Wales: Increase in people quitting smoking but services still falling short of 5% target
There has been an increase in the number of smokers in Wales quitting with the help of the NHS. Welsh Government statistics show nearly 15,000 people in Wales were treated by the NHS Wales’ Help Me Quit service, in the year ending 31 March 2018. This is in contrast to the rest of the UK where numbers of smokers seeking NHS treatment and support has declined in recent years.
Christian Heathcote-Elliott from Public Health Wales said, “Stopping smoking is hard, but it is the best thing you can do for your health, your wallet and your loved ones. Your chances of making a successful quit attempt are four times greater with NHS support than by going it alone. This is a message we’re trying to get to 190,000 smokers in Wales who try to stop every year.”
However, the Welsh Government has still fallen short of its annual goal to treat 5% of smokers with NHS stop smoking services. Action on Smoking and Health Cymru chief executive Suzanne Cass has therefore labelled the latest figures “disappointing”.
Sources: Brexit news, 29 August 2018
ITV News, 29 August 2018
Opinion: Why don’t we treat addiction to smoking like any other critical condition?
In this blog, Alison Cook (director of policy at the British Lung Foundation) and Hazel Cheeseman (director of policy at Action on Smoking and Health) argue that smoking is too often seen as a lifestyle choice and not something requiring medical treatment.
“New data released by NHS Digital highlights the continued decline in the use of stop smoking services across England. If you smoke, treatment to quit can literally save your life. So why is it that access to this life saving treatment is completely dependent on where you live?
This is wrong. Every smoker must have equal access to stop smoking services and medication. As the leading preventable cause of death and health inequalities in the UK, the addiction to smoking must be treated in the same way as any other critical condition. Continuing to ignore discrimination against smokers will only deepen health inequalities. Something this government promised to eradicate.
ASH and the BLF want to see national government action so smokers, wherever they live, have the best chance of quitting. This means putting money back into the public health grant and increasing rather than restricting prescribing by GPs.”
Source: Huff Post, 29 August 2018
Are smoking cessation services the most effective way to quit?
In this episode of You and Yours, Winifred Robinson speaks to Professor Robert West, Director of Tobacco Studies at University College London, about stopping smoking.
Professor West said, “The evidence is very clear and has been accumulated over many decades from very high quality randomised trials and field studies which tell us that the most effective way of stopping smoking is to see a specialist stop smoking adviser and together with that and a prescription for a stop smoking medicine. In the best circumstances, it will quadruple your chances of stopping smoking and there’s nothing to rival it…I think there could be a case for saying that interest in stop smoking services has declined, but a big part of that is actually from our evidence not so much the rise in e-cigarettes, but the lack of publicity and promotion of those services.”
Source: BBC Radio 4, You and Yours (21 minutes)
US: A look at NYC’s tobacco-free pharmacy law not helping reduce inequalities
In 2018, New York City implemented a tobacco-free pharmacy law as part of a comprehensive approach to curb tobacco use. A new study which models the reduction in tobacco retailer density following the ban to examine differences in the policy’s impact across neighbourhoods has found that whilst the law substantially reduces tobacco retailer density overall, the impact is not evenly distributed across neighbourhoods.
The researchers based their analysis on a 2017 list of all licensed tobacco retailers in the City, including 510 pharmacies that held tobacco licenses. Tobacco retailer density per 1000 residents was calculated before and after removing pharmacies from the sample.
The results showed that high-income neighbourhoods in Manhattan and the more suburban outskirts of other boroughs were most likely to benefit from the new policy, experiencing the largest reductions in retailer density. In contrast, more disadvantaged neighbourhoods in the city frequently experienced little to no change in retailer density as a result of the new law. Areas where adults lacked a high school education and had a higher proportion of uninsured residents benefited less from the policy.
Source: Bright Surf, 29 August 2018
Africa: ‘Prime target’ for tobacco companies
Tobacco companies view Africa a major destination for tobacco production and consumption, a new study has found. The research, produced by University of Cape Town’s Economics of Tobacco Control Project (ETCP), says that as a developing continent, Africa has become a “prime target” for the tobacco industry.
The researchers said, “Consumers in Africa are now able to afford cigarettes and coupled with weak tobacco control laws, this has resulted in the tobacco industry focusing its attention on increasing its market presence.” The study also found that although the total cigarette demand in Africa seemed to be driven primarily by population growth, many countries were also reporting increased smoking rates.
PLOS one, Trends in cigarette demand and supply in Africa
Source: Fin24, 29 August 2018
Council pension funds are major investors in tobacco companies
An investigation by the Guardian has revealed that council retirement schemes in the UK have invested over £1.7 billion in the tobacco industry.
West Yorkshire Pension Fund has the largest stake in tobacco, with £284 million invested in the industry, including £180 million in British American Tobacco. Several councils have said that they are unable to divest from tobacco stocks due to a legal obligation to maximise their returns.
Deborah Arnott, the chief executive of health charity Action on Smoking and Health, said: “Local authority pension funds usually argue they invest in tobacco because they have a legal duty to get the best deal for their pensioners. But this argument, which was always dubious, no longer has any credibility at all, as tobacco stocks are turning into a bad investment financially as well as morally. Local authority pension funds need to follow the lead taken by Greater Manchester, do their sums and get out of tobacco.”
Source: The Guardian, 13 August 2018
Reassurance for vape businesses and their customers about vape tax proposal
The Independent British Vape Trade Association has issued a statement highlighting the public health opportunity presented by vaping and warning against the introduction of regulatory regimes which deter smokers from switching to e-cigarettes.
They also confirm that rumours surrounding a UK excise tax on vaping are false: “contrary to the anonymous Whitehall sources cited by The Sun newspaper and others this past week, neither the Department for Health and Social Care nor HM Treasury currently have plans to introduce a tax on vaping products.”
