From Action on Smoking and Health <[email protected]>
Subject ASH Daily News for 17 April 2024
Date April 17, 2024 12:51 PM
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** 17 April 2024

** UK

** MPs vote for smoking ban despite Tories’ division over policy (#1)

** The Times view on smoking: Fake Freedom (#2)

** Big mood shift behind Rishi Sunak’s smoking ban is overlooked (#3)

** Sainsbury’s and Asda among supermarkets funding lobbying against vape ban (#4)

** Parliamentary Activity

** Tobacco and Vapes Bill 2nd Reading (#5)

** UK

** MPs vote for smoking ban despite Tories’ division over policy

The House of Commons voted by 383 to 67 in favour of the prime minister’s plan to make it illegal for anyone born in 2009 or later to buy tobacco products in the UK.
The legislation, which would effectively ban smoking for future generations by raising the legal age every year, is seen by the prime minister’s allies as a key part of his political legacy.

However the result, voted against by 57 Tory MPs – including Kemi Badenoch– underlined the depth of division within the party even over Sunak’s flagship policies.

Labour has thrown its weight behind the plan, which was unveiled at the Tory party conference in October, ensuring that it sailed through the Commons. More than 100 Tory MPs abstained, although some of them will have been absent from the Commons for reasons unrelated to the vote.

Badenoch, the business secretary, was the only cabinet minister to vote against the legislation. Five other ministers – Julia Lopez, Alex Burghart, Steve Baker, Lee Rowley and Andrew Griffith – also voted against it. Penny Mordaunt, the Commons leader, was among dozens of Tory MPs who abstained.

Several Tory MPs with links to the vaping industry spoke in opposition to the bill. Mark Eastwood, the vice-chair of the all-party parliamentary group for responsible vaping, argued it would push people from vaping to smoking. Adam Afriyie, who received an award last year from a vaping industry group, said he could not support the proposal because it would treat adults differently according to their age.

Senior Tories including Sajid Javid, the former health secretary, and Steve Brine, the chair of the health select committee, spoke in favour of the legislation and said it would relieve pressure on the NHS and free future generations from smoking addictions. Polling by Savanta published on Tuesday suggested that 64% of Conservative voters were in favour of the plan.

After the vote Deborah Arnott, the chief executive of Action on Smoking and Health, said: “Parliament has today begun the process of consigning smoking to the ‘ash heap’ of history.

“However, this is only the first step, the bill must now go through committee and another vote before going through the same process in the House of Lords. The passage of the bill should be expedited to ensure it is on the statute book before the general election.”

Source: The Guardian, 16 March 2024

Read Here ([link removed])

** The Times view on smoking: Fake Freedom

In this Times Leading Article, the authors put forward that “the “right” to smoke is a fake freedom, a cynical fiction punted by the most murderous industry of modern times.” They say that nobody could look at the evidence on the damage smoking causes and conclude otherwise.

They continue that the only freedom to be associated with nicotine is the act of freeing oneself from an addiction to it, which is a difficult process. The authors make clear that arguments for freedom in relation to smoking are making an argument for allowing people to poison themselves to death. They offer a comparison to gun laws in America, to point out that governments ban lots of lethal things. “Britons are less free than Americans when it comes to owning a handgun or semi-automatic carbine but distinctly more “free” when it comes to surviving a robbery”.

The authors dismiss worry about the few conservative MPs who did not vote in favour of the Tobacco and Vapes Bill at second reading yesterday, instead saying that the Bill “is an exceptional public health measure supported by most Conservative voters.” They quote forecasting which suggests by 2040 some 10 million fewer cigarettes will be sold in the UK each day, and that tobacco related illness will drop, seeing a reduction in the 409,000 smoking related hospital admissions in 2022-23.

Responding to the possibility of a jump in the black market, or the fact that people of a similar age will be treated differently in relation to the purchase of tobacco, they write “so be it. A line must be drawn…perfect should not be the enemy of the good”.

In a final assessment of the appeals to freedom advanced by Liz Truss and Boris Johnson against the Bill, the authors offer a quote from Chris Whitty, chief medical officer for England, who recently stated “The great majority of smokers wish they had never started,” he said. “This is a product which is designed to take your choice away from you.” The authors conclude, “smoking is enslavement, not freedom.”

