England facing changing health needs
Public Health England has published its latest Health Profile for England report, which shows rising rates of diabetes, obesity, dementia and mental health issues.
Despite progress made in reducing smoking rates in recent years, smoking remains one of the top two risk factors for ill health, along with obesity. The report also highlights persisting health inequalities with people in the richest areas of England experiencing 19 more healthy life years than those from the poorest areas.
Professor John Newton, director of health improvement at Public Health England, said: “The challenge now is for the NHS to respond to this changing landscape and to focus on preventing as well as treating the conditions which are causing the greatest disease burden across our nation. In many ways it needs to respond more quickly than any time in its history because the speed of the change in these data, in the epidemiology, is really quite remarkable.”
Source: BBC, 11 September 2018
See also: Health Profile for England 2018
Alcohol adviser quits over public health agency links to drink industry
A senior advisor to Public Health England (PHE) has resigned over the organisations’ partnership with the alcohol industry in its latest alcohol awareness campaign.
Professor Ian Gilmore, the agency’s chief external alcohol adviser, has said they are ignoring guidance from the World Health Organisation about avoiding influence from the alcohol industry. His comments were echoed by Professor John Britton, Co-Chair of the PHE Tobacco Control Implementation Board, who has threatened to resign if the agency continues to share a platform with the alcohol industry.
In a letter published in The Times, they argue that PHE has failed “to learn the lessons from the use by the tobacco and alcohol industries of voluntary agreements and other partnerships with health bodies to undermine, water down or neutralise policies to reduce consumption.”
In a separate interview on the BBC’s Today Programme, Professor Britton drew parallels with voluntary agreements with the tobacco industry, saying that: “the point is not that the individual measure is something that is necessarily counter to public health messaging. It’s the fact that the partnership with industry then leads to other devaluing or diluting of public health policy.”
Source: The Times, 11 September 2018
See also: BBC Today Programme (listen from 1:35:00)
Tobacco Industry research claims England won’t be cigarette free until after 2050
Research commissioned by the tobacco company Philip Morris International estimates that just 10 local authorities, including Bristol and York, will be smokefree before 2030.
The research was carried out by Frontier Economics who examined existing reductions in adult smoking rates to predict future trends.
Source: The Metro, 11 September 2018
York: Rise in pregnant women smoking at end of last year
A recent report has found that the number of pregnant women in the Vale of York who smoke increased from 7.5 per cent in the third quarter of last year to 11.9 per cent at the end of the year.
Changes to the delivery of smoking cessation services have meant that pregnant women are one of the few groups who qualify for free nicotine replacement therapies. However, figures released following a Freedom of Information request show that the number of pregnant women receiving support to quit smoking dropped from 66% in 2015 to just 17% in 2017.
Vicky Salt, policy manager at health charity ASH, said: “Smoking during pregnancy is a leading cause of poor birth outcomes so it’s concerning that rates of smoking among pregnant women have not declined in York over the past year. We know that pregnant smokers often need extra support to quit but with squeezed budgets this extra help is not always available. The declining use of stop smoking services [means that] some of the most vulnerable smokers, like pregnant women, are being left without support.”
Source: Yorkpress, 10 September 2018
North East: Smoking costs South Tyneside more than £34 million a year
Figures obtained from ASH’s Ready Reckoner tool show that smoking costs South Tyneside more than £34 million a year, from costs including NHS treatment, sick days, and smoking breaks.
This includes £20 million due to lost working days, £7 million due to smoking-related hospital admissions, and £5.4 million arising from social care costs. South Tyneside has an adult smoking rate of 19% compared to the English average of 14.9%.
Deborah Arnott, ASH chief executive, said: “Our tool shows just how significant the financial impact of smoking is at local level and makes the case for local authorities to invest in measures to discourage young people from taking up smoking and motivate adult smokers to quit. However, cuts to public health budgets mean that many local authorities no longer have the resources they need to invest in driving down smoking rates, this is a false economy that is damaging our local communities.”
Source: Shields Gazette, 10 September 2018
North Yorkshire campaign to stop smoking
A campaign backed by North Yorkshire County Council is raising awareness about the harms of smoking.
The ‘Don’t Be The 1’ campaign, which has launched in the run-up to Stoptober, targets current smokers and will highlight how one in two long term smokers will die from a smoking-related disease.
Katie Needham, consultant in public health for North Yorkshire, said: “Evidence shows one in two smokers will die from a smoking-related disease, some in their 40s and 50s. Worryingly, surveys show nine out of ten smokers underestimate the risk, with about half believing it’s one in ten or less. Smoking tobacco is much more harmful than most people think.”
