From Action on Smoking and Health <[email protected]>
Subject ASH Daily News for 7 May 2024
Date May 7, 2024 11:31 AM
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** 7 May 2024

** UK

** Opinion: The UK can lead the world on public health — but it must learn from New Zealand’s mistakes (#3)

** Prime minister questioned over vapes advertising on sports kits (#7)

** Will Big Tobacco’s ESG argument go up in smoke? (#2)

** Martin Raw obituary: Pioneering doctor in treatment of cigarette addiction (#6)

** International

** Experts condemn US tobacco firm’s sponsorship of doctor training as ‘grotesque’ (#1)

** UK

** Opinion: The UK can lead the world on public health — but it must learn from New Zealand’s mistakes

Writing in, Executive Director for Policy at Cancer Research UK, Dr Ian Walker reflects on the implications for New Zealand following the government’s decision to drop its pioneering age of sale smoking legislation.

Walker starts by praising New Zealand for being at the forefront of “many progressive tobacco control activities and global leadership of preventative public health measures.” He concedes that now under the coalition government, New Zealand is falling behind, due to the new government’s “disregard for the death, damage and destruction caused by tobacco.”

The age of sale legislation proposed in New Zealand, which is now being passed in the UK, garnered significant public support but was nevertheless repealed. Walker states this is “one of the most significant missed opportunities on health policy in recent history” and that “saving lives must transcend politics.”

Walker goes on to say that smoking is a “key and fundamental driver of the health inequalities” and “something you may choose to start, but it’s not something you can easily choose to stop once the addiction takes hold.”

Walker reflects that he is “disappointed” that the age of sale legislation was struck down in New Zealand but hopeful that the UK is taking this legislation forwards. He implores MPs to not make the same mistake as New Zealand and vote for the Tobacco and Vapes Bill.

Source:, 6 May 2024
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** Prime minister questioned over vapes advertising on sports kits

Concerns have been raised about vape companies appearing on football kits as sponsors.

During Prime Minister's Questions (PMQs), which gives elected members of parliament (MPs) the chance to ask the prime minister about different issues, MP Kirsten Oswald from the SNP, asked if vape companies should be banned from advertising on sports kits.

The question was raised ahead of a new law that aims to make vapes less appealing to children and will see restrictions on flavours, packaging and how they are sold in the UK.

Prime Minister Rishi Sunak responded by saying that decisions on sponsorship were for teams to make themselves.

Kirsten Oswald, the MP for East Renfrewshire in Scotland, believes that having vape companies on sports kits "sends entirely the wrong message to young people" and may encourage underage smoking and vaping.

According to research done by Action on Smoking and Health, one in five children had tried vaping in 2023.

Blackburn Rovers football club are currently sponsored by Totally Wicked, a brand that sells vapes and e-cigarette products and the company's logo appears on their team shirts.

Last year, a spokesperson for the club defended their team kit sponsors, saying: "We have seen no evidence to suggest that our sponsorship has encouraged an uptake of vaping among children.

"Vaping has a positive and proven role in supporting the reduction and ultimate eradication of smoking within our communities."

The English Football Association (FA) guidelines state that no products or services "detrimental to the welfare, health or general interest of young persons", or anything that is "otherwise considered inappropriate", can appear on kits worn by under 18s.

This includes items that have age restrictions, like alcohol, gambling and vaping. Advertising for products that contain tobacco, like cigarettes, is banned completely from football sponsorship.

The FA rules mean that Blackburn Rovers' child and youth kits do not feature the Totally Wicked brand.

Source: BBC Newsround, 3 May 2024

See also: ASH - Use of e-cigarettes among young people in Great Britain ([link removed])

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** Will Big Tobacco’s ESG argument go up in smoke?

“ESG is the devil,” Tesla chief executive Elon Musk wrote on X last year.

He was highlighting a report on how the biggest tobacco companies enjoy much higher scores from some environmental, social and governance rating providers than Musk’s electric car company.

It’s hard not to have some sympathy with Musk’s frustration on this point. S&P Global’s latest ESG score for Philip Morris International, whose cigarettes continue to cause ill health and death around the world, is 85 out of 100. The score for Tesla, with its transformational contribution to the shift away from fossil fuel in road transport, is just 40, below all of the world’s five biggest listed tobacco companies.

On April 16, UK lawmakers voted overwhelmingly in favour of a new law that will make it illegal for people born after 2009 ever to buy cigarettes. It’s the toughest tobacco law ever passed in a major economy. If many other nations were to follow suit, it would have dire long-term implications for the industry’s profits.

Yet the share prices of London-listed tobacco giants Imperial Brands and British American Tobacco have risen since the day before the bill’s approval, with both modestly outperforming the FTSE 100 index. That’s because this legislative approach is unlikely to catch on internationally — and might not even last in the UK, argues Rae Maile, a longtime tobacco analyst at brokerage Panmure Gordon.

In a research note last month, Jefferies analyst Owen Bennett argued that his ESG-focused clients should consider investing in tobacco companies that are shifting towards “reduced risk products” that don’t require burning, such as vapes and heated tobacco.

