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Smoking ban diary

18th September 2007

As England bans smoking in public places - part of a wave of legislation rippling around the globe - we chart the impact of the change as it hits the headlines...

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Smoking 'secret' on psychiatric wards

22nd June 2009

A survey by the Mental Health Foundation has found that 85% of mental health wards had not "effectively implemented" the smoking ban.

Many of the survey's 109 respondents said it was difficult to find a practical solution to the ban, which came into force in July 2008. Report author Simon Lawton-Smith said: "Where access to an outside space is limited or unavailable, staff seem to be in the difficult position of either risking breaking the law by turning a blind eye, or denying a patient the right to smoke completely."

Ban smoking when children in the car

17th June 2009

The new head of the Royal College of Paediatrics and Child Health has called for a ban on adults smoking in cars when children are passengers.

Professor Terence Stephenson said children deserved protection and should not have to breathe in their parents’ cigarette smoke. The move has been backed by the charity Action on Smoking and Health, while the Department of Health has said it would review smoking laws next year.

The Canadian province of New Brunswick, California, South Australia and Cyprus have already introduced such legislation.

 

Smoking in cars with children should be banned

17th June 2009

The new president of the Royal College of Paediatrics and Child Health, Professor Terence Stephenson, says adults should be stopped from smoking in cars when there are child passengers.

We are not allowed to smoke in the office or the pub, but we can still smoke in the confined space of a car when there are children in the vehicle.

But this should be stopped.

It should be illegal to smoke in cars with children in because it is a way in which we can do more to protect the health of our children.

Why would you light up anyway when your children are in the back, you wouldn’t offer them one, so why should they breathe tobacco smoke at all?

You can’t inflict this on your colleagues at work so why should we “treat our children's health as a lower priority than our employees?”

Parents have smoked around children for generations but some states have already banned this in cars.

New Brunswick in Canada is the latest to introduce such legislation.

Some see it as draconian, despite second hand smoke being linked to chest infections in children, asthma, ear problems and sudden infant death syndrome, or cot death.

California, South Australia and Cyprus have also banned the practice and we in the UK should do the same as in many areas of child health we lead the way.

This would be progressive legislation with clear benefits and in line with our changing attitude and behaviour around smoking and a common sense – not a nanny state – approach.

 

Greece to impose smoking ban on 1 July

12th June 2009

The health ministry has said Greece will impose a tobacco ban on 1 July in third attempt to curb smoking.

Hospital grounds should be smoke free

2nd April 2009

Doctors’ leaders have called for smoking to be banned in the grounds of all hospitals in Wales.

Some Welsh NHS trusts currently operate a voluntary code to reduce smoking in the vicinity of hospitals.

But on the second anniversary of the ban on smoking in public places in Wales, the British Medical Association wants to see it enforced in hospital grounds.

However the Welsh Assembly says it has no plans to extend smoke-free legislation.

Chair of the BMA's Welsh Council Dr Andrew Dearden said: "The BMA in Wales has campaigned for smoking to be banned on all hospital grounds. In fact, we called on the assembly government to change the law to ensure hospitals were included in the smoking ban legislation."

He said it was absurd that while smoking was outlawed in pubs and restaurants it was still permitted in hospital grounds.

"The very reason people visit hospitals is to increase their chances of getting better, not to potentially have their health threatened, by having to fight their way through clouds of cigarette smoke," he said.

Security guards at North Wales NHS Trust hospitals recently revealed they face abuse when asking smokers to leave the site where smoking is against trust policy but not against the law.

The BMA in Wales said it believed if it was against the law to light up around hospitals, much of this abuse could be stamped out.

The Welsh Assembly Government said hospitals were free to introduce no-smoking policies but it would not introduce new legislation.

 

Smoke ban fails to encourage quitting

21st January 2009

The number of smokers giving up has barely increased since the ban.

Smoking claims 227 lives a day

17th October 2008

Latest figures have shows that 227 people died every day in England in 2007 through tobacco-related conditions.

And despite a significant fall in smoking in recent years, there were still 1,200 people admitted to hospital each day as a result.

The NHS Information Centre figures reveal a total of 445,100 hospital admissions for smoking among the over-35s over the year.

Some 25% had cancer while others have a variety of respiratory and heart conditions. In 2007, there were 82,900 deaths in that age-group, with almost half down to cancer, though smoking deaths are falling.

However, while smoking costs the NHS £2.7bn a year, the numbers of people who have given up since the ban on smoking in public places has now started to fall. It was down 22% in the second quarter of 2008 compared to the same period last year.

But smoking figures are still falling with figures showing that in 2006 only 22% of adults smoked compared to 39% in 1980.

Since 2001, deaths from smoking have dropped by 14% and effectively seen 37 lives a day.

In children, the number of those aged 11-15 who smoke has fallen, though that fall has been more significant in boys than in girls.

The Stop Smoking Service costs £16m a year to run.

In recent years smoking advertising has been banned, warnings have been put on packets and sale to under 18s has been made illegal along with the ban on smoking gin pubs, clubs, restaurants and enclosed public spaces.

 

Anti-smoking campaign hits the road

17th September 2008

Some health trusts in London confront smokers in the street as they step out for a few quiet puffs.

Celebrating smoke ban anniversary

3rd July 2008

DH celebrate the first year of the smoking ban.

