ASH Daily News for 22 March 2017



  • All tobacco products should publicise risks of smoking when pregnant, MP urges
  • The global tobacco control treaty has reduced smoking rates in its first decade
  • Epigenetics and allergy: from basic mechanisms to clinical applications
  • Yorkshire: Two Doncaster shops prosecuted over illicit cigarettes
  • US: New health care law would lead to more smoking, disease and tobacco industry profits
  • New Zealand: Fund managers urged to put heat on tobacco investments

All tobacco products should publicise risks of smoking when pregnant, MP urges

Will Quince, the Conservative MP for Colchester, said smoking is the single biggest preventable risk factor to the unborn child and urged ministers to do more to help women and their partners kick the habit. While all alcoholic drinks carry warnings about the dangers of drinking to unborn babies, a similar warning is only carried on one in six cigarette packets.

Speaking in yesterday’s adjournment debate in the Commons on baby loss, Mr Quince said: “This debate is not in any way about criticising or demonising women, or their partners, who smoke during pregnancy. I fully appreciate tobacco is highly addictive and it is difficult to stop smoking. But we also know that all parents want to give their baby the best possible start in life. We want the message to go out loud and clear that no matter what stage you are in your pregnancy, it is never too late to stop smoking.”

Smoking while pregnant is the biggest single preventable risk factor for stillbirths, the Commons heard. Women who smoke are 27% more likely to have a miscarriage and their risk of having a stillbirth is a third higher than non-smokers.

See also:
Adjournment Debate: Baby Loss (Public Health Guidelines), Hansard Online

Source: Peterborough Today – 21 March 2017
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The global tobacco control treaty has reduced smoking rates in its first decade

The Framework Convention on Tobacco Control (FCTC) has increased the adoption of tobacco reduction measures around the world, which has led to a 2.5% reduction in global smoking rates, according to a study published in The Lancet Public Health. The study noted that although progress in combatting the global tobacco epidemic has been substantial, this progress has fallen short of the pace of global tobacco control action called for by the treaty.

The study analysed WHO data from 126 countries (116 parties and 10 non-parties), tracking strong implementation of the five key demand-reduction measures from 2007 to 2014, and examining the association between the number of measures fully implemented and countries’ smoking rates from 2005 to 2015.

Those countries fully implementing more of these measures experienced significantly greater reductions in smoking rates. Overall, each additional measure implemented at the highest level was associated with a reduction in smoking rates of 1.57 percentage points, which corresponds to 7.1% fewer smokers in 2015, relative to the number of smokers in 2005.

See also:
Tobacco treaty has helped cut smoking rates, but more work needed, Mail Online

Source: EurekAlert – 21 March 2017
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Epigenetics and allergy: from basic mechanisms to clinical applications

Allergic diseases are on the rise in the Western world and well-known allergy-protecting and -driving factors such as microbial and dietary exposure, pollution and smoking mediate their influence through alterations of the epigenetic landscape. An article published in Epigenetics reviews key facts on the involvement of epigenetic modifications in allergic diseases and critically evaluates the lessons learned from epigenome-wide association studies.

In particular, smoking – either as prenatal and/or postnatal tobacco smoke exposure – is a factor known to increase the risk of allergic disorders, especially asthma. For example, active smoking influences methylation of DNA isolated from peripheral blood, and in utero tobacco smoke exposure affects methylation patterns of DNA obtained from buccal cells or whole blood (of the offspring), fetal lungs and placenta. Whole blood samples obtained from mothers during gestation and from children and mothers up to several years after the birth of a child show that maternal smoking-related differences in DNA methylation persist over years of life.

Source: Future Medicine – 21 March 2017
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Yorkshire: Two Doncaster shops prosecuted over illicit cigarettes

Searches by Trading Standards at two local premises in Doncaster have led to two shopkeepers being sentenced for breach of the Trade Marks Act & General Product Safety Regulations – leading to the seizure of 6,960 cigarettes. This included some cigarettes that were unsafe as they did not self-extinguish.

Gill Gillies, Assistant Director of Environment at Doncaster Council, said: “Anyone involved in selling illegal tobacco is encouraging people, including children, to smoke by providing a cheap source. These products are dangerous, and offenders need to understand that they will face consequences if they choose to sell them.”

Source: Doncaster Free Press – 21 March 2017
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US: New health care law would lead to more smoking, disease and tobacco industry profits

On 7th March, Republicans introduced their American Health Care Act to “repeal and replace Obamacare” (the Affordable Care Act, ACA). Neither the bill nor Speaker Ryan’s website announcement mentions “tobacco.” Two tobacco researchers, Daniel Orenstein and Prof Stanton Glantz, have voiced concerns that the new law would have a substantial negative impact on tobacco control efforts.

The ACA includes a Prevention and Public Health Fund that supports prevention and public health programmes, including tobacco prevention. In addition, the ACA Medicaid Incentives for Chronic Disease Prevention Program includes $85 million for state Medicaid for tobacco cessation and other goals.

The new American Health Care Act drops the requirement that some Medicaid programs cover preventive care like smoking cessation. It also ends the Prevention and Public Health Fund that provides 12% of Centres for Disease Control (CDC) and Prevention’s programme funding, including tobacco control across the country. The fund allowed CDC to create the first federal paid anti-smoking media campaign Tips From Former Smokers, which inspired 1.6 million smokers to attempt to quit and prevented over 17,000 premature deaths.

Source: The Conversation – 22 March 2017
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New Zealand: Fund managers urged to put heat on tobacco investments

New Zealanders are being urged to pressure their financial service providers to drop investments in tobacco companies. It was revealed this week that AMP Capital is giving up its investments in tobacco companies. It follows moves by KiwiSaver providers such as ANZ and Westpac. But other providers, including ASB, still have investments in tobacco, estimated at more than $20 million.

Bronwyn King, of the Tobacco Free Portfolios campaign, said fund managers could have a strong voice on social issues, which would be heard internationally. “I often suggest to people that they imagine if a brand new industry was invested today and in 12 months had made a product responsible for six million deaths. Would any of us say ‘let’s invest in that industry in our pension funds, or have our banks lend them money’. It’s incomprehensible that we would tolerate that yet that is what we are doing. We are asking people to reflect on that.”

She said individuals could take action by contacting their financial services providers to ask for details of their support for the tobacco industry. “You can ask, are they investing money in the tobacco industry, in products that kill people? That’s a reasonable request.”

New Zealand’s Superannuation Fund dropped investments in tobacco in 2007 – the first sovereign wealth fund in the world to do so.

Source: Manawatu Standard – 22 March 2017
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