Action on Smoking and Health

Tag Archives: reports


Cuts in public health grant leads to decline in support for smokers

15 January 2018

A report by Cancer Research UK and Action on Smoking and Health [1] showing that cuts to the public health budget nationally have led to dramatic changes in services for smokers. Only 61% of local authorities continue to offer all local smokers access to evidence-based support in line with NICE guidance.

Local areas report year-on-year budget cuts to stop smoking services. There is now at least one local authority in England where there is a zero budget for addressing smoking.

The survey of local authorities across England also found that 1 in 9 areas report that GPs are no longer prescribing nicotine replacement therapy, such as patches or gum, to smokers. One in 10 GPs do not provide access to varenicline, an effective prescription-only medication that helps smokers to quit.

George Butterworth, Senior Policy Manager, Cancer Research UK, said:

“National decisions to cut public health funding are having an impact on the ground. A growing number of local areas no longer have treatment available for all smokers that meets the necessary standards. On top of this, smokers in many areas can no longer access stop smoking medications from GPs. We are deeply concerned that the erosion in support will hit disadvantaged smokers hardest. We urge government at every level to ensure smokers have the support they need to stop smoking.”

ASH, Cancer Research UK and other health organisations have argued for a number of years that, in the context of the enormous burden tobacco places on society, the tobacco industry should be forced to pay to address the harm it causes [2]. It is estimated that tobacco companies in the UK make a collective annual profit of around a £1 billion [3].

Deborah Arnott, Chief Executive, ASH said:

“Thousands of people every year die from smoking with many more living with disabilities and disease. Shrinking public health budgets make it tougher to provide smokers with quit services while tobacco companies pocket a billion in profit every year in the UK. The Government should place a levy on the industry to fund the support smokers need.”  

ENDS

Notes and Links:

Action on Smoking and Health is a health charity working to eliminate the harm caused by tobacco use. For more information see: www.ash.org.uk/about-ash
ASH receives funding for its programme of work from Cancer Research UK and the British Heart Foundation.

Cancer Research UK is the world’s leading cancer charity dedicated to saving lives through research.

Cancer Research UK receives no funding from the UK government for its life-saving research. Every step it makes towards beating cancer relies on vital donations from the public.

ASH staff are available for interview and have an ISDN line. For more information   contact ASH on 020 7404 0242 or out of hours Deborah Arnott on 07976 935 987 or Hazel Cheeseman on 07754 358 593.

For Cancer Research UK media enquiries contact the press office on 020 3469 8300 or, out of hours, on 07050 264 059.

 

References

[1] ‘Feeling the heat: The decline of Stop Smoking Services in England’ research undertaken by ASH commissioned by Cancer Research UK. Findings from a survey of Local Authorities with public health budgets. Survey work undertaken July – September 2017. https://ash.org.uk/download/feeling-heat-decline-stop-smoking-services-england/

[2] Smoking Still Kills, 2015 – this report produced by ASH and funded by Cancer Research UK and endorsed by 129 organisations, set out the case for making the ‘polluter pay’ and placing a levy on the tobacco industry to fund work to reduce the number of people who smoke www.ash.org.uk/information-and-resources/reports-submissions/reports/smoking-still-kills/

[3] Branston JR, Gilmore AB. The extreme profitability of the UK tobacco market and the rationale for a new tobacco levy. University of Bath. 2015 http://opus.bath.ac.uk/43061/

New report finds midwives and doctors need more training to address smoking in pregnancy

18 July 2017

A new report [1] is published by Action on Smoking and Health (ASH) [2] on behalf of the Smoking in Pregnancy Challenge Group [3] and launched in Parliament today (18th July) at a joint event between the APPG on Baby Loss [4] and the APPG on Smoking and Health [5].

The report provides an analysis of the training that midwives and obstetricians receive to address smoking in pregnant women, and what further training is needed. Smoking is a major cause of stillbirth and sudden infant death, and also leads to more babies being born with health problems and with a low birth weight.

Evidence shows that short and straightforward conversations with midwives and doctors can increase the chances of a woman accessing services that will help her to quit.

