Maternity units ‘could prevent 600 stillbirths a year in England’
A recent evaluation of maternity guidance in the NHS has found that around 600 stillbirths a year could be avoided if practical steps, including reducing smoking in pregnancy, were more widely implemented.
According to the evaluation conducted by the University of Manchester, implementation of the ‘Saving Babies Lives Care Bundle’ saved the lives of more than 160 babies over a two-year period.
Matt Hancock, the health secretary, said: “We still have more to do but these results demonstrate really positive progress towards our ambition to halve the rates of stillbirth, neonatal death and maternal death by 2025.”
Source: The Guardian, 29 July 2018
Juul’s UK launch raises questions
The popular US e-cigarette brand, Juul, has launched in the UK. Public Health England hope that the availability of Juul e-cigarettes will help the UK’s 7.5 million adult smokers switch from conventional cigarettes to significantly less harmful e-cigarettes.
However, the reported popularity of Juul e-cigarettes among US teenagers has triggered concerns over the susceptibility of British schoolchildren to the product. In response, the company has promised to implement stringent age checks in shops selling the product and will require ID checks for online purchases. British regulation also demands that Juul pods must be less than half their US strength and significantly restricts the amount of advertising the company is allowed to employ.
Hazel Cheeseman, of the public health charity ASH, said that there was “reason for optimism” about Juul’s introduction to the UK market. “It is a product that has potential to have mass appeal,” she said, notably to the 40 per cent of smokers who have not yet tried vaping.
Source: The Times, 28 July 2018
Rightwing UK thinktank ‘offered ministerial access’ to potential US donors
A recording has emerged showing Mark Littlewood, director of the Institute of Economic Affairs (IEA), offering potential US donors access to British government ministers and civil servants. The IEA, which describes itself as the UK’s original free-market thinktank, is currently campaigning for a clean-break Brexit.
The recording was produced by Unearthed, an investigations unit set up by Greenpeace amid concerns about the IEA’s role in using Brexit to lower environmental standards.
In the video, Littlewood states that his organisation is in “the Brexit influencing game”, and claims the IEA could make introductions to senior ministers. As a registered educational charity the IEA is not allowed to engage in political lobbying, and these comments will likely raise questions about the thinktank’s independence and status.
Source: The Guardian, 30 July 2018
Study suggests non-smoking teens using e-cigarettes
A recent study of four schools in Warwickshire found that of 11.4% (57) of 11-16 year olds who had ever used an e-cigarette, nearly 53% were non-smokers. Just under 40% of the teenagers in the study did not know that e-cigarettes contained nicotine or that they were addictive. The authors of the study are calling for more education about e-cigarettes.
However, they acknowledge that caution is needed when interpreting the results due to the small sample size.
Source: Mail Online, 30 July 2018
Editorial Note: This study surveyed 499 students. The results, which found 15 students who had never smoked but were currently using an e-cigarette, should be seen in the context of larger representative studies. Bauld et al (2017) analysed data covering 60,000 11-16 year olds and found rates of regular e-cigarette use of between 0.1% and 0.5% among non-smokers.
International Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health: Young People’s Use of E-Cigarettes across the United Kingdom: Findings from Five Surveys 2015-2017
Sunderland to reform Tobacco Control Alliance
Following the publication of new figures showing that Sunderland has the second highest number of adult smokers in England, health leaders have agreed to reform the Sunderland Tobacco Alliance to tackle smoking in the borough.
The data published by Public Health England shows that the smoking rate in Sunderland rose to 22.7% in 2017, bucking the national trend of steadily declining smoking rates.
The current target endorsed by Sunderland’s Health and Wellbeing Board (HWB) is a smoking prevalence of 5% by 2025.
Source: Chronicle Live, 30 July 2018