News Archive

Vape shops may help smokers quit

A recent study carried out by the University of East Anglia, in conjunction with the university’s medical school, based in Norwich, has suggested that with the evidence of the increasing number of vape shops, these could provide and help reduce the number of smokers. In the study, it was found that vape shops can provide effective behavioural support to help smokers quit.

It has also been revealed that officials at Public Health England (PHE) urged smokers to try e-cigarettes to help them quit and they went on to suggest that hospitals should sell the devices and that it hoped that they would soon be available as prescription items on the NHS.

Publication in the International Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health revealed that researchers worked in six vape shops in a number of different locations, to observe and note the interactions that took place between staff and customers. Commenting, lead researcher Dr Emma Ward, from UEA’s Norwich Medical School was reported as saying: “At present there are no e-cigarettes licensed for medicinal use and vape shops are often the ‘frontline’ for cessation support! We found that vape shops provided effective behavioural support to help quitters stay smoke free.” She went on to say: “Shop assistants were really keen to understand customers’ smoking preferences and give tailored advice about the most appropriate products, and they were an ongoing point of contact for practical help.”

This sounds excellent news for those people who want to quit normal smoking, as it is estimated that currently there are 2.9 million vapers in Britain, with around 2,000 vape shops; PHE lead Martin Dockrell is enthusiastic suggesting that vape shops can provide valuable expertise and product knowledge for smokers who are anxious to quit.

The END of smoking: Marlboro and Benson & Hedges will no longer be on sale in the UK from 2030

The announcement has been made by US tobacco giant Philip Morris International (PMI) which sells its products in more than 180 countries, the company is making a conscious move toward selling smoke-free products and away from cigarettes and that sales of their cigarette brand in the UK will stop in 2030. They have recently been advertising a product aimed at smokers urging them to switch from cigarettes, and to use safer products such as e-cigarettes and heated tobacco products.

We have seen the change that is taking place with more people turning to vaping products and Philip Morris is trying to gradually persuade traditional cigarette smoker to turn to their product which is referred to as iqos, which translates to I quit ordinary smoking. The company claims to have spent £2.5 billion on research and development into new products that have helped millions in “many countries” give up cigarettes.

The Philip Morris system works by using a charger around the size of a mobile phone and a holder that looks like a pen. A usable tobacco stick is inserted into the device which heats up the stick to a high temperature, claimed to be 350C. Smoke is released which contains the nicotine, which some light cigarette smokers have found to be very strong.

The decision by PMI may be considered to be very strange when it is considered that the company had net revenues in the UK of £39.7 billion, in total PMI earned £52.9 billion selling a massive812.9 billion units of cigarettes in 2016, but they claim to be very serious about “designing a smoke-free future”. In a comment, Mark MacGregor, PMI’s director of corporate affairs for the UK and Ireland, is reported to have said that PMI is “looking to a future when cigarettes will no longer be on the market”. He did say though, that they would not stop immediately because if they did someone else would sell them! “It wouldn’t produce any benefit for those smokers.

PMI claims iQOS produces up to 95% fewer potentially harmful chemicals than regular cigarettes, but, as you might expect, not everyone agrees with PMI. On Thursday 25th January, FDA health experts suggested PMI should not be allowed to claim its iQOS electronic tobacco product is less risky than cigarettes.

Help to quit smoking is victim of health squeeze

There are many smokers who would like to quit but find it difficult; there have been many aids available, some through the NHS and others at clinics or online pharmacies. The success rate for these stop smoking aids is very high and there are many that believe that the decision, by councils in in many areas, that smokers are no longer being given medication to help them quit by GPs, is short sighted. Health professionals are quick to point out that the health of smokers who quit is improved and places less burden on the overstretched NHS budgets.

In recent reports by charities Cancer Research UK and Action on Smoking and Health (Ash), they claim that disadvantaged smokers are being hit hardest. The figures quoted show that only three in five local authorities are offering support to smokers in line with guidance from the National Institute for Health and Care Excellence; this hits the poor and disadvantaged the most, as many people argue that wealthier smokers could afford to buy the medication. But this is countered by others who point out that with a packet of cigarettes costing up to £10.00, even those who smoked only 10 cigarettes per day, they would be spending in excess of £1800 per year, this is an expense that they would no longer incur if they quit.

