Smoking in Pregnancy Challenge Group welcome NHS England progress in reducing stillbirths
An estimated 600 stillbirths could be prevented every year if maternity units adopted national best practice, calculates NHS England in the wake of an independent evaluation of the Saving Babies Care Bundle guidance. There are currently around 665,000 babies born in England each year, but despite falling to its lowest rate in 20 years, one in every 200 is stillborn.
The Smoking in Pregnancy Challenge Group, a coalition of health organisations, welcomed the progress made, but insisted that work still needed to be done to ensure a consistent approach around the country, including providing effective support to help women quit smoking during pregnancy.
Professor Linda Bauld, deputy director of the UK Centre for Tobacco and Alcohol Studies and co-chair of the Smoking in Pregnancy Challenge Group, said: “Too many places are still not implementing best practice for supporting women to quit smoking. This has a real cost in babies’ lives. It’s good to see this NHS initiative is having an impact but eight years after national guidance was issued there is no excuse for variation in practice.”
See also: Public Health England, Health of women before and during pregnancy: health behaviours, risk factors and inequalities
Source: OnMedica, 30 July 2018
Warwickshire: Illicit tobacco factory disguised as potato farm
A large illicit tobacco factory has been discovered on a farm in Warwickshire, with the farm being disguised as a potato processing business. Nearly 7 tonnes of illicit tobacco was found hidden in hundreds of potato bags. A cutting machine, counterfeit packaging and over 10,000 cigarettes were seized.
Source: Convenience Store, 30 July 2018
Stockton: E-cigarettes are making a difference in the fight to cut smoking
Encouraging the use of e-cigarettes to reduce the number of smokers in Stockton has been defended amid an agreement to fund services helping people kick the habit until 2020. Both Stockton and Hartlepool Councils have held a joint contract with North Tees and Hartlepool NHS Foundation Trust to fund stop smoking services.
Councillor Jim Beall, Stockton’s cabinet member for adult social care and health, told panellists at a meeting on Thursday how the council’s “targeted approach” had reaped rewards so far and praised the role e-cigarettes had played. He said: “The good news is smoking figures are coming down through medication and e-cigarettes – that’s something to celebrate.”
Source: Teeside Live, 30 July 2018
Scotland: More 18-24 year old girls than boys smoking in Argyll and Bute
Teenage girls in Argyll and Bute are to be the focus of a renewed drive to cut down on smoking in the area. The move follows a recent report that found smoking rates were higher among young women aged 18-24 than among young men of the same age, in Argyll and Bute.
Argyll and Bute’s Health and Social Care Partnership (HSCP) is now set to repeat its programme aimed at mid-secondary school pupils to discourage them from smoking. It will also continue its projects for younger secondary pupils, along with those in the late stage of primary school, on the dangers of tobacco.
A spokesperson for the HSCP said: “Within the 18 to 24 years old age group [in Argyll and Bute], the most recent report in 2015 reveals 24% of females smoke compared to 18% of males.”
Source: Helensburgh Advertiser, 31 July 2018
Health inequalities lead to striking differences in life expectancy between the rich and poor in England
The life expectancy gap between rich and poor people in England has been widening for nearly two decades. Stockton-on-Tees is the town with England’s biggest gap in life expectancy.
In Stockton-on-Tees, those living in the wealthier areas can expect to live as much as 18 years longer than those in the more deprived parts of the town. Nationally, on average, a boy born in one of the most affluent areas of England will outlive one born in one of the poorest parts by 8.4 years.
Smoking rates are typically much higher in more deprived groups, something that exacerbates the differences in life expectancy.
See also: Public Health England, Health state life expectancies by national deprivation deciles, England and Wales: 2014 to 2016
Source: BBC News, 30 July 2018
USA: Study suggests residential smoking bans will help more low-income smokers quit
Enforcing residential bans on smoking could help large numbers of low-income people quit smoking, according to an analysis of federally funded national surveys by a California research team. The finding comes as public housing authorities across the country face a July 31st deadline from the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) to implement indoor no-smoking policies.
The study analyses data from the National Cancer Institute funded Tobacco Use Supplement to the U.S. Census Bureau’s Current Population Survey—which asked about smoking habits, whether people allowed smoking in their homes, and whether they were able to quit—over a 10-year period from 2002 to 2011.
It found that, while low-income smokers were significantly less likely to live in smokefree homes, those who did live in such homes were much more likely to be successful quitters. Implementing smokefree policies in low-income housing is one way to increase the number of smokefree homes, and the authors said this has the potential to affect a large group of vulnerable people.
Source: Medical Xpress, 30 July 2018
USA: Study finds smokers who use e-cigarettes are at equal risk of oral cancer as those who only smoke
Scientists at the University of California, San Francisco discovered dual-users of e-cigarettes and tobacco may not be at less risk from cancers of the throat and mouth than they were when they were only smoking cigarettes.
Researchers looked at markers of overall nicotine intake, and levels of a group of carcinogens called tobacco-specific nitrosamines (TSNAs). When they measured these in the urine of some 49,000 Americans who smoke, use smokeless tobacco and non-smokers, they found that there were more similarities between users of smokeless tobacco and smokers than between the former and non-smokers.
However, those only using e-cigarettes were found to have lower levels of the two chemicals associated with oral and lung cancers. It was only dual-users of tobacco (including smokeless products) and e-cigarettes who had a similar risk for these cancers.
Note: the research has not been published yet; the findings were revealed in a poster-presentation
Source: Eureka Alert, 28 July 2018
18 July 2017
A new report  is published by Action on Smoking and Health (ASH)  on behalf of the Smoking in Pregnancy Challenge Group  and launched in Parliament today (18th July) at a joint event between the APPG on Baby Loss  and the APPG on Smoking and Health .
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.”
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.
 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
 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.
 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.
 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.
 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.