From Action on Smoking and Health <[email protected]>
Subject ASH Daily News for 11 April 2024
Date April 11, 2024 12:32 PM
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** 11 April 2024

** UK

** Boris Johnson calls Rishi Sunak’s smoking ban ‘absolutely nuts’ (#1)

** 95% of illegal vape sellers go unpunished, according to new data (#2)

** Print only: Private Eye - Under the influence (#3)

** International

** USA: Opponents of smoking in casinos try to enlist shareholders of gambling companies in non-smoking push (#4)

** Denmark: Will smoking keep you thin? (#5)

** UK

** Boris Johnson calls Rishi Sunak’s smoking ban ‘absolutely nuts’

Boris Johnson called Rishi Sunak’s plan to ban the sale of cigarettes “absolutely, absolutely nuts” and urged an increase in defence spending as he addressed a conservative conference in Canada.

Sunak has announced proposals for a phased ban that will mean that no one who is under the age of 14 today will ever be allowed to buy cigarettes. The legal age for buying cigarettes will be raised every year, which Sunak said would create a “smoke-free generation”.

At the Canada Strong and Free Networking Conference in Ottawa, Johnson said that some of the things being done “in the name of conservatism” were “absolutely, absolutely nuts”.

“I see my beloved party … we’re banning cigars. And what is the point? The party of Winston Churchill wants a ban. I mean, donnez-moi un break as they say in Quebec. It’s just mad,” he said.

Source: The Times, 11 April 2024

See also: ASH - Cross party support for raising the age of sale for tobacco from voters and Parliamentarians ([link removed])
Read Here ([link removed])

** 95% of illegal vape sellers go unpunished, according to new data

Illegal vapes haven’t gone through the usual rigorous product safety tests, and risk causing serious harm to the user.

In 2023, over one and a half million illegal vapes were seized in the UK, enough for three to be sold every minute according to the 2024 Illegal Vaping Report. This report analyses the latest Freedom of Information request from 152 local authorities, obtained by vaping retailer Vape Club, and follows the launch of the Vape Retailer and Distributor Licensing framework to engage the government and authorities in developing methods to stop the vaping black market.

The issue has been growing since the turn of the decade, since which 4.18 million illegal vapes have been seized. Between 2020 and 2023, the number of illegal vapes seized increased 19 times.

Figures show more support is needed for trading standards and local authorities to keep up with the scale of the issue.

London and Greater Manchester in particular are being targeted by unscrupulous retailers and illegal vape sellers.

In 2023, the total number of illegal vapes seized from the areas accounted for 40% of the UK’s total and amounted to over half a million products taken off the streets.

Of the London boroughs that responded, 787 sellers were identified as being in possession of, stocking, or selling illegal vapes in 2023.

However, only three were fined or issued penalties (0.38%).

Source: Talking Retail, 10 April 2024

See also: Vape Club - The 2024 illegal vaping report ([link removed])

** Editorial note: Fines are just part of the picture when it comes to preventing underage sale of age-restricted products. If Trading standards receive intelligence that a business is not complying, they would likely be contacted to ensure they are aware of their responsibilities and warn them that Trading Standards have powers to conduct test purchases. If the business fails a test purchase, Trading Standards will take a considered approach based on the local enforcement policy and may issue a warning rather than go straight to prosecution. Should they decide to prosecute, then there is a wait due to a backlog in court cases.
Read Here ([link removed])

** Print only: Private Eye - Under the influence

New light has been shed on the cosy links between government and organisations funded by the alcohol industry, thanks to digging by the academics from the University of Edinburgh and the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine.

Back in 2018, the Department for Health and Social care’s agency Public Health England (PHE- now dissolved) decided to partner with the alcohol industry funded DrinkAware for a campaign.

At the time, more than 40 experts warned that partnering with DrinkAware, which has been criticised for promoting industry-favourable understandings of alcohol harm, would “significantly damage” PHE’s credibility and a senior PHE adviser resigned over the issue.

