News Archive

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.

Smoking ban outside Brighton’s restaurants and pubs proposed

The crackdown on those people who enjoy the pleasures of a smoke continues; smokers are very aware of the ban on smoking in public places such as restaurants and pubs. Some smokers actually agree that enjoying a cigarette, pipe or cigar after a meal, whilst being a wonderful experience to them, can cause discomfort to others who may still be eating.

However, authorities in the Sussex seaside resort of Brighton and nearby Hove are taking things a step further, which is a step too far in many peoples estimation. This time they are proposing that cafes, restaurants and pubs with outside eating areas will be asked to consider introducing a voluntary smoking ban and it is all part of a move by city council and NHS bosses in Brighton and Hove to help reduce the impact of smoking in the city.

This move follows on from a consultation that was run by the council in 2015, asking people for their views about smoking in public spaces outside. A majority of those people who were asked supported the idea of banning smoking in those restaurants and pubs with outdoor seating, which they suggested should be smoke free. The other suggestion that smoking should be banned in parks and on the beaches was thrown out, respondents to the survey considered that it was anti-social to smoke where people are eating and drinking.

Already moves are afoot to begin the ban and following interviews conducted on twelve businesses, including cafés, restaurants and pubs from the North Laine, Brighton Marina and city park areas, ten have indicated that they support the idea.

The suggestion is a voluntary one and unlike the national ban on smoking in public places indoors, there is no legislation to impose a ban on outdoor areas, but because the concept is entirely voluntary, many business owners are very sceptical and some are concerned that they could lose loyal customers. One business owner already asks smokers not to smoke near children and to move away if any were near.

Brighton’s Pavilion Gardens Café is run by David Sewell, in a comment he said that although he had never smoked in his life, you must be aware of what the customers want, for example if it was a blanket ban and not a voluntary arrangement it would be easier to enforce it. For example, he went on, “If every café decided to introduce a ban then we would follow suit but if you are on your own then it could lead to you losing customers who come every day. You either say no smoking at all, or in this case ask them to use their common sense.”

Needless to say the proposal had a mixed reaction from people in the seaside resort, as you may expect, because the majority now appear to be non-smokers, most comments are in favour of the proposal, but it also has brought out the usual comments that are not related in any way to smoking, such as tables on pavements. But one cynic has retorted by saying: “Yes, we must protect people from a small amount of cigarette smoke whilst totally ignoring the masses of toxic diesel fumes belching out of the buses, taxis, vans and lorries in the city centre.”

Man jailed for nine years and six months for smoking in plane toilet

Smokers in general, much like the vast majority of the population of the UK are law abiding and obey laws. But, as always there is always the exception to the rule and 46 year old John Cox from Kidderminster believed that the law applied to everyone but himself, that is where he got it wrong and found out to his cost.

Any of us who have flown on commercial aircraft in the last few years must know that they are non-smoking and that means anywhere on the aircraft. We are warned that smoking in the toilet is not only forbidden, it can be dangerous and the detectors will react if someone decides to light up.

Well not only did Cox decide that it did not apply to him, he actually threw a lit cigarette into the aircraft, toilet waste bin causing it to catch fire. The Monarch Airbus was flying at 33,000 feet at the time, and destined for Sharm el Sheik; the incident caused the aircraft captain to issue a mayday call and he considered an emergency landing when the crew struggled to extinguish the resulting fire.

This was not the first time that a smoke detector had gone off, although it was in another toilet and the fire was put out by the crew. The captain then issued a strongly worded warning about the ‘moronic’ conduct of smoking on board, only for it to happen a few hours later. On arrival in Egypt Cox was detained later to be arrested on his return to the UK.

Once again alcohol was involved, during the court case it was revealed that Cox had been drinking before and during the flight, and was abusive and aggressive to other passengers and the crew, the captain, who had flown for Monarch for 20 years, said he had never experienced an incident with so much potential danger. Also Lady Justice Sharp said: ‘The level of culpability and potential for harm is at the highest level.

Cox pleaded guilty to arson and being reckless as to whether life was endangered and was jailed for four years and six months at Birmingham Crown Court in January. However, an appeal was lodged and the Court of Appeal has ruled the sentence was too lenient and jailed Cox for nine years and six months. Will he get the message now we wonder?

