From Action on Smoking and Health <[email protected]>
Subject ASH Daily News for 16 April 2024
Date April 16, 2024 11:35 AM
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** 16 April 2024

** UK

** MPs to vote on smoking ban for those born after 2009 (#1)

** Opinion: This new bill could wipe out smoking and vaping – the only losers would be those who profit from it (#2)

** Chris Whitty urges MPs to ignore lobbying and pass Tobacco and Vapes bill (#3)

** Tory ministers threaten to vote against Rishi Sunak’s smoking ban (#4)

** Letters: Smoke-free Britain (#5)

** UK

** MPs to vote on smoking ban for those born after 2009

MPs are to debate plans for some of the world's toughest anti-tobacco laws.

Rishi Sunak wants to make Generation Alpha, born since 2009, the UK's first smoke-free generation in a major public health intervention.

Sale of tobacco to anyone turning 15 from this year would be banned under the Tobacco and Vapes Bill, which also makes vapes less appealing to children.

The bill would make the sale of tobacco products, rather than the act of smoking, illegal.

Health Secretary Victoria Atkins said the bill would save thousands of lives and "ease the strain" on the NHS.

She said: "Too many people know someone whose life has been tragically cut short or irreversibly changed because of smoking, which despite significant progress remains the UK's biggest preventable killer.

"The truth is that there is no safe level of tobacco consumption. It is uniquely harmful and that is why we are taking this important action today to protect the next generation."

The bill is being given its second reading today, which is the first opportunity for MPs to debate and vote on the broad issue, before more detailed scrutiny takes place in further stages.

Speaking to BBC Breakfast, the Lib Dem leader Sir Ed Davey said: 'I've seen the health impacts of smoking tobacco, there's no good outcome, it's always bad, it's the leading cause of preventable death in our country."

Health organisations and charities have lined up to urge MPs to support the bill, including Dr Charmaine Griffiths, British Heart Foundation chief executive, who said the law would be a "game-changer".

She added: "Decisive action is needed to end this ongoing public health tragedy - we urge every MP to vote for this landmark legislation."

Professor Steve Turner, president of the Royal College for Paediatrics and Child Health, said the change would undoubtedly save lives.

He said: "By stopping children and young people from becoming addicted to nicotine and tobacco we decrease their chances of developing preventable diseases later in life, and will protect children from the harms of nicotine addiction."

Source: BBC News, 16 April 2024

See also: House of Commons - Tobacco and Vapes Bill ([link removed].)
Read Here ([link removed])

** Opinion: This new bill could wipe out smoking and vaping – the only losers would be those who profit from it

Writing in The Guardian, Chief Medical Officer, Prof Chris Whitty strongly advocates for the passing of the Tobacco and Vapes Bill, stating “the only losers would be those who profit from it”.

Whitty starts by discussing addiction and the lack of agency many smokers have in giving up their deathly habit and how this year alone 80,000 people that will die in the UK due to smoking. He goes on to highlight the impact smoking has on the most vulnerable, and how it smoking-related diseases disproportionately affect those living in the most deprived areas, writing “about one-third of smokers in England living in the most deprived two deciles.”

Whitty writes that the Tobacco and Vapes Bill, which will raise the age of sale of tobacco by one year every year for those aged 14 and below and will heavily regulate against the sale and advertising of vapes to children, has it’s second reading in parliament today (April 16th) and if passed will have a “major effect on preventing disease”. Whitty points to the overwhelming support the bill has from medical professionals and health charities as well as the public due to the dire effects smoking has on the population.

Whitty states “70% of lung cancer cases, the UK’s largest cause of cancer deaths, are caused by tobacco, along with premature smoking-related strokes, heart disease and dementia.” He makes the argument that if the bill were to pass, there be a substantial decrease in death and disease in the younger generation, who will not be able to purchase tobacco, saving thousands of lives. He adds that the earliest positive impact of the bill with be on pregnant smokers, as most expectant mothers who smoke are younger and are from the most deprived communities, the bill would help decrease rates of still birth and premature birth.

Whitty said the tobacco industry was the “one gainer from the death and disease induced by their products”, adding: “Their talking points, usually introduced by paid lobbyists, need to be addressed head on. They try to link their products to ‘choice’ despite the fact their sales are based on addiction (taking choice away).