Smoke free mental hospitals

1st July 2008

The Department of Health is to extend the smoking ban to the "buildings and grounds" of mental health institutions in England.

Mind, the mental health chairty, says that 70% of patients in mental health institutions are smokers. Sophie Corlett, Mind's Policy Director said: "Hospitals need to provide people with alternative recreational facilities and opportunities to socialise once smoking is no longer an option."


Money for smokers who give up

20th June 2008

Smokers in the poorest areas of Dundee are being offered £150 worth of groceries if they give up.

Anger over smoking restrictions

2nd June 2008

A government scheme which aims to stop young people smoking could see cigarette vending machines banned in England, Wales and Scotland.

A similarly intentioned range of anti-smoking restrictions was proposed in by the Scottish government in May.

Smokers' rights groups have angrily condemned the proposals and said there was "no evidence" to suggest that outlawing the machines would stop people smoking.

A new television advertising campaign is being aired which warns parents that their children are "three times more likely" to smoke if they do than children of non-smokers.

The government is also considering banning packets of 10 cigarettes, which cost less than larger packets.

Public Health Minister Dawn Primarolo said: "Protecting children from smoking is a government priority and taking away temptation is one way to do this."

She added that if the introduction of a ban on colourful containers and packets of 10 cigarettes could help to prevent deaths then the government should do it, but they needed to listen to people's opinions first.

The anti-smoking group Ash carried out a survey of 3,330 people which showed that 65% thought a complete ban was a good idea for vending machines and 43% supported "plain packaging".

The director of The Tobacco Manufacturers' Association Chris Ogden, said: "Any sensible proposals...should be supported by credible evidence that they would address the government's stated objectives."

Forest spokesman Neil Rafferty said: "As far as vending machines go, the simple solution is to make them credit card operated - then children can't use them."

 

Kicking habit contagious

22nd May 2008

US researchers say people quit smoking in clusters.

Smoke ban appeal lost

21st May 2008

A court has ruled that psychiatric patients should not be allowed to smoke at the Rampton high security mental hospital in Nottinghamshire.

Three patients had argued that a ban on allowing them to smoke “in the privacy of their own home? violated their human rights. But High Court judges ruled that any interference with their rights was justified and that they should not be allowed to endanger their own health and or the health of others by smoking at the hospital.

 

Smoking ban in casinos

24th April 2008

Atlantic City vote to ban smoking on the floors of casinos.

Hackers target anti-smoke ban sites

16th April 2008

Hackers changed the domain name settings for two anti-smoking ban websites at the weekend.

China toughens smoke ban

9th April 2008

Crackdown on smoke ban linked to China's pledge to hold a smoke-free Olympics.

Offering smokers a healthier substitute

7th October 2007

The Independent has applauded the Royal College of Physicians’ proposal to offer smokers something safer than tobacco for their nicotine addiction, but adds a “health warning of its own".

The message in a report from the Royal College of Physicians was to offer smokers something safer than tobacco to satisfy their craving for nicotine and in the process save some, possibly even most, of the one billion lives that smoking is expected to claim globally this century.

The basis of the plan is that it is the tobacco that kills, not nicotine.

Despite the smoking ban, efforts to reduce smoking are progressing painfully slow, yet the market remains weighted against a cigarette substitute product.

Manufacturers of medicinal nicotine – presented in gums, patches and inhalers and designed to wean people off smoking – are bound by regulation while cigarette manufacturers have more freedom to do as they like.

This unbalanced market has stifled innovation in the area of nicotine substitutes but a more benign regulatory regime will help the makers of medicinal products. However, the challenge remains on whether it is possible to devise a workable substitute for a cigarette.

With the application of modern expertise, these may be improved. But it is by no means certain that any device can be developed to deliver nicotine as effectively as burning tobacco and unless it delivers the hit that smokers crave, it will fail.

The RCP’s proposal is a bold one. But it will need clever science and careful monitoring if it is to deliver the promised benefits.

 

'More help' for smokers

5th October 2007

Doctors have said that nicotine should be freely available in products which do not carry cigarettes’ health risks in order to help smokers who find it impossible to give up.

The Royal College of Physicians say that millions continue to smoke because they are addicted to nicotine but point out that it is the toxins in cigarette smoke that kill. It believes such a move would prevent a significant number of deaths. The Department of Health has said it would consider the RCP report.

'Slump' in cigarette sales

3rd October 2007

Sales of cigarettes fell by 11% during July when the smoking ban was first introduced in England.

The research from AC Nielsen covered all sales outlets but notes that the July figure was exceptional with the combined drop of 7.3% in July and August being more indicative of trends. AC Nielsen said July’s sudden slump followed the pattern seen in other countries that have introduced a similar ban which is aiming to reduce the number of deaths from second-hand smoke.

 

Have to be 18 to buy cigarettes

1st October 2007

The legal minimum age at which tobacco can be bought in England, Scotland and Wales has risen from 16 to 18.

The move is designed to help reduce the number of young smokers and comes after a ban on smoking in public places came into force. Figures show that about 9% of young people aged 11-15 smoke. The Government also believes that by bringing the age for the purchase of tobacco into line with that of alcohol will reinforce the dangers of smoking to young people.

 

Smoke ban respected

24th September 2007

New figures have suggested that the vast majority of smokers in England have been respecting the ban on smoking in enclosed public places.

