ASH Daily news for 21 June 2016


  • What price for public health services?

    BMA News has found that smoking cessation budgets are under serious threat, with the closure of local stop smoking services on the cards as councils struggle to balance their budgets. Public health budgets have been cut twice in less than nine months putting smoking cessation services across England under pressure.

    BMA public medicine committee chair Iain Kennedy says the complete closure of services highlights the desperate situation faced by public health. Stop smoking services were among the “the most cost-effective interventions in healthcare”, he adds, saving the public purse £2 for every £1 spent.

    Both Leicestershire and Havering justify cuts to quit-smoking programmes with claims that e-cigarettes and online services have reduced the need for the service.

    However, campaign group Action on Smoking and Health (ASH) says the idea that electronic cigarettes can substitute quit-smoking services is a red herring. ASH Director of Policy Hazel Cheeseman says councils appear to be confusing the roles played by nicotine replacements and support services. While products such as e-cigarettes could help to cut the number of smokers, face-to-face advice is essential for poorer smokers keen to kick the habit, she says.

    She adds: “People who are disadvantaged are more likely to smoke and are no less motivated to quit. But they are less likely to be successful unless they have access to specialist services.” Councils may also be less inclined to fund cessation services because any long-term savings from having fewer smokers would be less directly obvious than when the NHS ran public health, Ms Cheeseman says. “There are certainly benefits to local authorities in terms of savings on social care, but as the NHS treats cardiovascular diseases the benefits are almost instantaneous.”

    Source: BMA 20 June 2016

  • Quitting smoking could be responsible for increased incidence of Parkinson’s disease – but lighting up is still more likely to kill you

    A new study by researchers in Minnesota has suggested anti-smoking campaigns from the late 1940s and 50s could be behind increased prevalence of Parkinson’s disease decades later.

    Dr Walter Rocca of the Mayo Clinic, Rochester, said: ‘Our study suggests that the incidence of parkinsonism and Parkinson’s disease may have increased between 1976 and 2005, particularly in men 70 years old and older. These trends may be associated with the dramatic changes in smoking behaviour that took place in the second half of the 20th century.’

    However, Dr Rocca said the trends should be interpreted with caution for a variety of reasons, including that they may be due to increased awareness of symptoms, improved access to care of patients, and better recognition by doctors. This trend could be spurious and needs to be confirmed in other populations.

    Dr Honglei Chen of the National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences said the “results of the study and a similar previous analysis may offer indirect support for causality: the increase of Parkinson’s disease incidence may follow decrease in cigarette smoking over the past 50 years, a trend that also affects men more than women.”

    However, this does not mean smoking is the way forwards. While your brain may stay active, the rest of your body is unlikely to approve of a smoking therapy against Parkinson’s disease as cigarette smoke harms most organs, causing about 96,000 premature deaths a year in the UK.

    See also:
    The full research can be accessed here.
    The Conservation: Smoking may protect against Parkinson’s disease but it’s more likely to kill you

    Source: The Mirror 20 June 2016

  • China: Tobacco volumes decline for the first time in two decades and bring down global volumes

    China consumed almost 60bn fewer cigarettes in 2015 compared to 2014 volumes. As the Asian powerhouse accounted for around 45% of global total volumes, this drove the worldwide total down 2.1% to 5.5 trillion sticks, according to research on the global tobacco industry released by Euromonitor International.

    The downward spiral in China was driven by a wholesale excise rise from 5% to 11%, increased government control on production and greater health awareness in some regions. Last year would not be a one-off for the Chinese market, which is now projected to lose about 5% of its volumes between 2015 and 2020, Euromonitor added.

    Source: City AM 20 June 2016

  • Ghana calls for tobacco control in Africa

    The Deputy Director of Administration for the Ghana Health Service, Mr Brobbey-Mpiani, has called on health stakeholders to unite in the promotion of tobacco control in Africa.

    Speaking at a workshop sponsored by the World Health Organization (WHO), Mr Brobbey-Mpiani said the tobacco industry is making subtle attempt to rely on International Trade Agreements (ITA), to hinder enactment of WHO’s Framework Convention on Tobacco Control (FCTC).

    Mr Brobbey-Mpiani implored participants to support tobacco control in Ghana in particular and the Africa Region in general. He emphasised that it is imperative for member states to reinforce their health, trade and investment laws to boost their contribution to the implementation of the WHO’s FCTC.

    Source: Footprint to Africa 20 June 2016