ASH Daily news for 05 April 2016



  • Seven ways you could be risking your eyesight
  • Smoking during pregnancy alters foetal DNA
  • Kent: Roadshow highlights illegal tobacco dangers
  • USA: N.J. lawmaker seeks chewing tobacco ban at ballparks
  • USA: State Supreme Court upholds Texas tax on tobacco
  • India: Prime Minister backs health ministry on tobacco pictorial warning

    Seven ways you could be risking your eyesight

    Nine out of 10 opticians say they are seeing more eye problems than they did five years ago, and leading eyesight charity the RNIB predicts that the number of people living with sight loss in the UK will double – to four million – by 2050. However, the good news is that half of all cases of sight loss can be prevented, mainly due to lifestyle choices such as smoking.

    The chemicals in tobacco harm the tiny blood vessels inside the eyes, causing blockages and internal bleeding. This damages the retina which in turn increases risk of Age-related Macular Degeneration (AMD). According to the British Medical Journal, one in five cases of AMD is purely down to smoking, which can also increase the risk of developing cataracts.

    Kicking the habit, alongside a healthy diet and exercise, could thus significantly reduce the risk of developing eye problems.

    See also:
    The Daily Record: Beat the secret sight stealers: Open your eyes to the risks that could lead to blindness

    Source: The Daily Mirror 4 April 2016

    Smoking during pregnancy alters foetal DNA

    A large international study has revealed that smoking during pregnancy may chemically alter the DNA of the developing foetus.

    Researchers conducted a meta-analysis of 13 smaller studies, combining information from 6685 newborns and their mothers, who were of mainly European descent. Based on questionnaires given to the mothers, 13% of the newborns had been exposed to ‘sustained’ (daily) maternal smoking during pregnancy, 25% were exposed to ‘any maternal smoking’ during pregnancy, and the remaining 62% were born to non-smokers.

    Using blood from the umbilical cord, research teams identified 6073 places in the DNA of children born after ‘sustained exposure’ to maternal smoking that had different modifications compared with babies born to non-smoking mothers. The location of these epigenetic marks was reported to mirror those seen in adult smokers.

    Co-senior author Dr Stephanie London, an epidemiologist and doctor at the National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences (NIEHS), said: ‘I find it kind of amazing when we see these epigenetic signals in newborns, from in utero exposure, lighting up the same genes as an adult’s own cigarette smoking. This is a blood-borne exposure to smoking – the fetus isn’t breathing it, but many of the same things are going to be passing through the placenta.’

    The research, published in the American Journal of Human Genetics, can be viewed here.

    Source: BioNews 4 April

    Kent: Roadshow highlights illegal tobacco dangers

    A major campaign to raise awareness of the dangers posed by illegal tobacco sales takes place in Thanet this week.

    Trading Standards Officers from Kent County Council will be working alongside Kent Fire and Rescue, the Margate Task Force and representatives from Public Health at a series of roadshows at five different locations from Monday (4 April) to Friday. Members of the public are being invited to find out more about the work being done to stop illegal tobacco and see demonstrations by specialist search and detection dogs.

    The purpose of the roadshow is to promote three key messages: that illegal tobacco brings crime to the area because suppliers are often linked to drug dealing, money laundering, people trafficking and even terrorism; that it encourages youngsters to start smoking; and it deters others who are trying to give up smoking.

    Source: Kent County Council 4 April 2016

    USA: N.J. lawmaker seeks chewing tobacco ban at ballparks

    Representative Frank Pallone Jr. marked baseball’s opening day by calling for a ban on smokeless tobacco in ballparks. “Without a complete ban, smokeless tobacco will continue to receive free advertising from America’s pastime and use of these products will continue to be seen as an acceptable part of the game by fans both young and old,” Pallone said. His call followed such restrictions in New York, Boston, Chicago Los Angeles and San Francisco.

    In a statement, Major League Baseball said: “As we have repeatedly and publicly acknowledged, MLB has long supported a ban of smokeless tobacco at the major league level, and we support the efforts of cities to ban the use of all tobacco products, including smokeless tobacco, in sports stadiums and arenas.”

    Source: Leigh High Valley Live 4 April 2016

    USA: State Supreme Court upholds Texas tax on tobacco

    Texas Supreme Court has upheld a 2013 state law that allowed state regulators to impose a special tax (55 cents per pack) on cigarette makers that weren’t part of a multibillion-dollar settlement reached with Big Tobacco in the late 1990s.

    Legislators imposed the tax to recover smoking-related health care costs from all manufacturers and to remove a marketing advantage that allowed smaller tobacco companies to sell cheaper products, with the lower cost being an added enticement for underage smokers.

    Justice Don Willett stated the law was a reasonable and legitimate attempt to hold smaller companies accountable for selling products that have the same health costs as Big Tobacco’s products. The state also had a legitimate interest in preventing the sale of tobacco products at cheaper prices that are “more attractive to youth,” Willett wrote. “Whatever may be said of the tax, it is not ‘an arbitrary, unreasonable or unreal one,’ and it thus does not violate the Equal and Uniform Clause,” he said.

    Source: Herald Democrat 4 April 2016

    India: Prime Minister backs health ministry on tobacco pictorial warning

    In an ongoing argument between the Indian tobacco industry and the Health Ministry, over larger pictorial warnings on tobacco products, which has seen cigarette manufacturers halt production, the Prime Minister’s office extended its full support to the Health Ministry yesterday, 4 April.

    “The tobacco industry is purposely trying to arm-twist the government into disregarding the law and court orders,” said Voluntary Health Association of India.

    Source: The Times of India 4 April 2016