ASH Daily News for 9 January 2020


  • Study: Smokers less dependent but less likely to try quitting


  • US: Cancer death rate sees sharpest one-year drop on record
  • Ireland: Fewer children smoking and drinking

Parliamentary Activity

  • Parliamentary questions



Study: Smokers less dependent but less likely to try quitting

Smokers in England are showing fewer signs of dependence on cigarettes but are less inclined to try and quit, say researchers from University College London, who looked at trends over a 10-year period. Analysis of data from 41,610 smokers taking part in the Smoking Toolkit Study in England found that smokers in 2017 smoked an average of 10.9 cigarettes a day, compared with 13.6 in 2008.

Similarly, in 2017 they were less likely to smoke within an hour of waking and increasing numbers were not smoking every day, compared with 2008. Researchers said this contradicts the “hardening theory”, that as smoking rates fall, levels of cigarette dependence would increase.

However, the results also showed fewer smokers are attempting to quit. Over the 10-year period the proportion of smokers who tried to stop smoking dropped from 37% to 29.9% and the proportion of smokers attempting to cut down fell from 56.1% to 47.9%. Researchers also found that fewer smokers were using behavioural support, such as stop smoking services.

The researchers said the fall in the number of smokers trying to quit, alongside the decline in the use of stop smoking services, showed the need to “reinstate and improve easy to access effective services”. Study lead Dr Claire Garnett said: “The decline in the proportion of smokers trying to quit or cut down is a worrying trend and may reflect budget cuts on tobacco control, including mass media expenditure and stop smoking services. These are known to be effective and it is a false economy to be cutting back on these.”

Kruti Shrotri, Tobacco Control Manager at Cancer Research UK, said: “It’s concerning that smokers are now less motivated to quit than a decade ago. Mass media campaigns such as Stoptober and January Health Harms are vital in encouraging people to quit smoking but have seen significant budget cuts in recent years. The Government must invest more in these health campaigns to save lives from cancers that could have been prevented.”

Source: Daily Mail, 9 January 2020

Addiction: Changes in smoker characteristics in England between 2008 and 2017

See also: Pulse – Smokers less dependent but losing motivation to quit, study suggests

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US: Cancer death rate sees sharpest one-year drop on record

The cancer death rate in the United States fell 2.2% from 2016 to 2017 — the largest single-year decline in cancer mortality ever reported, the American Cancer Society reported on Wednesday 8th January. Since 1991 the rate has dropped 29%, which translates to approximately 2.9 million fewer cancer deaths than would have occurred if the mortality rate had remained constant.

“What is really driving that is the acceleration in the decline of mortality for lung cancer, and the reason that is encouraging is because lung cancer is the leading cause of cancer death, causing more deaths in the US than breast, colorectal cancer and prostate cancers combined,” said Rebecca Siegel, first author of the report and scientific director of surveillance research at the American Cancer Society.

“The biggest driver is the reductions in smoking, but also contributing are improvements in treatment as well as early detection for some cancers, like breast and colorectal cancer” Siegal added. As of 2017, the death rate for lung cancer had dropped by 51% among men since its peak in 1990 and by 26% among women since its peak in 2002, the report found.

Source: CNN, 8 January 2020

See also: The Independent – US cancer death rate sees largest single-year drop in history

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Ireland: Fewer children smoking and drinking

There has been an increase in the number of children reporting to have never drunk alcohol or smoked, a new study shows. Minister for Health Simon Harris TD and Minister for Health Promotion, Catherine Byrne TD are due to launch the Health Behaviours in School-aged Children (HBSC) 2018 Study today, Thursday 9th January 2020.

The Health Behaviour in School-aged Children (HBSC) is a collaborative cross-national study with findings published every 4 years by the WHO Regional Office for Europe.

The report’s section on Ireland shows that 11% of children aged 10 – 17 years old have tried smoking, a 5% drop from 16% in 2014, and 22% report trying e-cigarettes. Mr Harris said: “The health and wellbeing of our children is a key indicator of the health of the nation, and I am pleased to see many positive trends. In particular, the good news around smoking and alcohol use by children which both continue to decline. However, the numbers of teenagers trying e-cigarettes and vaping products is a cause for concern and will be addressed by measures I will introduce in 2020, including new legislation to ban the sale of e-cigarettes to children under the age of 18.”

Source: ITV News, 9 January 2020

WHO Europe: Health Behaviour in School-aged Children (HBSC)

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Parliamentary Activity

Parliamentary questions

Asked by Mr Ranil Jayawardena, North East Hampshire
To ask the Secretary of State for Health and Social Care, what estimate his Department has made of the number of patients treated by hospital A&E departments as a result of vaping fluids laced with either cannabis or Spice in the last 12 months; and what the estimated cost to the public purse was of that treatment.

Answered by Jo Churchill, Parliamentary Under-Secretary for Health and Social Care
We do not collect data at the level of detail needed to identify patients treated by hospital accident and emergency departments, as a result of vaping liquids laced with either cannabis or spice.

Source: Hansard, HC Deb, 7 January 2020

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