Link of the Week
The more you smoke, the greater your risk of a heart rhythm disorder
A recent study published in the European Journal of Preventative Cardiology has found that smoking more regularly increases the risk of a heart rhythm disorder called atrial fibrillation. Atrial fibrillation is the most common heart rhythm disorder and contributes to strokes and premature death.
The researchers from Imperial College London found a 14% increase in the risk of atrial fibrillation for every ten cigarettes smoked per day, with the risk increasing for every additional cigarette smoked.
Dr Dagfinn Aune, author of the study and postdoctoral researcher at Imperial College London, said: “Our results provide further evidence of the health benefits of quitting smoking and, even better, to never start smoking in the first place. This is important from a public health perspective to prevent atrial fibrillation and many other chronic diseases.”
Source: Science Daily, 12 July 2018
European Journal of Preventive Cardiology: Tobacco smoking and the risk of atrial fibrillation: A systematic review and meta-analysis of prospective studies
How to future-proof your heart against smoking related diseases
Coronary heart disease is the most common and most preventable form of heart disease, and is strongly linked to smoking.
Despite falling rates of mortality from heart disease, more people are living with it and suffering a serious range of health problems as a result.
Maureen Talbot, a cardiac nurse at the British Heart Foundation, said: “As older people are at an increased risk of heart disease anyway, because the risks increase with age, those who do smoke should stop as soon as they can.” She highlights the importance of the smoking ban in bringing smoking rates down and asserts that “quitting is probably the single biggest change you can make.”
Source: The Telegraph, 12 Jul 2018
Essex: E-cigarette shop in Clacton helps customers stop smoking
An e-cigarette shop in Clacton is working with Tendring Council and Essex County Council to support people who want to quit smoking.
The shop, Vaporever, is providing one-to-one support and e-cigarette interventions to help people switch from smoking to vaping, with the ultimate goal of overcome their tobacco addiction.
Lynda McWilliams, Tendring Council’s cabinet member for health and education, said: “I am pleased to support this initiative as part of our Livewell Campaign to help people becoming fitter and healthier in Tendring. We are working closely with our public health colleagues at Essex County Council to find innovative ways of helping people to quit smoking. I hope that smokers will use this service and ultimately kick the habit, in order to lead healthier and longer lives.”
Source: Clacton Gazette, 11 July 2018
India: Despite ban, cigarettes still sold near city schools
A study conducted by the Tamilnadu People’s Forum for Tobacco Control (TNPFTC), has uncovered extensive violations of India’s blanket ban on sale of cigarettes in the vicinity of educational institutions. The ban exists to prevent students from having easy access to tobacco products.
S. Cyril Alexander, state convener of the TNPFTC, said: “We had found 12 shops selling tobacco products around a popular private school”.
The TNPFTC found that many teachers were unaware of the ban, believing that only illegal tobacco products like gutka were banned.
Souce: Times of India, 13 July 2018
USA: Smoking will be banned in public housing nationwide at end of July
The US is set to implement a nationwide ban on smoking in public housing in order to reduce the prevalence of smoking related diseases. The ban will take effect on 31 July and affect over 940,000 housing units.
The new rules, enforced by the Department of Housing and Urban Development, will prohibit the use of cigarettes, cigars and pipes in all public housing units and common areas, as well as any outdoor area within 25 feet of public housing grounds.
Source: CBS News, 12 July 2018
Air China flight’s sudden descent linked to co-pilot vaping
China’s aviation regulator has attributed an emergency descent by an Air China aircraft to a co-pilot using an e-cigarette during the flight.
The Boeing 737 was flying to the Chinese city of Dalian from Hong Kong on July 10 when it deployed oxygen marks and dropped to 10,000 feet (3,048 m), before climbing again to continue to its destination.
State-owned China News reported: “In the preliminary investigation, the co-pilot was found to be using an e-cigarette. Vapour diffused into the passenger cabin and relevant air conditioning components were wrongly shut off, without notifying the captain, which resulted in insufficient oxygen.” This triggered an alarm and prompted the crew to perform an emergency pressure relief procedure, which then released the cabin’s oxygen masks.
Source: Reuters, 13 July 2018
Link of the Week
Change is in the air: Going smokefree the Northumbria way
Northumbria Healthcare is sharing learning from going smokefree, which the Trust achieved in March this year.
The presentations from the ‘Change is in the air’ conference can be downloaded and address the key challenges in implementing the Tobacco Control Plan for England, review the latest evidence on e-cigarettes, and provide information and guidance to support health practitioners in making their services smokefree.
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
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
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
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.”
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
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
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
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
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
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
Wales: Smoking ban plan for playgrounds and hospital grounds
A ban on smoking in the outdoor grounds of hospitals and schools in Wales has moved a step closer. The Health Secretary, Vaughan Gething, has launched a consultation, with the ban planned for summer 2019.
Voluntary bans are currently in place in some school and hospital grounds and also in public playgrounds. If the new law is passed, it will mean patients and visitors will have to leave hospital grounds to smoke. This would contribute to a change in culture around smoking, by presenting it as unacceptable in places where children could be influenced or where good health is meant to be promoted.
Public health experts believe smoking still accounts for more than 5,000 deaths in Wales each year, around one in every six of all deaths in people aged 35 and over.
