Daily Archives: April 29, 2009

Tobacco International Action

The illicit trade in tobacco products is a serious global problem. As such, enforcement agencies must work together to tackle international organised crime groups operating outside of the jurisdiction where the tax loss occurs.

Smuggling and health

While the primary focus of HMRC and UKBA activity is reducing revenue losses from smuggling, it is important to remember that revenue-raising is not the only driver for the UK’s tobacco taxation policy. The price mechanism is generally accepted to be the most effective
population-level policy lever available to Government to combat smoking.

Developing new relationships with agencies that play a role in tackling tobacco smuggling

UKBA and HMRC will strengthen their existing partnerships with other law enforcement agencies, as well as developing new relationships with agencies that play a role in tackling tobacco smuggling. These include:
• UK Police Forces – The close links already in place with UK Police Forces and Special Branch in particular, will be fully exploited and developed to further improve information flow at the border and identify new ways of working together to tackle tobacco smuggling.
The recently signed Memorandum of Understanding between UKBA and the Association of Chief Police Officers (ACPO) clearly sets out how the two groups will work together. UKBA representatives on ACPO will play a key role in championing the tobacco agenda with our
Police partners.
• Maritime and Coastguard Agency – UKBA will engage with the Maritime and Coastguard Agency (MCA) to identify areas of mutual interest and develop action plans. Smuggling tobacco goods by sea using commercial vessels, fishing boats and pleasure craft has been identified as a clear threat. MCA officers, especially Coastguard officers, are frequent and regular attendees at coastal locations and are well placed to gather information in this challenging environment. The UK Border Force Maritime Branch, with its fleet of five Cutters, frequently works with MCA officers and this relationship will be strengthened through a series of liaison visits, awareness sessions and joint exercises.
• Local authorities – Recognising the expertise that trading standards officers have developed in dealing with counterfeit goods at local level, we will enhance our working arrangements with local authorities to tackle the availability of counterfeit tobacco within communities.

Research collaboration to produce less harmful tobacco products

The tobacco industry is subject to policies that uniquely restrict how it conducts its R&D activities. This is despite the fact that it is a legitimate business with a product that is consumed by more than a billion people globally – the cigarette. It has long been established that smoking poses serious risks to health.
British American Tobacco (BAT) spends millions trying to understand the mechanism by which tobacco causes harm and how we might modify our products to reduce harm. The science involved is challenging and spans many disciplines, and we want to bring the best minds to bear on the challenge of reducing tobacco-related harm. However, while some of our detractors also expect, and indeed demand, that we do reduce tobacco-related harm, they have made it very difficult for us to do so due to policies restricting tobacco industry funding of research.
This February, John Denham, UK Secretary of State for Innovation, Universities and Skills, called for an increase in private investment in research. Yet the policies of many research institutes and funding bodies in the UK, and some other countries, mean that we are prohibited from funding or working with many of the scientists that we would like to. The funding policies of Cancer Research UK (CRUK), for example, one of the most powerful research charities in the country, makes it impossible for researchers to collaborate with us. Any researcher who accepts funding from a tobacco company has to give up any chance of getting CRUK funding in the future and their entire faculty and institution may also lose any chance of funding.
While we can and do collaborate and fund research projects, most of these funds leave the country. But we are a UK company, based in the UK. We know that many of the world’s leading scientists are also based here, and we want to work with them. But we have been restricted in our activities to the extent that many UK researchers are today unaware that we do any research, let alone the range of our research activities, including investigating the science of tobacco harm reduction.

Workgroup proposes smoking ban

Enjoy that cigarette on Low Steps now, as campus smoking may soon be more tightly regulated.

Online counselling to be mandatory for underaged smokers

The National Health Surveillance Survey 2007 showed that 13.6 per cent of Singapore residents aged 18 to 69 smoked daily, compared to 12.6 per cent in 2004.

Smoking and high blood pressure each account for 1 in 5 deaths in US adults

A comprehensive assessment of the risk factors for preventable deaths in the United States has found that smoking and high blood pressure are responsible for the greatest number of preventable deaths – each accounting for around 1 in 5 deaths in US adults. The study, published in the open-access journal PLoS Medicine this week, finds that other dietary, lifestyle and metabolic risk factors also cause a substantial number of deaths in the United States.

Special vacuum cleaners set to smoke out cigarette ends

IT has been one of the most obvious drawbacks of Scotland’s smoking ban – city centre streets riddled with cigarette ends.

Now council chiefs have declared war on fag ends with the help of a specialist new vacuum cleaner to sweep them up more effectively.