The charity Asthma UK polled 2,500 adults over the ban, which was introduced in England in July, and 97% said they were either not smoking where it is banned or were giving up completely. In addition, 75% said the ban had been good for their health. The survey also found that smokers with asthma were trying to stop faster than the general population.

 

'Spotty face' for women smokers

18th September 2007

According to Italian research women smokers are more likely to develop a form of acne than those who do not smoke.

A study of 1,000 women, published in the British Journal of Dermatology, found over 40% of those who smoked had non-inflammatory acne, shown by blocked pores, large white heads and small cysts. This compared with 10% of non-smokers. The link, however, is controversial and the team from San Gallicano Dermatological Institute in Rome admit that other factors may play a role. These include hormonal changes, stress, occupational and environmental factors.

Nonetheless, the president of the British Association of Dermatologists, Colin Holden said "the study fitted into the trend of linking smoking to acne".

He added, "All of these findings will hopefully provide people with an extra incentive to quit".

 

Smoke ban good for health

10th September 2007

A new study says that the smoking ban in Scotland has made a "significant" difference to public health.

A comparison of the data from nine hospitals has shown a 17% fall in heart attack admissions since the introduction of the new laws in March 2006.

The data incorporates "routine" health information and research by government scientists and Scottish universities. Over 2,000 primary school children, along with adults aged between 18 and 74-years-old from 74 postcodes, were involved in giving information to the study.

The study showed that both children and adults were now exposed less second-hand smoke - a reduction of 40%. Primary school children, when tested, had a 39% reduction in levels of a nicotine by-product.

Non-smoking adults who lived in non-smoking homes had nearly half the amount of cotinine (a metabolite of nicotine) in their systems since the ban.

The research will be shown to an international conference in Edinburgh, set up by the Scottish government.

Professor Jill Pell, who headed the research team which made the findings, said: "What we were able to show is that among people who are non-smokers there was a 20% reduction in heart attack admissions."

"This confirms that the legislation has been effective in helping non-smokers."

Professor Peter Donnelly, Scotland's deputy chief medical officer, said the study showed that the ban had made a positive impact on the quality of public health.


Teeth whitening soars

3rd September 2007

The average demand for teeth whitening has increased by 12% since the smoking ban in England was enforced in July.

The British Academy of Cosmetic Dentistry (BACD) survey revealed some dentists had seen a 40% increase in people wanting the service. It is the most popular cosmetic dental treatment in England.

Christopher Orr, a dentist and BACD president, said as people smoked less because of the new regulations, "it is not a surprise that many would like an improved smile to go with their better health."

 

Smoke ban working

16th August 2007

50% of smokers are "smoking less" following the ban on smoking in enclosed public places, which came into force on 1 July 2007.

Ciao Surveys asked 1,000 smokers about their smoking habits. One third of respondents revealed that they now smoked fewer cigarettes when they visited bars. Only 1.8% admitted to giving up smoking completely.

3 out of 10 smokers, and 9 in every 10 non-smokers, supported the ban. Almost all of the survey's respondents said that bars and pubs were more pleasant since the ban on smoking.

However, almost two-thirds of smokers and a quarter of non-smokers said drinking venues now smelt of "other odours such as as sweat and stale beer."

Doctors think passive smoking causes the death of over 600 people annually. Around 10 million adults in the UK smoke. Research indicates that around 70% of smokers want to stop smoking.

The government introduced the ban to encourage people to stop smoking, although its "primary aim" was to lessen the risk of exposure to cigarette smoke.

A Department of Health spokeswoman said: "We estimate that a complete smoking ban might reduce smoking rates by 1.7%; taking smoking from 24% now, down to 22%."

"This will mean around 600,000 fewer smokers in the long term."

Amanda Sandford of Action on Smoking and Health (ASH) called the results of the survey "very positive." She said they expected to see more smokers stopping the habit over time.


Businesses obey smoke ban

3rd August 2007

Officials have said most businesses visited in the first two weeks of the smoking ban in England complied with the new regulations.

The ban came into force on 1 July and is intended to protect workers from the effects of passive smoking.

Council officers inspected 88,899 premises in July. They reported that 97% were following the no-smoking ban. 142 warnings were given out and a penalty fine was given to a person who insisted on smoking.

The figures tally with Scotland's and Ireland's response to the ban, which was introduced before the regulation was imposed in England.

Public Health Minister Dawn Primarolo said: "We predicted that it would be largely self-enforcing based on experience elsewhere, and the fact that three quarters of the public supported the move. All the signs are that businesses and the public have taken the new law in their stride."

An area which showed room for improvement was businesses' display of no-smoking signs. The inspection revealed that 21% of businesses had not yet put out signs.

The government has introduced a phone system so that people can report businesses for not complying with the law. 2,342 calls were made to the line over the first month and 606 were given to councils to investigate further. Less than 400 calls were made in the final week of July.

Amanda Sandford, for Action on Smoking and Health (ASH), said that the public had embraced the smoking ban "wholeheatedly and that it had been "largely self-enforcing" because it was what most people wanted.

 



'Smoke-free' in 146 countries

6th July 2007

A group of 146 countries under the aegis of the World Health Organisation (WHO) has agreed to adopt a set of guidelines which stipulate 100% smoke-free public places and workplaces.

A meeting in Bangkok of the parties to the WHO Framework Convention on Tobacco Control voted unanimously to support the new rules, which are not legally binding, WHO said in a statement.