Source: BBC News, 25 May 2018
Somerset: Over 1,000 babies born smokefree
The Smokefree Somerset Alliance recently celebrated the news that over 1,000 babies have now been born smokefree as a result of their Mums2Be Smokefree service. Midwives now refer women to this Somerset County Council funded Mums2Be service, where specialist advisors work with them on a one-to-one basis throughout their pregnancy, helping them to quit smoking and stay quit.
Councillor Christine Lawrence, Cabinet Member for Public Health and Wellbeing at Somerset County Council, said: “Smoking in pregnancy is a major public health challenge and one where we are making good progress. It remains one of the few modifiable risk factors in pregnancy. There are significantly increased risks for the pregnant woman and baby due to smoking and pregnant women who smoke increase their risk of early miscarriage. I would encourage any smoker who is either pregnant or planning to start a family to get support to stop smoking immediately.”
Source: Somerset County Council Newsroom, 24 May 2018
Australia: Are tobacco health warnings are burning out?
Explicit images and dire health warnings advertised on tobacco packaging to deter smokers may be losing their impact, a Queensland researcher has found.
Aaron Drovandi, a pharmacy lecturer and PhD candidate at James Cook University, analysed the response of more than 900 people, including both smokers and non-smokers, to shock advertising tactics used on tobacco packaging.
He found younger consumers with less exposure to tobacco packaging were less jaded than older people, but were more likely to ignore health warnings. Overall, however, research participants believed health messaging had a greater deterrent value than those without, with more than 80% still supporting the warnings.
Source: This is Money, 24 May 2018
New Zealand: Expert tells Government to ban cigarette sales by 2025 as smokefree goal is “a train wreck for Maori and Pasifika”
A Maori health leader and anti-smoking campaigner has told politicians they should pass a law now to make selling cigarettes illegal by 2025.
The chief executive for Maori Public Health Lance Norman sounded a warning to the first combined meeting of the Health and Maori Affairs select committees that the goal of making New Zealand smokefree in seven years time will not be achieved. Currently 35% of Maori smoke and 25% of Pasifika.
One suggestion was to to ban the sale of cigarettes, with Mr Norman stating, “you should pass legislation now to make it illegal to sell cigarettes by 2025.”
Source: One News, 23 May 2018
New Zealand: Response: A ban on cigarettes would criminalise addiction
Banning cigarettes in New Zealand would be a premature and unjust step for those already addicted, smokefree activist says. This comes after calls for the government to move towards banning cigarettes. Boyd Broughton, from Action for Smokefree Ateoroa, said there are a number of steps that need to be taken before New Zealand considers banning smoking.
“The problem with banning something is that if it’s legal and then one day it’s banned you make criminals of people who were previously addicted to it and that’s the issue that we face if we make it illegal immediately,” Mr Broughton said.
Source: One News, 23 May 2018
USA: Using Facebook to help young adults to quit smoking
A national clinical trial testing a smoking cessation intervention for young adults that was conducted entirely on Facebook has found that smokers are 2.5 times more likely to quit after three months with the Facebook-based treatment than if they were referred to an alternative online quit-smoking program. The study was published on the 24th of May in the journal Addiction.
Researchers said they believe the method is promising, and that it can be used effectively to support short-term positive behaviour change, especially among young adult smokers. This is especially interesting because this has been a challenging group to reach and treat.
Source: Medical Xpress, 24 May 2018
USA: Lung cancer incidence in young women surpasses that in young men
A collaborative study between the American Cancer Society and the National Cancer Institute finds rates of lung cancer, historically higher among men than women, have flipped among white Americans and Hispanic Americans born since the mid-1960s.
However, smoking behaviours have become increasingly similar between men and women in the United States, with previous reports indicating incidence rates among women and men were converging. As a result, the historical patterns of higher incidence rates of lung cancer among men than among women have reversed among white Americans and Hispanic Americans born since the mid-1960s.
The authors conclude that this “may foreshadow a higher future burden of overall lung cancer among women than among men as younger cohorts age, which further underscores the need to intensify anti tobacco measures to decrease smoking among young women.”
New England Journal of Medicine, Higher lung cancer incidence in young women than young men in the united states
Source: Ecancer news, 24 May 2018
Damien Moore (Southport)
To ask Mr Chancellor of the Exchequer, what steps his Department is taking to tackle the sale of illegal tobacco.
Robert Jenrick, Exchequer Secretary to the Treasury
The joint HMRC/Border Force strategy to tackle illicit tobacco (‘Tackling Illicit Tobacco: From leaf to light’) published on 24 March 2015 reinforced the government’s commitment to tackle illicit tobacco at all points in the supply chain. This was further demonstrated by increased investment in resources to fight this fraud announced at Summer Budget 2015 and Budget 2016.
Effective action requires collaboration across government and HMRC and Border Force work closely with other enforcement agencies, including Trading Standards and the police to target those involved in the fraud. In the last two years alone, over 2.8 billion illicit cigarettes and over 660 tonnes of hand-rolling tobacco have been seized resulting in approximately 700 prosecutions.
HMRC has also reviewed the impact of sanctions and is currently developing options, with particular focus on the approach taken to repeat offenders.
In accordance with international commitments, HMRC is also developing a new track and trace system for tobacco products. This will go live in May 2019 and will make it easier to identify where genuine product has been diverted into the illicit market and more difficult for illicit goods to enter the legitimate market.
Source: Hansard, 24 May 2018