However, while staff are being taught about the harms from smoking in pregnancy, training on how to communicate this to women, how to use basic equipment such as carbon monoxide monitors, and how to provide short effective advice to women is not being provided consistently around the country.

Report author Dr Misha Moore, a doctor in both Public Health and Obstetrics, who wrote the report for ASH, said: “Throughout this process, people would tell me the importance of reducing smoking in pregnancy ‘goes without saying’. But leaving things unsaid appears to be just the problem. The majority of staff are clear on the risks of smoking, but not all are quite so clear on how they could help women to stop. Simple, low cost, training delivered by every Trust in the country could go a long way to addressing this issue.”

Francine Bates, Chief Executive of the Lullaby Trust and co-chair of the Smoking in Pregnancy Challenge Group said: “Tragically smoking causes ill health and death among babies in this country every day. We know that pregnant women listen to their midwife and their obstetrician. With the right training, they could make a big difference to the number of women smoking in pregnancy.”

Will Quince MP, co-chair of the APPG on Baby Loss, said: “Undergraduates must not leave midwifery and medical schools simply with knowledge on harms from smoking. They need practical skills so their interaction with a woman who smokes actually helps her to quit. These must not only be taught but be tested too.”

Antoinette Sandbach MP, co-chair of the APPG on Baby Loss, said: “Smoking is an addiction and it can be very hard to give up without the right support. Health professionals need to be sensitive and non-judgemental in the ways they encourage women to give up smoking. Building this into training and professional development is vital.”

The report also highlights that training of maternity staff is not enough on its own. There has to be co-ordination with the local services that help women to quit smoking.

Bob Blackman MP, Chair of the APPG on Smoking and Health said: “Stop smoking support is incredibly cost effective. Every local area needs to find a way of maintaining these vital services, particularly for pregnant women.”

ENDS

Notes and Links:

Members of the Smoking in Pregnancy Challenge Group are available for interview and for more information and an ISDN line available for interviews. Please contact ASH on 020 7404 0242 or out of hours Hazel Cheeseman on 07754 358 593.

The full report is available here, and the executive summary is here.

References

[1] Smokefree Skills: a review of maternity workforce training is published by ASH on behalf of the Smoking in Pregnancy Challenge Group. For a copy of the executive summary and full report please contact ASH: 020 7404 0242

[2] Action on Smoking and Health is a health charity working to eliminate the harm caused by tobacco use. You can find more information here. ASH co-ordinates the Smoking in Pregnancy Challenge Group.

ASH receives funding for its programme of work from Cancer Research UK and the British Heart Foundation.

[3] The Smoking in Pregnancy Challenge Group was founded in 2012 in response to a challenge by the then Public Health Minister to identify means to reduce rates of smoking in pregnancy. It is a coalition of public health organisations, baby charities and medical royal colleges, co-ordinated by ASH.

[4] The All Party Parliamentary Group on Baby Loss is co-chaired by Antoinette Sandbach MP and Will Quince MP. The secretariat is provided by The Lullaby Trust. The APPG’s overall aims are to develop policy that supports families dealing with the grief and loss of a baby, and to raise awareness of what more can be done by the government, Parliament or other agencies to help those affected. You can learn more about the APPG here.

[5] The All Party Parliamentary Group on Smoking and Health is chaired by Bob Blackman MP. The secretariat is provided by ASH. The purpose of the APPG is to monitor and discuss the health and social effects of smoking; to review potential changes in existing legislation to reduce levels of smoking; to assess the latest medical techniques to assist in smoking cessation; and to act as a resource for the group’s members on all issues relating to smoking and public health. You can learn more about the APPG here.

Smokefree: The First Ten Years

Produced to mark the tenth anniversary of smokefree legislation in England, this report looks at the shifting public attitudes towards smoking and tobacco control measures over the past decade. The report is based on ten years of data from the ASH / YouGov Smokefree England survey.