Vaping laws are changing in the UK

Although new stringent laws relating to tobacco are shortly to come into effect, these include a ban on packs of 10 cigarettes, the phasing out of menthol brands, plus plain and even more graphic packaging of the cigarettes. The millions that have turned to vaping, considered by many experts to be far safer than smoking tobacco, firmly believed that they would be exempt from the draconian laws affecting tobacco, but if so then they are in for a disappointment!

The Tobacco Products Directive comes into force on May 20th which has raised questions and concerns with vapers, and in the industry. Firstly vaping will not be banned, but some accuse the Government of doing all they can to discourage the use of the products without banning it outright. This all seems rather draconian when vaping is a recognised method of weaning people away from tobacco products.

In total there are seven new requirements which are:

  • Restricting e-cigarette tanks to a capacity of no more than 2ml.
  • Restricting the maximum volume of e-liquid for sale in one refill container to 10ml.
  • Restricting e-liquids to nicotine strength of no more than 20mg/ml.
  • Requiring nicotine-containing products or their packaging to be child-resistant and tamper evident.
  • Banning certain ingredients that include colourings, caffeine and taurine.
  • Labelling to require warnings for e-cigarettes and e-liquids
  • E-cigarettes and e-liquids must be notified to heath regulators before they can be sold.

Clearly the new regulations are seen as an erosion of the freedom vapers have had until now.

From the manufacturers of the products and the liquids, they view it as a concern that they will be required to tell the regulator, the Medicines and Healthcare Products Regulatory Agency, about new products coming onto the market.  They point out that a lot of what is now law is already carried out on a voluntary basis by reputable dealers and manufacturers, of more concern is the fact that the cost of complying with the new laws will be passed on to vapers.

Manufacturers have been aware of the new regulations for a year now, but vapers, in general, are completely unaware, some vapers will not understand why their vapes are weaker and smaller on May 20. The suggestion is that it would be wise to stock now before their vapes are taken off the market.

Obesity not smoking is the top cause of preventable deaths

For years we smokers have been subjected to a barrage of negative comments about the pleasure of a cigarette or cooling smoke through a bong, telling us on numerous occasions that we are not only killing ourselves, but costing the NHS billions of pounds!  The last suggestion may seem strange considering the amount of duty and tax that our pleasure brings to the treasury, but that is another matter.

Now the target is people who are overweight, as it has been reported that being obese can increase your chance of heart disease and stroke, which are the world’s biggest killers and having a bulging waistline is now the leading cause of preventable deaths, all according to a team of scientists from the Cleveland Clinic.

The data, which was collated using 2014 data on causes-of-death in the US and analysing behavioural risk factors that may have contributed to the deaths put obesity ahead of smoking and they went on to suggest that obese people lost as much as 47 per cent more life years than those who smoke. This is a big turnaround from fifteen years ago, and then tobacco would have topped the list as the leading cause of preventable deaths.

This is of course not the first time that obesity has been highlighted as the cause of preventable deaths; here in the UK levels have more than trebled in the last 30 years and, on current estimates, more than half the population could be obese by 2050, according to the NHS. Other figures that have been obtained show that in the year 2015, pharmacies in England dispensed just under half a million products for treating obesity at a cost of £13.9 million. In that year 6,000 or more people underwent obesity ops like gastric bypasses stomach stapling and gastric band maintenance in England alone!

Being overweight can cause a person to have heart problems, this is well known and it is one of the biggest killers in the world. Currently there is a war on sugar as a means of trying to get obesity levels down, but portion sizes, snacking on crisps and chocolate must play a huge part. Before we become too sanctimonious, heart disease and stroke, two of the world’s biggest killers, can be caused by both smoking as well as obesity.

What are the new cigarette laws aimed to decrease the number of smokers?

Do you know that new laws on tobacco and cigarettes is coming into force in a few weeks? Here is all you need to know about the new laws and how it will affect smokers.

What are the new laws?

In a drive by the government to decrease smoking in the UK cigarettes will no longer be available in packs of 10; this includes smaller packs of rolling tobacco too. The news actually came into force in May last year, but suppliers and shops were given a year in order to shift their stockpiles.

The ban comes into effect on May 20th 2017, meaning that you will no longer be able to buy 10 pack of cigarettes and smaller rolling tobacco packs (less than 30 grams). Some flavoured tobacco products including fruit, spice, candy and vanilla will also be banned at the same time.

