Copy

13 September 2021

UK

Social care plan will help just a tenth of UK’s older people in need

Opinion: Why smoking may be a sackable offence

Block Vectura takeover, Philip Morris investors urged

Cancer charity policy manager slams Philip Morris’s bid to buy Vectura ahead of a shareholder vote

International

BAT negotiated bribe for Mugabe, new evidence suggests

UK

Social care plan will help just a tenth of UK’s older people in need

 

Boris Johnson’s flagship plan to fix social care will benefit a fraction of the people who need help, as charities and campaigners urge ministers to act now or see thousands being left without any care at all.

According to government documents, after it comes into effect in 2023, the new policy will directly help about 150,000 more people at any one time. But already, about 850,000 older people who receive care have at least some of the costs paid by local authorities.

But while the prime minister’s £36 billion national insurance tax rise focused on how care will be paid for after 2023, he made no provision to ensure that the sector survives the crisis engulfing it now. There is also concern that council taxes will have to rise from next spring to help local authorities pay care costs and avoid another round of deep, punishing cuts in other services. The care plan announced by the government last Tuesday explicitly pointed towards council tax having to take extra strain over future years.

Kate Ogden, a research economist at the Institute for Fiscal Studies, said: “Unless more generous funding for councils is announced at the upcoming spending review, we can still expect significant council tax rises in the coming years if rising needs and the myriad of pressures facing other council services are to be met.”

Those working in social care hope that in his 27 October spending review, Rishi Sunak will announce extra funding for the sector.
 
Source:  The Guardian, 12 September 2021

Read Article

Opinion: Why smoking may be a sackable offence

 

Pilita Clark, an associate editor and business columnist at Financial Times, discusses why some employers are taking a tough line on employee smoking. 

Clark highlights the case of the Nomura firm in Japan, which has banned staff from smoking on the job, even when they work from home. On the question of whether this approach could be applied in the UK, Jo Mackie, head of employment in London at the Slater and Gordon law firm thinks that it could be possible: “an employer could successfully argue that, since the law forbids smoking in a substantially enclosed space in a workplace, the room a person works in at home should be smoke-free too.”

Clark observes that some global health organisations like the World Health Organization (WHO) already have a policy not to hire smokers, citing their mission to “stamp out tobacco, a leading cause of preventable death that kills more than 8 million people worldwide each year.” However, this policy has also been introduced by the US-based U-Haul moving and storage company which has announced that it would no longer hire “nicotine users.”

The author argues that because smoking is an “addiction that disproportionately affects the poor and the disadvantaged” even some tobacco control advocates are wary of such tactics. Deborah Arnott, chief executive of ASH, says “in the old days’ everyone smoked.” That has changed, she adds, and blocking poorer or less educated people from work because they smoke “doesn’t seem right or fair.” Deborah states that it is "better for bosses to help staff to quit, rather than bully them or refuse to hire them.”

Clark concludes by saying: “I agree. Smoking is a scourge, and the sooner it ends, the better. But when it comes to stamping it out at work, employers should tread very carefully indeed.”

Source: Financial Times, 12 September 2021

Read Article

Block Vectura takeover, Philip Morris investors urged

 

The UK’s largest lung disease charity has urged shareholders to block a big tobacco takeover of drugmaker Vectura ahead of a deadline on Wednesday. Sarah Woolnough, chief executive of Asthma UK and the British Lung Foundation, urged investors to oppose the £1 billion swoop by Philip Morris International (PMI) on Vectura. This company plays a leading role in tackling diseases caused by smoking.
 
Writing for The Telegraph, Ms Woolnough dismissed claims that the Swiss-headquartered Marlboro maker is seeking to end sales of cigarettes. She said PMI’s past “actions speak louder than words” and that it “continues to aggressively market [cigarettes] across the globe to get successive generations addicted to smoking, with scant regard for the consequences.” Vectura would be frozen out of the pharmaceuticals industry if the deal goes ahead, she said. PMI has already bought 29.2% of the company. 
 
Every year in the UK, 90,000 people will die from conditions caused by smoking, such as COPD and lung cancer. Over 100,000 will be admitted to NHS hospitals for respiratory diseases linked to smoking. Behind these figures are many human stories of loss and misery caused by an addiction to tobacco products. 
 
