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31 August 2021

UK

Health experts call for action on e-cigarette packaging aimed at children

NHS mental health services in jeopardy if trusts do not get extra money

Tobacco giant claims it considered selling its Marlboro business to exit the cigarette industry

Scotland: Residents asked to pledge to stay smokefree around children in Lanarkshire

International

ESC publishes guidelines on cardiovascular disease prevention

Japan’s bullet trains replace smoking rooms with videoconferencing rooms

UK

Health experts call for action on e-cigarette packaging aimed at children

 

Health experts want e-cigarette makers to be banned from promoting them in ways that will appeal to children, including naming their products after sweets and using cartoon characters.
 
Action on Smoking and Health (ASH) and UK public health doctors are urging ministers to outlaw “totally inappropriate marketing techniques” that they fear will lure under-18s into vaping. They are demanding action to stop e-cigarettes and the e-liquids that go into them from being given names such as “bubblegum candy” and “gummy bears,” which are types of confectionery, and using cartoon images such as “slushies,” ice-filled soft drinks popular with children.
 
Professor Chris Whitty, the government’s chief medical adviser, shares their concern about e-cigarettes being marketed in a way that could encourage young people to try them, even though it is illegal to sell them to under-18s. He warned last year that the government should deal robustly with anyone trying to “push” them at young people.
 
Deborah Arnott, ASH’s chief executive, said: “Branding using cartoon characters, garish colours and sweet names is clearly attractive to children, and it is hard to imagine why it is necessary for adult smokers. These are totally inappropriate marketing techniques for manufacturers to be using, given that it is illegal to sell e-cigs to under-18s. These techniques risk luring children into e-cigarette use who otherwise would never have tried them. The government has a responsibility to do all it can to reduce the appeal of e-cigarette packaging to children.”
 
The call comes after new research by ASH, King’s College London, and the University of Waterloo in Canada found that children were more likely to find a range of popular vaping brands appealing if the packaging used bright colours compared with those that came in plain packets. However, the type of packaging made no difference to adults’ views.
 
Professor Maggie Rae, president of the Faculty of Public Health, backed ASH’s call for action. “The chief medical officer should take note of this research and urge the government to take powers to regulate e-cigarette packaging. The widely available child-centred packaging of e-liquids in particular, which includes brightly coloured cartoon characters and sweet names such as gummy bears, cherry cola and bubblegum is unnecessary, egregious and must be stopped,” she stated.
 
ASH hopes that MPs will table amendments to the health and care bill to proscribe the child-friendly packaging and ban e-cigarettes being given away to children and young people, after one firm-handed them out free in Bath, Bristol and Brighton without age checks.
 
Source: The Guardian, 29 August 2021

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NHS mental health services in jeopardy if trusts do not get extra money

 

Trust leaders have said that recent improvements to mental health services are in jeopardy if the NHS fails to get critical investment in the upcoming spending review. Around 1.6 million people are officially waiting for care, with private estimates from the sector suggesting around 8 million more would benefit from treatment even though they do not meet the threshold to access services.
 
The situation has been exacerbated by the coronavirus pandemic, which has left demand significantly outstripped by supply. MPs on the all-party parliamentary group (APPG) on coronavirus heard last week that mental health absences had cost the NHS more than £800 million during the pandemic. Trust leaders are now calling for “critical capital investment” to tackle the mental health sector’s most immediate challenges. The Spending Review is expected in October, though it could be delayed.
 
Trusts say significantly more funding will be needed to recruit enough staff with the right skills, expand community services to avoid inpatient admissions where possible, increase bed numbers to bring care closer to home and tackle the ever-growing backlog of care caused by the pandemic.
 
Saffron Cordery, deputy chief executive of NHS Providers, which represents trusts, said: “We need to be honest about the scale of the challenge confronting mental health services now and, in the future, as the full extent of mental health and Covid-19 demand becomes known. The upcoming spending review must make good on commitments to date which, despite years of underinvestment and the enduring care deficit, had started to improve services and experiences for mental health patients.”

