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31 March 2021

UK

Tobacco companies fume at picking up the tab for butt litter

DHSC promises to strengthen DPH and council public health role

International

Study: The effectiveness of covid-related smoking cessation messages

New Zealand: Cancer Society launches petition to restrict the number of tobacco sale outlets

Parliamentary Activity

Parliamentary questions

UK

Tobacco companies fume at picking up the tab for butt litter

 

The tobacco industry is facing a £40 million annual bill to clean up discarded cigarette butts as part of a government drive to protect the environment. In a move that has surprised manufacturers, ministers are considering the regulations after deciding a voluntary system was unlikely to work.
 
The Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (DEFRA) said cleaning up littered cigarette butts costs local authorities £40 million a year. Rebecca Pow, the environment minister, said she was looking at “how cigarette companies can be held fully accountable for the unsightly scourge.” At an industry roundtable last September, companies were encouraged to consider whether a non-regulatory responsibility scheme could be developed, but the government has since decided that regulation may be more effective.
 
The plans were welcomed by Action on Smoking and Health (ASH). Deborah Arnott, the chief executive of ASH, said that the group was “delighted that ministers are working collaboratively to use environmental legislation to make tobacco manufacturers clear up the toxic waste caused by cigarette butts. This is exactly what ASH called for at a meeting between DEFRA and Keep Britain Tidy last summer, when a voluntary approach was under discussion. This is a good first step in delivering the cross-government approach to public health launched by the Prime Minister yesterday.”
 
Responding to the government’s plans, the Tobacco Manufacturers’ Association (TMA), which represents British American Tobacco, Imperial Brands and Japan Tobacco International, three of the world’s biggest tobacco groups, said it was “extremely surprised by this announcement today” and would be “seeking further clarification.”
 
The government believes the most effective way to tackle the problem is reducing smoking rates and is due to publish a new tobacco control plan for England this year to be a “smoke-free” country by 2030.


Source: The Times, 31 March 2021

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DHSC promises to strengthen DPH and council public health role


The government has revealed it has no intention of changing the scope of councils’ public health commissioning responsibilities as further details of its reform plan for the sector were published on Monday, 29th March 2021. A strengthened role for directors of public health (DPH) and councils over health promotion was promised in the policy paper, which also announces the creation of the Office of Health Promotion, one of the new successor organisations to Public Health England. 
 
In the policy paper, the Department of Health and Social Care (DHSC ) says: “ We will support local authorities and their directors of public health as leaders of the public health system for England and strengthen the role of integrated care systems (ICSs) driving joined-up local action on population health.”
 
The paper says councils play a “central role in providing local leadership for health improvement”, noting their “front line” role in the COVID-19 response.
“We want to preserve and build upon these strong foundations and further support and strengthen local public health systems and their leaders,” it states. “We are not proposing to make any changes to the scope of local authority public health commissioning responsibilities.”
 
The paper says ICSs must be a “genuine ‘partnership of equals’ between NHS and non-NHS bodies in order to improve population health – with local authorities and the NHS taking decisions together and adopting a broad-based approach which includes ‘upstream’ action on the wider determinants of health”. They will build on health and wellbeing boards and “the expertise of local DPHs.” DPHs should have an “official role” in the local health and care partnership and the local ICS body. “We will leave the precise arrangements for local determination, but this is a clear expectation, and we will issue guidance to support ICSs to ensure they have the appropriate level of public health involvement.”
 
Jo Bibby, director of health at the Health Foundation, said: “The recognition of the critical role of DPHs is welcome, but there is no indication that the historic cuts to local budgets will be restored. Nor did the recent budget make a long-term commitment to public health funding despite this year’s public health grant allocations representing a 24% cut in real terms per capita – equivalent to £1 billion – compared to 2015-16.”
 

