New UK eye health map
A new eye health map of the UK has highlighted that poor lifestyle habits and inadequate health screening are putting people at ‘serious risk’ of sight loss. The map details the towns and cities in the UK with the highest risk of avoidable sight loss due to low uptake of eye tests and high prevalence of poor lifestyle.
London boroughs have the highest concentration of ‘very high’ risk, as well as Liverpool, Manchester and Sheffield, while the risk across Scotland is mostly ‘very low.’ The map correlates factors associated with avoidable sight loss, such as smoking.
Chairman of Eye Health UK, David Cartwright, said: “We are seeing a worrying number of people failing to take up their entitlement to free NHS sight tests and displaying high levels of smoking and obesity – two lifestyle factors linked to sight loss.”
Source: Optometry Today, 25 September 2018
Life expectancy progress in UK ‘stops for first time’
Life expectancy in the UK has stopped improving for the first time since 1982, when figures began. Women’s life expectancy from birth remains 82.9 years and for men it is 79.2, the figures from the Office for National Statistics, for 2015-17, show. In some parts of the UK, life expectancy has even decreased. For men and women in Scotland and Wales, it declined by more than a month. Men in Northern Ireland have seen a similar fall. For women in Northern Ireland, and for men and women in England, life expectancy at birth is unchanged.
It is not clear what is driving the trend, but some academics have argued that government austerity policies, such as cuts to social care budgets in England, must have played a part. Stephen Evans, professor of pharmacoepidemiology at the London School of Hygiene & Tropical Medicine, said “We still do not know how much this is a result of … a failure to go on improving smoking cessation or other preventive measures.”
A Department of Health and Social Care spokeswoman said: “As part of our long-term plan for the health service, we are taking action to help people live longer and healthier lives – cancer survival is at a record high while smoking rates are at an all-time low – backed by our additional funding of an extra £20.5bn a year by 2023-24, which will transform care for cancer and other chronic diseases.”
Source: BBC, 25 September 2018
NICE talks: How do we help people quit smoking?
In this episode, Martin Dockrell, Tobacco Control Programme Lead from Public Health England, talks about the best interventions to help people quit smoking and the truth about e-cigarettes.
North East: Newcastle shopkeeper fined for selling knock-off cigarettes
A Newcastle shopkeeper who was caught selling knock-off cigarettes has been fined £1 million. This was part of an HMRC crackdown which has seen penalties amounting to £11,550,060 being issued around the country.
Source: Chronicle Live, 24 September 2018
Australia: North Sydney smoking ban
North Sydney councillors this week unanimously passed a motion to ban smoking in all public places in Sydney’s second-largest central business district (CBD). The proposal now goes to community consultation, but Mayor Jilly Gibson reckons the community will back what may be the nation’s first CBD-wide smoking ban in a capital city.
The Mayor hopes to eventually make North Sydney the first smokefree municipality. “Why not try these big ideas?” she said. “Even if we reduce people’s smoking in the CBD by, let’s say, 50%, that would be a huge result.”
She said the latest move was not about punishing smokers but about improving the amenity of the area for residents, workers, visitors and school children. Since behaviour change is at the heart of the proposal, the Mayor said she expected the ban would be enforced through encouragement rather than fines.
Mail on Sunday, North Sydney to ban lighting up on the street – becoming the country’s first smoke-free district
Source: This Is Money, 25 September 2018
Australia: Unhealthy lifestyle responsible for 45,000 predicted cases of bowel cancer in next decade
A new study has shown that adopting a healthy lifestyle could prevent a large proportion of bowel cancers in Australia – particularly for men.
It found that current rates of smoking, being overweight, and excessive alcohol consumption could lead to 45,000 cases of bowel cancer over the next 10 years. The researchers found that 11% of the future bowel cancer burden can be attributed to ever-smoking, and 4% to current smoking.
The researchers also found an interesting interplay between smoking and alcohol: the bowel cancer burden attributable to smoking was significantly exacerbated by excessive alcohol consumption, and vice-versa.
