ASH Daily News for 6 March 2020



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UK

  • CMO recommends smokers quit to reduce coronavirus risk

Parliamentary activity

  • MPs debate WHO Framework Convention on Tobacco Control
  • Parliamentary questions

Links of the week

  • PHE e-cigarette evidence review
  • No Smoking Day resources

UK

CMO recommends smokers quit to reduce coronavirus risk

Yesterday (5 March) the Chief Medical Officer (CMO) Professor Chris Whitty, told MPs that smokers should quit to reduce their coronavirus risk.

Laura Trott MP: “Can fit and healthy people die from this virus”

Chris Whitty: “Yes, fit and healthy people can die from virtually anything but it is incredibly rare to happen, so any of you and I could die from flu, but it is incredibly unlikely to happen. I think the mortality rates for this are higher than seasonal flu so therefore the risk is a bit higher but the data would suggest that fit and healthy younger people have a much lower risk of doing this [dying].

“I might add one slight rider to that which is for most respiratory infections, you worry about people who smoke a bit more. They’re more likely to get it and their lung immune system is less good.

To be clear on smokers, my recommendation is that they stop smoking, if you’re going to give up smoking, this is a very good moment to do it.”

Source: BBC Today programme, 5 March 2020

Listen at 46:20 – 47:25

See also:
Metro: Smokers ‘at more risk of catching coronavirus’
Mirror: Smokers are more at risk from Coronavirus, Chief Medical Officer says

Listen here

Parliamentary activity

MPs debate WHO Framework Convention on Tobacco Control

In an adjournment debate yesterday (5 March) tabled by the Chairman of the All Party Group on Smoking and Health, Bob Blackman, MP for Harrow East, MPs debated the WHO Framework Convention on Tobacco Control. The Minister for Prevention, Public Health and Primary Care, Jo Churchill MP, reaffirmed the Government’s commitment to protecting public health from the commercial and vested interests of tobacco companies in line with the UK’s obligation to Article 5.3 of the WHO Framework Convention on Tobacco Control.

The Minister said: “In answer to my honorable friend’s direct question we will absolutely remain firmly committed to the Convention and importantly Article 5.3 during the transition period and beyond.” (16.29.46-16.30.00)

“I am very proud that in the first Global Tobacco Industry Interference Index published last year we were rated number one for the work that we do to protect public health policy from tobacco companies, but I take on board that we need to continue on that path.” (16.30.20-16.30.39)

Source: Hansard, 5 March 2020

See also:
APPG press release: Government commits to protect public health policy from tobacco industry interference

Read transcript

Parliamentary questions

PQ: Lung diseases

Asked by Mr Tanmanjeet Singh Dhesi, Slough
To ask the Secretary of State for Health and Social Care, what recent assessment he has made of trends in the level of lung disease.

Asked by Mr Tanmanjeet Singh Dhesi, Slough
To ask the Secretary of State for Health and Social Care, what recent steps he has taken to reduce the incidence of lung disease.

Answered by Jo Churchill, Parliamentary Under-Secretary for Health and Social Care
Smoking is the biggest preventable risk factor for serious lung diseases in England.
While smoking rates in England continue to decline – as a result of a comprehensive programme of tobacco control at national and local levels – alerting the public to the serious risks of smoking and supporting smokers to quit are major priorities for Public Health England (PHE) and are at the centre of the Government’s Tobacco Control Plan (TCP) for England. The TCP sets out the Government’s vision to create a smokefree generation and can be viewed at the following link:
https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/towards-a-smoke-free-generation-tobacco-control-plan-for-england

PHE also runs a programme of smokefree marketing activity, including Stoptober. Information on the harms smoking tobacco causes is available on the Smokefree website, the One You website and via the Smokefree National Helpline. The website can be viewed at the following link:
https://www.nhs.uk/smokefree

In September 2019, PHE published the Second Atlas of Variation in Risk Factors and Healthcare for Respiratory Diseases. This Atlas has 64 indicators examining trends and geographical variation in risk factors for example smoking, trends in numbers and rates for a range of lung diseases including chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, asthma, pneumonia, tuberculosis and lung cancers. The Atlas also looks at geographical variation and time trends in emergency admissions to hospital, length of stay and treatments such as that for asthma.

The rate of emergency admissions to hospital for respiratory diseases has increased significantly from 2013/14 to 2018/19.

The number of new cases of lung cancer has increased from 2001-03 to 2015-17, in both men and women. However, after adjustment for the size of the population and its age, the incidence rate of lung cancer has steadily fallen in men but risen in women.

Source: Hansard, 5 March 2020

Read transcript

Links of the week

PHE e-cigarette evidence review

On Wednesday (4 March) Public Health England (PHE) published its sixth report on e-cigarettes, which updates on the prevalence of vaping among young people and adults and reviews the literature on vaping among people with mental health conditions and pregnant women. The report emphasises that e-cigarettes are much less harmful than tobacco but are not completely safe.

The report can be accessed here

No Smoking Day resources

Breathe 2025 have developed a set of campaign assets for No Smoking Day 2020. The resources are for use in the lead-up to 11 March and on the day itself. They include email footers, A3 posters, flyers and more.

The resource are available to download from: https://www.todayistheday.co.uk/