Where do the tobacco companies stand in all of this is a question asked by many; Ash, Cancer Research UK and other health organisations have long argued that it is the responsibility of the tobacco industry, which they point out makes around £1 billion a year in the UK, they should be responsible for paying for the necessary medication, but this of course is the same as turkeys voting for Christmas!

It is known that thousands of people die from smoking related diseases each year, and it is argued that the government should place a levy on the industry to fund the support smokers need, but the industry would be quick to point to the massive tax and duties already imposed on tobacco products.

Governments do not have their own money of course; it is raised through taxes in many forms and to fund the reducing numbers of people that still smoke, which is now down to slightly under 17% in England, by having to raise tax or reduce funds to other areas would not be very welcome. Saving as much as £60 or £70 per week by going “Cold Turkey” is the choice of an increasing number of smokers.

Flavoured e-cigarettes could be TOXIC to your heart

Flavoured cigarettes have been sold for many years; “cool as a mountain stream” if those old enough can remember, these were of course menthol flavoured cigarettes, the sale of which is now frowned upon in certain countries.

However, it may come as a surprise to some to learn that flavoured e-cigarettes can be bad for a person’s heart as they contain certain chemicals that apparently affect the cells in the heart muscle that are responsible for making the heartbeat.

This news will be pretty devastating for the thousands that are turning to vaping instead of smoking normal cigarettes, but it is not all bad news. This is because the NHS agrees vaping is better for a smoker’s health than regular tobacco. And the Public Health England and the Royal College of Physicians consider e-cigarettes to be at least 95 per cent less harmful than traditional cigarettes.

Vaper will have to consider whether they should stick to nicotine style vaping liquid instead of the more exotic flavours such as the citrus and cinnamon varieties as these could be putting the vaper at greater risk of heart damage. Amongst others, clove, floral and citrus flavours caused the heart muscle cells to beat faster. This study comes after a similar study carried out last year when in their findings this study found while flavoured vapours were more dangerous across the board, strawberry flavoured e-cig liquids were most toxic to a vaper’s lungs.

The study was carried out by the University of Louisville in Kentucky, and the experts there conclude that chemical flavourings could be to blame for the dangers linked to e-cigs. A comment in the journal Circulation from the University said: “While many flavour chemicals are conventional food additives and generally regarded as safe, little is known regarding their impact on human cardiac function.”

E-cigarettes were designed to help smokers quit their deadly habit, and are marketed as a healthier alternative to conventional cigarettes; they are widely recognised as being a healthier alternative, but as these studies suggest, there is evidence coming to light that may suggest that they are not risk-free.

A Japanese company is granting its non-smoking staff an additional six days of holiday a year

We can imagine what a British Trade Union might have to say, or action that they would recommend, if one group of workers was granted an extra week of holiday because they were non-smokers, but a Tokyo Japanese marketing firm has done just that.

The company, Piala Inc. took this action because those employees who did not smoke complained that they were working more hours than smokers who had smoking breaks in the basement level of the building. The protesting message was put into the company suggestion box and was read by the company’s CEO Takao Asuka who decided to take action. The resentment grew because the smoker had to travel down to the basement area have a smoke and return to the offices on the 29th floor, this meant that they were out of office for  minimum of fifteen minutes.

Mr Asuka hopes that by taking this action, it will encourage more people to give up the habit and already four have given up. Hirotaka Matsushima, a spokesman for the company is a non-smoker and has already taken advantage of the extra holiday time by taking his family to a hot spring resort for a couple of days.

The percentage of smokers in Japan is quite high, although efforts are being made to discourage younger people from taking up the habit, Japan Tobacco International is amongst the top five tobacco companies in the world with iconic names such as Benson and Hedges, Winston, Camel, and Silk Cut are just a few, with rolling tobacco Old Holborn one of the top brands in the UK and a market leader in Greece, is renowned for its distinctive Virginia tobacco taste, being amongst them.

Here in the UK with the numbers of smokers continuing to decline, the figure given in a short survey of 3,500 people who were asked to comment about the extra holiday given by this company, it was no surprise to see that 89% agreed with the decision, it is very unlike to happen here in the UK though.