Cancer Spectrum, The Future Colorectal Cancer Burden Attributable to Modifiable Behaviors: A Pooled Cohort Study
Source: Medical Xpress, 25 September 2018
US: FDA considers ban on online e-cigarette sales
The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) is considering banning online e-cigarette sales, according to Commissioner Scott Gottlieb.
It’s “on the table” and is something the agency is “very clearly looking at it,” Gottlieb said in Washington, during a panel discussion on vaping hosted by Axios. This comes just weeks after Gottlieb dubbed youth use of e-cigarettes an “epidemic” and announced a historic crackdown.
Under Gottlieb, the FDA has taken the position that e-cigarettes are a less harmful alternative for adult smokers who can’t or don’t want to quit smoking conventional cigarettes. However, Gottlieb has said that can’t come at the expense of addicting an entire new generation to nicotine as vaping rises in popularity with teens.
Source: CNBC, 25 September 2018
Men’s health: The risks everyone should know about – from heart disease and diabetes to cancer and depression
Men in the UK are 37% more likely than women to die from cancer and 75% more likely to die from heart disease, with around a fifth of men dying before the age of 65.
Smoking is the most common cause of cancer globally and is strongly linked to heart disease, stroke and diabetes.
Clare Hyde of Cancer Research UK, said: “Quit smoking before the age of 60 and you can gain up to 10 years of life. Stop before 30, you can bring your risk down to a non-smoker. Those who attend their local stop smoking service are around three times more likely to quit compared to going cold turkey. There’s also emerging evidence that e-cigarettes can help you to quit. Your GP can also prescribe medication to satisfy cravings.”
Source: The Mirror, 24 September 2018
North West: Blackburn shops penalised for selling cigarettes to children
Four retailers in Blackburn have been shut down and fined for selling illicit tobacco and supplying cigarettes to under-18s.
The investigation was prompted by complaints from the public and included the use of 15 year old volunteers to make test purchases.
Councillor Suleman Khonat, president of the Blackburn with Darwen Newsagents Federation, said: “Hopefully these prosecutions will act as a deterrent. Selling cigarettes to under-18s is totally unacceptable.”
Source: Lancashire Telegraph, 25 September 2018
Essex: Stress key to teenage uptake of smoking study suggests
A recent study published in the European Research Institute for Social Work journal has found that stress is a key contributor to the uptake of smoking among 14-15 year olds in Essex. This was more pronounced in deprived areas.
The researchers conducted interviews with students from schools in 6 of the most deprived local authority areas and sent questionnaires out to schools in all of the county’s 14 districts. 70.1% of participants in areas of higher deprivation said that stress is the main reason for their smoking, compared to 62.6% of participants in lower deprivation areas. Students in higher deprivation areas also reported being influenced by seeing their parents smoke to ease stress. This question was not asked of students in lower deprivation areas.
Linda Homan, study author said: “Teenagers in both deprived and wealthier areas are saying that stress is the main reason they are smoking. That should serve as a wake-up call to agencies as we know that early smoking can lead to addiction and subsequent health problems in later life.”
Source: Echo News, 24 September 2018
British American Tobacco names inside man as new CEO
Following the recent departure of British American Tobacco’s CEO Nicandro Durante, the company has appointed Jack Bowles – current chief operating officer – to the position.
Mr Durante stepped down in the wake of weak market performance with the value of BAT shares falling by more than a fifth over the last year, lagging behind major competitors such as Philip Morris and Imperial Tobacco.
Source: Financial Times, 25 September 2018
US: High-nicotine e-cigarettes flood market despite FDA rule
Following the success of the Juul e-cigarette in the US, a number of cheaper devices based on the Juul model have started to appear in convenience stores and vape retailers across the country. This is despite a Food and Drug Administration (FDA) rule banning the sale of new e-cigarette products without regulatory approval from August 2016.
A number of devices have been launched since the FDA imposed the deadline including British American Tobacco’s high-nicotine Vuse Alto e-cigarette.
The FDA has said that it is investigating the newer brands and “plans to take additional action on this front very soon.”
Source: Reuters, 24 September 2018
Texas: Age to buy tobacco and e-cigarettes increases to 21 in San Antonio
From 1 October the city of San Antonio will raise the legal age for purchasing tobacco and nicotine products from 18 to 21.
