ASH Daily News for 16 December 2019



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UK

  • One in ten pregnant women in Dorset are smokers

International

  • Belgium: BAT-funded study finds that nearly 40% of Belgian smokers see vaping as a good way to quit smoking
  • USA: Study suggests that vaping damages lungs but is still safer than smoking

UK

One in ten pregnant women in Dorset are smokers

New NHS Digital data shows 10% of women who gave birth between April and September in the Dorset Clinical Commissioning Group (CCG) area were smokers—representing 327 out of the 3,164 maternities recorded during that time. This was far higher than the 6% target the Government wants CCGs to meet by the end of 2022. Despite the dangers—including complications during labour and a raised risk of miscarriage, premature birth, stillbirth and sudden, unexpected death in infancy—only 28 of 191 CCGs in England are already below the ambition.

Deborah Arnott, chief executive of charity Action on Smoking and Health, said: “Smoking during pregnancy is a leading cause of still birth, miscarriage and birth defects. The proportion of women smoking during pregnancy nationally has stuck at just over one in 10 for years now, and in some areas is as high as one in four. This is a disgrace and demands urgent action.”

The British Lung Foundation says smoking’s dwindling popularity among the general public still poses problems for policymakers. “As smoking rates fall, the remaining smokers are likely to be those who need the most help,” said Rachael Hodges, the health charity’s senior policy officer. “Stop smoking services benefit people from disadvantaged communities where smoking rates are typically higher.”

Professor Jacqueline Dunkley-Bent, chief midwifery officer for England, said: “Having a baby in this country is now safer than ever but smoking while carrying a baby puts both parent and child at avoidable and potentially deadly risk. No woman should have to experience the heartbreak of stillbirth, and quitting smoking is absolutely vital for a healthy mum and a healthy baby. The NHS Long Term Plan sets out a programme of measures including stop smoking classes for all pregnant women, which will make giving birth even safer, and build on progress in NHS care which has helped reduce stillbirths by 20%.”

Source: Bournemouth Echo, 16 December 2019

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International

Belgium: BAT-funded study finds that nearly 40% of Belgian smokers see vaping as a good way to quit smoking

Nearly 40% of Belgians see picking up vaping as a good way to drop their smoking habit, according to a new survey conducted on behalf of a major tobacco multinational. Out of the around 2 million smokers in Belgium, the proportion of those who use an electronic cigarette has been annually increasing by around 10%, the survey by Insites Consulting shows.

The results of the study showed that 38% of respondents cited quitting tobacco as the main reason they would start vaping, with nearly as many (32%) saying it was because they thought e-cigarettes were better for health, De Morgen reports.

A representative population sample of 737 Belgians who smoked both conventional and electronic cigarettes was questioned for the survey, conducted by the consulting firm for the Be-Lux branch of global tobacco giant British American Tobacco.

Euromonitor data cited in the study shows that around 250,000 to 300,000 people in Belgium are currently vaping, with the survey finding that over a quarter of respondents found e-cigarettes to be less harmful to human health. A total of 32% said e-cigarettes did not contain any tar and 28% said they could contain less nicotine than conventional ones, additionally, 28% considered smoking e-cigarettes to be less expensive than smoking regular cigarettes.

Source: Brussels Times, 16 December 2019

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USA: Study suggests that vaping damages lungs but is still safer than smoking

A new paper published in the American Journal of Preventive Medicine has presented the findings of the first longitudinal analysis of the association between vaping and lung disease. Researchers tracked e-cigarette users for three years, and found that they had a 1.3-times higher risk of developing respiratory disease than people who did not use any tobacco product. Meanwhile, cigarette smokers had a 2.5-times higher risk, and those who both smoked and vaped had a 3.3-times higher risk.

“If you’re going to do one or the other, in terms of these respiratory effects you’re probably better off with an e-cigarette,” says study co-author Dr. Stanton Glantz, a professor of medicine at the University of California, San Francisco and a leading researcher (and critic) of e-cigarettes.

For the purposes of the study, Glantz and his co-author combined four conditions—chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD), chronic bronchitis, emphysema and asthma—into one respiratory disease umbrella. They used data provided by about 32,000 adults who responded to the U.S. National Institutes of Health’s Population Assessment of Tobacco and Health (PATH) study, which asks individuals about their tobacco-product use, general health and demographic profile. When respondents first joined the PATH study, about 5,500 already had respiratory disease. About 12% of the total sample identified as former e-cigarette users, while 5.5% were current users. Meanwhile, 45% were former combustible tobacco users and 26% were current users.

The individuals were then asked to take follow-up PATH surveys one and two years later, reporting any changes to their tobacco use and health. About 1,100 people developed respiratory disease in the following years. The researchers found that both nicotine e-cigarette and combustible tobacco use were associated with a higher risk of developing respiratory disease, but vaping seemed to be less dangerous than smoking—and using either product alone was better than using both.

It’s difficult to untangle how past and current habits contribute to a person’s disease risk—a former smoker who switches to vaping likely has a different risk profile than someone who went straight to vaping—but Glantz says their analysis accounted for those different scenarios. Glantz’s position is controversial, since other studies have estimated that wide-scale switches from smoking to vaping could save millions of lives by reducing the burden of smoking-related diseases. Importantly, Glantz’s analysis also did not include risks of lung cancer, one of the leading killers associated with smoking.

“This study actually does support the harm reduction potential of e-cigarettes,” says Andy Tan, an assistant professor of population sciences at Dana-Farber Cancer Institute who has studied e-cigarettes. “Yes, vaping is associated with about 29% to 31% higher odds of subsequent lung disease within two to three years than not vaping—but compare this with the 156% higher odds of using combustible tobacco than not smoking.”

Source: Time, 16 December 2019

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