New study suggests that e-cigarettes increase risk of cardiac arrest

The great debate regarding the safety or otherwise of e-cigarettes continues to rumble on with each side claiming the virtues, or otherwise concerning the health risk associated with smoking the very popular, electronic cigarettes.

Earlier studies suggest that using e- cigarettes is safer than cigarettes and as recently February this year, a study funded by Cancer research UK by the University of London concluded in a report that that smokers who switched from real to e-cigarettes had far fewer toxins and cancer-causing substances in their bodies than continual smokers.

However, contradicting this, a study published in the Journal of the American Heart Association, stated that using e-cigarettes is not safe, the nicotine which is delivered by the e-cigarette can lead to an increased risk in cardiac arrest and possibly cardiac death. The reasons cited are that as nicotine enters the body, the brain releases adrenaline and this is known to be an important hormone that controls the heart rate and blood pressure. In turn when released, it causes the heart to beat faster in order to provide more energy.

It is believed that continued exposure to nicotine can mean that the heart can be in a state of an increased rate; this according to the researchers can lead to abnormal heart rate variability, which is detrimental putting extra stress on the heart and in turn leading to the possibility of a heart attack.

The research was carried out by Holly Middlekauff and fellow researchers at David Geffen School of Medicine at the University of California, Los Angeles. Using 33 healthy non-vapers and non-smokers, the participants were asked to use three different e-cigarettes on three separate days, nicotine on one day, and then they used an e-cigarette which was nicotine free, finally on the last day an empty e-cigarette.

What the results showed was that there was a 10% increase in heart rate in the participants who puffed on a nicotine-delivering e-cigarette.  Holly Middlekauf did concede however, that in spite of her conclusions, the e-cigarette is better than smoking tobacco cigarettes because it contains fewer carcinogens.

Whatever the studies for and against show, the general consensus from the medical profession is that using e-cigarettes is safer than real ones and they are also one of the best ways to quit smoking completely.

Sitting is the new smoking! New study suggests people with desk jobs are twice as likely to die early

A new study by a team at Columbia University in New York suggests that people who work desk jobs are almost double the risk of dying younger. Workers who sit for extended period of time are at more risk of dying at an earlier age even if they partake in regular exercise the data revealed.

Researchers said that the threat could be reduced dramatically if regular walks were taken roughly every 30 minutes and that workers who sat for no more than half an hour at a time had a significantly lower risk of premature death.

The biggest risk was in those workers who sat for 90 minutes at a time according to the research. The team at Columbia University researched nearly 8,000 adults all over the age of 45 for the study.

One of the researchers, Monika Safford commented on the findings, saying: “Sitting really is the new smoking.

“We need creative ways to ensure we not only cut back on the amount we sit but increase regular bursts of activity.”

This new study comes after last year’s research by Cambridge University found that 1 in 6 deaths were directly caused by 9 to 5 office lifestyles. The same data also showed that 37% of British adults spent less than 30 minutes per day on their feet.

Government plans smoking rate reduction from 15.5% to 12% by end of 2022

In common with many things, smoking in public places depends largely upon your personal viewpoint, possibly also whether you are a smoker, or a non-smoker. From the viewpoint of non-smokers, since the ban on smoking in pubs was introduced ten years ago, pubs are now pleasant places to socialise. The younger generation, certainly those under thirty years of age, cannot understand  what English pubs and clubs were like before the law about smoke-free public places came into force ten years ago. Then going for a night out in a pub meant a dense fog, the smell of tobacco smoke on your clothes and hair after a night out, and the ashtrays loaded with cigarette butts.

Since that time, smoking amongst adults in the UK has shown a year on year decline, particularly amongst the young, according to the Office for National Statistics (ONS), in 2016, 15.8% of adults in the UK smoked, down from 17.2% in 2015, the figure for each country within the UK break down to 15.5% of adults currently smoke in England, rising to 18.1% in Northern Ireland, 17.7% in Scotland and 16.9% in Wales, with more people turning to e-cigarettes, with around 2.9 million, or 5.6% of adults.

