London: Fire brigade recommends vaping after cigarette causes flat fire
On Thursday morning fire fighters were called to Cann Hall Road in Leytonstone after a passer-by reported a flat fire. The cause of the fire is believed to be a discarded cigarette.
A London Fire Brigade spokesperson said: “Cigarettes are a leading cause of house fires but so many people fail to ensure they are stubbed out properly. Never leave cigarettes unattended and always ensure ashtrays are carefully emptied with all the debris. We’d rather people didn’t smoke at all but if you do, vaping is a safer option in terms of preventing fires.”
This is Local London, Fire brigade issue smoking safety warning after Eltham fire
Source: East London & West Essex Guardian, 10 August 2018
Don’t ignore lung cancer symptoms
Lung cancer is one of the most common types of cancer in the UK, as well as being one of the most serious. Almost 45,000 people are diagnosed with lung cancer in the UK every year, and those most at risk are smokers. Smoking accounts for about 80% of all lung cancer cases.
During its early phases, there are usually no warning signs of lung cancer, which makes it hard to spot in its early stages. As a result, the outlook for patients isn’t as good as it can be for other types of cancer.
However, lung cancer that’s spread to the liver can lead to a number of tell-tale signs. For example, if the tumour is large enough to block the bile ducts, it could cause yellowing of the skin and eyes.
Source: Express, 9 August 2018
US & France: When social policy saves lives
Income inequality has been on the rise on both sides of the Atlantic over the past decades, accompanied by a broad public debate about its negative consequences. Impacts on health and longevity, and the question of whether income inequality is causing inequality in health, have been a particular focus.
Some of the difference in life expectancy observed at older ages in the US could be the result of successful social health policies. The cohorts that have entered old age over the past two decades experienced strong decreases in smoking rates that were particularly dramatic among persons of higher socioeconomic status.
When the Surgeon General warned about the health risks of smoking in the 1960s, it was the wealthier parts of society who stopped smoking first, while the more disadvantaged parts of society followed that trend about a decade later. As a result, current cohorts of the elderly have experienced longer life expectancy due to smoking cessation more strongly among the rich than among the poor, implying an increased difference in life expectancy between the two groups. However, since information about the dangers of smoking reached all parts of society and smoking rates are low across the entire socioeconomic spectrum in younger cohorts, it is likely that old age mortality gaps due to smoking-related causes will decrease again once those cohorts enter retirement age.
Source: Vox, 9 August 2018
Link of the week
Panorama: Get rich or die young
Life expectancy in Britain varies dramatically depending upon where you live. The rich live longer and the poor die younger. Reporter Richard Bilton visits Stockton, the town with the country’s worst health inequality. He investigates why people in the town centre can only expect to live to 71, while their wealthier neighbours a couple of miles away will live an average of 14 years longer.
A study by Professor Peter Hajek from Queen Mary University of London was published today which showed that three in five people who try a cigarette become daily smokers. 
Responding to the study Deborah Arnott, Chief Executive of public health charity Action on Smoking and Health, said:
“This research highlights the risks children run of entering into a life of addiction when they experiment with smoking. And make no mistake this is an addiction of childhood, two thirds of adult smokers started smoking for the first time when they were children.”
She went on to say:
“Just under half of child smokers say they usually get their cigarettes from shops despite it being illegal to sell cigarettes to children. Alcohol can only be sold by licensed shops, while anyone can sell cigarettes, which are far more addictive and lethal. Yet the Government is refusing to introduce licencing for tobacco retailers, even though there is strong support for this both from the public and retailers.”
For information about sources of cigarettes see Smoking, Drinking and Drug Use among young people in England – 2014. NHS Digital, 2015. Table 3.1
For information about public and retailer support for licencing see:
In YouGov polling conducted for ASH (February/March 2017), respondents were asked how strongly, if at all, they would support the following measure: requiring businesses to have a licence before they can sell tobacco. Net support for this statement was 76%, with 50% strongly supporting and only 7% opposing. Support was strongest among non-smokers (79% support and 6% oppose for non-smokers compared to 55% support and 18% oppose for smokers).
Counter arguments: How important is tobacco to small retailers? ASH October 2016
Surveys of small retailers show strong support for licensing. In October 2016, ASH published “Counter Arguments – How important is tobacco to small retailers?” The report included the results of a telephone survey of 591 retailers interviewed between 16th March and 1st April 2016 by Retail Connect Cheetham Bell, using an established database of independent stores and sole traders across the UK. Offered a menu of possible answers to the question: “Do you think any of the following could help to ensure that other retailers in your area don’t break the law around tobacco (such as selling to children or selling counterfeit tobacco)?” 69% supported the introduction of a tobacco license that retailers could lose if they broke the law.
Notes and Links:
Action on Smoking and Health is a health charity working to eliminate the harm caused by tobacco use. For more information see: www.ash.org.uk/about-ash
ASH receives funding for its programme of work from Cancer Research UK and the British Heart Foundation.
ASH staff are available for interview and have an ISDN line. For more information contact ASH on 020 7404 0242 or out of hours Deborah Arnott on 07976 935 987 or Hazel Cheeseman on 07754 358 593.
 ‘What proportion of people who try one cigarette become daily smokers? A meta analysis of representative surveys’. Max Birge, Stephen Duffy, Joanna Astrid Miler, Peter Hajek. Nicotine & Tobacco Research. doi 10.1093/ntr/ntx243