Source: The Times, 16 April 2024

Read Here ([link removed])

** Big mood shift behind Rishi Sunak’s smoking ban is overlooked

Writing in the Financial Times, Stephen Bush argues that much of the reporting of last night’s vote on the Government’s Tobacco and Vapes Bill overlooks just how far the political consensus has shifted over time.

For Bush, the important historical comparison is the 2006 vote on banning smoking in enclosed public places. When this was voted on at least 125 Conservative MPs voted against it, over half of the entire Conservative parliamentary party. Bush compares this to now, with just 57 out of 347 Conservative MPs have opposing banning smoking for everyone born after 1 January 2009.

For Bush, this decline in opposition among both Conservative and Labour politicians shows that “Sunak’s phased ban on smoking is a policy change that will endure and outlast him as a result.”

Source: The Financial Times, 17 April 2024
Read Here ([link removed])

** Sainsbury’s and Asda among supermarkets funding lobbying against vape ban

Sainsbury’s, Asda and other supermarkets are funding a group that is lobbying MPs to block a ban on disposable vapes and water down regulations, i can reveal.
The retailers are members of the Association of Convenience Stores (ACS), a trade body, which wrote to MPs urging them to raise its concerns about the Tobacco and Vapes Bill in its first debate on Tuesday.

The ACS told i it has received £120,000 in annual subscription fees from four tobacco and vaping companies: British American Tobacco, Japan Tobacco International, Philip Morris International and Imperial Brands.

Four more vaping firms have given the group £74,000 in subscriptions.
The findings follow an i investigation which found vaping firms are funding a new pressure group of MPs attempting to water down plans to regulate the industry. The industry has donated £470,000 to MPs and parliamentary groups over the last six years.

The ACS’s members include Asda, Sainsbury’s and Waitrose. Morrisons, Co-Op, Southern Co-Op and Spar are members with representatives on the group’s board.
Asda and Waitrose acknowledged they are members of the ACS but said they are in favour of a ban on disposable vapes.

Major retailers have each paid up to £17,410 a year for their memberships.
Deborah Arnott, chief executive of Action on Smoking and Health, a charity, told i: “We are concerned about ACS being too close to the tobacco industry – and listening to the industry rather than their members.”

In its call to action the ACS says: “We do not believe that a ban on disposable vapes represents an effective policy intervention.”

Ms Arnott said polling it commissioned in January of nearly 1,000 independent shops, including more than 500 convenience stores, found most were supportive of the bill.
She told i: “ACS lobbying is straight from the playbook of Big Tobacco, and doesn’t reflect their members’ views. A representative poll of retailers finds that the legislation is supported by the majority of convenience stores – more than twice as many as oppose them, and the overwhelming majority support requiring proof of age.”

Ms Arnott said the ACS has a “track record of following the tobacco industry line”, having opposed previous rules banning the display of tobacco products and requiring plain packaging.

She said Action on Smoking and Health is worried that MPs will be “misled by what the ACS is saying”.

A spokesperson for Asda said the company supports the current Tobacco and Vapes Bill, including the full ban on disposable vapes, as well as restrictions on placement, flavours, and the marketing of all vapes.

A Waitrose spokesperson said: “As the first supermarket to announce our intention to never sell disposable vapes, we absolutely support the Government’s ban.”

Morrisons, Co-op and Southern Co-op declined to comment. Sainsbury’s and Spar did not respond to a request for comment.

Source: The i, 16 April 2024

See also: New polling shows majority of small retailers support the government’s smokefree generation policy ([link removed])
Read Here ([link removed])

** Parliamentary Activity

** Tobacco and Vapes Bill 2nd reading

The Tobacco and Vapes Bill had its second reading in Parliament yesterday, followed by a vote on the Bill. MPs voted in favour of the Bill with 383 for vs 67 against, meaning that the Bill will now proceed to committee stage.

See a full list of of how each MP voted here ([link removed] )

Find a transcript of the parliamentary debate here ([link removed])

Read Here ([link removed] )
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