This applies to tobacco products including cigarettes, cigars, heated tobacco delivery systems and snuss, and nicotine products that don’t contain tobacco such as e-cigarettes.
Source: News4SA, 25 September 2018
Quit smoking for World Alzheimer’s Day
Friday the 21st September is World Alzheimer’s Day. A number of factors increase your risk of developing the condition, including smoking.
The disease is thought to be caused by the abnormal build-up of proteins in and around brain cells, and although the cause of the process is unknown, we do know that it begins many years before symptoms appear. As brain cells become affected, certain parts of the brain shrink, usually beginning with regions responsible for memory. As the disease progresses, hallucinations, anxiety and personality changes become more common.
Source: Sunderland Echo, 16 September 2018
North Yorkshire: Smokefree places fund reopened
A fund to help make North Yorkshire’s public spaces smokefree has been reopened by the County Council. The fund was launched last October as part of efforts to promote a smokefree lifestyle.
County Councillor Caroline Dickinson said: “Applications for funding are welcomed from any organisation responsible for public spaces which is permitted to allocate places as smokefree. Funding can be used for community events, signs and events to promote a smokefree lifestyle.”
Source: York Press, 17 September 2018
North Yorkshire: Campaign urges smokers to quit for the sake of their families
Breathe 2025’s hard-hitting “Don’t Be The 1” campaign highlights how one in two long-term smokers will die from a smoking-related disease. It asks smokers to quit once and for all for the sake of their loved ones.
Katie Needham, consultant in public health for North Yorkshire, said “Worryingly, surveys show nine out of ten smokers underestimate the one in two risk, with about half believing their risk to be one in ten or less. Smoking tobacco is much more harmful than most people think. It might be tempting to say ‘this won’t happen to me’ but a one in two chance is odds that nobody would want.”
County Councillor Caroline Dickinson, executive member for public health, prevention and supported housing, said: “The ‘Don’t Be The 1’ campaign starts the run-up to Stoptober – the country’s mass stop smoking attempt – and there are more ways to quit than ever before. We are urging people to give it a go.”
Don’d Be The 1, Smoking kills 1 in 2
Source: Whitby Gazette, 14 September 2018
East Yorkshire: Kick-off for smokefree sidelines
The first junior football match in east Yorkshire with smokefree sidelines happened on Sunday the 16th of September. It’s hoped the ban will promote healthy lifestyles and reduce the chances of children seeing adults smoking.
Smoking rates in Hull have fallen steadily, but remain above the national average, with 27% of adults in Hull and 11% in the East Riding smoking.
Keith Pinder, from the Hull and District Youth Football League, said, “As part of creating a safe environment for children and young adults to play football this is very much a positive step forward and one which is being embraced by our clubs. Parents, family and coaches are real role models for our players and it is important we give them the right message.”
Source: KCFM, 14 September 2018
Affordable vaping for smokers in poor countries branded a ‘human rights issue’
Researchers addressing a 300-strong audience at a tobacco industry conference in London have discussed the importance of making harm reduction products available to those living in poor countries as well as rich ones. There are 1.1 billion smokers worldwide and 6 million die each year as a direct result of smoking, according to the World Health Organisation. A single cigarette contains more than 200 carcinogenic chemicals, as well as the addictive stimulant nicotine. There is not yet agreement on the pros and cons of long-term nicotine use.
Substance use expert Helen Redmond told the tobacco and vaping industry representatives that poor countries should not be priced out of nicotine-based products that could potentially help them quit smoking.
Clinical psychologist Karl Fagerström called for research into the positive benefits of nicotine, which he believes can aid people suffering from Alzheimer’s and depression. He also advised that the industry should move from combustible to nicotine-based products.
Martin Jarvis, emeritus professor of health psychology at University College London, said the US (where the Food and Drug Administration is eager to reduce the level of nicotine in cigarettes) was moving towards prohibition-type enforcement. He said, “Society doesn’t understand nicotine…because they think it is particularly bad.” However, Jarvis said “describing nicotine as being addictive is justified”, adding that “80% of smokers wished they never started”.
