Wales: Increase in people quitting smoking but services still falling short of 5% target
There has been an increase in the number of smokers in Wales quitting with the help of the NHS. Welsh Government statistics show nearly 15,000 people in Wales were treated by the NHS Wales’ Help Me Quit service, in the year ending 31 March 2018. This is in contrast to the rest of the UK where numbers of smokers seeking NHS treatment and support has declined in recent years.
Christian Heathcote-Elliott from Public Health Wales said, “Stopping smoking is hard, but it is the best thing you can do for your health, your wallet and your loved ones. Your chances of making a successful quit attempt are four times greater with NHS support than by going it alone. This is a message we’re trying to get to 190,000 smokers in Wales who try to stop every year.”
However, the Welsh Government has still fallen short of its annual goal to treat 5% of smokers with NHS stop smoking services. Action on Smoking and Health Cymru chief executive Suzanne Cass has therefore labelled the latest figures “disappointing”.
Sources: Brexit news, 29 August 2018
ITV News, 29 August 2018
Opinion: Why don’t we treat addiction to smoking like any other critical condition?
In this blog, Alison Cook (director of policy at the British Lung Foundation) and Hazel Cheeseman (director of policy at Action on Smoking and Health) argue that smoking is too often seen as a lifestyle choice and not something requiring medical treatment.
“New data released by NHS Digital highlights the continued decline in the use of stop smoking services across England. If you smoke, treatment to quit can literally save your life. So why is it that access to this life saving treatment is completely dependent on where you live?
This is wrong. Every smoker must have equal access to stop smoking services and medication. As the leading preventable cause of death and health inequalities in the UK, the addiction to smoking must be treated in the same way as any other critical condition. Continuing to ignore discrimination against smokers will only deepen health inequalities. Something this government promised to eradicate.
ASH and the BLF want to see national government action so smokers, wherever they live, have the best chance of quitting. This means putting money back into the public health grant and increasing rather than restricting prescribing by GPs.”
Source: Huff Post, 29 August 2018
Are smoking cessation services the most effective way to quit?
In this episode of You and Yours, Winifred Robinson speaks to Professor Robert West, Director of Tobacco Studies at University College London, about stopping smoking.
Professor West said, “The evidence is very clear and has been accumulated over many decades from very high quality randomised trials and field studies which tell us that the most effective way of stopping smoking is to see a specialist stop smoking adviser and together with that and a prescription for a stop smoking medicine. In the best circumstances, it will quadruple your chances of stopping smoking and there’s nothing to rival it…I think there could be a case for saying that interest in stop smoking services has declined, but a big part of that is actually from our evidence not so much the rise in e-cigarettes, but the lack of publicity and promotion of those services.”
Source: BBC Radio 4, You and Yours (21 minutes)
US: A look at NYC’s tobacco-free pharmacy law not helping reduce inequalities
In 2018, New York City implemented a tobacco-free pharmacy law as part of a comprehensive approach to curb tobacco use. A new study which models the reduction in tobacco retailer density following the ban to examine differences in the policy’s impact across neighbourhoods has found that whilst the law substantially reduces tobacco retailer density overall, the impact is not evenly distributed across neighbourhoods.
The researchers based their analysis on a 2017 list of all licensed tobacco retailers in the City, including 510 pharmacies that held tobacco licenses. Tobacco retailer density per 1000 residents was calculated before and after removing pharmacies from the sample.
The results showed that high-income neighbourhoods in Manhattan and the more suburban outskirts of other boroughs were most likely to benefit from the new policy, experiencing the largest reductions in retailer density. In contrast, more disadvantaged neighbourhoods in the city frequently experienced little to no change in retailer density as a result of the new law. Areas where adults lacked a high school education and had a higher proportion of uninsured residents benefited less from the policy.
Source: Bright Surf, 29 August 2018
Africa: ‘Prime target’ for tobacco companies
Tobacco companies view Africa a major destination for tobacco production and consumption, a new study has found. The research, produced by University of Cape Town’s Economics of Tobacco Control Project (ETCP), says that as a developing continent, Africa has become a “prime target” for the tobacco industry.
The researchers said, “Consumers in Africa are now able to afford cigarettes and coupled with weak tobacco control laws, this has resulted in the tobacco industry focusing its attention on increasing its market presence.” The study also found that although the total cigarette demand in Africa seemed to be driven primarily by population growth, many countries were also reporting increased smoking rates.
