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration's proposal to ban menthol flavoured cigarettes in the United States faced another setback, according to anti-tobacco advocates who noted that White House officials have missed another deadline to issue a final rule on a ban.

Menthol cigarettes account for a third of the industry's overall market share in the United States. The highly addictive products have been cited for their appeal to young smokers, as well as significant health impacts for Black communities, where they are marketed heavily.

The Administration delayed issuing a final rule in December and now has missed the new deadline it set to issue the rule by March 2024, according to a statement on Monday from the Campaign for Tobacco Free Kids and the NAACP, both of which support the FDA's push for a ban of menthol cigarettes.

Civil rights groups have contended for years that menthol cigarettes pose a disproportionately higher risk in Black communities, where they are heavily marketed.

About 81% of Black adults who smoked cigarettes used menthol varieties, compared with 34% of white adults, according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).

U.S.-focused tobacco company Altria and rival British American Tobacco both get more than 20% of their revenue from menthol, Morningstar analyst Philip Gorham estimated in notes in March.

Source: The Daily Mail, 1 April 2024
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