So, by May 21st the cheapest packet of cigarettes will retail for £8.82, putting more pressure on smokers to cut down or quit altogether.

Many smokers would have noticed that their cigarette packets have change recently too. Branding on tobacco products is being phased out and being replaced by plain packets with graphic health warnings printed on them.

Under the new laws, menthol cigarettes, which many experts say are often aimed at younger smokers are also being phased out. A complete ban on menthol tobacco products will take effect on May 20th 2020.

Why are the rules changing?

Officially known as the Tobacco and Related Products Regulations 2016, it is part of the EU’s Tobacco Products Directive designed to deter young people from starting smoking and help current smokers quit.

The laws are designed to overhaul the sale, advertising and packaging of tobacco products to make smoking less appealing.

What do you think about the new laws? Add your comments below.

NHS Hospital will not enforce a smoking ban on its premises as it would put patients in danger of speeding vehicles

The management of the Royal Bournemouth and Christchurch Hospitals in Dorset have been forced to defend their decision to not to ban smoking in the grounds of its hospital premises. They made the decision not to ban smoking in the grounds of the hospital because, it their opinion, believes doing so would put patients in danger of speeding vehicles. Government health officials have been putting pressure on hospitals and last week Public Health England chief executive Duncan Selbie wrote to all NHS trusts urging them to impose total bans on their premises.

Richard Renaut, who is chief operating officer of Royal Bournemouth and Christchurch Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust, said in defence of the defiance to the pressure from Government: “We currently have a number of designated smoking areas across the Trust and if we ban smoking on our grounds altogether, as we have tried, it pushes staff, patients and visitors to smoke close to the main roads around the hospital which compromises their personal safety, especially at night.” He went on to say that they had tried the ban, but it resulted in forcing smokers dangerously close to the adjacent main road where cars and lorries frequently travel at 50 mph. This is not the only hospital in the area which has defied the Government health officials’ pressure, Poole hospital is also allowing smokers to continue lighting up on their premises in designated shelters “away from the main hospital buildings”.

Naturally, anti-smoking groups have been quick to respond, Deborah Arnott, chief executive of the campaign group ASH, said: “Smoking is still the leading cause of preventable premature death in Britain killing nearly 100,000 people a year compared to less than 2,000 who die from road traffic accidents. The hospital should be doing more to support quitting not facilitating smoking.” The BMA has been quick also, commenting that hospitals were “colluding” and it was “misguided sympathy” Richard Renaut, said that the Bournemouth Hospitals Trust is actively taking proactive measures to help those people who want to quit smoking cigarettes.

Methods such as nicotine replacement in the form of patches can be used to help people. But, as we have seen, vaping is now an increasingly popular method of nicotine delivery and is one favoured by an increasing number of health officials.

Health experts claim postcode lottery is hitting people wanting to quit smoking

The expression “postcode lottery” is very much in vogue at present, even though it has nothing whatsoever to do with winning millions of pounds, although we feel sure there will be one somewhere. Nowadays, it is generally used to determine the performance of public bodies which fall within a certain postal area. This is what happened when evidence, obtained under the Freedom of Information Act, showed that that an increasing number of clinical commissioning groups have been instructing GPs to stop providing help to those wanting to quit smoking.

When, in 2012, local authorities were made responsible for improving public health, they were given £2.8bn of grants, which were, at the time, ring fenced. Since then the grants have been pared back and councils have become more cash strapped and have looked for services to cut to keep the books balanced, cessation of smoking was one area that was hit.

Doctors have been providing treatments such as replacement nicotine therapy in the form of Zyban and Champix. Normally counselling was also provided and the results have been impressive. Figures obtained suggest that nearly a quarter of a million people stopped smoking in the 12 months to April 2015 as a result of using the services, which is success rate of 51%. However, as an example, one County Council Worcestershire has said that services to help quit smoking will only be given to pregnant women.

This of course has put Clinical Commissioning Groups in a difficult position having to explain to patients that the service to help them is no longer available. Other groups have also been similarly affected; East Kent, York and Somerset. Windsor, Ascot and Maidenhead are amongst the increasing numbers.

Pressure groups such as Ash has found that smoking cessation budgets have been cut in almost three in five authorities and it could be that more smokers wanting to stop, or reduce the amount of cigarettes they smoked, will turn to the use of vaping which, according to a recent study funded by Cancer research UK, showed that this was far safer then cigarette use.