Source: IBVTA, 9 August 2018
Cancer, cardiovascular disease and respiratory disease added to NHS long-term clinical priorities
NHS England has announced that cancer, cardiovascular disease and respiratory disease are among the clinical priorities that will feature heavily in the NHS’s 10 year plan.
Simon Stevens, chief executive for NHS England said there would be “a new focus” on cardiovascular disease, along with mental health and cancer.
Source: Health Service Journal, 9 August 2018
Huge number of illegal cigarettes seized in Leicestershire in just 7 months
Over 7000 illegal cigarettes have been seized by authorities in Leicestershire in the last seven months.
Illicit tobacco costs the UK economy an estimated £2.5 billion a year and serves as a cheap source of tobacco for children.
Council leader Nick Rushton said: “The selling of illegal tobacco not only threatens the health of our communities, it also damages the local economy.”
Source: Leicester Live, 11 August 2018
Scotland: Health board backs ASH Scotland’s smokefree charter
NHS Greater Glasgow and Clyde (NHSGGC), has signed ASH Scotland’s Charter for a Tobacco-Free Generation, which seeks to make Scotland tobacco free by 2034.
The charter is designed to drive down smoking rates, with smoking remaining the biggest single preventable cause of ill health and premature death in Scotland.
The NHSGGC director of public health and board member John Matthews OBE said, “our work already focuses on key charter principles and by signing the ASH Scotland charter we are committing the board to further sustained action to reduce tobacco-related harm by encouraging people not to start, supporting them to stop or protecting them from tobacco smoke.”
See also: Milngavie & Bearsden Herald, Health board signs charter on smoking
Source: Dumbarton & Vale of Leven Reporter, 18 June 2018
Scotland: Ban on smoking outside South Ayrshire cafes could be removed
Labour Councillor Phil Saxton is to table a motion calling for a rethink of South Ayrshire’s three-year-old ban on smoking outside cafes, which has been labelled a threat to small businesses
Councillor Saxton, who is looking for “compromise” is now expected to lead calls for a mixed smoking zone outside cafes or bars which use council-owned pavements.
That vote is scheduled to take place on the 28th of June when the council holds its last full meeting before the summer recess. It is understood that members are currently divided on the issue.
Source: Daily Record, 18 June 2018
US: Smoking hits another all-time low
About 14% of US adults were smokers last year, down from about 16% in 2016, government figures show. The findings come from a national health survey by the Center for Disease Control and Prevention.
K. Michael Cummings, from the tobacco research program at the Medical University of South Carolina, said “everything is pointed in the right direction,” but that the new figures mean there are still more than 30 million adult smokers in the country.
Experts say a comprehensive suite of tobacco control campaigns, cigarette taxes and smoking bans have contributed to this overall decline. The launch of electronic cigarettes and their growing popularity has also likely played a role, since e-cigarettes heat liquid nicotine into a vapour without the harmful by-products generated from burning tobacco.
Source: The New York Times, 19 June 2018
US: Tobacco companies’ websites to post court-ordered warnings
Tobacco companies must now include statements on their websites that clarify the health impact of smoking and secondhand smoke, the addictive nature of smoking, that cigarettes labelled “low tar” and “light” are no less harmful, and the way in which nicotine delivery has been enhanced by cigarette design.
The statements were ordered on the 1st of May as part of a 2006 federal court decision that found major cigarette manufacturers, including R.J. Reynolds and Philip Morris, had defrauded the public about the health risks of their products. The companies affected are Philip Morris USA and its parent company Altria, R.J. Reynolds Tobacco and Lorillard, which is now owned by Reynolds American.
Robin Koval, CEO and president of the Truth Initiative, a tobacco control nonprofit, has said “the corrective statements are fine, but we would have rather seen corrective action from the tobacco industry.” He also points out that these statements will have little impact on smoking in young people, since such websites are not available to those under 21.
Source: CNBC, 18 June 2018
US: Vermont tobacco control group calls for smokefree area
A tobacco control group in Vermont has urged Montpelier leaders to create a half mile long smokefree zone in the city’s downtown area. The Central Vermont New Directions Coalition will present a petition to the Montpelier City Council later this month, and so far the group has collected about 1,500 signatures.
Coalition member Ann Gilbert says the organisation is trying to protect families and elderly residents who visit the downtown area, claiming that a smoking ban is a big part of creating a health community.
Source: US News & World Report, 18 June 2018
Thailand: Uttaradit province runs tobacco control campaign on social media
A tobacco control campaign is underway in the Uttaradit province of Thailand to encourage community health leaders to create tobacco control video clips for distribution on various social media platforms, such as Facebook and Instagram, highlighting the dangers of cigarettes.
The Uttaradit Mass Communication Club will be working with ASH Thailand and other health and public relations volunteers to discourage smoking and call for strict enforcement of the Tobacco Control Act 2017.
Source: National news Bureau of Thailand, 18 June 2018
Australia: Secret website selling cheap tobacco
Australia is the most expensive place in the world to buy cigarettes, with the average cost at nearly $40 a packet. The Treasurer, Scott Morrison, has also planned the second of four consecutive 12.5% tobacco excise increases for the 1st September. This is expected to add another $3 to the price of a typical packet.
However, some smokers are now using a secret website called ‘Ciggies World’ to buy packets of cigarettes at prices up to 70% lower than retail price. Whilst a packet of Marlboro Gold cigarettes retails for about $30 in Australia, the Ciggies World website sells a pack of 20 for $4.
Although the prices are comparatively cheaper, smokers may have to wait for over a month before they receive their cigarettes, and could be forced to pay unexpected taxes.
Source: Mail Online, 19 June 2018