ASH Daily News for 20 July 2018



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UK

  • South Yorkshire: Rother Valley MP calls for Government to keep up the push to cut smoking deaths
  • NHS Response: Vaping and using nicotine patches in pregnancy
  • West Midlands: Thousands of illegal tobacco products seized in Dudley
  • Social Smoking: Just how bad is it for you?

International

Australia: Four in five lung cancers preventable through healthy lifestyle

Parliamentary Activity

  • Parliamentary debate to review the tobacco control plan

Link of the Week

  • New Secretary of State for Health and Social Care Speech

UK

South Yorkshire: Rother Valley MP calls for Government to keep up the push to cut smoking deaths

Following yesterday’s parliamentary debate to review the Tobacco Control Plan, Sir Kevin Barron, MP for Rother Valley, has written an article calling on the government to increase funding for smoking cessation services to ensure that the targets set out in the plan are met.

In the article he criticises the misrepresentation of evidence surrounding e-cigarettes in the media: “It is very unfortunate that sensationalist media reports are creating an air of uncertainty around e-cigarettes and deterring many smokers from making the switch. It would be a tragedy if thousands of smokers who could quit with the help of an e-cigarette are being put off due to false fears about their safety.”

Public Health England has said that e-cigarettes are at least 95 per cent less harmful than cigarettes and that the main chemicals in e-cigarettes have not been associated with any serious risk.

Source: Retford Guardian, 20 July 2018

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NHS Response: Vaping and using nicotine patches in pregnancy

The NHS has responded to a recent study from the US which linked vaping and the use of nicotine patches in pregnancy to cot death (Sudden Infant Death Syndrome). The UK media’s reporting of the study was sensationalised, playing down the fact that the research was on rats, and the findings related to rats with depleted serotonin.

The researchers found that exposure to nicotine during pregnancy limited the ability of serotonin-deficient rats to recover back to normal breathing and heart rates following a period of oxygen deprivation.

The NHS recommends that smokers planning a pregnancy should use nicotine replacement therapies, such as patches, to help them quit smoking before trying for a baby.

Source: NHS Choices, 20 July 2018

Editorial Note: Francine Bates, Chief Executive of The Lullaby Trust and co-chair of the Smoking in Pregnancy Challenge Group (SPCG), put out this statement: “We don’t think parents should worry about the findings of this study as it was conducted on laboratory rats, not human babies. Research that has been conducted on women who used NRT patches in pregnancy showed that there was no increase in infant mortality up to the age of two years old, compared to women who used a placebo. While there is currently no research linking electronic (or ‘e’) cigarettes to an increased risk of sudden infant death syndrome (SIDS), using an e-cigarette appears to be much safer than continuing to smoke during pregnancy and once your baby is born. Tobacco cigarettes contain toxins that cause harm to an unborn baby by starving them of oxygen, but these toxins are not present in e-cigarettes or NRT.”

“Smoking tobacco cigarettes before or after pregnancy significantly increases the chance of SIDS. That’s why we strongly encourage any pregnant women or new parents who smoke to keep their baby smoke-free. Whilst it’s always best for pregnant women to quit using nicotine completely, those who find it hard to do so should not stop using NRT or e-cigarettes on the basis of this research. We would advise anyone who is concerned about smoking to contact their midwife or GP who can offer advice and refer them to stop smoking services.”

SPCG Guide: Use of electronic cigarettes in pregnancy

Study: https://physoc.onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/10.1113/JP275885

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West Midlands: Thousands of illegal tobacco products seized in Dudley

Over 150,000 illegal cigarettes and 1,000kg of tobacco were seized by Dudley Council last year as part of their efforts to crack down on illegal tobacco.

The operation has resulted in two prosecutions with several more pending, and several shops have had their alcohol licences suspended or revoked for dealing with illegal tobacco products.

Councillor Ruth Buttery, Dudley’s cabinet member for health and wellbeing, said: “Whilst all tobacco is harmful, the illegal tobacco market, and in particular the availability of cheap cigarettes, undermines government health policies aimed at reducing the cost to the NHS of treating diseases caused by smoking.”

Source: Stourbridge News, 19 July 2018

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Social Smoking: Just how bad is it for you?

Although many people who smoke socially might not describe themselves as a smoker, they are not exempt from many of the health issues associated with smoking. Social smokers are still susceptible to lung infections, smoking-related cancers, shorter life expectancy and accelerated signs of ageing.

Even if social smokers aren’t addicted to nicotine they can still be addicted to the psychoactive experience of smoking in social situations. Professor Robert West, an expert on smoking from the University College London, describes the desire to smoke occasionally as a “situational craving” – explaining why you may only feel like a cigarette when you drink. “One way addiction works is by forming an association between situations where a person would typically smoke, which then creates the impulse to smoke when they find themselves in that situation again,” he says.

Even light smoking can cause DNA mutations which increase the likelihood of developing cancer. Dr Richard Russell, Consultant Respiratory Physician and medical advisor to the British Lung Foundation, said: “It’s the toxic chemicals you are inhaling. Even occasional smoking puts your health at risk – the only safe level of smoking is nothing at all.”

Source: Sheerluxe, 19 July 2018

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International

Australia: Four in five lung cancers preventable through healthy lifestyle

Researchers at the University of New South Wales (UNSW) in Sydney have found evidence to suggest that the majority of lung cancers are related to smoking.

Using data from the Centre for Big Data Research in Health, the researchers showed that lung cancer risk remained elevated for 40 years after people stopped smoking, with the risk approximately halving every 10 years.

Dr Maarit Laaksonen, Senior Research Fellow at UNSW, said: “More than three out of four lung cancers are caused by ever smoking. Current smoking is responsible for more than half of lung cancers and past smoking for nearly a quarter. Our findings strongly support the dual importance of preventing the uptake of smoking and assisting quitting.”

Source: MedicalXpress, 19 July 2018

Centre for Big Data Research in Health: Population-level relevance of risk factors for cancer

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Parliamentary Activity

Parliamentary debate to review the tobacco control plan

The transcript of yesterday’s Government Debate on the Tobacco Control Plan can be found here.

Source: Hansard, 19 July 2018

Link of the Week

New Secretary of State for Health and Social Care Speech

Today, Matt Hancock, the new Secretary of State for Health and Social Care, delivered his debut speech setting out his priorities for the health and social care system.

He talks extensively about the importance of preventative measures to ease the pressures on staff, improve patient outcomes and keep people out of hospital: “prevention… is mission critical to making the health and social care system sustainable.”

Source: gov.uk, 20 July 2018

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