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September 23rd, 2015:

Danes’ life expectancy worst in western Europe

Danish women have the lowest life expectancy in western Europe and Danish men are also near the bottom, a new report from the World Health Organization (WHO) warned on Wednesday.

According to the WHO’s European Health Report, life expectancy for women in Denmark is the lowest among western European countries.

A girl born in Denmark in 2011 can expect to life to 82.1 years of age while women in Italy, France and Switzerland can enjoy a full three years more. In neighbouring Sweden and Germany, women live more than a year longer than in Denmark.

Life expectancy for Danish men is at just 78 years, which is also near the very bottom amongst western European countries. Only Finnish and Portuguese men live shorter lives and both countries have life expectancies just mere months shorter than that of Danish men. Swedish men outlive their Danish counterparts by nearly two years.

Denmark’s life expectancy figures, however, are above the average of 80.3 years for women and 73.1 years for men among the 52 countries included in WHO’s European Region.

The WHO report showed that Europeans as a whole are getting fatter and are heavier drinkers and smokers than the rest of the world.

“Alcohol consumption, tobacco use and overweight and obesity remain major public health problems in the region. Europe has the highest rates of alcohol and tobacco use in the world and WHO estimates show rises in the prevalence of overweight and obesity between 2010 and 2014 in almost all countries,” the report read.

The European region’s overweight rate of 58.6 percent and obesity rate of 23 percent was behind just the Americas (61 percent overweight, 27 percent obese).

In Denmark, the overweight rate is 55 percent and the obesity rate is at 19 percent. WHO defined overweight as having a body mass index (BMI) of over 25, while obesity was defined as a BMI above 30. A WHO report from May, however, warned that that the number of Danes who are overweight or obese is set to explode by 2030.

See also: Majority of Danes to be overweight in 2030

Europeans average 10.9 litres of alcohol consumption per year, far above the 8.4 litres consumed in the Americas, more than double the amount consumed in the South-East Asia and more than 15 times as much as in the Eastern Mediterranean.

As a whole, the European region also had the world’s highest rate of tobacco use at 30 percent. The WHO warned that the region’s “high rate of tobacco use means that it has one of the highest proportions of deaths attributable to tobacco use globally”.

Denmark, however, had the second lowest overall smoking rates behind Iceland.

Opposition to House’s Kretek Protection Bid Heats Up

Jakarta. Stern opposition continues to mount among government officials and anti-smoking activists against a bid by the House of Representatives to recognize kretek, Indonesia’s clove-flavored cigarettes, as an item of cultural heritage.

The move, in amendments being proposed for the 2010 Cultural Heritage Law, would effectively make it harder for the government to impose restrictions on kretek sales and advertising, and in fact oblige the state to support the manufacture and promotion of the cancer sticks.

“Not every traditional custom must be developed and preserved,” Education Minister Anies Baswedan said on Wednesday, “especially when it would condone smoking among students. We definitely disagree [with the House’s proposal].”

The Health Ministry has also spoken out against the move, saying it threatens to undermine the government’s ongoing efforts to educate the Indonesian public – a population where three-fifths of adult males smoke – about the dangers of smoking.

“By being including in the bill, kretek would no longer be considered dangerous [to health],” said Lily Sulityowati, the ministry’s director of non-communicable diseases.

Kartono Muhammad, the chairman of the Association of Indonesian Public Health Experts’ Tobacco Control Support Center (TCSC), said that if passed into legislation, the proposal would be “a setback to the country’s efforts at tobacco control.”

Kartono told the Jakarta Globe on Wednesday that promoting kretek would encourage and justify smoking among minors across the country.

“Passing the bill is similar to poisoning the next generations,” he said.

One in three Indonesian youths aged 13 to 15 smokes regularly, with half of them addicted to nicotine, according to the 2014 Global Tobacco Adult Survey.

“Another risk to this plan is that kretek will get special treatment in sales and advertising,” Kartono said.

