ASH Daily News for 10 March 2020


  • Opinion: How we can add five more healthy years to average life expectancy
  • Tobacco control campaigner says give quitting a chance
  • Multi-million-pound plan to tackle obesity and smoking in Sheffield

Parliamentary Activity

  • Early Day Motion: No Smoking Day
  • Parliamentary questions



Opinion: How we can add five more healthy years to average life expectancy

The Independent has published an article by Richard Faragher, professor of Biogerontology at the University of Brighton, which originally appeared in The Conversation on how we can achieve the Government’s ambition to deliver 5 additional healthy years of life by 2035:

“By 2050, the world’s over-65s will outnumber the under-15s for the first time in history. The root cause of this is simple: infant mortality has decreased […] But success brings its own problems. Every surviving baby is a potential pensioner, and by the age of 85, nobody is disease free. Being old is not in itself a problem, but being old and ill is quite another matter.

“More than 40% of the UK’s National Health Service (NHS) budget goes on the over-65s. Spending on a patient in their mid-eighties is more than seven times higher that on someone in their mid-thirties. Unless we improve healthy lifespan, by 2050 either healthcare expenditure will become impossibly high or care standards unacceptably low.

“Conscious of this, the British government has set itself a commendable target “for everyone to have five extra years of healthy, independent life by 2035 and to narrow the gap between the richest and the poorest”. The second part of the sentence is key. Simply committing to increase the average healthy lifespan, as the European Union did some years ago, carries the risk that you hit your target by making the healthiest healthier.

“An authoritative new report, The Health of the Nation, from the All Party Parliamentary Group for Longevity, lays out potential measures the UK government could take, and some traps to avoid, to meet its target […] What you can do should come as no surprise. Stop smoking – which would cut UK health inequalities in half if everyone did so [..] The trap with encouraging people to adopt healthy behaviour, for example by running a lose-weight campaign, is that the people who diet as a result tend to be health-conscious folk […] So “catch everyone” measures, such as hiking the prices of beer and cigarettes, have a better chance of raising average lifespan by reducing health inequality.

“Your doctors could help by putting more effort into preventing illness. The NHS focuses on healing the sick. It is extremely efficient at this but spends only 5 per cent of its budget on prevention. This is because its key targets are for treating disease, not enhancing wellness. One recommended way around this is to shift NHS performance metrics and money away from payment by activity towards payment for meeting population health status targets, such as blood pressure. Healthcare systems worldwide are looking to do this, but the potential for unintended consequences is high. For example, it is not implausible that linking financial incentives to a healthy population would encourage doctors not to diagnose people as sick. […]”

Source: The Independent, 9 March 2020

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Tobacco control campaigner says give quitting a chance

Ahead of No Smoking Day on March 11th, ASH’s director of policy and communications, Ciaran Osborne, believes there are several methods to inspire people to give quitting a chance: “There are a bunch of ways that people can help themselves be successful if they try to quit. People can access Nicotine Replacement Therapy either through their GPs, through their local stop smoking service or they can buy them over the counter. People may want to start using an E-cigarette, which Public Health England says is 95% less harmful than smoking. All the evidence to date shows they are significantly less harmful than smoking tobacco. They are a kind of nicotine delivery method, so people who are addicted to nicotine can use them to manage their nicotine cravings.”

The Government is also committed to driving down smoking rates. Last year it set a deadline to go smokefree by 2030 in a consultation, the response to which is expected in Spring. Mr Osborne said the response should be published as soon as possible: “Every day the Government delays the less likely we are to hit the 2030 target. Every day in England 280 children start smoking and about 200 people die from smoking. The 2030 target is ambitious but it is achievable if we do a series of additional measures to help us get there. But we need to start acting on those measures as soon as possible.”

He wants to see the Government recommit to the 2030 deadline and to introduce a ‘polluter pays levy’. This concept would see the big tobacco companies foot the bill for initiatives like no smoking campaigns and enforcement measures against underage tobacco sales. ASH estimates the levy could raise at least £265m annually. They say it could also help pay for stop smoking services, which are under pressure financially. An ASH survey earlier this year revealed nearly a third of local authorities no longer provide a specialist stop smoking service partially because of budget cuts.

Source: Yorkshire Evening Post, 9 March 2020

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Multi-million-pound plan to tackle obesity and smoking in Sheffield

South Yorkshire and Bassetlaw integrated care system plans to significantly reduce the number of preventable deaths and illness caused by smoking, obesity and mental illness among the region’s 1.5m residents. Highlights from its five-year plan include new funding for more urgent treatment centres, improved community-based services to prevent unnecessary hospital admissions and investment in digital systems to enhance patient accessibility to online appointments.

Sir Andrew Cash, ICS chief executive, said: “Our new five-year plan recommits our ambition for everyone in South Yorkshire and Bassetlaw to have a great start in life, supporting them to be healthy and live longer, while aiming to be the best delivery and transformation system in the country. Our pledges in 2016 were to give people more options for care while joining it up for them in their neighbourhood, help them to stay healthy, tackle health inequalities, improve quality, access and outcomes of care, address workforce pressures and introduce new technologies […] Our 2019 plan builds on these, but it also focuses on children’s health, cardiovascular and respiratory conditions, diabetes, learning disabilities and autism.”

Healthy life expectancy is lower in South Yorkshire and Bassetlaw compared with the national average. There are also high rates of common causes of disability and death, including smoking, obesity, physical inactivity and alcohol-related hospital admissions, across the region.

Source: The Star, 10 March 2020

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Parliamentary Activity

Early Day Motion: No Smoking Day

Jim Shannon MP tabled the following Early Day Motion on 9th March 2020. The EDM is sponsored by Paul Girvan MP, Carla Lockhart MP, Gregory Campbell MP and Sir Mike Penning MP, it states:

“That this House notes that Wednesday 11 of March is No Smoking Day 2020 and thanks the British Heart Foundation for continuing to highlight this as a focal point for people to begin their journey to stop smoking; further notes that according to the World Health Organisation, tobacco kills half of its users; celebrates with those who have made the decision in previous years to quit resulting in 1.5 billion fewer cigarettes being smoked in the last 9 years alone; and encourages those who wish to stop smoking to use this as their focal point and the day to get the hope and support from their GP, family and friends to make this life changing decision.”

Source:, 9 March 2020

See Motion

Parliamentary questions

Asked by Alex Sobel MP, Leeds North West
To ask the Secretary of State for Health and Social Care, what assessment he has made of the implications for his policies of the Taskforce for Lung Health’s five year plan to improve respiratory health.

Answered by Helen Whately MP, Minister of State Department of Health and Social Care
The National Health Service has worked closely with the Taskforce for Lung Health to design the respiratory ambitions in the NHS Long Term Plan.

The national respiratory programme was developed using the recommendations from the Taskforce and further close collaboration will ensure alignment. The key objectives that address the recommendations in the Taskforce’s report include improvements in early and accurate diagnosis; pulmonary rehabilitation; medications management; and self-management.

Separately to the respiratory programme, NHS funded smoking cessation interventions will also address recommendations from the Taskforce.

Source: Hansard, HC Deb, 9 March 2020

See Parliamentary Question