PLOS one, Trends in cigarette demand and supply in Africa
Source: Fin24, 29 August 2018
North-East: NHS not doing enough to help smokers, says Fresh
The tobacco control group Fresh, thetobacco control programme in the North-East, has backed calls from the Royal College of Physicians for the NHS to offer smokers routine support to quit when they receive hospital care, regardless of their condition.
Fresh said it would support the broader work led by local authorities and complement their local community stop smoking services.
Ailsa Rutter, Director of Fresh, said: “Smoking is our biggest killer and cause of ill health. “Our doctors, nurses and GPs are in a unique position to alter the course of a patient’s long term health and help them to quit. Not doing so means we are failing our patients. The evidence is strong that helping smokers to stop is very cost effective, saves lives and will save the NHS millions of pounds, and will help the North-East get to a point when five per cent or fewer people smoke.”
Source: Darlington & Stockton Times, 27 June 2018
Cheshire: Sniffer dogs uncover £12000 of illegal cigarettes in raids
Around £12,000 of illegal cigarettes and tobacco has been seized after raids on several properties.
Cheshire East Council’s trading standards officers have carried out the operations, with the aid of sniffer dogs, at premises in Crewe and Macclesfield. More than 50,000 cigarettes were discovered after they had been concealed in places such as a false wall, in light fittings and under floor boards. The seizure followed a tip-off that cigarettes were secretly being stored in a number of residential and business locations.
Councillor Janet Clowes, Cheshire East Council cabinet member with responsibility for safer communities, said: “As an enforcing council, we work hard to keep harmful products off the streets and will crack down on businesses, criminal gangs or individuals who flout the law. All tobacco is harmful but the illegal black market in tobacco, and in particular the availability of cheap cigarettes, makes it harder for smokers to quit and remain smoke free.
Source: Stoke on Trent Live
East Dunbartonshire: Poster plea to be smokefree
Local primary schools took part in tobacco workshops, led by the East Dunbartonshire Tobacco Alliance, before participating in a competition to design a poster to deter smoking within play parks, urging adults not to smoke where children play. The winning poster will soon be displayed in all parks across Bishopbriggs and Auchinairn in the latest drive to stamp out smoking in East Dunbartonshire.
Smokefree play parks have already been created in Bearsden, Kirkintilloch, Milton of Campsie, Bishopbriggs and Auchinairn. It is hoped that the project will be rolled out to all 67 play areas in East Dunbartonshire.
Source: Kirkintilloch Herald, 26 June 2018
Strong public support for public health interventions
Britons strongly support interventions on health issues, a survey suggests. The briefing, produced for the BBC, found that almost three quarters (72%) supported the ban on smoking in public spaces. The paper concludes that there is “surprisingly strong public support for these types of intervention”.
The authors, from The King’s Fund, the Health Foundation, the Institute for Fiscal Studies and the Nuffield Trust, added: “If government is serious about improving the public’s health, it must do more to tackle the wider determinants of health through a more co-ordinated approach to policy-making.”
Helen McKenna, senior policy adviser at The King’s Fund, said: “It is essential that national and local government use all the means at their disposal to improve the public’s health.
This should include being bolder in using tax and regulation where this can be effective. Although politicians may balk at the idea of the ‘nanny state’, our research suggests these types of intervention may enjoy stronger public support than they often assume.”
The Kings Fund, The public and the NHS
BBC, Tax and regulate more to improve health
Belfast Telegraph, Strong public support for sugar tax and other “nanny state” interventions – poll
Source: Times Series, 27 June 2018
Germany: Do smoking bans lead to more or less smoking in the home?
In the first systematic review to focus on children’s SHS exposure at home before and after the introduction of smoke-free legislations, Sarah Nanning and colleagues at the University of Bremen, Germany, have looked at 15 studies which were published between 2007 and 2016.
The studies all included proportions of children (most aged between 5 and 15 years) exposed to SHS at home before and after the introduction of smoke-free legislation. Sample sizes ranged from 118 to 68,000 participants.
The findings indicate that children’s SHS exposure at home did not increase after the introduction of public smoking bans. The comprehensive laws (those that require worksites, restaurants, and bars to be smoke-free) and mixed smoke-free laws (where there are regional differences in the type or extent of public smoking bans within a country or with an exceptional rule for certain types of hospitality venues such as small bars) all yielded reductions of SHS exposure at home.