He added he suspected the newly announced proposal was an attempt to head off a possible tobacco excise hike. Indonesia already has among the lowest cigarette prices in the world, with the excise accounting for 46 percent of the total price of a pack of smokes – far less than the level of 70 percent recommended by the World Health Organization.

“There may be some wheeling and dealing going on between legislators and cigarette producers,” Kartono said.

The timing of the House’s proposal has raised more than a few eyebrows, coming just as the cigarette producers’ association, or Gappri railed against a government proposal to raise the tobacco excise. The group claimed on Tuesday that producers had been forced to lay off 15,000 workers this year as demand weakens, and that any increase in prices would lead to further job losses.

Vice President Jusuf Kalla has also expressed his disapproval of the promotion of kretek in the draft, but said he was confident it would not make it through to the final legislation.

“It’s just a draft that will be discussed at the House. Of course kretek shouldn’t be included,” he told reporters at his office on Tuesday.

Kartono argued that leaving kretek off the list of cultural heritage would not have any negative impacts on clove farmers or the tobacco industry as a whole.

“Smoking kretek is only a habit – a very bad one – not a culture,” he said.

People in addiction treatment programs more likely to use tobacco

People in addiction treatment programs around the world use tobacco at two to three times the rate of people who are not being treated for addiction, according to a review of research studies from 20 countries other than the United States.

The review, led by Joseph R. Guydish, PhD, a UC San Francisco professor of medicine and health policy, was published on Tuesday, Sept. 22, 2015 in the journal Addiction.

“When people come into treatment for drugs and alcohol, we are not treating another addiction that has a significant chance of eventually killing them, which is tobacco use,” said Guydish. “At a public health level, this means that our addiction treatment efforts should address smoking and tobacco use better than they do now.”

Guydish and his team reviewed 54 studies, involving a total of 37,364 participants in 20 countries on six continents, which were published in English from 1987 to 2013. They found that among people in treatment for drug and alcohol use, the overall rate of smoking was 84 percent, compared with a rate of 31 percent for members of the general population, matched for gender and year of study.

The results agree with an earlier review led by Guydish of smoking addiction treatment programs in the U.S. In that paper, the authors found that the median smoking rate among people in addiction treatment was 76.3 percent, in contrast with the smoking rate in the general U.S. population, which is now estimated at less than 18 percent.
“Every person who enters substance abuse treatment ought to have their tobacco use evaluated and treated,” said Guydish. “If they don’t want to be treated and quit right away, they should have some education to help them think more about quitting.”

Guydish observed that “there are data from a number of studies which strongly suggest that you can improve substance treatment outcomes by addressing smoking among the patients in treatment. That’s what we should be doing.”

The World Health Organization (WHO) has created a policy package called MPOWER, noted Guydish, which is designed to assist countries in implementing anti-smoking initiatives. “We would recommend that WHO pay attention to this finding and use it to extend their MPOWER strategies,” said Guydish. “Anyone who is interested in smoking reduction internationally could use this information at the policy level.”

Europeans, world champions in drinking, eating and smoking

LONDON – Europe has the world’s highest rates of drinking and smoking, and more than half its people are too fat, putting them at high risk of heart disease, cancer and other deadly illnesses, health officials warned on Wednesday.

In a report on health in its European region, the WHO said that while many countries had reduced risk factors for premature death, rates of obesity, tobacco use and alcohol consumption “remain alarmingly high”.

“Europeans drink and smoke more than anyone else. We are world champions – and it’s not a good record,” said Claudia Stein, WHO Europe’s head of information, evidence, research and innovation.

She said this could have the most serious impact on young people, since their lives may be shortened unless something is done to reduce consumption of tobacco, alcohol and kilojoules.

Just under 60 percent of people in the WHO’s European region are either overweight or obese, and 30 percent use tobacco. Some 11 litres of pure alcohol is drunk per person per year.

The report found that for now, life expectancy is increasing across Europe and the region is on track for reducing premature mortality by 1.5 percent a year until 2020.