Using correspondence obtained under freedom of information, the academics have revealed that a month prior to the campaign, the then PHE chief Duncan Selbie had explained to DrinkAware that “the wider public health family” believed the charity had “a poor track record of speaking to the evidence” and that they had counselled him “in the strongest terms to withdraw PHE support”. Despite this, he confirmed: “You should know this is not going to happen”.

The government agency’s confident defence of the industry funded charity is particularly odd given correspondence also shows Selbie felt the need that September to propose a review of the charity’s website to “address the undeniable perception” that it “is not speaking to the evidence or where it does, only partially”.

This February, the first oral evidence session of the Commons health committee focusing on the prevention of alcohol-related harm was held. Unsurprisingly, one of the figures called to their pearls of wisdom was the chief executive of DrinkAware.

Source: Private Eye, 10 April 2024 (Print Only)

** International

** USA: Opponents of smoking in casinos try to enlist shareholders of gambling companies in non-smoking push

A national non-smoking group and a Michigan health system have placed shareholder proposals on the agenda of annual meetings for two major gambling companies and are likely to add a third.

The measures ask the companies to study potential financial benefits of going smoke-free at their casino properties.

And while it remains to be seen whether the proposals will be approved by investors, the move represents yet another aspect of an effort by casino smoking foes to leave no stone unturned in their drive to end smoking in gambling halls. In New Jersey, that has included pushing lawmakers to legislate a ban, and filing a lawsuit in state court to overturn an indoor smoking law that exempts casinos.

Whether to ban smoking is one of the most controversial issues not only in Atlantic City casinos, but in other states where workers have expressed concern about secondhand smoke, including Rhode Island, Pennsylvania, Kansas and Virginia.

"We risk our lives every day just by going to work," said Pete Naccarelli, a longtime Borgata dealer and a leader of Casino Employees Against Smoking Effects, a group of workers pushing to end smoking at Atlantic City's nine casinos. ""It´s unacceptable, and long past time for casino corporations to end this outdated business practice. The least the casinos can do is study the impact of indoor smoking."

The gambling companies oppose smoking bans and the shareholder measures calling for a study. Bally's, Boyd and Caesars claimed the proposals involve ordinary business maters best decided by company management, and that the requests seek to micromanage the company.

Source: Daily Mail, 10 April 2024
Read Here ([link removed])

** Denmark: Will smoking keep you thin?

A recent study by researchers at the University of Copenhagen has debunked the oft-cited myth that smoking will help you to keep off the pounds.

Instead, the study, which looked at one and a half million Europeans who smoked, found that smoking actually increases belly fat.

It’s quite well-documented that when people stop smoking, their bodies start burning calories at a slower rate than before, causing them to gain weight.

This has led smokers to believe that continuing the habit will keep them slim. But according to the study, this isn't necessarily the case.

In particular, it found that smoking increases visceral fat – the unhealthy fat deep inside the abdomen that is linked to a higher risk of heart disease, diabetes, stroke, and dementia.

The study was based on two underlying European ancestry studies: a smoking study which looked at 1.2 million people who started smoking and over 450,000 lifetime smokers; and a body fat distribution study that included more than 600,000 people.

Dr Germán Carrasquilla, the study's lead author, said that the researchers' finding of a causal relationship disproved "the simplistic notion" that smoking keeps smokers thin.

"These findings challenge the common misconception that smoking universally leads to weight loss, emphasising that the health risks associated with smoking, including an increased risk of abdominal adiposity or belly fat," he said.

"It is important to note that quitting smoking has numerous health benefits beyond potential changes in body fat distribution," Carrasquilla said. "So it's not only about your body fat in your abdomen."

He noted that his study reinforces the well-known body of research showing that smoking is bad for you.

"People who might be afraid of quitting smoking due to putting on weight might find these findings motivating to quit smoking," he added. "Because smoking increases this problematic internal fat, which is a risk factor for many diseases like diabetes, cardiovascular disease, and metabolic conditions."

Source: Euro News, 10 April 2024

See also: Addiction - Estimating causality between smoking and abdominal obesity by Mendelian randomization ([link removed])
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