ASH Daily news for 17 June 2016


  • New annual smoking in pregnancy figures show local variations

    The figures for smoking in pregnancy are the lowest since records began in 2006/07. However, they also show wide local variations.

    The figures reveal 10.6 per cent of women were smokers at the time of birth in 2015/16.

    This contrasted with Westminster in central London at the other end of the spectrum, where just 1.5 per cent of women did.

    Experts warn that smoking while pregnant increasing the chances of abnormal foetal growth, raising the risk of miscarriage, premature birth and a baby being stillborn, among other health problems.
    The figures, from the Health and Social Care Information Centre, cover England for the 12 months up to March 2016.

    Francine Bates, chief executive of The Lullaby Trust and co-chair of the Smoking in Pregnancy Challenge Group said: ‘Maternal smoking is now the number one preventable risk factor for Sudden Infant Death Syndrome (SIDS). If a mother smokes one to nine cigarettes a day during pregnancy, they are four times more likely to have their baby die from SIDS compared to a mother who doesn’t smoke.To avoid these tragedies, investment in services to support women to quit is needed by every local authority. If we do not support women to quit when they become pregnant we are locking in a lifetime of inequality.’

    [includes map]

    See also:
    – Charities call for Government action to maintain progress on smoking in pregnancy rates, ASH press release
    – North-East is pregnant smoking capital, figures show, The Northern Echo

    Source: Daily Mail – 16 June 2016

  • Leading public health bodies call for decriminalisation of drugs

    The UK’s two leading public health bodies, representing thousands of doctors and other professionals, are making an unprecedented call for the personal possession and use of drugs to be decriminalised.

    The war on drugs has done more harm than good, say the Royal Society for Public Health and the Faculty of Public Health. They argue that drug misuse should be a health issue, not a matter for the courts and prisons, which have not succeeded in deterring people from taking drugs.

    The experts also want lead responsibility for drug policy to be moved from the Home Office to the Department of Health, where it should be aligned more closely with alcohol and tobacco strategies.

    Source: The Guardian – 16 June 2016

  • Coalition opposed to plain packaging has many ties to tobacco industry

    An “international coalition” consisting of 47 organizations seeking publicity worldwide of its opposition to plain packaging of tobacco products has signed a letter and sent to World Health Organization’s head Dr. Margaret Chan.

    This coalition is said to be actually an alliance of free market organizations with numerous ties to the tobacco industry.

    In its letter to Dr. Chan, the coalition has described plain packaging as “detrimental trademark infringement”. It echoes tobacco industry claims about plain packaging in Australia, which in 2012 became the first country to implement the measure.

    Source: Asian Tribune – 16 June 2016

  • New Zealand: BAT scales back business

    Statements filed with the Companies Office show that British American Tobacco’s New Zealand business has lost responsibility for strategic decisions, leaving it principally a distribution point for the cigarette maker.

    Since July last year, the local holding company, British American Tobacco Holdings (New Zealand), has focused on trade marketing and distributing products locally, with all portfolio strategy, brand and pricing decisions made by UK-based related entity British American Tobacco (UK and Export), which is responsible for the manufacture and supply of the group’s products such as Pall Mall, Benson & Hedges and Dunhill cigarettes.

    The restructure reduced the company’s wage bill, with employee costs down 13 percent to $13.1 million, and also terminated BAT NZ’s trademark licences, which were sold to the related UK company for a net gain of $229.9 million. That removes $127 million of goodwill attached to BAT’s trademarks and brands.

    Source: NZ News UK – 17 June 2016

  • US: Americans are getting heart-healthier. Coronary heart disease decreasing

    Coronary heart disease (CHD) is one of the leading causes of death in the United States. A new study evaluating recent trends in the prevalence of CHD in the U.S. population aged 40 years and older showed that CHD rates have decreased significantly, from 10.3% in 2001-2002 to 8.0% in 2011-2012. These results are reported in the American Journal of Preventive Medicine.

    Much of the morbidity and mortality of CHD, encompassing angina, myocardial infarction (MI), and related disorders of the coronary arteries, are attributable to treatable risk factors such as hypertension, dyslipidemia, smoking, diabetes, obesity, and overweight. Results of this study indicated that improvements in the management of CHD risk factors have most likely contributed to the overall reduction in CHD, since the decrease was observed mainly among persons without established coronary heart disease risk factors.

    Source: Medical News Today – 16 June 2016

  • Audio: Linking smoking and lung cancer

    It was not until the 1950s that British researchers first connected cigarette smoking with the huge rise in people suffering from lung cancer. Initially, scientists had thought pollution was a much more likely cause. Hear an archive interview with Sir Richard Doll who carried out the original studies and Sir Richard Peto who worked with him.

    Source: BBC World Service – 16 June 2016