This means that the number of people whose lives are cut short by cardiovascular diseases, cancer, diabetes and chronic respiratory diseases is steadily declining, it said.

Since the last European health report in 2012, substantial improvements have also been seen in rates of death from external causes, such as road traffic accidents and suicides, it found.

Zsuzsanna Jakab, WHO’s European regional director, applauded the improvements in health and the steady gains in life expectancy but added a warning. “There is a very real risk that these gains will be lost if smoking and alcohol consumption continue at the current rate,” she said.

The report also looked at vaccination rates and found generally good levels of coverage.

Average measles immunisation coverage rose from 93.4 percent in 2010, to 93.7 percent in 2011 and 94.6 percent in 2012 and is steadily increasing.

However, gaps in immunity “still account for ongoing endemic transmission and have led to a number of outbreaks of measles and rubella in recent years”, the report said.

This year, four deaths from measles have been reported in the region, and one child has died of diphtheria – the first case in three decades.

British American Tobacco turns to ecigarettes to stay ahead but share price closed on five-day low

British American Tobacco (BAT) yesterday signed a conditional agreement to buy ecigarette manufacturer CHIC for an undisclosed sum.

BAT hopes to extend its reach through Europe and expand beyond its tobacco cigarettes to make the most of the growing ecigarette movement – which are widely viewed as a healthier option.

CHIC, Poland’s e-cigarette market-leader, makes brands including Volish and has an e-liquids production plant as well as research and development labs.

The proposed acquisition is subject to approval from the Polish anti-trust authority.

BAT also announced it has signed a vapour products research and technology-sharing deal with R.J. Reynolds Tobacco.

Vapour technologies provide nicotine via aerosols in products.

The alliance provides a framework for mutual cross-licensing of vapour product technologies up to 31 December 2022. The collaboration also includes joint R&D projects.

Investors were less convinced by the move, and BAT shares closed down 2.8 per cent, a five-day low.

British American Tobacco on a roll with innovation, Citi says–872515.html

The medium-term outlook for British American Tobacco is “strong” but the firm is facing earnings downgrades from analysts related to movements in foreign exchange markets and price roll-backs in Australia, one large broker said to clients after the company’s Investor Day.

Nonetheless, innovation is allowing the company to grow market share.

Company on a roll with new products

At its investor day the firm presented two new-to-world innovations, a hybrid device combining actual tobacco and e-cigarettes to improve taste and a new heat-not-burn product. Both were expected to launch in 2016.

Those product innovations were also getting to market at an accelerated pace, as shown by the introduction of its “Tubes” across 27bn sticks, representing approximately 4% of global volumes in 2014.

The firm was also beginning to mix its innovations.

“Although “innovation” is an old story at BAT, we believe that BAT has significantly upped its game, and in future it should be able to roll out new ideas even faster,” the analyst team led by Adam Spielman said in a research note sent to clients.

Headwinds blowing from emerging markets

Nonetheless, price hikes Down Under were impossible to carry out in September and profits in South Africa were on the slide, the analysts at Citi added.

The weakening Brazilian real and other currencies also meant the total FX ‘hit’ for the fiscal year 2015 was now seen rising to 16% versus prior guidance for 15%.

Citi kept its recommendation on the shares unchanged at ‘buy’ with a target price of 4000p

Your E-Cig Isn’t Cool and Isn’t Helping You Quit Smoking, Study Says

The study, from the U.S. Preventive Services Task Force, says there isn’t enough evidence to support whether or not e-cigs might help smokers quit. “It’s not a statement saying that doctors should not advise people to use them,”

Dr. Albert Siu, chair of the USPSTF told Time. “It’s certainly not a statement endorsing them. There simply are not [enough] studies out there.” A better means of quitting than e-cigarettes: Good old fashioned one-on-one help, counseling and self-help methods. Plus, you’ll look cooler lashing out at your friends and family from withdrawal stress than puffing on a glowing piece of plastic.

As Time points out:

Given that there are more unknowns about e-cigarettes at this point than there are known benefits, Siu says the committee could not make any determination about whether they should be part of a smoking cessation program.