The meeting adopted guidelines on protection from exposure to second-hand tobacco smoke. The guidelines, which were adopted unanimously on the Conference's second day, give national and local governments clear direction to establish smoke-free environments.

“Sound science proves there is no safe level of exposure to second-hand tobacco smoke,? said Douglas Bettcher, Head of the WHO Tobacco Free Initiative.

“We are working harder than ever with governments, civil society and other public health experts to denormalize tobacco, and smoke-free environments are one of the key measures to bring about this major shift in social norms to save millions of lives in coming decades.?

The guidelines state that half-way measures such as designated smoking areas, air filtration or ventilation do not work.

"These guidelines are important to counteract some of the industry myths," Bettcher said.

"The tobacco industry knows that if you ban smoking entirely in public places and work places it will encourage smokers to reduce their consumption and encourage them to quit. It also reduces the chances that people will initiate the habit."

"The industry says second-hand smoke is a nuisance. It's not a nuisance. It's deadly. It's lethal. It's a Class A carcinogen," Bettcher told reporters.

The guidelines do not apply in the United States, Russia or Indonesia, three countries that are not members of the WHO's Framework Convention on Tobacco Control (FCTC).

But the parties to the convention hope they will set a gold standard for a definition of "smoke-free", against which other countries will be judged.

Haik Nikogosian, Head of the Convention Secretariat said the group would work to combat the complex threats tobacco poses to human health, especially targeting, through international law, illicit trading in tobacco products.

 

Legal challege to smoke ban

29th June 2007

The Freedom to Choose group has launched a legal challenge at the High Court against England's smoking ban.

The group argue that the ban - due to begin on 1 July - is a contravention of Article One of the European Convention of Human Rights. The group's leader, Mr Robert Feal-Martinez, said they wanted "the government to realise a total ban is not necessary."

A judge will now make the decision about whether the group have enough of a case to constitute a full trial.


Smokers want exceptions made

25th June 2007

Smokers' rights groups are challenging the 1 July ban in England by calling for exceptions to the ban on smoking in enclosed public places.

Public Health Minister Caroline Flint said in June that 95% of the population were aware of the impending smoking ban.

"A smoke-free England will see the single biggest improvement in public health for a generation," she stated. The ban follows rulings imposed in Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland.

Pro-smoking group Forest have said they will ask for legal exceptions to be made so some premises are able to offer designated smoking areas.

Chef Antony Worall Thompson will hold a "Revolt in Style" diner for 400 celebrity guests at the Savoy in London.

Forest director Mr Simon Clark will make a speech, saying: "We have lost the battle, but we haven't lost the war." He will say Britain is "developing into a nanny state".

He will argue that adults should be considered responsible enough to enjoy potentially risky activities, including smoking, without facing harassment and lecturing from politicians and campaigners. He will make the point that cigarettes are sold as a "perfectly legal product."

Claire Fox, director of the Institute of Ideas, will also make a speech, calling the ban a representation of "our small-minded times."

From Sunday 1 July, smoking will not be permitted in enclosed public places and workplaces in England.




Smoke ban gets public support

21st June 2007

A national survey has indicated that the smoking ban in England from July 1 will be introduced smoothly.

Almost eight out of 10 people interviewed in a national survey said they agreed with the move to ban smoking in public places. The Office of National Statistics study - which questioned 1,200 people - also revealed that people felt strongly about banning smoking in restaurants and around children. The Department of Health said awareness of the ban had increased dramatically in the past few months.


Smoking ads don't always work

12th June 2007

Researchers in Australia who studied the effects of anti-smoking advertisements on young people say the ads often have the opposite effect and encourage people to keep smoking.

Their findings, published in the Tobacco Control Journal, showed that advertisements showed to cinema-goers before a film which glamorised smoking had little effect on the viewers' intentions with regard to smoking.

Researchers at Newcastle University polled 3,100 people aged 12 to 24, of whom around one-fifth were already smokers. The smokers said they were more likely to keep smoking as a result, while the non-smokers became more anti-smoking after they watched the advertisement.

The advertisement was shot in the style of a movie trailer, but was shown to have little impact on people's motivation to give up the habit.

More than half the 12 to 24-year-olds who viewed a film, were shown the advert, while the rest were not.

After the film, a quarter of respondents who did not see the advert said they were unlikely to be smoking in 12 months time. This compared to 39% who did see it.

Non-smokers' resolve to remain non-smokers changed little, from 94% among those who did not see the film, to 96% among those who did.

But lead researcher Diane Bull said anti-smoking adverts could work. She warned that caution was needed, as some types of advertising might reinforce smokers' intentions to smoke.

She pointed to smoking in movies by top actors as an important factor currently influencing young people to take up smoking.

Smoking lobby groups said people were getting fed up with being dictated to by the government, and increased anti-smoking campaigning was likely to give rise to a backlash.

 

Scots to increase smoking age

5th June 2007

The legal age for buying tobacco in Scotland will be raised from 16 to 18 in October.

The move was backed by the previous Scottish Executive, and will also come into force in England and Wales. The announcement was made by Scotland’s Public Health Minister Shona Robison during a primary school visit. Figures published recently by the Scottish Executive say there have been reductions in the number of schoolchildren who smoked in the last two years.

The Scottish Grocers' Federation welcomed the move but said the decision would put pressure on shop workers to police the new law.

 

No op unless you quit smoking

4th June 2007

People who smoke may be refused non-emergency operations by the NHS unless they stop smoking at least a month in advance.

