ASH Daily News for 1 April 2019


  • All mothers-to-be will be screened for smoking
  • Research organisation in row over tobacco industry funding


  • Study: More Americans now think vaping is harmful
  • Australia: Nicotine lozenges to be banned in prisons



All mothers-to-be will be screened for smoking

As part of newly updated NHS guidance, all pregnant women will be asked to take a carbon monoxide (CO) test in hospital to see if they, or their partners, smoke. Smoking during pregnancy significantly increases the risk of stillbirth, heart defects and other problems. Just over than one in 10 expectant mothers — 65,000 a year in England— smoke during pregnancy.

Version two of the Saving Babies’ Lives Care Bundle recommends that doctors, midwives and nurses should routinely CO monitor all pregnant women at 12 weeks and 36 weeks. Smokers will be advised on how to give up and referred for specialist help to quit. Those whose CO results show that they smoke will be retested at every appointment. The results also show whether partners or other household members smoke in homes with pregnant women.

Clea Harmer, chief executive of the stillbirth and neonatal death charity, Sands, and co-chair of the Smoking in Pregnancy Challenge Group, said the strategy “will help provide safer care to protect babies’ lives and ensure fewer families suffer grief and loss”.

Matt Hancock, the health secretary, said: “The number of women smoking in pregnancy is at a record low, but too many women still suffer the tragedy of a stillbirth as a result of smoking. Today’s plans are about our continuing commitment to do everything in our power to address this, by supporting mums-to-be to quit, in pregnancy and for good.”

Source: The Times, 30 March 2019

See also
Saving Babies Lives’ Care Bundle Version 2

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Research organisation in row over tobacco industry funding

The Centre for Substance Use Research (CSUR), co-founded by former Glasgow University professor Neil McKeganey, has been criticised for taking money from cigarette makers such as Philip Morris International and British American Tobacco (BAT). The Centre has also conducted research funded by Nicoventures – set up by BAT to focus on alternatives to cigarettes – and vaping technology specialist Fontem Ventures, a subsidiary of tobacco firm Imperial Brands plc.

McKeganey, former director of the Centre for Drug Misuse Research at Glasgow University, co-authored a report, ‘The Pleasure of Smoking’, for the CSUR in 2016 that was funded by Forest, a smokers’ rights group funded by UK-based tobacco firms.

He also co-wrote a report on the plain (standardised) packaging of tobacco products, a move which the tobacco industry lobbied strongly against.

Sheila Duffy, Chief Executive of health charity ASH Scotland said: “The tobacco industry consistently prioritises profit over people, with a long track record of manipulation and misinformation. Tobacco companies lack credibility. The work they fund tends to come out with partial or predictably biased conclusions that are out of step with the main body of independent research. They pay to put their messages in other people’s mouths.”

Source: Herald Scotland, 31 March 2019

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Study: More Americans now think vaping is harmful

More American adults now believe vaping is just as dangerous as smoking cigarettes. Between 2012 and 2017, the number of people who considered e-cigarettes less harmful than tobacco cigarettes dropped significantly, from around 40-50% to 35%.

Over the study period, the percentage of American adults who viewed e-cigarettes as similarly harmful or more harmful than cigarettes increased. Around a quarter of American adults were still unsure in 2017 how health risks for the two compared.

According to lead researcher Jidong Huang, these changes in attitude, “may deter some adult smokers from switching to e-cigarettes.”

The researchers conclude that the “findings of this study underscore the urgent need to accurately communicate the risks of e-cigarettes to the public, which should clearly differentiate the absolute from the relative harms of e-cigarettes.”

Source: Medical Xpress, 29 March 2019

Editorial note: According to the latest estimates from Public Health England, e-cigarettes are substantially less harmful than cigarettes. They are currently the most popular quitting method among smokers in England.

See also
Public Health England: Evidence review of e-cigarettes and heated tobacco products 2018

ASH factsheet: Use of e-cigarettes (vapourisers) among adults in Great Britain

JAMA Network Open: Changing Perceptions of Harm of e-Cigarette vs Cigarette Use Among Adults in 2 US National Surveys From 2012 to 2017

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Australia: Nicotine lozenges to be banned in prisons

Nicotine lozenges will be banned in prisons in New South Wales (NSW) in after inmates in Bathurst prison were caught crushing them and smoking them in bongs. Smoking and inhaling the fumes of lozenges can lead to siderosis – when the inhalation of iron particles inflames and scars the lung, causing them to stiffen, resulting in breathing difficulties.

Nicotine lozenges were made available to inmates when NSW prisons became a smoke-free zone on August 10, 2015.

According to Corrective NSW statistics, 76% of inmates are smokers, compared just 17% of the general population. The figures also revealed 85% of inmates who smoke have said they would like to quit. Support services and products such as nicotine patches and Quitline are available to help prisoners quit smoking.

Source: Daily Mail, 30 March 2019

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