“They always claim illegal cigarette sales will go up with new control measures, despite the evidence that they actually go down (due to reduced demand).”

Whitty concludes by drawing attention to how the tobacco industry profits off the addiction of its users, and how the argument that illegal cigarettes will flood the market is contrary to evidence that sales will actually go down. He finishes by saying that if the Tobacco and Vapes Bill passes it will be “a major step forward in public health with a substantial positive effect on preventing disease, disability and death long into the future.”

Source: The Guardian, 16 April 2024

See also: House of Commons - Tobacco and Vapes Bill ([link removed].)
Read Here ([link removed])

** Chris Whitty urges MPs to ignore lobbying and pass Tobacco and Vapes bill

Chris Whitty has said lobbying by big tobacco “needs to be addressed head on”, as email evidence emerged of campaigning tactics being used to put pressure on MPs to sink Rishi Sunak’s smoking ban bill.

The landmark legislation, which would make the United Kingdom the first country in the world to ban sales of cigarettes to anyone born after 2009 is due to be debated in parliament for the first time today.

Although some of its positive effects would take decades to emerge, Whitty said many would be immediate, such as reducing asthma attacks in children exposed to secondhand smoke among their peers.

His intervention came after the Guardian disclosed that the tobacco industry was lobbying MPs to oppose the legislation and instead seeking support for raising the smoking age from 18 to 21 in an attempt to avoid an outright ban on buying cigarettes for the next generation.

Writing in the Guardian, Whitty accused the firms of trying to pass off new tobacco products as safe, such as with low-tar cigarettes and cigarette filters. “No tobacco products are safe,” he said.

Fresh evidence has emerged of the tactics being used to try to derail the bill. One amendment being pushed for would introduce licensing for shops selling vapes, a measure that anti-smoking campaigners say is designed to slow down the passage of legislation by burdening it with add-ons.

Deborah Arnott, the chief executive of Action on Smoking and Health (ASH), said BAT was not proposing a vaping licence for the benefit of public health.

“This is purely an attempt by the company to burden the bill with complicated extra measures which will slow down its progress,” she said. “If they can prevent the bill from being put on the statute book by the time of the general election, an incoming government will have to start all over again. It’s a well-known tobacco industry tactic called throwing ‘sand in the gears’.”

Polling is also being used to influence the debate. Forest, the self-styled “smokers’ rights” campaign group, has urged MPs to reject the bill, describing it as “ageist”.

“If you are legally an adult, it’s ageist if you are denied the same rights as adults who may be only a year or two older than you are,” said Forest’s director, Simon Clark. He cited a poll that found 64% of the public believed people should be allowed to buy cigarettes if they were allowed to drive a car, join the army, possess a credit card, buy alcohol and vote at 18.

However, Peter Kellner, a former president of YouGov and trustee of Ash, criticised what he said was the use of “loaded” polling questions to generate responses that would support the tobacco lobby’s campaign.

“There are all sorts of ways to elicit a response and one of them is to imply that there is some sort of cliff edge that will stop people smoking and seek a yes or no to that,” he said. “If you ask a question that makes it look like there will be a sudden change then it will tend to produce a response that is one of resistance.”

Recent polling by YouGov for A ([link removed]) SH ([link removed]) last year found that 78% of the public in Great Britain support the government’s smoke-free ambitions.

Source: The Guardian, 16 April 2024

See also: House of Commons - Tobacco and Vapes Bill ([link removed].)

Read Here ([link removed])

** Tory ministers threaten to vote against Rishi Sunak’s smoking ban

Kemi Badenoch, the business secretary, is among a handful of cabinet ministers considering voting against Rishi Sunak’s smoking ban on Tuesday.

Ministers are confident of limiting Tory opposition to a few dozen MPs, insisting that there has been surprisingly strong support from backbenchers.

However, the potential for prominent dissenters is being closely watched in a free vote that will offer an indicator of opinion within the Conservative Party as it prepares for a post-election battle over its future.

MPs will have their first chance to vote on the Tobacco and Vapes Bill on Tuesday (16th April), which makes it illegal for anyone born after 2008 to ever buy cigarettes, as well clamping down on e-cigarettes that appeal to children.

The legislation is certain to pass as Labour will back it, while Tory MPs have been given a free vote that offers them the chance to oppose the prime minister’s policy without penalty.