The proposals, put forward by Leicester City West Primary Care Trust, follow research which proved smokers have longer recovery times post-surgery and are more susceptible to infection.

The trust intends to offer smokers counselling services and nicotine replacement in order to assist them in giving up cigarettes. Doctors will test patients' blood to verify they have stopped smoking.

Smokers will still be entitled to emergency surgery. Those patients who refused to give up would remain eligible for routine operations, but could face a longer wait.

Rod Moore, the assistant director of public health at the trust, said: "If people give up smoking prior to planned operations it will improve their recovery. It would reduce heart and lung complications and wounds would heal faster. Our purpose is not to deny patients access to operations but to see if the outcomes can be improved."

The proposals have been heavily criticised by pro-smoking organisations and patients' rights groups. Michael Summers from the Patients Association told the Telegraph the idea was "wrong" and said: "These measures are clearly being driven by finance and not by clinical need."

The trust will be the first in the country to launch a consultation on this stop-smoking rule in July. Other trusts are likely to consider the idea.

A Department of Health spokesman commented: "It is up to individual primary care trusts if they want to introduce such a policy."


Quit-smoking NHS numbers fall

31st May 2007

Figures have revealed that the number of people using services within the NHS to help them stop smoking has fallen by 10%.

The findings, from the Information Centre for health and social care, come as England geared up toward going “smoke free? from July 1.

The data shows that the number of people successfully giving up smoking for four weeks fell from more than 200,000 in 2005 to around 180,000 in 2006.

And from a regional breakdown of the information it also emerged that smoking rates are falling fastest in more affluent areas such as the south east of England and less so in the north west.

Deborah Arnott, chief executive of anti-smoking group ASH, said the figures were worrying as she felt that the NHS quit-smoking services were most crucial in the drive to reduce smoking among the most disadvantaged groups.

Earlier this year the Conservative Party also published evidence which showed that out of 115 primary care trusts, 56 had cut their quit smoking budget.

The Department of Health said that adult smoking rates in England were the lowest on record with the government remaining on track to meet the overall target of 21% cent smoking prevalence in 2010.

A major advertising campaign will be staged in the run-up to the introduction of legislation banning smoking in enclosed places in England from July 1.

A DoH spokeswoman said that the department had increased funding for local NHS stop-smoking services by almost 10% in the last two financial years.

 

Teen smokers risk blindness

6th February 2007

The Royal National Institute of the Blind (RNIB) has warned that young people who smoke are risking blindness in later life.

The charity has called upon the government to fund a national advertising campaign highlighting the link between sight loss and smoking.  The RNIB says it has research which indicates that losing their sight is an effective deterrent against teenagers smoking.  Research published in The British Journal of Ophthalmology reported that young clubbers were more afraid of blindness than any other side effect caused by the habit.

The study of teenage smokers also found that of the 20% of young women and 15% of young males who smoked, only 2% of them knew that smoking increased the risk of age-related macular degeneration (AMD), which is the most common cause of blindness in the UK.  The RNIB has warned that those who smoke double their risk of developing the condition.

RNIB campaigns manager, Barbara McLaughlan said, "The problem with anti-smoking campaigns targeted at teenagers is that they feel they're invincible. It really is important that the link between smoking and blindness becomes common knowledge."

 

Smoking age raised

2nd January 2007

05102006_teenagesmoking1.jpgThe government has announced more plans to curb smoking in the UK by increasing the legal age for buying tobacco from 16 to 18. 

The change to the 100-year-old rule will come into play in October and will follow the ban on smoking in public places which will be enforced from the beginning of July.  Nearly one in ten young people aged between 11 and 15 smoke and a person who takes up the habit at 15 is three times more likely to die of smoking –related cancer than someone who starts in their late 20s.

The government hopes that by increasing the legal age for buying tobacco, retailers will be able to spot a customer who is under-age more easily.  The legal age for buying tobacco is already set at 18 in the US, Canada, Australia and New Zealand.  Caroline Flint, the public health minister, said, "Buying cigarettes has been too easy for under-16s and this is partly due to retailers selling tobacco to those under the legal age. The law change demonstrates our determination to stop this and to reduce the number of teenagers who smoke. This, in turn, will reduce the number of people with preventable diseases and the incidence of health inequalities."

The charity, Action on Smoking and Health (Ash), has welcomed the new law but has called for tougher sanctions on retailers who sell tobacco to under-age smokers.  Health campaigners are also urging the government to provide more services to help young people quit.

Smoking shortens a person's life by an average of 10 years and about 106,000 Britons die from smoking-related diseases each year. The NHS currently spends about £1.7 billion each year on treating smoking-related diseases.

 

England smoking ban confirmed

1st December 2006

The government has announced that smoking will be banned in public places in England from 1 July next year.

The ban covers virtually all enclosed public places including offices, factories, pubs and bars but does allow people to smoke outdoors and in private homes. Smoking in public places will be banned in Wales from 2 April. In England, from 1 July, pubs and restaurants will be required to display prominent "no smoking" signs around their premises.

The government hopes that 600,000 people will give up smoking as a result of the new law which will cost £50m to implement. Ministers say it will protect everyone from passive smoking and will save thousands of people's lives.

