West Midlands: Budget cut as plans to launch digital stop smoking service approved in Sandwell
Smokers in Sandwell could soon be offered online quit support after councillors agreed to re-commission its Stop Smoking service. It comes after cabinet members gave the go-ahead to proposals to cut its stop smoking budget by £360,000 and search for a new bidder to deliver the service.
The Stop Smoking service will be re-commissioned when the current contract comes to an end next April, councillors agreed on Wednesday.
Councillor Elaine Costigan, Sandwell council’s cabinet member for public health and protection, said: “Smoking cessation remains a key priority areas for Sandwell council public health. The proposed adjustments to the budget for the Stop Smoking service reflect a need to correct-size the allocation for this particular service. However, the new service will target hard-to-reach groups where smoking prevalence continues to remain high. We will also develop a digital self-help offer to reach those who don’t access traditional services.”
Source: Express & Star, 27 July 2018
“Sin” taxes are less efficient than they look, but they do help improve public health
Governments hope that just as taxes on alcohol and tobacco both generate revenue and reduce smoking and drinking, so sugar taxes will help curb obesity.
As policy instruments, sin taxes can be blunt. People who only occasionally drink or smoke are taxed no differently from heavy smokers and drinkers, whilst some economists are concerned that sin taxes affect low-income households most.
However, sin taxes do change behaviour. Estimates vary from study to study, but economists find that on average, a 1% increase in prices is associated with a decline of around 0.5% in sales of both alcohol and tobacco. Economic models assume that people know what they are doing, but humans struggle with behaviour change. Most smokers are aware of the health risks, but many still find it hard to quit.
Source: The Economist, 26 July 2018
US: Smokeless tobacco warning label may have misled consumers for years
In 1986, the U.S. government passed legislation requiring a series of warnings for smokeless tobacco products, one of which advised “This product is not a safe alternative to cigarettes.”
That warning, however, obscured an important distinction—that cigarettes are much more harmful to health than smokeless tobacco products. Over the 30-plus years since, the American public has mostly been unaware that smokeless tobacco is much less harmful than cigarettes, one of the nation’s leading tobacco policy experts argues in a new paper.
“It is important to distinguish between evidence that a product is ‘not safe’ and evidence that a product is ‘not safer’ than cigarettes or ‘just as harmful’ as cigarettes,” says the paper author, Lynn Kozlowski, professor of community health and health behavior at the University at Buffalo’s School of Public Health and Health Professions. “The process at the time of the establishment of official smokeless tobacco warnings in the 1980s paid no attention to this distinction,” Kozlowski adds. “The American public has become mostly unaware that smokeless tobacco is much less harmful than cigarettes.”
Harm Reduction Journal, Origins in the USA in the 1980s of the warning that smokeless tobacco is not a safe alternative to cigarettes: a historical, documents-based assessment with implications for comparative warnings on less harmful tobacco/nicotine products
Source: Medical Xpress, 26 July 2018
Australia: Six tonnes of tobacco seized from illegal crops in Northern Territory
Six tonnes of illegal tobacco leaves and vast fields of mature plants worth more than $13m in lost tax have been seized on a rural property in the Northern Territory. This was the first successful strike by a taskforce bringing together agencies including the Australian Tax Office and Australian Border Force. The illegal tobacco trade costs the federal government about $600m a year in lost revenue.
Australian Border Force assistant commissioner Sharon Huey said people may think it fairly harmless to purchase a cheap pack of illegal cigarettes, but warned the consequences could be dire. “The profits they make are going into more serious and more insidious types of crime,” she said. “We shouldn’t underestimate the impact of illicit tobacco.”
Source: Guardian, 26 July 2018
Opinion: How the tobacco industry has changed its marketing strategy across the globe
Tirumalai Kamala, Immunologist, Ph.D. Mycobacteriology, discusses which countries have done the best at eliminating smoking.
“Among the wiliest of industry operators, the tobacco industry started expanding its markets in China, Africa and Latin America as the noose began tightening around its activities in North America and Western Europe.
Being a formidable litigant helped it in this expansion, enabling it to successfully hide for decades the extent to which it knew full well that what it peddles is poison. In practical terms, this means that even as public policies in some countries started gaining ground against smoking, rates increased in others which either lacked such regulations and/or could be easily manipulated through PR campaigns.
Illustrative examples from Bhutan and Brazil show how public policies on smoking could either unwittingly increase it or work as they should and reduce it.”