Source: The Guardian, 14 September 2018
US: Health Secretary backs FDA’s proposed ban on e-cigarette flavours
The US Health and Human Services Secretary, Alex Azar, has said he is “completely in support” of the Food and Drug Administration’s (FDA) proposed ban on e-cigarette flavours.
“We are not going to permit e-cigarettes to become a pathway to nicotine dependency” Azar said in an interview with CNBC. He said he disagreed with the belief that banning e-cigarettes would push youth towards traditional cigarettes.
FDA Commissioner, Scott Gottlieb, said on Wednesday the agency was considering a ban on flavoured e-cigarettes from Juul Labs and other companies as it grapples with an “epidemic” of youth e-cigarette use that threatened to create a new generation of nicotine addicts.
Source: Reuters, 14 September 2018
Link of the week
New ASH survey: Number of vapers rises ‘to more than three million’ in Britain
The number of vapers in Great Britain has topped three million for the first time – four times the number in 2012, according to a survey by Action on Smoking and Health. Most use e-cigarettes because they have quit smoking and 40% are smokers who are trying to give up. The estimations are based on a survey of 12,000 British adults.
A “worrying” belief that vaping is as bad as smoking still exists, particularly among smokers who haven’t yet tried e-cigarettes. Earlier this year, Public Health England said e-cigarettes should be made available on prescription because of how successful they were in helping people give up smoking.
Deborah Arnott, chief executive of ASH, said: “UK policy is on the right track, with thousands of smokers making the switch to vaping and improving their health and little sign of non-smokers taking up vaping. But even more smokers could benefit if e-cigarettes were licensed as medicines and available on prescription.”
Dr Leonie Brose, King’s College London, said:
“The continued false belief among some smokers that vaping is as bad as smoking is worrying. Campaigns from Public Health England and others to challenge these views are important and must continue.”
See also: ASH Factsheet, Use of e-cigarettes among adults in Great Britain, 2018
Source: BBC News, 14 September 2018
Concerns flavoured e-cigarettes could be banned in UK
The US Food and Drug Administration recently warned some of America’s largest flavoured e-cigarette brands that their products could be banned, unless the companies can prove ‘within 60 days’ that they have effective plans to stop sales to children. This had led to concerns in the UK that a similar move could occur here.
Deborah Arnott, chief executive of ASH, told The Sun Online that banning flavours would make it less likely smokers would quit. “Banning flavours would undermine the effectiveness of e-cigarettes in helping adult smokers quit, and there’s no sign it’s needed in Britain,” she said.
“Only a tiny proportion of teens vape, smoking rates have continued to go down, and there’s no evidence e-cigs are a gateway into smoking.
“The danger is that a flavour ban will benefit the tobacco industry not public health, as it will discourage smokers from switching to vaping. Certainly the market thinks so as tobacco company stocks gained around $20 billion in value on the FDA announcement.”
See also: ASH Factsheet, Use of e-cigarettes among young people in Great Britain, 2018
Source: The Sun Online, 13 September 2018
Lancashire: Smokers encouraged to join ‘Smoke Free Homes Month’ in September
Smokers in Lancashire are being encouraged to protect children and young people from second-hand smoke, by keeping their surrounding environment smokefree.
Gareth Beck from the ‘Quit Squad’ said: “It’s important for parents and grandparents who smoke to realise the harms that second hand smoke does to children.
“Over 80% of second hand smoke is invisible and odourless; every time a child breathes in second hand smoke, they breathe in thousands of chemicals that put them at risk of serious health conditions including meningitis, cancer, bronchitis and pneumonia.
“The best way to protect children is to give up smoking and make the Smoke Free Pledge, which is a commitment to make your home smoke free to protect your family from second hand smoke.”
Source: Lancaster Guardian, 13 September 2018
Cheshire: Cigarettes and tobacco seized in crackdown on illegal trade
Cheshire East Council trading standards officers have seized cigarettes and tobacco worth more than £9,000 during a raid. Chester Crown Court was told 30,679 cigarettes and 24.3kg of rolling tobacco were uncovered during a raid on a property in Macclesfield on April 7, 2017, by Cheshire East Council’s trading standards investigations team.
Officers found cigarettes and tobacco at the premises with further products found in the shop owner’s vehicle.
