Big Tobacco is attracting criticism again, this time over corporation tax. Despite selling products that cause significant damage to public health, many of the largest corporations pay little if any corporation tax. With the NHS being critically underfunded and experiencing ongoing strain, a new proposal has suggested tobacco companies be forced to pay a levy which will help fund quit-smoking initiatives. While this may result in an increase in the cost of cigarettes, it may also help reduce consumption and counteract the deficit in funding.
Currently, 76% of NHS trusts don’t allow vaping anywhere on the grounds nor do they offer vaping/smoking shelters. However, with an increase in support from governing health bodies and trusts, 45% allow vaping outside of the building and 11% permit vaping indoors. Of those who have strict regulations, 14% are revising their policies regarding e-cigarette use on hospital grounds after Public Health England voiced their support of e-cigarettes being a safer alternative.
Less than a year after vaping giant Juul made it to the UK, they’ve now joined the UKVIA. Juul’s membership both helps to solidify their place in the UK market as well as legitimising their alignment with the standards the UKVIA stand for. Following criticism regarding their popularity amongst underage users in the US, Juul’s country of origin, it appears they’re doing everything possible to avoid the same reputation in the UK. Dan Thomson, MD of Juul UK had this to say:
“The UKVIA’s new code of conduct was a crucial part of JUUL’s decision to join the Association, including affirming the adoption of Challenge 25 across the Association’s members to restrict youth access – a key policy which we have enforced since our launch in the UK last year.” Source – ukvia.co.uk
In line with the topic of teen vaping and smoking, a number of MPs have called for the legal smoking age to be raised to 21 in the UK. While underage use of cigarettes is at an all time low, it’s started to flatline and new methods to improve public health are being considered. The proposal has received support from a number of health bodies including the likes of the British Medical Association, Cancer Research UK and Royal College of Physicians. It is hoped that by increasing the age, those who would have access to cigarettes from 18 year old friends and relatives will be less likely to access them in the first place. It’s not a new concept as many states in the US have already started to raise the legal age up to 21.
After taking a significant hit in share price late last year, Altria’s shares fell a further 2.5% after a meeting with the FDA. Concerns had been raised that the tobacco giant’s $12.8bn stake in Juul was a business move rather than ethically motivated. The drop in share price happened after then FDA Commissioner Scott Gottlieb said the meeting had been “difficult”. While Gottlieb has since left his position, the FDA is still considering banning pod kits over concerns of a rise in teen vaping.
New research has highlighted the significant impact even a single cigarette a day during pregnancy can have on infant mortality rates. The conclusions drawn indicated that mothers who smoked during their pregnancies were twice as likely to have a child die due to SIDS. Even those who had quit by their first trimester were more likely than non-smokers to lose a baby. While the smoking habits of the fathers couldn’t be taken into consideration, the research was based on independent statistics from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control. You can read the full report here.