ASH Daily News for 13 May 2020



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UK

  • Smokers and people with COPD at greater risk of dying from Coronavirus
  • Cornwall: Sign up now for support to stop smoking and make immediate improvements to health

International

  • USA: Minnesota House approves bill to raise age for buying tobacco to age 21

Parliamentary Activity

  • Parliamentary questions

UK

Smokers and people with COPD at greater risk of dying from Coronavirus

Researchers from University College London (UCL) have published a study which found that people with chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) are more likely to develop severe complications or die from COVID-19.

COPD is a lung disease that causes inflammation in the lungs and a narrowing of the airways, making it harder to move air in and out as you breathe. It usually develops because of long-term damage to your lungs from inhaling cigarette smoke, as well as smoke from other sources and air pollution.

An estimated 1.2 million people are living with diagnosed COPD in the UK, with an estimated 251 million people globally affected by the disease.

Key findings from the study show that, coronavirus patients with COPD had a 63% risk of developing more severe illness and a 60% increased risk of mortality compared to 33.4% of those without COPD.

Additionally, current smokers were 1.45 times more likely to have serious complications compared to former smokers and never smokers. The study also found that current smokers had a higher mortality rate of 38.5%.

Source: The Sun, 12 May 2020

Plos One: Prevalence, Severity and Mortality associated with COPD and Smoking in patients with COVID-19: A Rapid Systematic Review and Meta-Analysis
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Cornwall: Sign up now for support to stop smoking and make immediate improvements to health

Cornwall Council’s Healthy Cornwall team are still able to provide a stop smoking support service, even during the lockdown, with support available by telephone, text and email.

Dr Ruth Goldstein, Cornwall Council public health consultant, said “We’ve helped thousands of people across Cornwall to quit smoking, and there has never been a better time to do it, with new evidence coming out from the coronavirus outbreak showing that smokers [are] … more likely to get a severe respiratory disease.

In addition, the Healthy Cornwall team is offering a personalised behavioural support to develop a ‘quit plan’ and practical help on beating the cravings, as they are able to arrange stop smoking medication such as nicotine replacement therapy through a GP prescription request or voucher.

“The service can also help you switch from smoking to vaping. Going it alone can be hard, but with the help of our team you’re more likely to stay smoke free. Using the help and support of a stop smoking advisor four times more effective than will power alone” Dr Goldstein added.

Source: Holsworthy Post, 12 May 2020
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International

USA: Minnesota House approves bill to raise age for buying tobacco to age 21

On Saturday (9 May) the Minnesota House of Representatives approved legislation increasing the age of sale for tobacco, tobacco products, electronic delivery devices and other nicotine products from 18 to 21.

Heather Edelson, chief author of the legislation, said that raising the tobacco age to 21 will prevent youth addiction and save lives. She stated that: “Tobacco companies have been targeting youth to addict the next generation”.

The initiative has a strong bipartisan coalition of support among health care professionals, ClearWay Minnesota, youth organizations, and several Minnesota cities which have already enacted Tobacco 21 laws locally.

In December of 2019, Tobacco 21 became federal law, which meant the minimum age required to legally purchase tobacco products increased from 18 to 21 for the entire country. However, some retailers have insisted they will not comply until they see the change made at the state level.

Source: CBS Minnesota 09 May 2020
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Parliamentary Activity

Parliamentary questions

PQ: Alcoholic drinks and tobacco: Coronavirus

Asked by Alex Norris, Nottingham North
To ask the Secretary of State for Health and Social Care (DHSC), whether his Department has made any assessment on levels of (a) tobacco and (b) alcohol use during the covid-19 outbreak.

Answered by Jo Churchill, Parliamentary Under-Secretary for Health and Social Care
It is too early to make an effective assessment of the levels of tobacco and alcohol use during the COVID-19 outbreak.

Data on this is published annually, and the Department is investigating other external sources of data and surveys to track indicators of behaviour change.

Source: Hansard, 12 May 2020
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