Smokefree: the first ten years

England a decade after the smoking ban – heading for a smokefree future

1st July 2017

Since the introduction of smokefree legislation in England ten years ago, there has been significant growth in support for this and other legislation introduced by government, particularly among smokers themselves, reports public health charity ASH.

The last decade has also seen the UK become a world leader in implementation of the World Health Organisation’s tobacco treaty. [1] [2] Our smoking prevalence rates for adults 18+ are now neck and neck with Australia (15.5% in England and 15.6% in Australia) [3] [4], the first country in the world to put cigarettes in standardised ‘plain’ packaging. This is due to a faster decline in smoking in England over the last five years. (Smoking rates in England fell by 0.88 percentage points per annum in compared to 0.57 percentage points per annum in Australia between 2010 and 2016).[5] [6]

The ASH report released today, Smokefree: The First Ten Years, also notes increasing public support for further measures such as a licensing scheme for tobacco retailers and a levy on the tobacco industry to pay for measures to reduce smoking prevalence. The data comes from ten years of the data for England in the ASH Smokefree GB survey carried out by YouGov. [7]

Back in 2007 when smokefree laws in England came into effect, 78% of all respondents to the survey were in favour. In the ten years since, support has grown to 83%, primarily due to an increase in support from smokers from 40% to 55%. The overall change is entirely due to changing attitudes among smokers – support among non-smokers has been stable.

This pattern is repeated elsewhere. In 2008, 48% of smokers supported a ban on smoking in cars with children. Prior to the implementation of the new law in October 2015, 74% of smokers expressed support, rising to 82% in 2017. The same trend applies to a potential ban on smoking in outdoor children’s play areas. While support for this from non-smokers has grown slightly from 83% of non-smokers in 2009 to 85% this year, support from smokers has strengthened significantly – from 52% of smokers in 2009 to 64% this year.

Deborah Arnott, Chief Executive of ASH, said:
“Over the last decade the ASH YouGov survey is evidence of high, and growing, public appetite for government action to reduce smoking prevalence. It’s especially telling that one of the most important factors in this growth is support by smokers – and this is happening at the same time as the numbers of people smoking have fallen to the lowest on record.”

The public also recognises the need for further action by government, support for which has grown over the last decade. Despite the many measures that have been introduced during this period, the proportion of respondents who think the government is not doing enough to tackle smoking has risen from 29% in 2009 to 39% in 2017. In total in 2017 over three quarters (76%) of adults surveyed support the government’s activities to limit smoking or think they could do more, while only 11% believe that the government is doing too much.

Specifically, there is strong support for:

  • Licensing the sale of tobacco products – supported by 76% of respondents in 2017
  • Banning smoking in all cars – supported by 62% of respondents in 2017
  • Charging tobacco companies a levy to fund measures to reduce smoking prevalence – supported by 71% of respondents in 2017.

Public appetite for further action by government is supported by the evidence. Despite the decline in smoking it remains the leading cause of preventable premature death, responsible for half the difference in life expectancy between the rich and the poor. [8] If current rates of decline are sustained in the general population fewer than one in 20 people will smoke by 2030, but much more needs to be done to reduce health inequalities so that no-one is left behind. The average population smoking rate of 15.5% masks wide differences across the population; for example 40% of those with mental health conditions smoke [9] and 26.5% of those in routine and manual occupations. [10] Every day since the last Tobacco Control Plan for England expired on 31st December 2015, hundreds of under 16s have started smoking. [11]

The evidence of the last decade is that tobacco control policies are popular and effective, when they are part of a comprehensive strategy and are properly funded. ASH is calling on the Government to publish the new Tobacco Control Plan with tough new targets and a commitment to reducing inequalities without further delay.

ASH Chief Executive Deborah Arnott said:
“On 1 July 2007 it will be the 10th anniversary of the implementation of smokefree legislation in England – a worthy date for publication of the next Tobacco Control Plan, with a commitment to delivering a smokefree future for our children.”

ENDS

Notes and Links

Action on Smoking and Health is a health charity working to eliminate the harm caused by tobacco use. For more information see www.ash.org.uk/about-ash

ASH receives funding for its programme of work from Cancer Research UK and the British Heart Foundation.