The news has been welcomed by health campaigners. Dame Helena Shovelton, Chief Executive of the British Lung Foundation, said, "This is a victory for all those of us who have campaigned so vigorously to improve public health." But, Simon Clark, Director of the smokers' lobby group Forest, said that decision was "draconian?.

Raise in smoking age

23rd November 2006

05102006_teenagesmoking1.jpgThe legal age for buying tobacco products could soon be raised to 18 across Scotland within the next six months.

Figures for 2004 reveal five per cent of boys and seven per cent of girls are regular smokers by age 13 - and these figures almost treble among 15-year-olds.

The Scottish Executive is backing recommendations made by an expert group on smoking prevention and has stated it will now begin work consultation with a range of organisations including the Scottish Youth Parliament.

It comes after legislation was introduced to ban smoking in enclosed public places, which also allowed parliament to increase the age, with regulation.

The Smoking Prevention Working Group, which includes health experts and academics, made 31 recommendations to form part of a five-year plan. Among the recommendations were bans for shopkeepers caught selling to under age smokers.

A range of anti-smoking and health groups has supported the recommendations, including the smoking lobby group Forest.

The executive is now looking at whether the change could be introduced before May's Holyrood election.


Paid smoking breaks banned

16th November 2006

Council workers are to be banned from taking paid smoking breaks, as part of efforts to help smokers kick their habit.

West Lancashire District Council has agreed a complete ban on smoking in its buildings and outside council premises.

Under the new rules, workers would face disciplinary action and could even lose their jobs if they break the ban, set to be introduced in March next year.

Smokers will only be allowed to smoke in their lunchbreaks, as long as it takes place off council premises. But workers would be unable to smoke during other shorter breaks.

The ban includes all council-owned premises, including council-owned cars and communal areas of sheltered housing. Help will be offered to those who want to give up.

The smokers' rights group Forest has condemned the decision.


Help for pregnant smokers

16th October 2006

Pregnant smokers in Scotland are to be urged to quit as part of a new campaign.

Almost one in four mums-to-be still smoke during pregnancy, despite the well-known health risks to both mother and baby, and the figure rises dramatically in more deprived areas.

Health risks mean mothers who continue to smoke are more likely to lose their baby, or have a premature birth, which leads to more postnatal or special care.

Now the NHS in Scotland has launched a new TV advert highlighting what help is available to pregnant women who want to stop smoking. They stress the campaign isn’t aimed at making women feel bad about themselves, but at helping them.

Specially trained midwives offer smoking cessation counselling, while a free DVD is also available.

 

Council to ban street smoking

10th October 2006

04092006_smokingbar1.jpgWestminster City Council is to apply to the government for the power to ban smoking outside bars and restaurants in London’s West End.

The council intends to enforce its plans when the general ban on smoking in public places comes into play next year.  The council said it was responding to the Department of Health's consultation on the introduction of the ban across England, which had raised concerns over the increase in noise levels in residential areas following a ban in other countries.  Noise complaints rose by 1000% in Edinburgh after a smoking ban was introduced in Scotland.

The capital’s West End includes many residential properties which jostle for space amongst large numbers of pubs, restaurants and clubs.  The council said it was not just worried about noise levels but was also concerned about large numbers of people congregating outside and the impact that would have on policing in the West End.  It also said there could be an increase in its cleaning bill.

A spokesperson for the council said that there were already problems outside some licensed premises caused by people standing outside drinking and creating considerable noise for neighbours and that the council was, "anxious to avoid this problem being greatly increased by smokers."


North-South health divide

10th October 2006

21092006_smoker1.jpgA new study entitled The Health Profile of England, has revealed a significant North-South divide in the nation’s health. 

The study, published on Tuesday, has revealed that people in northern areas have much higher obesity rates with Boston in Lincolnshire showing the highest levels of obesity for the entire country.  The study also showed that those living in the north of the country are more likely to suffer a smoking-related death and have shorter life expectancies than their southern counterparts.  Men in the north are likely to die two years earlier than those in the south according to the report.

In response to the study Public Health Minister Caroline Flint has said that people must change their everyday lifestyles to improve their well-being.  She also indicated that she would like to see the NHS more involved in preventative work in a bid to improve the health of the nation.  The government is also set to announce that supermarkets, schools and bus companies will be part of a renewed fight for the UK’s health.

The new report was designed to provide the most comprehensive picture yet of the state of the public's health and it is hoped the information contained within it will enable health chiefs to tackle inequalities in the nation’s wellbeing.  The UK has the highest obesity rate in Europe and this new report comes just two months after the Department of Health predicted 13m people in England would be obese by 2010 if nothing was done to tackle the problem.

Teenagers smoke to help labour

5th October 2006

05102006_teenagesmoking1.jpgCaroline Flint, minister for Public Health, has said that pregnant teenagers smoke to try to reduce the size of their babies, thinking they can make delivery less painful.

She said that childbirth is no less painful if your baby is low weight, adding that "smoking is not the answer, pain relief is."

Studies show that women who smoke during pregnancy are three times more likely to have a low birthweight baby, but low birth weight is strongly linked to an increased risk of many health complications and miscarriage.

There is no evidence that having a smaller baby reduces pain in labour, said Gail Johnson, of the Royal College of Midwives.

The chief executive of the National Childbirth Trust, Belinda Phipps, said it showed a worrying lack of education among young women, and that although smoking reduces a baby's size, it can have a "devastating effect on the baby in lots of other ways".


