No Smoking Day Kerfuffle

Posted 14th March 2019 by Dave Cross
National No Smoking Day takes place every on the second Wednesday in March; it is intended to help smokers who want to quit smoking. Philip Morris’ managing director appeared on a daytime television show to voice his support for the annual health awareness day as pension and insurance funds pull out of tobacco stock.

This year’s event began with good news for pregnant women in Suffolk. Extra resources are being directed to help them at Ipswich Hospital. Stop Smoking in Pregnancy Lead Julie Newman said: “Our team at OneLife Suffolk are trained to deliver a specialist, non-judgemental and supportive service to work with pregnant women and their family and friends to stop smoking. We understand that it is a difficult thing to do, particularly when you are faced with the added pressure of being pregnant, however the door is always open, no matter how many times you may have tried to quit in the past.”

Doctor Amanda Jones added: “Stopping smoking if you are pregnant is of great benefit to both the mother and baby. Public Health Suffolk works with OneLife Suffolk and, through successful working relationships with Suffolk hospitals, has increased the number of women referred from the maternity departments.”

Good news in the East of England isn’t mirrored in the boardrooms of tobacco companies. Tobacco company stocks were exceptionally popular for asset managers looking to make strong returns on investments, but the sector continues to report tumbling performances.

European pension funds and insurers pulling investments has forced a hit on share values. British American Tobacco has slumped by 50% and Philip Morris is down 37%. Analysts are reporting that they don’t see a reversal in this activity any time soon.

No wonder then that Peter Nixon, Philip Morris’ UK managing director, chose to appear on ITV's Good Morning Britain to speak about his firm’s support for National No Smoking Day.

He said: “People die because of cigarettes and we sell them. I take that very, very seriously. We are part of the problem but we want to be part of the solution. What we're trying to do is give alternatives to smokers.”

“I’d love to stop selling cigarettes. But we would go out of business and that wouldn't mean people give up they would just switch to another brand. There are going to be smokers in the UK for another 30 or 40 years, but there's no reason for people to smoke anymore.”

He was given a torrid time, but continued to press the arguments for vaping and heat-not-burn products.

The danger of smoking and the link to related diseases was exposed for the first time by Public Health England in 1962. The report highlighted the link between smoking and lung cancer, other lung diseases, heart disease and gastrointestinal problems, using the research of Sir Richard Doll and Sir Austin Bradford Hill.

Five decades of action, and activities such as No Smoking Day, slowly turned the tide – but it has been the paradigm shift of vaping that is pushing the tobacco industry into terminal decline.

 Dave Cross
Article by Dave Cross
Freelance writer, physicist, karateka, dog walker