The data on public opinion in this press release are taken from Smokefree: The First Ten Years. ASH. June 2017. The full report is available here.

A more detailed briefing on the tenth anniversary of the introduction of smokefree legislation in England is available here on the ASH website

ASH staff are available for interview and for more information and an ISDN line available for interviews. Please contact ASH on 020 7404 0242 or out of hours Deborah Arnott on 07976 935 987 or Hazel Cheeseman on 07754 358 593.

References

[1] The UK is top of the European Tobacco Control Scale which quantifies the implementation of tobacco control policies at country level, and is based on six policies described by the World Bank.
[2] The UK was given the American Cancer Society tri-annual Luther Terry award in 2015 for exemplary leadership by a government ministry.
[3] Statistics on smoking in England: NHS Digital 2017
[4] National Drug Strategy Household Survey for Australia 2016 Australian Institute of Health and Welfare 2016
[5] Selbie D. It’s time for a truly tobacco free NHS. Public Health England 6 December 2016.
[6] National Drug Strategy Household Survey for Australia 2010 Australian Institute of Health and Welfare 2016
[7] Smokefree: The First Ten Years. ASH. June 2017. Full report available on request from ASH and online from 1 July 2017
ASH Smokefree Survey. These surveys were carried out online by YouGov for ASH
 2007 Total sample size was 1,562 adults in England. Fieldwork was undertaken between 17th – 19th April 2007. The survey was carried out online. The figures have been weighted and are representative of all English adults (aged 18+).
 2008 Total sample size was 1,054 adults in England. Fieldwork was undertaken between 20th – 25th February 2008. The survey was carried out online. The figures have been weighted and are representative of all English adults (aged 18+).
 2009 Total sample size was 10,895 adults in England. Fieldwork was undertaken between 25th – 30th March 2009. The survey was carried out online. The figures have been weighted and are representative of all English adults (aged 18+)
 2015 Total sample size was 10,017 adults in England. Fieldwork was undertaken between 26th February to 12th March 2015. The survey was carried out online. The figures have been weighted and are representative of all English adults (aged 18+).
 2017 Total sample size was 10,488 adults in England. Fieldwork was undertaken between 16th February 2017 and 19th March 2017. The figures have been weighted and are representative of all English adults (aged 18+).
[8] Fair Society, Healthier Lives (The Marmot Review), University College London, 2010
[9] ASH. The Stolen Years. London 2016.
[10] Statistics on smoking in England: NHS England 2017
[11] Hopkinson, NS., Lester-George, A., Ormiston-Smith, N., Cox, A. & Arnott, D. Child uptake of smoking by area across the UK. Thorax 2013. doi:10.1136/thoraxjnl-2013-204379

Smoking Still KIlls

Smoking Still Kills

The five-year strategy set out in the Government’s previous Tobacco Control Plan for England came to an end in 2015. Smoking Still Kills (released in June 2015) proposed new targets for a renewed national strategy to accelerate the decline in smoking prevalence over the next decade. The report set out short-term objectives and longer term aims and developed the agenda for tobacco control launched in 2008 with Beyond Smoking Kills.

A key recommendation of Smoking Still Kills was for the Government to impose an annual levy on tobacco companies and for the money raised to be used to pay for measures such as mass media campaigns and stop smoking services.

The recommendations were developed by an editorial board in consultation with an advisory board of academics and experts, and following feedback from four regional events with local and national tobacco control professionals.

Smoking Still Kills was endorsed by 129 national and local organisations.

Report
Smoking Still Kills

Executive summary
Smoking Still Kills - summary

 

Estimates of poverty in the UK adjusted for expenditure on tobacco
Estimates of poverty in the UK adjusted for expenditure on tobacco

 

Smoking Still Kills slides for Local Authorities
Smoking Still Kills slides for Local Authorities

 

List of organisations endorsing Smoking Still Kills
List of organisations endorsing Smoking Still Kills

 

View images of the report’s launch

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