 

Smoking ban in Wales

29th September 2006

Draft regulations for a ban on smoking in enclosed public places in Wales are out for consultation until the end of October. 

Legislation could be in force by April next year.

 

 

Deprived areas tackle smoking

19th September 2006

18072006_femalesmoking1.jpgThe Healthcare Commission (HCC) has praised NHS trusts in the most deprived areas of England for their efforts to reduce the impact of smoking; however not all primary care trusts are performing to the same high standards, especially those in the most affluent communities.

Smoking is the single greatest cause of preventable illness and premature death in the UK. There are 10 million smokers in England, costing the NHS £1.7 billion per year.  Smoking kills more than 106,000 people every year.
 
Primary care trusts (PCTs) are responsible for services to help people stop smoking and for working with other agencies on campaigns to reduce second-hand smoke in homes, workplaces and recreational settings.

The review assessed performance on reducing the numbers of smokers in their community, in promoting smoke free workplaces, and encouraging healthy lifestyles.  It also looked at how effective the PCTs were in working with other agencies to address the needs of the local population.

Encouragingly the review found the NHS doing well in promoting smoke free areas, in preparation for the smoking ban which begins in summer 2007.  There were wide variations, however, highlighting need for improvement in some parts of the country.

Anna Walker, the Commission’s Chief Executive, said: “The good news is that where smoking prevalence is the greatest the NHS is showing strong performance.  Continuing on this path of good practice is crucial if we are to tackle health inequalities, which are still too great."
 
Jo Webber, Deputy Director of policy at the NHS Confederation, said "It is vitally important that the current funding of NHS Stop Smoking Services – provided by primary care trusts – is sustained post-2008, when the last phase of the smoking ban is due to be in place, so that care can be delivered effectively to everyone that needs support to give up smoking.?

A national report, outlining findings from the tobacco control improvement review, will be published later in the year.

Support for Scottish smoking ban

15th September 2006

A survey by Cancer Research UK shows that nine out of ten Scottish bar staff believe their workplaces have become healthier since the introduction of a smoking ban six months ago.

Ninety two per cent of bar staff felt their workplaces have become healthier and 78% believe the ban will benefit their health in the longer term. Bar workers who smoke also support the ban; 89% say it has made their workplaces healthier and 69% say it will benefit their health.

Spain extends smoking ban

4th September 2006

04092006_smokingbar1.jpgSpain has extended its restrictions on smoking by introducing a partial ban in restaurants and bars. Outlets selling food and drink have been obliged to set up designated smoking and no smoking zones.

Smoking is blamed for some 50,000 deaths in Spain each year and surveys show that about 30% of Spaniards smoke. A government-sponsored opinion poll released last year showed that more than 70% of respondents backed the ban.

Smoking has been banned on public transport, in public places, and offices in Spain since 1 January. Businesses occupying more than 100sq m are now obliged by law to set up a separate smoking area, and smaller premises must indicate whether they are smoke-free.

 

 


 

Smoking ban exceptions

17th August 2006

18072006_femalesmoking1.jpgExceptions to the total smoking ban that all NHS organisations are expected to implement by the end of the year are being allowed by Hampshire Partnership NHS trust.

From 1 September the mental health trust is making its sites smoke free, but it has released a document which will allow patients to smoke in certain designated areas.

The document says that ‘The trust recognises that some service users have circumstances that will require staff to make an assessment as to whether special arrangements need to be made so that the service user will be permitted to smoke on a trust site'.  It carries on ‘Such circumstances might include detention under the Mental Health Act, the inability of a service user to give informed consent for help with smoking cessation, or inability to make a rational choice to quit.’

Germany plan smoking ban

10th August 2006

Germany's minister for consumer affairs, Horst Seehofer, expects a ban on smoking in public buildings to take effect next year.

Contrary to some of the EU states, Germany has no ban on smoking in either bars and restaurants or public spaces, and smoking is still allowed in hospitals, nursing homes, and other municipal buildings.

 

Smoking and cancer insight

8th August 2006

Studies reported by US researchers online by the Journal of Clinical Investigation give a new understanding of the molecular mechanisms underlying nicotine's ability to induce tumour cell proliferation and progression.

They suggest that nicotine functions like a growth factor; the presence of nicotinic acetylcholine receptors (nAChRs) are key players in nicotine-induced cell proliferation. nAChRs bind nicotine, they are present on bronchial cells as well as on lung cancer cells.

The authors say that there is no evidence that nicotine contributes to the induction of tumours, but it has been demonstrated that nicotine promotes the growth of solid tumours in vivo.  This suggests that nicotine might be contributing to the progression of tumours already initiated.

The researchers showed that stimulation of non-small cell lung cancer (NSCLC) cells, as well as bronchial cells, with physiologic doses of nicotine leads to robust cell proliferation that is dependent on nAChRs.

Clearing the air?

18th July 2006

18072006_femalesmoking1.jpgAccording to a new report, 'Clearing the air: Debating smoke free policies in psychiatric units', published by the King’s Fund, only one in ten staff working in mental health wards would consider banning smoking indoors. The report is an attempt to understand the challenges faced by psychiatric units in implementing a smoking ban.

The publication of the survey coincides with the government announcement of a consultation which includes a ban on smoking in psychiatric units where people are expected to stay for less than 6 months; patients in long-stay residential units would be able to continue smoking indoors.