Source: The Business Desk, 13 September 2018
Link of the week
ASH Article 5.3 toolkit
In recent weeks the Tobacco Manufacturers have been discovered to have been contacting NHS Trusts and local authorities trying to engage them in joint working. Any such collaboration or partnership with the tobacco industry would be in contravention of the obligations the UK has to protect public health policy from the commercial and vested interests of the tobacco industry (see link for Guardian and Observer articles about this). ASH and iPiP created a toolkit to help those interested in protecting local health policies from the tobacco industry which you may find helpful.
See also: The Observer, Council’s vaping project with British American Tobacco labelled ‘a disgrace’
Telford shop worker fined for selling illegal tobacco
A shop worker who was caught with illegal tobacco and cigarettes at a store in Telford has been ordered to pay more than £2,500 in fines and lost duty. The illegal haul found included 4,140 cigarettes and 1.15kg of hand-rolling tobacco worth more than £1,570 in lost duty. Officers found cigarettes and tobacco behind the counter, in the storage area, and in the foot well of a seized vehicle. They also found a number of notepads containing lists and prices. The discovery came from a joint operation to disrupt the sale and supply of illegal tobacco and alcohol in Telford and Shrewsbury.
Nick Stone, Assistant Director, Fraud Investigation Service, HMRC, said: “The sale of illegal tobacco and alcohol will not be tolerated by us or our partner agencies. Disrupting criminal trade is at the heart of our strategy to clampdown on the illicit tobacco market, which costs the UK around £2.5 billion a year, and the sale of illicit alcohol which costs the UK around £1.3 billion per year.”
Source: Shropshire Live, 5 September 2018
USA: Judge orders FDA to speed up graphic warnings requirement for cigarettes
In a emphatic victory in America’s fight against tobacco, a federal court has ordered the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) to expeditiously issue a final rule requiring graphic health warnings on cigarette packs and advertising, as mandated by a 2009 federal law.
The ruling by U.S. District Judge Indira Talwani was in response to a lawsuit filed in October 2016 by eight public health and medical groups and several individual pediatricians. Judge Talwani agreed with the health groups that the FDA has both “unlawfully withheld” and “unreasonably delayed” agency action to require the graphic warnings.
Judge Talwani set a deadline of September 26, 2018, for the FDA to “provide to this court an expedited schedule for the completion of outstanding studies, the publication of the proposed graphic warnings rule for public comment, review of public comments, and issuance of final graphic warnings rule in accordance with the Tobacco Control Act.”
Source: AAP News, 5 September 2018
Study: Smoking linked to higher dementia risk
Researchers in Korea have found that when compared with current smokers, long-term quitters and never smokers had 14% and 19% lower risks of dementia, respectively. Never smokers had an 18% decreased risk of Alzheimer’s disease compared with current smokers. Also, long-term quitters and never smokers had 32% and 29% decreased risks of vascular dementia compared with current smokers.
The study included 46,140 men aged 60 years or older from a Korean health screening program in 2002 to 2013.
“Smoking cessation was clearly linked with a reduced dementia risk in the long term, indicating that smokers should be encouraged to quit in order to benefit from this decreased risk.” said senior author Dr. Sang Min Park, of Seoul National University, in Korea.
See also: Annals of Clinical and Translational Neurology, Effect of smoking cessation on the risk of dementia: a longitudinal study
Source: The Sun, 6 September 2018
Study: Varenicline makes no difference in shisha tobacco addiction
Researchers have shown that a drug commonly used to help smokers overcome addiction to cigarettes does not have the same effect in shisha smokers. Smoking tobacco through a waterpipe, often referred to as shisha or hookah smoking, is becoming more popular, in some parts of the world.
Researchers at the University of York undertook a trial with more than 500 daily shisha smokers in Pakistan. Half were treated with the drug varenicline, and the other with a placebo drug. The results showed that varenicline, a medication used to help tackle cigarette smoking, did not make a difference in assisting shisha smokers break the habit. The researchers have suggested that this is not necessarily because the drug does not work in shisha smokers, but that despite the willingness of participants to quit, only a minority made a serious attempt at quitting all forms of tobacco.
Source: Medical Xpress, 6 September 2018