Action on Smoking and Health

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ASH Daily News for 27 June 2018


  • North-East: NHS not doing enough to help smokers, says Fresh
  • Cheshire: Sniffer dogs uncover £12000 of illegal cigarettes in raids
  • East Dunbartonshire: Poster plea to be smokefree
  • Strong public support for public health interventions


  • Germany: Do smoking bans lead to more or less smoking in the home?
  • US: NYC public health department targets Chinese men
  • Mexico: Children still toil in tobacco fields as reforms fail to fix poverty
  • Opinion: How we can fight child labour in the tobacco industry
  • Opinion: Stop rising tobacco use in Africa and the Middle East


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

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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

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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

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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.”

See also:
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

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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

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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

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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

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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

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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

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