Ms Woolough states that Philip Morris talks about a “commitment to a future without cigarettes”. But the best thing the company could do right now is use its vast profits to back a tobacco levy that would support people who have become ill as a result of using its products. That is what we and many others have spent years advocating for. The company’s opposition to this measure suggests it is not serious about supporting people with lung disease. She urges Vectura shareholders to ask themselves whether Philip Morris’s actions will really deliver a “smoke-free future” or if its commitments are just hollow words.
 
Source: The Telegraph, 12 September 2021

Read Article

Cancer charity policy manager slams Philip Morris’s bid to buy Vectura ahead of a shareholder vote

 

Alizee Froguel, a policy manager at Cancer Research UK, has slammed tobacco giant Philip Morris’s bid to buy a British inhaler company as it closes in on the deal. Alizee said tobacco companies cannot be trusted to stop selling cigarettes to “reach smoke-free ambitions.”
 
She said: “As someone struggling with severe asthma and also working to reduce smoking’s toll on society, I’m shocked by the idea that a tobacco company may soon profit from my disease. Though Philip Morris International claims critics of the deal aren’t letting them move away from tobacco and become part of the smoke-free world, it’s difficult to take this seriously when acquiring Vectura could incentivise the company to sell more cigarettes.
 
“This is because they would not only profit from the sales of cigarettes but also from treating diseases made more prevalent by these sales. We can’t rely on the corporate conscience of Big Tobacco.” 
 
Her comments come before the deadline on Wednesday (15 September) for Vectura shareholders to vote on the £1.1 billion deal.  Philip Morris, which already has a 29% stake, needs support from more than 50% shareholders.  One top-20 investor told The Mail on Sunday they would support the bid, arguing that it is the best outcome for investors. But the potential deal has attracted a fierce backlash.
 
Source: Daily Mail, 12 September 2021

Read Article

International

BAT negotiated bribe for Mugabe, new evidence suggests

 

A BBC Panorama investigation has found evidence that suggests one of Britain’s biggest companies paid a bribe to the former Zimbabwean president Robert Mugabe. In a joint investigation with the Bureau of Investigative Journalism and the University of Bath, Panorama obtained thousands of leaked documents.

They show British American Tobacco (BAT) was involved in negotiations to pay between $300,000 and $500,000 to Mugabe's Zanu-PF party in 2013. The documents also reveal BAT was paying bribes in South Africa and using illegal surveillance to damage rivals.

Most of this job was outsourced to Forensic Security Services (FSS), a private security firm based in South Africa. FSS was officially tasked with fighting the black-market cigarette trade. However, former employees have told the BBC that they broke the law to sabotage BAT’s rivals. Internal documents show in one operation, FSS staff were instructed to close three cigarette factories run by BAT’s competitors in Zimbabwe. FSS paid a local firm to conduct surveillance on a Savanna Tobacco factory in 2012, but the company got caught. Three of its directors were charged in connection with illegal surveillance. 
 
However, Panorama has found that contractors working on behalf of BAT were talking to Zimbabwean officials behind the scenes. The man sent in to negotiate a deal told Panorama he bribed several government officials to secure a meeting to discuss the men’s case. Documents seen by the BBC confirm that the man was provided with the equivalent of US$12,000 in local currency. They also suggest the money for the bribes was provided by BAT. Within days of the deal being offered, all three directors were free.
 
Evidence strongly suggests that between 2000 and 2016, FSS employees working for BAT in South Africa also bribed customs officials and police officers. BAT gained access to information from the police camera network that was used to spy on its competitors. FSS tapped BAT’s competitors’ phones, installed tracking devices on their delivery vehicles, and bribed staff to hand over information.
 
BAT’s lawyers said the allegations were not new and that it was not unlawful to pay sources to gather information about criminal behaviour. They said the company rejects the allegation that any steps were taken with the aim of impacting the lawful activities of legitimate competitors or for commercial advantage.
 
Source: BBC News, 13 September 2021
 
See also: Bureau of Investigative Journalism - Smoke Screen: BAT’s agents brokered Zimbabwe bribe proposal

Watch BBC Panorama: Dirty secrets of the cigarette business, today at 19:30

Read Article
Have you been forwarded this email? Subscribe to ASH Daily News here.

For more information email enquiries@ash.org.uk or visit www.ash.org.uk 

@ASHorguk


ASH Daily News is a digest of published news on smoking-related topics. ASH is not responsible for the content of external websites. ASH does not necessarily endorse the material contained in this bulletin.  
Our mailing address is:
Action on Smoking and Health

Unit 2.9, The Foundry
17 Oval Way
London
SE11 5RR

Want to change how you receive these emails?
You can update your preferences or unsubscribe from this list