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14 September 2021

UK

Why LGBTQ+ people are more likely to smoke

International

Smoke Screen: BAT, bribes and spies in the tobacco industry

Australia: Tobacco giant's takeover bid could affect COPD lung disease treatment and research

UK

Why LGBTQ+ people are more likely to smoke

In 2018 in the UK, 22.2% of lesbians and gay men and 19.3% of bisexual people were smokers, compared to 15.5% of heterosexual people. LGB young people are more inclined to smoke at a younger age and more frequently than their heterosexual counterparts. This article, written in partnership with Nicorette, speculates on the reasons why smoking rates are higher in LGBTQ+ people, including stigma, mental health, unequal treatment from healthcare staff and social smoking.   

According to Stonewall’s ‘LGBT in Britain: Health Report’, 52% of LGBTQ+ people say they have experienced depression in 2018, with two thirds of transgender people saying they’ve experienced depression in the same period. According to Action on Smoking and Health (ASH), it’s estimated that 40% of adults with a serious mental illness in the England are smokers, while over 25% of smokers suffer from anxiety or depression. 

Smokers are three times as likely to quit using stop smoking services versus quitting alone. Stonewall’s ‘Health Report’ suggests that one in eight LGBTQ+ people (13%) have experienced some kind of unequal treatment from healthcare. Other issues such as people’s fear of being “outed” by healthcare services and inappropriate curiosity by healthcare staff about LGBTQ+ people accessing services, may prevent LGBTQ+ people from accessing smoking cessation support provided by the NHS. There is also a link between bar and nightclub attendance and an increased likelihood of smoking. 

Source: Gay Times, 13 September 2021

Editorial note: Article written “in partnership with Nicorette©”

See also: ASH. Smoking: LGBT People. Health and Inequalities Resource Pack. September 2019. 

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International

Smoke Screen: BAT, bribes and spies in the tobacco industry

A joint investigation by The Bureau of Investigative Journalism, BBC Panorama and the University of Bath has unearthed thousands of leaked documents that reveal a wide-scale corporate espionage operation at the heart of BAT. The documents illuminated a shadowy world of spies and smugglers who had operated within southern Africa’s sometimes violent tobacco market, primarily between 2012 and 2016. BAT says its actions were lawful, and all in the name of clamping down on illegal cigarette trading. Yet former BAT agents have claimed the company sabotaged competitors, infiltrated law enforcement agencies, paid bribes and carried out surveillance.

The Bureau also reveals how one of BAT’s operations spiralled out of control, resulting in discussions about the potential payment of a $500,000 bribe to Robert Mugabe, then Zimbabwe’s ruler, to remedy the situation. The bribe was alleged to have been requested by an official in Mugabe’s Presidential Office in the lead up to the dictator’s successful 2013 re-election campaign, at a time when international sanctions and political turmoil had left his party, Zanu-PF, desperate for hard cash.


Source: The Bureau of Investigative Journalism, 13 September 2021

See also:
BBC iPlayer: Panorama - The Dirty Secrets of the Cigarette Business
Apple Podcasts: TBIJ Podcast series - Smoke Screen: love, bribes, lies and spies

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Australia: Tobacco giant's takeover bid could affect COPD lung disease treatment and research 

PMI has sparked outrage in Australia over its bid to invest in a company that develops inhaler technology, which could see it profit from the smoking-related lung diseases it helped create. In Australia, experts say it could threaten research and force doctors to change the way they treat some patients with lung disease. There are also concerns the deal could put Australia in breach of a global treaty.

Professor Hall, a respiratory physiologist, said the Vectura takeover could force some specialists to prescribe different medications to some of the 464,000 Australians with Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease (COPD) who use Vectura inhalers. Up to 50% of smokers develop some level of COPD.

In Australia, at least 10 different dry powder inhalers use a technology made by Vectura. Figures from the federal government's Pharmaceutical Benefits Scheme show that 2 million scripts for brands of these inhalers were dispensed in 2020, at a cost of about $121 million to taxpayers. While much goes directly to the pharmaceutical company involved, Vectura has ongoing licensing and royalty deals with the companies that use its technology.

"It could be the situation where the Australian government is paying taxpayers' funding indirectly to a tobacco company to treat patients who have lung disease caused by tobacco," Professor Hall said.

Melbourne-based doctor Bronwyn King has led a global charge to urge companies to divest from the tobacco industry. The radiation oncologist said, should the sale go ahead, it could potentially put Australia in breach of a global treaty it ratified on tobacco control, as by subsidising the inhalers under the Pharmaceutical Benefits Scheme (PBS), the government would be indirectly funding a tobacco company. The treaty asks countries to protect their health policies from vested interests in tobacco.


Source: ABC News Australia, 13 September 2021

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