Staff in 420 psychiatric units were surveyed on their attitudes to a smoking ban in England, with 150 of these responding.

Key findings include;

- Just under half the units (43 per cent) did not intend to introduce a smoking ban as the regulations stood at the time, whilst 14 per cent said they were not sure.

- Almost three quarters of units (73.5 per cent) currently provide a smoking room for patients sometimes serving as a television or coffee lounge for smoking and non-smoking patients.

- One in ten units (10.6 per cent) did not have smoking rooms and did not allow smoking inside, although smoking was allowed outdoors.

Niall Dickson, King’s Fund chief executive, said that there is a smoking culture in psychiatric wards and there will be hurdles to overcome in implementing a ban, adding "this survey shows that staff are wary about patient behaviour on introducing bans. However, international evidence suggests that total indoor bans are less likely to result in aggressive patient behaviour than partial bans."

Mr Dickson said that there is still a way to go before staff are fully engaged with the government’s proposals to ban smoking in the majority of psychiatric units; staff will need support to deal with their anxiety about impending changes and patients must also be supported by joining existing cessation services with psychiatric services.

He concluded “ ... ultimately this is not about banning people from smoking. The right of the individual to smoke must be weighed up carefully against the rights of other patients and staff not to work in a smoking atmosphere. Where indoor bans are implemented, an issue will be how to provide safe outdoor environments for patients to smoke.?

Smoke-free zones not enough

30th June 2006

The US Surgeon General has concluded only smoke-free buildings and public places truly protect nonsmokers from the hazards of breathing in other people's tobacco smoke.

Some 126 million non-smokers are exposed to secondhand smoke, what US Surgeon General Richard Carmona repeatedly calls ‘involuntary smoking’ that puts people at increased risk of death from lung cancer, heart disease and other illnesses.

He said there is no risk-free level of exposure to someone else's drifting smoke, declares the report – a conclusion sure to fuel already growing efforts at public smoking bans nationwide. Fourteen states have passed what are considered comprehensive smoke-free workplace laws, those that include restaurants and bars.

But the surgeon general is especially concerned about young children who can’t escape their parents’ addiction in search of cleaner air – around one in five children is exposed to secondhand smoke at home, where workplace bans don't reach. Those children are at increased risk of SIDS, sudden infant death syndrome; lung infections such as pneumonia; ear infections; and more severe asthma.

The study is a compilation of the best research on secondhand smoke, the most comprehensive federal probe since the last surgeon general's report on the topic in 1986, which declared secondhand smoke a cause of lung cancer in non-smokers.

Earlier this year, California health officials estimated that secondhand smoke kills about 3,400 nonsmoking Americans annually from lung cancer, 46,000 from heart disease, and 430 from SIDS.

The tobacco industry and some businesses, particularly restaurant and bar owners are concerned about loss of smoking customers, have challenged some of the broadest public smoking bans in cities and states.

The new report gives new scientific ammunition against those challenges, said Matthew Myers of the Campaign for Tobacco-Free Kids.

The report also concludes living with a smoker increases a non-smoker’s risk of lung cancer and heart disease by up to 30 per cent.

 

Peers attack public smoking ban

26th June 2006

The ban on smoking in public places is not justified by the risks from passive smoking, says a Lords committee.

MPs voted in February by a huge margin to ban smoking from all pubs and private members' clubs in England. But the House of Lords Economic Affairs Committee says MPs failed to consider evidence that passive smoking is more risky in the home.

The anti-smoking group Ash said smoke in public places caused many deaths.

The Lords committee examined government and public attitudes to risk.
"We are also concerned that the government does not pay enough attention to the cumulative impact of legislation on personal freedom and choice," said Lord Wakeham

Its report calls on ministers to pay more attention to the risks to personal liberty posed by new legislation. Singling out the public smoking ban, it argues that the aims of the legislation have not been made clear.

The report says that greater attention should have been given to scientific evidence, which it says suggests that passive smoking in public places is a relatively minor problem compared with passive smoking in the home.

Lord Wakeham, chairman of the Economic Affairs Committee, said the government had failed properly to apply guidelines on risk assessment.

Simon Clark, of the smoker's lobby group Forest, said MPs had been hoodwinked by exaggerated claims about the effects of passive smoking.

The Lords committee also criticised the fact that more money had been spent on rail, rather than road safety.


Smoking and obesity in the USA

12th May 2006

12052006_obesityandsmoking1.jpgA study published on bmj.com finds that over 80 million American adults are putting themselves at serious risk of long-term illness and early death through smoking, obesity, or both.

Although smoking and obesity are two of the leading causes of death and illness in the United States, the overlap between the two conditions has never been measured. Researchers used data from the 2002 national health interview survey to estimate the proportion of adults in the US who smoke and are obese. The results were stratified for various factors, such as education and income levels.

They found that 23.5% of adults were obese and 22.7% smoked (a total of 81 million). About 4.7% (9 million) smoked and were obese. This proportion was particularly high in people with lower income and education levels and in African Americans (7%). The authors say that although this overlap is relatively low, the presence of these two conditions together may carry an increased risk to health.

They add that treatments for people who smoke and who are obese need to be investigated. Clinical trials should monitor the effects of programmes aimed simultaneously at weight control and stopping smoking. The results could be used to develop policies for prevention and treatment.

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Article Information

Title: Smoking and obesity in the USA
Author: Chris May
Article Id: 302
Date Added: 12th May 2006

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