ASH Daily News for 26 November 2019


  • Leading charities join forces to call for target to end smoking in Wales
  • Greater Manchester: Illegal tobacco campaign returns after thousands of cigarettes seized
  • Researchers consider possibility of drug which would make users feel ill when mixed with nicotine
  • Smoking banned from all Lincolnshire hospital grounds


Leading charities join forces to call for target to end smoking in Wales

Three leading charities have joined forces to urge Welsh Government to set a target for eradicating smoking in Wales. Plans for entirely eliminating tobacco use should form part of Welsh Government’s new Tobacco Control Plan, according to ASH Wales, Cancer Research UK and the British Heart Foundation (BHF) Cymru.

They are calling on Welsh Government to set a target similar to that set in England, where there are plans to reduce smoking to 5% or less by 2030, and Scotland, which aims to become a tobacco-free nation by 2034. So far the Welsh Government is just one per cent off its current target to reduce smoking prevalence to 16% of the population by 2020, with 17% of Welsh adults now smoking.

Speaking ahead of a meeting of the Cross Party Group on Smoking and Health at the Senedd where AMs discussed the Tobacco Control Plan, ASH Wales chief executive Suzanne Cass, said: “We are working towards a smokefree Wales as this is the only way to address the devastating health inequalities caused by this terrible addiction.”

Adam Fletcher, Head of BHF Cymru, said: “It’s crucial that Wales doesn’t become the only part of the UK which doesn’t set a clear target to end smoking…Making Wales smoke free will help reduce health inequalities and we would welcome a commitment from Welsh Government to achieve this by 2030.”

Source: South Wales Argus, 25 November 2019

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Greater Manchester: Illegal tobacco campaign returns after thousands of cigarettes seized

Almost 640,000 cigarettes and 153kg of rolling tobacco were seized by Greater Manchester Trading Standards during the Keep It Out campaign, when communities were encouraged to report illegal tobacco in April and May 2019. This is nearly as much as all the illegal tobacco seized last year across the 10 boroughs of Greater Manchester, which totalled 804,000 cigarettes and 145kg of rolling tobacco.

Reporting of illegal tobacco by the public saw a similar rise, with 10 times as many reports being made than normal. Trading Standards received an average of 30 reports a week across Greater Manchester during the campaign. The next stage of Keep It Out will focus specifically on neighbourhoods where Trading Standards suspect that illegal tobacco is being sold. Over four weeks, there will be targeted leaflet drops in addition to online, social media and radio plugs, as well as advertising on buses and phone kiosks.

Illegal tobacco is known to be a major cause of young people starting smoking and undermines adults’ attempts to quit, as it is often sold at very low prices. Trading Standards North West’s research found that nearly a quarter of young smokers across Greater Manchester bought cigarettes they knew were illegal. Six out of every 10 purchases of illegal tobacco made by under 18s were made at local shops.

Andrea Crossfield, population health policy and strategy specialist Greater Manchester Health and Social Care Partnership, said: “The Keep It Out campaign has shown us that local people care about their communities and the health of their friends and neighbours. By providing information to Trading Standards they have helped us increase the amount of illegal tobacco seized and helped protect people, especially younger residents, from the dangers it poses.”

Source: The Bolton News, 25 November 2019

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Researchers consider possibility of drug which would make users feel ill when mixed with nicotine

University of Toronto researchers are aiming to develop a drug which makes users feel nauseous when mixed with nicotine. Whilst it has long been known that nicotine triggers both reward and aversion responses in the brain, it has been less clear why addiction so easily seems to overpower aversion.

The Toronto team discovered that nicotine affects two groups of receptors in the same brain region, known as the ventral tegmental area (VTA), which plays an important role in the reward circuit. One set of receptors are for dopamine, and the other is for GABA.

Dopamine is mostly thought of as a chemical for pleasure, but it’s also involved in the aversion signalling process. “Aversion should be there all the time, but the more someone smokes, they’re going to have changes in the amounts of receptors and in the signaling process in the reward system,” said lead study author Dr Taryn Grieder. “It is almost like a switch in the brain that gets thrown and there’s almost a breakdown in signalling so that now the aversion that was signalled through dopamine neurons is there, but it’s almost like reward from relieving withdrawal…You can’t mess with dopamine, because if there’s too much of it it leads to schizophrenia, and too little leads to Parkinson’s and movement problems… So we’re looking for new neurotransmitters that can make nicotine feel gross for everyone. If we shut down those other neurons [that make smoking feel pleasurable] then only the disgust or aversion will be left.” she added.

Those other neurons are related to the neurotransmitter, GABA. GABA counterbalances neurotransmitters involved in stress, among its other roles. Now, Dr Grieber and her team have found specific GABA receptors to target to take away the pleasurable affect of smoking without interfering with the neurotransmitter’s other broad-ranging roles. Dr Grieder notes that this potential drug is currently theoretical and would likely take years to prepare for humans to take, and would by no means be a ‘cure’ for nicotine addiction, but rather a helpful tool for smoking cessation.

Source: Daily Mail, 25 November 2019

Nature Neuroscience: CRF neurons in the ventral tegmental area control the aversive effects of nicotine withdrawal and promote escalation of nicotine intake

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Smoking banned from all Lincolnshire hospital grounds

All hospitals in Lincolnshire will be implementing smokefree policies as of January 2020. The policy will see patients who smoke provided with nicotine replacement therapy and referred to ongoing support. Vaping will still be permitted within outdoor areas of the hospitals.

Stephen Kelly, from the United Lincolnshire Hospitals NHS Trust, said the hospitals have a duty to the health of patients, staff, and visitors: “Many of the people who use our services are particularly vulnerable to the harmful effects of second-hand smoke…We are committed to protecting and improving the health and wellbeing of all employees, patients, and visitors. Being completely smokefree reflects our commitment and responsibility for improving health and wellbeing.”

Source: The Lincolnite, 25 November 2019

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