ASH Daily News for 30 August 2018


  • Wales: Increase in people quitting smoking but services still falling short of 5% target
  • Opinion: Why don’t we treat addiction to smoking like any other critical condition?
  • Are smoking cessation services the most effective way to quit?


  • US: NYC’s tobacco-free pharmacy law not helping reduce inequalities
  • Africa: ‘Prime target’ for tobacco companies


Wales: Increase in people quitting smoking but services still falling short of 5% target

There has been an increase in the number of smokers in Wales quitting with the help of the NHS. Welsh Government statistics show nearly 15,000 people in Wales were treated by the NHS Wales’ Help Me Quit service, in the year ending 31 March 2018. This is in contrast to the rest of the UK where numbers of smokers seeking NHS treatment and support has declined in recent years.

Christian Heathcote-Elliott from Public Health Wales said, “Stopping smoking is hard, but it is the best thing you can do for your health, your wallet and your loved ones. Your chances of making a successful quit attempt are four times greater with NHS support than by going it alone. This is a message we’re trying to get to 190,000 smokers in Wales who try to stop every year.”

However, the Welsh Government has still fallen short of its annual goal to treat 5% of smokers with NHS stop smoking services. Action on Smoking and Health Cymru chief executive Suzanne Cass has therefore labelled the latest figures “disappointing”.

Sources: Brexit news, 29 August 2018
ITV News, 29 August 2018

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Opinion: Why don’t we treat addiction to smoking like any other critical condition?

In this blog, Alison Cook (director of policy at the British Lung Foundation) and Hazel Cheeseman (director of policy at Action on Smoking and Health) argue that smoking is too often seen as a lifestyle choice and not something requiring medical treatment.

“New data released by NHS Digital highlights the continued decline in the use of stop smoking services across England. If you smoke, treatment to quit can literally save your life. So why is it that access to this life saving treatment is completely dependent on where you live?

This is wrong. Every smoker must have equal access to stop smoking services and medication. As the leading preventable cause of death and health inequalities in the UK, the addiction to smoking must be treated in the same way as any other critical condition. Continuing to ignore discrimination against smokers will only deepen health inequalities. Something this government promised to eradicate.

ASH and the BLF want to see national government action so smokers, wherever they live, have the best chance of quitting. This means putting money back into the public health grant and increasing rather than restricting prescribing by GPs.”

Source: Huff Post, 29 August 2018

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Are smoking cessation services the most effective way to quit?

In this episode of You and Yours, Winifred Robinson speaks to Professor Robert West, Director of Tobacco Studies at University College London, about stopping smoking.

Professor West said, “The evidence is very clear and has been accumulated over many decades from very high quality randomised trials and field studies which tell us that the most effective way of stopping smoking is to see a specialist stop smoking adviser and together with that and a prescription for a stop smoking medicine. In the best circumstances, it will quadruple your chances of stopping smoking and there’s nothing to rival it…I think there could be a case for saying that interest in stop smoking services has declined, but a big part of that is actually from our evidence not so much the rise in e-cigarettes, but the lack of publicity and promotion of those services.”

Source: BBC Radio 4, You and Yours (21 minutes)

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US: A look at NYC’s tobacco-free pharmacy law not helping reduce inequalities

In 2018, New York City implemented a tobacco-free pharmacy law as part of a comprehensive approach to curb tobacco use. A new study which models the reduction in tobacco retailer density following the ban to examine differences in the policy’s impact across neighbourhoods has found that whilst the law substantially reduces tobacco retailer density overall, the impact is not evenly distributed across neighbourhoods.

The researchers based their analysis on a 2017 list of all licensed tobacco retailers in the City, including 510 pharmacies that held tobacco licenses. Tobacco retailer density per 1000 residents was calculated before and after removing pharmacies from the sample.

The results showed that high-income neighbourhoods in Manhattan and the more suburban outskirts of other boroughs were most likely to benefit from the new policy, experiencing the largest reductions in retailer density. In contrast, more disadvantaged neighbourhoods in the city frequently experienced little to no change in retailer density as a result of the new law. Areas where adults lacked a high school education and had a higher proportion of uninsured residents benefited less from the policy.

See also:
Tobacco Control, Evaluating the impact and equity of a tobacco-free pharmacy law on retailer density in New York City neighbourhoods

Source: Bright Surf, 29 August 2018

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Africa: ‘Prime target’ for tobacco companies

Tobacco companies view Africa a major destination for tobacco production and consumption, a new study has found. The research, produced by University of Cape Town’s Economics of Tobacco Control Project (ETCP), says that as a developing continent, Africa has become a “prime target” for the tobacco industry.

The researchers said, “Consumers in Africa are now able to afford cigarettes and coupled with weak tobacco control laws, this has resulted in the tobacco industry focusing its attention on increasing its market presence.” The study also found that although the total cigarette demand in Africa seemed to be driven primarily by population growth, many countries were also reporting increased smoking rates.

See also:
PLOS one, Trends in cigarette demand and supply in Africa

Source: Fin24, 29 August 2018

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