A spokesperson for NHS England said: “The Covid pandemic has had a significant impact on people’s mental health and NHS staff are going above and beyond to treat more patients than ever before. We remain committed to expanding and transforming mental health services in line with the NHS Long Term Plan, and earlier this year we consulted on new mental health access standards to help drive even more improvements in mental health care.”

Source: iNews, 30 August 2021

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Tobacco giant claims it considered selling its Marlboro business to exit the cigarette industry

 

Philip Morris International considered selling its Marlboro company to exit the cigarette market, according to its chief executive Jack Olczak. Despite negotiations about selling Marlboro, Jacek Olczak claimed he decided to keep the company to help finance its “wellness” products growth.
 
Jack’s comments come as Philip Morris faces a growing backlash from health campaigners over its controversial plans to buy British inhaler company Vectura. 
 
However, medics and health experts have warned that the deal could scupper Vectura’s key contracts and Government grants. A group of 35 health experts wrote an open letter earlier this month saying a takeover by the tobacco company would “significantly hamper” Vectura’s strategy of operating as a research-focused pharmaceutical company. 
 
One of the signatories, Dr Nick Hopkinson, claimed Philip Morris was inextricably linked to many smoking-related deaths. He said it was “inevitable” medical experts would boycott Vectura if the tobacco giant bought it. He said: “As there are alternatives, not using those inhalers is straightforward. For most people, switching is easy – there’s no practical difference – though some need these inhalers because they’re the only thing that works for them.”
 
Source: Daily Mail, 29 August

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Scotland: Residents asked to pledge to stay smokefree around children in Lanarkshire
 

NHS Lanarkshire has launched its positive Smoke-Free Role Models project in partnership with Voluntary Action North Lanarkshire (VANL), which aims to ask people to be smokefree around children.

The project is designed to support community members, whether they smoke or not, to take the pledge and become a positive smokefree role model. The project has a particular focus on children and families and works towards:

 
  • Preventing children and young people from becoming the next generation of people who smoke

  • Protecting children, adults, and pets from the harmful effects of secondhand smoke.

 

Karen Mather from the health board told Lanarkshire Live: “We’re really thrilled to have launched this new and exciting project with VANL. It will reduce children’s visibility to smoking, with the intention that they will grow up less likely to smoke and will also protect them from the harmful effects of secondhand smoke.”
 
Source: Daily Record, 30 August 2021

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International

ESC publishes guidelines on cardiovascular disease prevention

 

The European Society of Cardiology (ESC) has published guidelines on cardiovascular disease prevention in clinical practice.
 
These guidelines focus on atherosclerotic cardiovascular disease (ACVD), which affects the arteries. ACVD occurs when the inside of the arteries become clogged up by fatty deposits, they can no longer supply enough blood to the body. This process is the leading cause of heart attacks, strokes, peripheral arterial disease (PAD) and sudden death where arteries become completely blocked. 
 
Recommendations are provided for healthy adults of all ages, as well as patients with established CVD or diabetes. The guideline explicitly recommends that stopping smoking is potentially the most effective of all preventive measures, with substantial reductions in heart attacks and death. Quitting must be encouraged in all smokers, and passive smoking should be avoided where possible. For the first time, the guidelines explicitly state that smoking cessation is recommended and remains beneficial, regardless of weight gain.
 
Source: Medical Xpress, 30 August 2021

See also: European Heart Journal - ESC Guidelines on cardiovascular disease prevention in clinical practice.

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Japan’s bullet trains replace smoking rooms with videoconferencing rooms

 

The Central Japan Railway Company has revealed that it is building dedicated video conferencing carriages for its bullet trains to better serve its business customers.
 
To make space for the new carriages, the company will replace smoking facilities that are no longer needed since a nationwide prohibition on smoking on trains took effect last year. In some cases, previously designated smoking booths will also be replaced with privacy pods for workers who would prefer not to be overheard by other passengers.
  
Source: Tech Radar, 29 August 2021

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