ASH Daily News for 11 September 2018



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UK

  • England facing changing health needs
  • Alcohol adviser quits over public health agency links to drink industry
  • Tobacco Industry research claims England won’t be cigarette free until after 2050
  • York: Rise in pregnant women smoking at end of last year
  • North East: Smoking costs South Tyneside more than £34 million a year
  • North Yorkshire campaign to stop smoking
  • North West: Relief for Blackpool’s public health grant as £5 million health budget loss averted

UK

England facing changing health needs

Public Health England has published its latest Health Profile for England report, which shows rising rates of diabetes, obesity, dementia and mental health issues.

Despite progress made in reducing smoking rates in recent years, smoking remains one of the top two risk factors for ill health, along with obesity. The report also highlights persisting health inequalities with people in the richest areas of England experiencing 19 more healthy life years than those from the poorest areas.

Professor John Newton, director of health improvement at Public Health England, said: “The challenge now is for the NHS to respond to this changing landscape and to focus on preventing as well as treating the conditions which are causing the greatest disease burden across our nation. In many ways it needs to respond more quickly than any time in its history because the speed of the change in these data, in the epidemiology, is really quite remarkable.”

Source: BBC, 11 September 2018

See also: Health Profile for England 2018

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Alcohol adviser quits over public health agency links to drink industry

A senior advisor to Public Health England (PHE) has resigned over the organisations’ partnership with the alcohol industry in its latest alcohol awareness campaign.

Professor Ian Gilmore, the agency’s chief external alcohol adviser, has said they are ignoring guidance from the World Health Organisation about avoiding influence from the alcohol industry. His comments were echoed by Professor John Britton, Co-Chair of the PHE Tobacco Control Implementation Board, who has threatened to resign if the agency continues to share a platform with the alcohol industry.

In a letter published in The Times, they argue that PHE has failed “to learn the lessons from the use by the tobacco and alcohol industries of voluntary agreements and other partnerships with health bodies to undermine, water down or neutralise policies to reduce consumption.”

In a separate interview on the BBC’s Today Programme, Professor Britton drew parallels with voluntary agreements with the tobacco industry, saying that: “the point is not that the individual measure is something that is necessarily counter to public health messaging. It’s the fact that the partnership with industry then leads to other devaluing or diluting of public health policy.”

Source: The Times, 11 September 2018

See also: BBC Today Programme (listen from 1:35:00)

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Tobacco Industry research claims England won’t be cigarette free until after 2050

Research commissioned by the tobacco company Philip Morris International estimates that just 10 local authorities, including Bristol and York, will be smokefree before 2030.

The research was carried out by Frontier Economics who examined existing reductions in adult smoking rates to predict future trends.

Source: The Metro, 11 September 2018

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York: Rise in pregnant women smoking at end of last year

A recent report has found that the number of pregnant women in the Vale of York who smoke increased from 7.5 per cent in the third quarter of last year to 11.9 per cent at the end of the year.

Changes to the delivery of smoking cessation services have meant that pregnant women are one of the few groups who qualify for free nicotine replacement therapies. However, figures released following a Freedom of Information request show that the number of pregnant women receiving support to quit smoking dropped from 66% in 2015 to just 17% in 2017.

Vicky Salt, policy manager at health charity ASH, said: “Smoking during pregnancy is a leading cause of poor birth outcomes so it’s concerning that rates of smoking among pregnant women have not declined in York over the past year. We know that pregnant smokers often need extra support to quit but with squeezed budgets this extra help is not always available. The declining use of stop smoking services [means that] some of the most vulnerable smokers, like pregnant women, are being left without support.”

Source: Yorkpress, 10 September 2018

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North East: Smoking costs South Tyneside more than £34 million a year

Figures obtained from ASH’s Ready Reckoner tool show that smoking costs South Tyneside more than £34 million a year, from costs including NHS treatment, sick days, and smoking breaks.

This includes £20 million due to lost working days, £7 million due to smoking-related hospital admissions, and £5.4 million arising from social care costs. South Tyneside has an adult smoking rate of 19% compared to the English average of 14.9%.

Deborah Arnott, ASH chief executive, said: “Our tool shows just how significant the financial impact of smoking is at local level and makes the case for local authorities to invest in measures to discourage young people from taking up smoking and motivate adult smokers to quit. However, cuts to public health budgets mean that many local authorities no longer have the resources they need to invest in driving down smoking rates, this is a false economy that is damaging our local communities.”

Source: Shields Gazette, 10 September 2018

See also:
ASH Ready Reckoner
Smoking costs Wirral more than £ 73 million a year
Smoking costs Rugby more than £25m a year

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North Yorkshire campaign to stop smoking

A campaign backed by North Yorkshire County Council is raising awareness about the harms of smoking.

The ‘Don’t Be The 1’ campaign, which has launched in the run-up to Stoptober, targets current smokers and will highlight how one in two long term smokers will die from a smoking-related disease.

Katie Needham, consultant in public health for North Yorkshire, said: “Evidence shows one in two smokers will die from a smoking-related disease, some in their 40s and 50s. Worryingly, surveys show nine out of ten smokers underestimate the risk, with about half believing it’s one in ten or less. Smoking tobacco is much more harmful than most people think.”

Source: Darlington and Stockton Times, 11 September 2018

See also: Don’t Be The 1 website

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North West: Relief for Blackpool’s public health grant as £5 million health budget loss averted

Public Health England has scrapped a proposed change to the distribution of public health grants which would have seen Blackpool’s annual grant cut from £18m to £13m.

The grants are used to address public health issues such as smoking, alcohol abuse and obesity. Blackpool has one of the lowest life expectancies in the country and has significantly higher levels of adult smoking prevalence (22.5%) than the national average (14.9%).

Source: Blackpool Gazette, 10 September 2018

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