Source: Local Government Chronicle, 29 March 2021

 

See also: DHSC - New Office for Health Promotion to drive improvement of nation’s health

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International

Study: The effectiveness of covid-related smoking cessation messages

 

An international survey that included a total of 1509 smokers across three countries (Australia, United Kingdom, and New Zealand) has found that cessation messaging focused on easing the burden on health systems is most effective in encouraging people to quit.
 
The research, which was conducted in April-May 2020, randomly assigned participants to view one of four quit smoking messages, two of which explicitly referenced health implications and COVID-19. One referred to the risk of chest infection, and the other one highlighted financial motivation for quitting.
 
Researchers from the George Institute for Global Health found that all four messages effectively increased participants’ intentions to quit within a fortnight and prompting them to seek additional information around COVID-19 risk. The differences in intentions were significantly larger for the two health-related messages that specifically mentioned coronavirus to both personal consequences and the impact on the health system’s functioning. About 34% of participants reported intention to quit, and 44% sought additional information about the risks of COVID for smokers.
 
The researchers suggest the study can help tailor such communication for optimal impact, prioritising messages that reference COVID-related health risk.

 Source: Medical Xpress, 30 March 2021

See also: Nicotine & Tobacco Research - The Potential Effectiveness of COVID-Related Smoking Cessation Messages in Three Countries

Read Article

New Zealand: Cancer Society launches petition to restrict the number of tobacco sale outlets

 

The Cancer Society has launched a petition calling for a significant reduction in the number of stores that can sell tobacco.
 
About 4000 shops sell tobacco in New Zealand, but the charity would like that to drop as low as 200. More than half a million adults are thought to be smokers in New Zealand, and each year about 4000 people die from smoking-related disease. Shayne Nahu Cancer Society advocacy and wellbeing manager said restricting tobacco access would help reduce some of those health issues and steer New Zealand towards its smokefree 2025 goal. 
 
University of Otago Department of Public Health professor Richard Edwards said limiting tobacco availability was crucial. However, support must be in place for those who were addicted to nicotine. 
 
The Cancer Society said smoking was still the single most preventable cause of cancer and premature death in New Zealand, killing more people than road accidents, murder, suicide, alcohol and other drugs combined.
 
The government has signalled it will unveil a plan for reaching Smokefree 2025 as a priority, and the Cancer Society hopes the petition will spark radical legal moves around tobacco sale.
 
Source: Radio New Zealand, 31 March 2021

Read Article

Parliamentary Activity

Parliamentary questions

PQ1: Smoking

Asked by Mr Gregory Campbell, East Londonderry

To ask the Secretary of State for Health and Social Care, whether the Government's target to reduce the number of adults who smoke to less than 12 per cent by 2022 is still in place.

Answered by Jo Churchill MP, The Parliamentary Under-Secretary for Health and Social Care

Current smoking prevalence in adults is at a historic low of 13.9%. The ambition set in the current Tobacco Control Plan to reduce adult smoking prevalence to 12% or less by the end of 2022 remains. A new Tobacco Control plan is due to be published later this year and will set out further ambitions to deliver a smoke free country by 2030.

Source: Hansard, 29 March 2021

 

PQ2: Tobacco: Children

Asked by Shabana Mahmood, Birmingham, Ladywood

To ask the Secretary of State for Justice, how many businesses selling shisha were prosecuted for selling shisha tobacco to under-18s in each of the past three calendar years.

Answered by Chris Philp, Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Immigration Compliance and Courts

It is not possible to separately identify prosecutions for the specific offence of selling shisha tobacco to under-18s in the Ministry of Justice court proceedings database.

Details on prosecutions and outcomes relating to the broader offence of “144 Selling Tobacco to Juvenile” can be found by selecting the offence in the ‘Offence’ filter of the following tool:

https://assets.publishing.service.gov.uk/government/uploads/system/uploads/attachment_data/file/938568/outcomes-by-offence-tool-2019.xlsx

These offences fall under the legislation of Children and Young Persons (Sale of Tobacco etc.) Order 2007, amending the previous Children and Young Persons (Protection from Tobacco) Act 1991.

Source: Hansard, 29 March 2021

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