“The majority of smokers want to quit cigarettes, [but] only 10-15 per cent of smokers that try to quit nicotine are successful,” Bennett wrote. Therefore, he argued, alternative nicotine products can benefit public health — and as awareness of this grows, “we believe the sector becomes increasingly investable again”.

That suggestion is anathema to Bronwyn King, founder and director of the non-profit Tobacco-Free Portfolios, which has won UN support for its effort to persuade financiers to reduce their exposure the tobacco sector.

The Tobacco-Free Finance Pledge has been signed by more than 200 financial institutions managing more than $16tn, largely in Europe and Australia. Signatories are not required to boycott tobacco companies altogether but rather to “encourage the adoption of tobacco-free finance policies across lending, investment and insurance”, among other commitments.

“There’s no good tobacco company,” said King, a doctor who began her career on a lung cancer ward.

“There is no ethical tobacco company, there’s no responsible tobacco company, there’s no sustainable tobacco company.”

King pointed out that much of the growth in alternative nicotine product sales had been driven by young people who had not previously smoked cigarettes.

She dismissed the idea that investors could achieve positive impact by pushing tobacco companies’ management in a better direction. “This is the big difference for tobacco, in that engagement is futile,” she told me. “Because the only outcome that is acceptable is that the tobacco company ceases to exist.”

Source: Financial Times, 6 May 2024

See also: UN Environmental Programme - The Tobacco-Free Finance Pledge ([link removed])
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** Martin Raw obituary: Pioneering doctor in treatment of cigarette addiction

In 1982 Martin Raw co-authored the first clinical trial showing that nicotine gum was effective in helping people to stop smoking. In 1998 he produced England’s first evidence-based guidelines on how to treat tobacco dependence, resulting in the first national network of smoking cessation services. The number of UK smokers fell from 27 per cent of the population in 1998 to 12.9 per cent in 2022.

Raw’s UK work, meanwhile, became a template for a trail-blazing international programme — a much needed one given that the World Health Organisation estimates that more than eight million people a year die prematurely from tobacco. In 2000 Raw founded for the Society for Research on Nicotine and Tobacco.

He ran the repository for evidence-based information, in 11 languages, for 11 years. The European Court of Auditors used one of the papers Raw co-authored in its report on EU tobacco subsidies. This culminated in the phasing out in 2004 of production-linked payments for tobacco growers in tobacco-producing EU states.

In 2010 he led a working group of 36 countries to draft cessation guidelines for the world’s first UN treaty on health: the Framework Convention on Tobacco Control. And in 2015 he created and directed the International Centre for Tobacco Cessation to help countries develop national strategies. The author of eight books and more than 50 papers, he also carried out a major investigation into cigarette smuggling in Europe.

Martin Raw, academic, was born on May 22, 1950. He died from respiratory failure on April 13, 2024, aged 73.

Source: The Times, 7 May 2024
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** International

** Experts condemn US tobacco firm’s sponsorship of doctor training as ‘grotesque’

The tobacco company Philip Morris has sponsored courses for doctors in multiple countries, in what critics have called a “grotesque” strategy.

Medical education programmes on quitting smoking and harm reduction in South Africa, the Middle East and the US have been supported by Philip Morris International (PMI) or its regional subsidiaries, according to advertising material seen by the Guardian.

The World Health Organization (WHO) said there was a risk that public health efforts could be undermined and called for partnerships of this kind to be banned.

Dr Tess Legg, of the Tobacco Control Research Group at the University of Bath, said sponsoring medical education was part of a “strategy to influence how science is used in medical practice and an attempt to rebuild the industry’s credibility among health professionals”.

Nicholas Hopkinson, a professor of respiratory medicine at Imperial College London, said: “Based on its market share (around 15%), and the global death toll from smoking (more than 8 million annually), Philip Morris kills at least a million people every year. The idea that it should have any role in medical education is grotesque.”

The sponsored courses allow participants to collect credits showing they are engaging in post-qualification learning. Typically, doctors must collect a certain number of these “continuing medical education” (CME) or “continuing professional development” (CPD) points annually to continue practising.

Hopkinson called for bodies that provide or regulate medical education to “produce explicit statements and policies that tobacco industry involvement is completely forbidden”.

Dr Rüdiger Krech, the director of health promotion at the WHO, called on certification authorities to ban partnerships with tobacco and related industries in medical education. “There’s a clear commercial interest that could spread misinformation undermining public health efforts,” he said.

One doctors’ organisation in South Africa, the Alliance of South African Independent Practitioners Associations (Asaipa), has offered webinars on harm reduction in public health “sponsored by Philip Morris South Africa”.

A number of online courses run by the training provider Middle East Medical have received Philip Morris sponsorship, including a seminar for healthcare workers and researchers in the region on 26 April last year “sponsored by Philip Morris Management Services (Middle East) Ltd”. Content included “obstacles to implementing harm reduction” and “what is the evidence base for harm reduction in smoking”. A spokesperson said the company “stopped working with PMI in 2023”.

Dr Ahmad Abbadi, the regional coordinator for the eastern Mediterranean at the Global Alliance for Tobacco Control, said he feared tobacco companies were targeting countries with weaker laws and regulations, particularly around conflicts of interest.

Source: The Guardian, 3 May 2024

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