Liz Truss and Boris Johnson have led Conservative opposition to the phased smoking ban, describing it as “nanny state” and “absolutely nuts” respectively. Sir Jacob Rees-Mogg, the former business secretary and Suella Braverman, the former home secretary, have also signalled they will vote against it.

Ministers believe that “the vast majority” of the cabinet will vote for the policy, suggesting that predictions of 80-100 rebel MPs are overblown and that ultimately the number opposed will be “much lower”. About ten MPs have expressed vocal opposition during conversations with ministers and it is expected that more will decide to vote against it in the final day before the debate.

Yet government sources suggest that fewer than 50 votes against are expected, while more sceptical Tory MPs will abstain.

Polls suggest that more than 70 per cent of Conservative voters support the policy and Victoria Atkins, the health secretary, said at the weekend that “protecting children is a very, very Conservative value”, adding: “This is about protecting future generations from an addiction to nicotine. No smoker wants to take up smoking. They regret it. And we want to stop children from doing that and taking up this very, very harmful habit.”

Source: The Times, 15 April 2024

Read Here ([link removed])

** Letters: Smoke-free Britain

“Today, MPs will vote at the second reading of the Tobacco and Vapes Bill. The Bill will help secure a smoke-free generation by raising the age of sale of tobacco by one year, every year.

Tobacco has a disproportionate impact on the most disadvantaged communities, putting unnecessary pressure on NHS resources, costing taxpayers money, and contributing to economic inactivity by causing poor health and premature death.

The majority of tobacco retailers and the public, including people who smoke, support the legislation, which will remove the blight of smoking from future generations. Support for the Bill can be found among all sectors of society, and across the whole political spectrum. Passing and implementing the Tobacco and Vapes Bill will be a legacy that MPs can be proud of, supporting one of the most monumental public-health interventions for decades.

We are among a coalition of more than 300 health organisations urging MPs to back the Bill. In this general election year, they have the chance to make Britain the world-leader in tobacco control.”


** Signed by: Deborah Arnott, Chief Executive, ASH, Ian Walker, Executive Director of Policy, Information and Communications, Cancer Research UK, Sarah Woolnough, Chief Executive, The King’s Fund, Colette Marshall, CEO, Diabetes UK, Professor Steve Turner, President, Royal College of Paediatrics and Child Health, Greg Fell, President, Association of Directors of Public Health, Ailsa Rutter, Director, Fresh and Balance, Dr Matthew Davies, President, Association of Anaesthetists, Professor Kevin Fenton, President, Faculty of Public Health, Dr Clea Harmer, Chief Executive, Sands, Co-Chair, Smoking in Pregnancy Challenge Group, Samantha Benham Hermetz, Executive Director of Policy and Communications, Alzheimer’s Research UK, Professor Kamila Hawthorne, Chair, Royal College of General Practitioners, Professor Sanjay Agrawal, Special Adviser on Tobacco, Royal College of Physicians, Scott Crosby, Breathe 2025, Professor Linda Bauld, Director, SPECTRUM Research Consortium, Co-Chair, Smoking in
Pregnancy Challenge Group, William Roberts, CEO, Royal Society for Public Health, Dr Sarah McNulty, Director of Public Health for Knowsley, Lead Director of Public Health for Smokefree Cheshire and Merseyside, Champs Public Health Collaborative, Jenny Ward, Chief Executive, The Lullaby Trust, Kath Abrahams, CEO, Tommy’s, Suzanne Cass, CEO, ASH Wales, Alison Morton, CEO, Institute of Health Visiting, Mark Rowland, Chief Executive, Mental Health Foundation, Sarah Sleet, Chief Executive, Asthma + Lung UK, Dr Andy McEwen, Chief Executive, National Centre for Smoking Cessation and Training, Andy Bell, CEO, Centre for Mental Health, Ed Davie, Chair, Mental Health Policy Group, Dr Charmaine Griffiths, Chief Executive, British Heart Foundation, Tim Mitchell, President, Royal College of Surgeons of England, Professor David Strain, Board of Science Chair, Dr Penelope Toff, Public Health Medicine Committee Chair, British Medical Association, Dr Lade Smith, President, Royal College of Psychiatrists, Dr
Ranee Thakar, President, Royal College of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists, Tricia Bryant, Executive Director and Head of Operations, Primary Care Respiratory Society

Source: The Telegraph, 16 April 2024
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