ASH Daily News for 12 December 2019



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UK

  • Many Scottish council areas see life expectancy drop

International

  • Thailand introduces plain tobacco packaging
  • Report: World without tobacco would help Belgians live for two years longer

UK

Many Scottish council areas see life expectancy drop

The life expectancy of people born in many parts of Scotland has fallen, as health bosses continue to worry about the worsening figures. Statistics published today by National Records of Scotland show that, after decades of steady improvement, life expectancy improvements have stalled in almost all areas of Scotland, with many areas now experiencing decreasing life expectancy.

The statistics paint a bleak picture with people in deprived areas faring worst, with doctors saying the reasons are complex but include persistent inequalities.

Dr Nikki Thompson, deputy chair of Scottish Council at BMA Scotland, said: “These statistics leave us in absolutely no doubt that stark and unacceptable health inequalities persist across Scotland. It is 2019 and we should not tolerate a society where those in some areas of the country will spend an extra 23 years in poor health compared to those living in Scotland’s most affluent areas. We need much more concerted action on public health, particularly focussed on reducing inequalities, from all levels of Government.”

“Scotland has led the field with strong and welcome initiatives such as minimum unit pricing on alcohol and the smoking ban, but we cannot rest on our laurels – this is not enough to boost the health of the nation or reduce the persistent, stubborn and scandalous inequalities that persist.

“Reducing health inequalities will need concerted action across many areas like low pay, poor educational outcomes and inadequate housing. These statistics must prompt continued and urgent action on all these areas and across all parts of Government.”

Source: The Herald, 11 December 2019

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International

Thailand introduces plain tobacco packaging

Thailand has earned praise from The World Health Organisation for introducing ‘plain’ or standardised cigarette packaging this week. The new regulations, which were approved by the National Tobacco Products Control Committee, aim to make cigarette packs much less attractive by including graphic images of the hazards of smoking, and removing tobacco company logos and branding (with the name in a plain font).

The head of the Department of Disease Control says Thailand’s stance against promoting tobacco “drew praise from the international community at a health conference in Bangkok. Thailand is the first country in Asia to introduce plain packaging for cigarettes, demonstrating the country’s efforts to promote public health and wellbeing.”

The new standardised packaging became compulsory on December 9.

Source: The Thaiger, 12 December 2019

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Report: World without tobacco would help Belgians live for two years longer

In “a world without tobacco,” Belgians would see their life expectancy rise by up to two years, according to a new report by the federal health agency released on Wednesday.

The report, published by Sciensano, studied the ways in which life expectancy in Belgium would evolve in different future scenarios where tobacco consumption would either have dropped significantly or even disappeared completely. The report compared the future scenarios with a “business as usual” one, which used the prevalence of current and former smokers as well as existing health policies on smoking.

Future Belgian populations living in a “tobacco-free world” would see overall life expectancy rise by two years to reach 83, up from the current 81. The report also found that Belgian populations would lead healthy lives for longer in a tobacco-free future, with the figures showing that a 15-year-old Belgians living in the year 2028 in a smoking-free scenario would see their healthy life years (HLY) rise by 3.4 years for men and 2.7 years for women. This increase would rise even further in the year 2048, with the healthy life years for men and women rising to 3.5 and 2.9 years respectively.

The results show that “only drastic measures would have a durable and positive impact on health,” the authors wrote, noting that individual anti-tobacco measures only had a limited impact, and that a global plan was needed.

Source: The Brussels Times, 11 December 2019

See also:
Sciensano: Potential impact of reduced tobacco use on life and health expectancies in Belgium

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