ASH Daily News for 17 November 2016



  • Thousands of mums-to-be are still smoking while pregnant
  • Kent parents could be banned from smoking outside schools
  • New research highlights risk factors for sudden infant death syndrome
  • USA: Nationwide event aims to help smokers give up tobacco
  • ASH/CRUK: Cutting down: The reality of budget cuts to local tobacco control
  • Parliamentary Questions

Thousands of mums-to-be are still smoking while pregnant

Despite multiple warnings from the NHS and healthcare professionals over one in ten expectant mothers still smoke whilst pregnant. This equates to around 65,000 infants born to mothers who smoke.

Birmingham fairs slightly better than England’s other major cities with a smoking rate among mums-to-be of 7.4%, coming second only to London which has an overall rate of 4.9%.

Overall national figures work out to mean that over 65,000 infants are born to smoking mothers each year.

Amanda Sandford from Action on Smoking and Health (ASH) said: “Smoking during pregnancy reduces foetal growth and increases the risk of miscarriage, stillbirth and cot deaths. Although there has been significant progress in reducing the rates of smoking during pregnancy it’s vital that work continues to ensure that pregnant women who smoke are offered support to quit.”

Source: Birmingham Mail – 16 November 2016
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Kent parents could be banned from smoking outside schools

Parents could face being prohibited from smoking outside school gates under voluntary schemes being considered by Kent County Council. The Council is in discussion with a series of schools about introducing schemes to reduce smoking outside schools.

The Council could not enforce a ban but is looking into creating signs about the effects of secondhand smoke and urging adults to adhere to the voluntary restriction.

A statement from KCC said: “We are considering the smoke-free school gates initiative in various parts of Kent identified as having higher than average smoking prevalence rates. The aim is to provide a smoke-free environment for children and their families to enjoy, help protect children from the effects of second-hand smoke, and reduce the number of children who start smoking after being influenced by those who do.”

Source: Kent Online – 17 November 2016
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New research highlights risk factors for sudden infant death syndrome

Research has shown that maternal tobacco smoke exposure is strongly associated with instance of Sudden Infant Death Syndrome (SIDS). This research has examined whether maternal tobacco smoke exposure causes maladaptation of an infant’s homeostatic control network – the network that regulates the body’s response to environmental factors such as heat.

The study examined rats first in the womb and then post-natally, at both times in a low oxygen environment. The smoke-exposure group was found to have more episodes of apneas (temporary interruption of breathing), higher rate of cytokines production during an infection challenge (cytokines are small protein particles which act as messengers from the immune system), faster heart rate at warmer temperatures in rats with bacterial infection, and more inflammation-signalling proteins.

The researchers explained that in addition to the negative findings in the smoke-exposure group, “high body temperature and infection suppressed the heart rate response normally seen during low oxygen environment.”

See also:
Interactive Effects of Maternal Cigarette Smoke, Heat Stress, Hypoxia and Lipopolysaccharide (LPS) on Neonatal Cardiorespiratory and Cytokine Responses, American Journal of Physiology: Regulatory, Integrative and Comparative Physiology

Source: Medical Xpress – 16 November 2016
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USA: Nationwide event aims to help smokers give up tobacco

Today, Thursday 17th November, the American Cancer Society will mark its annual: ‘Great American Smokeout’, a day which encourages people across the US to give up smoking.

Spokeswoman Evelyn Barella said that the event, which has been running since 1976, has helped educate Americans about the dangers of smoking and change attitudes towards the habit.

Source: Gwinnet Daily Post – 16 November 2016
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ASH/CRUK: Cutting down: The reality of budget cuts to local tobacco control

Further to yesterday’s article: Budget cuts to services that help people quit smoking could have devastating impact, covering the ASH/Cancer Research UK report on the state of local tobacco control work please see below for further coverage of this item:

See also:
Cutting down: The reality of budget cuts to local tobacco control, Cancer Research UK
South West Stop Smoking Services under threat, Exeter Daily
Government budget cuts ‘may jeopardise smoking cessation services’, Zenopa News
Call for help as Stop Smoking Services face funding cuts, Hastings Observer
Stop Smoking Services facing budget cut: Report, ET Healthworld
Smoking cessation specialist nurses facing council funding cuts, Nursing Times
Call for help as Stop Smoking Services face funding cuts, Chichester Observer
Six out of ten councils forced to cut stop smoking services, LocalGov
Call for help as Stop Smoking Services face funding cuts, Crawley and Horley Observer
Quit smoking services face budget cuts, Health Business UK
Stop Smoking services under threat due to budget cuts, On Medica
Stop Smoking Services across England facing ongoing budget cuts, News Medical
Stop Smoking Services Under Threat as Budgets Are Cut, Science Newsline Medicine


Parliamentary Questions

PQ1: Tobacco Control Plan
Bob Blackman Conservative, Harrow East
To ask the Secretary of State for Health, what progress his Department has made on developing a tobacco control strategy.

Nicola Blackwood The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Health
The United Kingdom is a world leader in tobacco control and the government has a proven track record in reducing harm caused by tobacco, through the introduction of standardised packaging, the display ban on tobacco in small shops, and ending smoking in cars with children.
The Government is developing a new tobacco control plan which will build on our success in reducing smoking rates to date.

Source: Hansard – 15 November 2016
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PQ2: Electronic cigarettes
Royston Smith Conservative, Southampton, Itchen
To ask the Secretary of State for Health, what assessment his Department has made of the potential contribution to savings to NHS resources of the introduction of e-cigarettes?

Royston Smith Conservative, Southampton, Itchen
To ask the Secretary of State for Health, what estimate his Department has made of the proportion of those who use electronic cigarettes returning to smoking tobacco?

Nicola Blackwood The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Health
Using electronic cigarettes (e-cigarettes) is likely to be considerably less harmful to health than continuing to smoke. However, we have insufficient evidence on any residual health harms associated with long term use, and the numbers of users that relapse to smoking, to make an estimate on the impact of their use on National Health Service costs.

The surveys that are undertaken often capture use at one point in time and we know that smokers often make repeated attempts to quit, using a variety of mechanisms to support them before success. E-cigarettes can help some smokers to quit for good and is currently the most popular quitting aid in England. Action for Smoking and Health data (May 2016) estimates that of the 2.8 million current users, around 1.3 million are ex-smokers, i.e. e-cigarette users who only vape. That is an increase from 2014 when around one third of users were ex-smokers.

Source: Hansard – 16 November 2016
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