See also: BMC Public Health, Impact of public smoking bans on children’s exposure to tobacco smoke at home: a systematic review and meta-analysis
Source: BMC, 26 June 2018
US: NYC public health department targets Chinese men
Nearly a quarter of Asian men smoke cigarettes, and lung cancer among Chinese men in New York City has increased by 70% over the past 15 years, according to the city’s health department.
Targeting Chinese men in particular, the department launched a public service campaign earlier this month encouraging them to quit the habit. The city has started running public service ads in Cantonese and Mandarin on Chinese-language television and in newspapers.
Chinese smokers can get free quit-smoking medication and confidential counselling from the Asian Smokers’ Quitline — a nationwide service funded by the Centres for Disease Control and Prevention.
“We have made considerable progress in driving down the rates of smoking among adults, but Chinese men still have disproportionately high rates of smoking,” said Dr. Mary T. Bassett, the city’s health commissioner. “We hope this campaign motivates Chinese men to quit smoking — it is the most important thing they can do to improve their health.”
Source: China Daily, 27 June 2018
Mexico: Children still toil in tobacco fields as reforms fail to fix poverty
A series of exposés in the 1990s in Mexico revealed widespread use of child labour and banned agrochemicals, and detailed abysmal living and work conditions in Nayarit’s tobacco fields. Industry and government have since made steps to tackle child labour in Mexico’s tobacco fields, but low incomes for working families slows this progress.
In an effort to eradicate Mexico’s child labour, the Prospera scheme, launched in 1997, offers small cash incentives to impoverished parents to keep children in school and attend health checks and workshops on nutrition, hygiene and family planning. The government paid out $500m to 6.1 million families in 2016, but audits suggest the impact on child labour has been modest. No matter how hard some families try to get away from these plantations, poverty drags them back.
Jennie Gamlin of University College London, who investigates structural violence and health inequalities, said: “Tobacco workers are the poorest of the poor forced to work and live in poor conditions which expose them to preventable harms that reproduce inequalities. Parents know that it is harmful and wrong according to law for children to work in tobacco, but they’re poor, need the money and don’t see another option. Even when the kids aren’t working, they are playing and sleeping within the tobacco.”
Source: The Guardian, 27 June 2018
Opinion: How we can fight child labour in the tobacco industry
Many of the world’s most popular brands of cigarettes may contain tobacco produced by vulnerable child workers. The world’s largest multinational tobacco product manufacturers, including the UK giants British American Tobacco (Lucky Strike, Camel, and Dunhill) and Imperial Brands (Davidoff and Gauloises Blondes), say that they are doing everything they can to end exploitative child labour, stop abuses in their supply chains and have policies to safeguard workers.
Human Rights Watch has been in regular contact with many tobacco companies since we started this work. Several companies have adopted new policies or strengthened existing polices to prohibit suppliers from allowing children to do dangerous tasks on farms. But no company prohibits those under 18 from all work involving direct contact with tobacco in any form – the policy that would offer the greatest protection, in line with international standards.
Most companies maintain that their policies are carried out throughout global supply chains, but we believe many do not report transparently about their monitoring and what they find. Without this information, we have to take their word for it that they’re doing enough to address rights abuses in their supply chains. Companies should provide credible, transparent information on human rights problems and steps they take to fix them.
Source: Margaret Wurth and Jane Buchanan of Human Rights Watch in The Guardian, 27 June 2018
Opinion: Stop rising tobacco use in Africa and the Middle East
As tobacco use has steadily declined in most of the world, two large regions are bucking the trend. In the Middle East and Africa, 180 million men are predicted to be smoking by 2025 — twice as many as in 2000. To reverse this, governments need to more firmly confront the tobacco industry’s efforts to recruit the next generation of smokers.
Few Middle Eastern and African countries have fully imposed and enforced a comprehensive suite of tobacco control measures, such as raising tobacco taxes; requiring large graphic health warnings on cigarette packs; prohibiting smoking in restaurants and other public spaces; and banning tobacco advertising.
Tobacco use is the single greatest preventable cause of death. Public health specialists in developed countries have spent decades learning how to fight back — and have saved lives by the millions. Countries in the Middle East and Africa need to follow suit.
Source: Bloomberg, 26 June 2018