Source: Forbes, 25 July 2018
South West: More smokers in Poole admitted to hospital this year
Poole has seen a small rise in the number of smoking related hospital admissions in 2017, bucking the regional and national trend which shows steadily decreasing rates of smoking related admissions. NHS figures show that there were 1,665 hospital trips across the borough for diseases linked to smoking, 30 more than in 2016.
Data shows that smoking rates in England are decreasing, with the exception of smoking rates for pregnant smokers which have remained unchanged since 2016.
Deborah Arnott, chief executive of charity Action on Smoking and Health (ASH), said: “ASH supports the government’s vision, set out in the Tobacco Control Plan for England, of a smokefree generation. But smoking must become history for all of society not just for the wealthy. Cuts in public health funding and lack of treatment for smoking on the NHS mean poorer more heavily addicted smokers, including those who are pregnant, are not getting the help they need to quit.”
Source: Daily Echo, 10 July 2018
West Midlands: Fines for smoking on Sandwell Hospital grounds
Sandwell Hospital is aiming to go ‘smokefree’ from next summer, as hospital bosses seek to stop smoking outside hospital entrances.
Penalties will be applied to anyone caught breaking the new rules, which accompany a wider expectation from Public Health England that all hospitals will eventually become smokefree, providing support and treatment to help smokers quit. The trust which runs Sandwell General opted to implement the new policy in 2019 in light of major delays to the opening of the new Midland Metropolitan Hospital.
Toby Lewis, chief executive of the trust said, “We will continue to invest time, care and money to supporting people in our community to quit smoking. We will institute a fining system for anyone, staff, patients or visitors who smoke on our sites after the now agreed date.”
Source: Express & Star News, 10 July 2018
East Midlands: Young adults in West Lindsey giving smoking the red card
Rates of smoking among 18-24 years olds are on the decline as more and more young people choose not to smoke.
Office of National Statistics data shows that in West Lindsey, Lincolnshire, the percentage of the population who have never smoked has risen by 21% since 2011. This is consistent with UK-wide declines in smoking rates among 18-24 year olds, which have dropped from over 25% in 2011 to 17.8% in 2017.
Duncan Selbie, chief executive of Public Health England, said, “Smoking rates have dropped by almost a quarter in five years, a triumphant step in eliminating the nation’s biggest killer…we are tantalisingly close to creating the first ever smokefree generation in England.”
Source: Gainsborough Standard, 10 July 2018
Indonesia: Tobacco control and children’s rights
Indonesia has the highest uptake of smoking among youths in the world. Weak tobacco control policies and the tobacco industries’ aggressive marketing strategies have contributed to a male smoking rate of 67.4%.
The last two decades have seen smoking rates double for 10-14 year olds and triple for 5-9 year olds, culminating in a smoking rate of 41% for Indonesian children aged 13-15. Despite regulations banning smoking on school premises, many schools are surrounded by cigarette advertisements which target young people.
Indonesia also has among the cheapest cigarette prices in Southeast Asia and cigarettes can be purchased in single sticks which are easily affordable for children. The Convention on the Rights of the Child, ratified by Indonesia in 1990, commits the government to protecting children’s right to health. If children are to be protected from the harmful effects of smoking, the tobacco control community must show that smoking undermines this human right.
Source: The Jakarta Post, 11 July 2018
Tony Lloyd MP, Labour, Rochdale
To ask the Secretary of State for Health and Social Care, what steps his Department is taking to reduce lung health inequalities in deprived areas.
Steve Brine, Secretary of State for Health and Social Care
Two of the most significant respiratory health issues that impact deprived areas are poor air quality and smoking.
Minimising health inequalities is a core part of Public Health England’s (PHE’s) Mission and Strategic Vision for 2020. PHE was commissioned by the Department to review the evidence for effective interventions on air quality and provide recommendations that will significantly reduce harm from air pollution and impact on health inequalities at the local level.
PHE (Public Health England) has also published a number of reports on urban design which aim to support reductions in air pollution.
Smoking is a leading cause of a number of respiratory diseases including lung cancer and chronic obstructive pulmonary disease and is the leading cause of health inequalities. The Government’s Tobacco Control Plan for England, published in July 2017, re-emphasises the important role of local areas in providing support for smokers to stop smoking. As part of a comprehensive programme of national and local tobacco control activity, this is an important means of tackling inequalities in lung health in disadvantaged communities.
Source: TheyWorkForYou, 9 July, 2018