However, the government plans to reduce smoking even further, the objective being to reduce the number of 15 year olds who regularly smoke from 8% to 3% or less, reduce smoking among adults in England from 15.5% to 12% or less, reduce the prevalence of smoking in pregnancy from 10.5% to 6% or less. Thanks to the country’s efforts to decrease smoking, an example of which is endorsing vaping products for smoking cessation, the UK is boasting the second lowest smoking rates in Europe after Sweden, and it hopes to achieve these objectives by the end of 2022.

More should be done to promote vaping as one way to achieve that target the government has set itself, Public Health England has said that e-cigarettes are less damaging to health than smoking tobacco. According to Public Health England (PHE) e-cigarettes are about 95% less harmful than tobacco cigarettes, they even went as far as to suggest that they could even be dispensed as a licensed medicine in an alternative to anti-smoking products such as patches.

Love Island draws more Ofcom complaints about smoking than sex

Well this is the world that we live in at the moment, when a television entertainment programme, broadcast after the watershed of 9pm draw more complaints about the amount of smoking that the actors do, rather than their love lives and bedroom antics!

Popular ITV2 programme “Love Island” depicts a group of single men and women in a Majorcan villa brought together in order for them to find love and ultimately win a cash prize, so far viewers have been able to witness several on-air instances of intimate behaviour between couples. In the last series which was shown by the broadcaster, shots using night-vision cameras showed a sex act shortly after the watershed, but it is not that which has caused some viewers to “get hot under the collar”, no it is scenes showing them smoking!

Of the complaints that have been made to the watchdog Ofcom, only 15 were about the “sexual material and promiscuity” the remaining number 24 were about people on the set smoking. The number of complaints being investigated was 46, not a huge number, but the remaining ones have been about a racial slur, the use of bad language and the objection of violence for, wait for this, when a contestant threw a cushion “aggressively”.

The social media has been busy as well; Twitter for example has seen a number of viewers expressing their thoughts with comments such as: The amount of smoking on Love Island is actually shocking, do they all decide to start smoking when they join Love Island was another, love island is basically just an 8 week long smoking advert, are some examples.

For anyone who is a fan of the show, they will know that the contestants do smoke a lot, perhaps they enjoy having a smoke rather than doing the deed, maybe this is why, we hear, that this year’s crop of singles are taking so long to get intimate that it was reported show bosses were begging them to have sex, only three of the episodes so far have featured the contestants doing the deed.

UK heart disease deaths fall by over 20% since indoor smoking ban

Friday the 30th of June marks an anniversary that has been hailed by some as a victory for common sense, whilst others vehemently disagree and claim it violates their “human rights”, but whichever camp you may fall into, there are some facts that have to be welcomed following the decade of the smoking ban in enclosed public places being introduced in England.

It was “north of the border” in Scotland where the indoor smoking ban was introduced two years previously, Wales and Northern Ireland followed later in April 2007 England followed in June that year. Proponents of the ban claim that as a result deaths from heart disease and strokes caused by smoking have fallen dramatically since lighting up in pubs, restaurants and other enclosed public places in England was banned 10 years ago. Although the “anti-smoking” lobby are sure to point out that the falls from heart attacks and other cardiac conditions, which have dropped by over 20% since 2007 while fatalities from a stroke are almost 14% down, are down to non-smokers not being subject to second hand smoke, could it be down to the numbers who have decided to quit. Smokers have seized the opportunity by quitting in unprecedented numbers and of those still smoking, half have chosen to smoke outside their own homes, and increasingly smokers are turning to E-Cigarettes so that they can enjoy the pleasure of a cigarette.

Figures from Public Health England (PHE) tell us that there were 32,548 deaths from heart disease attributable to smoking in 2007-09, there were 25,777 between 2013 and 2015, which is a fall of 20.8%. Similarly, a total of 9,743 smokers died from a stroke in 2007-09, the figures for 2013 and 2015, are less, a drop of 14.5%.

These figures support the claim by Duncan Selbie, PHE’s chief executive; he has hailed the figures as proof of the ban’s huge beneficial impact on health.  He went  on to comment in the Guardian newspaper: “The law has played a key part in the huge cultural change we have seen in the past decade, especially among younger people, a change that has literally saved thousands from disabling chronic diseases and premature death.” Naturally the figures are very welcome, but we are told that smoking still accounts for about one in every six deaths in England.