Concerns about the compounds in e-cigarettes, as well as their consistency and quality, could make them potentially more harmful than helpful. Maybe this will persuade people to, as Colin Farrell once said, not look like they’re “sucking a robot’s dick.”

Draft Recommendation Statement

Tobacco Smoking Cessation in Adults and Pregnant Women: Behavioral and Pharmacotherapy Interventions

This opportunity for public comment expired on June 1, 2015 at 8:00 PM EST

Note: This is a Draft Recommendation Statement. This draft is distributed solely for the purpose of receiving public input. It has not been disseminated otherwise by the USPSTF. The final Recommendation Statement will be developed after careful consideration of the feedback received and will include both the Research Plan and Evidence Review as a basis.

Recommendations made by the USPSTF are independent of the U.S. government. They should not be construed as an official position of the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality or the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services.


Smoking in numbers: Do e-cigarettes help Scots quit?

RESULTS from the annual Scottish Health Survey found that 1 in 20 Scots now use electric cigarettes.

The figures, which were published yesterday, found 5 per cent of Scottish adults regularly use e-cigarettes, with triple that number having tried them.

Younger age groups are more likely to use e-cigarettes

Younger age groups are more likely to use e-cigarettes

The annual survey, for which nearly 4,700 adults in Scotland were interviewed, gives a snapshot of the nation’s health as well as the smoking habits of Scots.

One in five (22 percent) of those over 16 in Scotland now define themselves as smokers, a proportion similar to 2013 levels.
Among the group of ex-smokers surveyed, 7 per cent were found to currently use e-cigarettes while 14 per cent said they had never used them. When asked about what they had used in

their most recent attempt to quit, 64 per cent of recent ex-smokers and current smokers say they’d used nicotine replacement therapy (NRT) or e-cigarettes.

The most common items used during their recent quit attempts were nicotine patches (36 per cent) and e-cigarettes (32 per cent).

Research Director at ScotCen Social Research Diarmid Campbell-Jack said: “These findings confirm that e-cigarettes are being used by a small, but not insignificant proportion of people in Scotland with one in every twenty saying that they currently use electric cigarettes.

“It’s important that the role of e-cigarettes isn’t overestimated, particularly until more is known about their long term consequences, however the more that we see a decline in usage of tobacco cigarettes the better for the future of health in Scotland.”

Commisioned by the Scottish government the health report, has been running annually for 20 years.

The study also found evidence to suggest that smokers from the most deprived areas are more than twice as likely to smoke compared to those from the least deprived.

Maureen Watt, Scottish Government Minister for Public Health, said: “This survey gives us some useful information about what the situation is in Scotland.

“Further research on the health impacts of e-cigarettes on both users and bystanders is needed, and we will continue to monitor evidence. However, current evidence suggests e-cigarettes are far less harmful than tobacco and if using them helps smokers quit entirely then that is to be welcomed.”

The use of e-cigarettes as a potential coping mechanism by smokers attempting to quit has been noted by some health campaigners.

Sheila Duffy, Chief Executive of health charity Action on Smoking and Health (ASH) Scotland said: “It’s encouraging that the majority of adults who smoke in Scotland want to quit and for some, e-cigarettes seem to be an acceptable alternative to smoking, or a way of quitting cigarettes. Scotland has a vision for putting cigarettes – the most lethal and addictive consumer product on open sale – out of sight, out of mind and out of fashion for the next generation.

“There are still many unknowns about e-cigarettes but what we do know suggests that lit, smoked tobacco is a lot more harmful to health. Even low levels of smoking are dangerous, and I’d encourage people using both cigarettes and e-cigarettes to drop tobacco as soon as possible.

“Different ways of quitting work for different smokers. Some people find it easier than they expected just to stop. Some find they need nicotine replacement therapy or other medicines. For some, changing their habits works best. There is free expert advice on stopping smoking available from local stop smoking services and pharmacies.”