Source: Darlington and Stockton Times, 11 September 2018
See also: Don’t Be The 1 website
North West: Relief for Blackpool’s public health grant as £5 million health budget loss averted
Public Health England has scrapped a proposed change to the distribution of public health grants which would have seen Blackpool’s annual grant cut from £18m to £13m.
The grants are used to address public health issues such as smoking, alcohol abuse and obesity. Blackpool has one of the lowest life expectancies in the country and has significantly higher levels of adult smoking prevalence (22.5%) than the national average (14.9%).
Source: Blackpool Gazette, 10 September 2018
US e-cigarette group Juul launches in Britain
The San Francisco vaping start-up, Juul, launched in the UK on Tuesday, gaining access to the second-largest e-cigarette market in the world. Since launching in 2015, Juul now accounts for approximately 70% of all e-cigarette sales in the US.
The company has dedicated itself to eliminating “combustible cigarettes from the face of the earth”, and wants to help the £7.4 million smokers in the UK transition to less harmful forms of nicotine consumption and ultimately stop smoking altogether.
Deborah Arnott, chief executive of Action on Smoking and Health (ASH) in the UK, said: “e-cigarette use in the UK has stagnated since 2013, to the detriment of public health. If Juul takes off in the UK as it did in the US it could reboot the market and hasten the arrival of the smoke-free future we’re all hoping for.”
Source: Financial Times, 17 July 2018
Blackburn: Smokers supported to stop smoking on Hospital site
Senior figures at East Lancashire Hospitals Trust (ELHT) are offering smokers at Royal Blackburn Hospital support to help them quit.
Kevin McGee, chief executive of the ELHT, said: “What we now do is challenge in a very positive way anybody that does smoke and offer them support and offer them help. What I would say to anyone is to respect that this is a no smoking site.”
Source: This is Lancashire, 17 July 2018
Essex: Plastic box being used as an ashtray starts fire in block of flats
Fire crews have identified a plastic box being used as an ashtray as the cause of a small fire in a block of flats in Westbourne Grove, Essex.
No one was injured and smoke damage was limited to the stairwell where the box was located.
A spokesman from the fire service said: “This incident could have been worse if the fire had spread; cigarettes are the most deadly cause of house fires and this incident shows how important it is to ensure they are put right out in a suitable ashtray.”
Source: Echo News, 17 July 2018
Blackpool: Pregnant smokers to get vouchers as part of new Stop Smoking Service
Pregnant smokers in Blackpool could receive shopping vouchers and other incentives to give up smoking. This is one of a number of schemes being considered by health officials in the resort, which has a smoking in pregnancy rate of 27.8%, the highest in the UK.
The proposed new stop smoking service will offer more support to smokers to help them quit, including advice in leaflets and websites, advice on nicotine replacement therapies, and access to helplines in a bid to make the service more accessible.
Councillor Amy Cross, Blackpool Council’s cabinet member for reducing health inequalities, said: “Supporting mothers-to-be to quit smoking during pregnancy helps give unborn children a good, healthy and fair start in life. Smoking during pregnancy is a major health problem and is associated with various adverse effects during pregnancy, including an increased risk of miscarriage, premature birth, low birthweight and stillbirth.”
Source: Blackpool Gazette, 17 July 2018
Sunderland: School pupils hope anti-smoking film will go viral
Pupils from Whitburn Church of England Academy in Sunderland, have produced an anti-smoking film they hope will go viral. The video was produced as part of a campaign led by South Tyneside Council and the Customs House Theatre who worked with students across the region to develop a creative campaign persuading peers to say no to smoking.
A 2017 borough health survey found smoking rates of 5% for Year 8 pupils (12-13) and 11% for Year 11 pupils (15-16), with 11% of primary school pupils stating that someone they live with smoked in the same room as them.
Councillor Tracey Dixon, lead member for independence and wellbeing, said: “Who better to lead the fight against tobacco than our creative young people! I think it’s fantastic that these students are leading the way in South Tyneside.”
Source: Sunderland Echo, 17 July 2018
India: Tobacco companies fight pictorial warnings in Supreme Court
Tobacco industry representatives have objected to a recent Supreme Court decision to increase the size of pictorial warnings on tobacco packaging from 40% of the pack size to 85%.
The Court’s decision was motivated by a petition to help consumers take informed choices when purchasing tobacco. One of the main advantages of pictorial warnings compared to warning messages is that they convey the dangers of tobacco to people who are illiterate.
The Court justified the policy on the grounds that: “[the government] want the pictorial message to be such that it would inform consumers about the evil effects of the product.”
Source: Times of India, 17 July 2018