Burwalls Annual Meeting for Teachers of Medical Statistics | University of Nottingham | 26-28th June 2017

Booking is now open for the Burwalls 2017 meeting which is being held at the University of Nottingham’s beautiful University Park campus towards the west of the city.

It is a great opportunity to share and network with other teachers of medical statistics who teach undergraduate medical students and health professionals.

The conference will open on Monday 26 June at 12.30pm, and close at 12.30pm on Wednesday 28 June.

A Programme will be available in the next few weeks and booking and will remain open until Monday 15th May at 5pm.

Getting there: Nottingham is easily accessible by train and coach. Frequent trains run direct from London St. Pancreas, Leicester, Derby, Sheffield and Birmingham, with connections to the north of England and Scotland and the South West. More information on train times and routes, see www.nationalrail.co.uk

Coaches arrive and depart from Broadmarsh bus station in the centre of the city and there are regular services to London, Derby and other destinations.

Full details of travel to/around Nottingham can be found here.

Car Parking: Parking is free of charge for registered delegates who will be issued with a permit for the duration of the conference. Car parking requirements will be requested at the time of booking.

More information: If you have any questions or would like more information about the event, please contact either:

Matthew Grainge, Conference organiser and Associate Professor of Medical Statistics (matthew.grainge@nottingham.ac.uk)
Graeme Docherty, Research Coordinator (graeme.docherty@nottingham.ac.uk)

More information and how to book your place!

Cheap cider and an alcohol duty system that incentivises harmful practice

APE: Alcohol Policy and Epidemiology

Cheap alcohol and its association with harmful drinking have been at the centre of UK alcohol policy debate for almost a decade. Public health advocates have presented minimum unit pricing as a solution, but legal wrangles, political U-turns and the fine detail of devolution mean that the policy remains unimplemented in any UK country.

With their first choice policy on hold and a budget on the horizon, the Alcohol Health Alliance has, instead, turned its attention to taxation. The focus is on strong cider and the UK’s quirky system of alcohol duties which levies a uniquely low tax rate on some high strength ciders. This means that products such as Frosty Jack’s can be sold at budget prices. Indeed, you can help yourself to three litres of the stuff (equivalent to 24 shots of vodka or 22.5 units) from Iceland today for £3.50. These high strength, low cost ‘white…

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Report launch: New issues and age-old challenges: a review of young people’s relationship with tobacco | 27/02/17

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Join Prof Amanda Amos and Prof Marcus Munafo to discuss the current landscape, challenges and opportunities including a focus on young people, tobacco and mental health.

Please book your free please here>

The face of youth smoking in the UK is evolving.  Young people are growing up in a society radically disrupted by new technologies and societal norms, which are reshaping their perceptions of personal health, image, and values.

New issues and age-old challenges: a review of young people’s relationship with tobacco, brings together the available evidence on youth smoking and articulates a clear demand for action across the system.

Martin Dockrell from Public Health England will chair the panel session.

Full agenda is available here>

Thinking about Drinking: A Year in the Life of an Alcohol Researcher at Stirling

Niamh was active in helping the media understand the implications of theniamhfitzgerald 2016 new alcohol guidelines. In this blog post she discusses what happened as a result of the publication of the new guidelines and how the media portray the facts in their own way.

By Niamh Fitzgerald, Research Profile, @NiamhCreate

Journalists love a good alcohol story, especially at this time of year, and January 2016 gave them the ideal ammunition with the publication of new advice from the UK’s Chief Medical Officers (CMOs) designed to provide people with ‘accurate information and clear advice about alcohol and its health risks’.  For the first time, the guidance advised that ‘no level of regular drinking can be considered completely safe’ and advised the same limit for both men and women – not to regularly drink above 14 units of alcohol (about 1 and a half bottles of wine) per week, at the same time moving away from the previous daily limits.  The guidance was based on a lengthy process involving experts from around the UK including Prof. Gerard Hastings (from Stirling) and followed emerging evidence on the links between alcohol and cancer – kicking off a furore of media coverage.

Media coverage following the publication of the new guidelines

The Daily Mail led with the news that the guidelines would ‘put a stop to the belief that red wine is good for you in moderation, while the Sun also focused on this ‘plonk lovers’ shock’ as the CMO’s ‘rubbished’ the supposed health benefits of wine.

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Others focused on the cancer risk, with the Scotsman leading with ‘drinkers at risk of cancer from single glass of wine’; whereas the Telegraph headline was ‘health chiefs attacked for nanny state alcohol guidelines’.  It was a frantic week for colleagues and I at the Institute for Social Marketing (ISM) as we sought to capture all of the newspaper, television and radio coverage for future analysis.  As Lecturer in Alcohol Studies at ISM, and lead for teaching and public engagement on alcohol for the UK Centre for Tobacco and Alcohol Studies (UKCTAS), I was interviewed about the new guidelines on BBC News for their ‘Ask This’ feature, which takes questions from viewers.  I also had a comment piece published in The Scotsman. Continue reading

#WorldNoTobaccoDay: Linda Bauld and the road to standardised tobacco packaging @bmj_latest

“The road to standardised tobacco packaging in the UK”

Every year in the United Kingdom around 200 000 children start smoking. Half of those who try a cigarette will become regular smokers, putting themselves at risk of tobacco related diseases that can shorten their lifespan by at least a decade. Because of this, the UK and other governments have implemented a range of tobacco control measures over many years, which are intended to both prevent smoking uptake and encourage smoking cessation. Key among these have been measures to restrict the ability of the tobacco industry to market their products to new and existing smokers.

Firstly, traditional forms of advertising such as TV and billboards were banned, followed by sports sponsorship, and, most recently, point of sale displays in shops. All that was left was tobacco packaging: a way to communicate to consumers the appeal of the product and to promote different brands.

My team at the University of Stirling has conducted research on tobacco marketing for many years, funded by Cancer Research UK. Most recently we undertook our own studies on tobacco packaging, and then in 2011 were commissioned by the Department of Health to review all the evidence on plain or “standard packs.” Our review provided the basis for a UK consultation on the issue. At the time we found 37 studies, conducted in different countries and using a variety of research designs. Their findings were consistent. The studies showed that standard packs are: less appealing, increase the visibility and effectiveness of health warnings, and reduce the ability of packaging to mislead people about the harms of smoking.


Continue reading

Experts discuss TPD and #plainpacks legislation that came into effect today!

Today the laws around tobacco packaging have changed! Under new regulations voted for by MPs, tobacco and cigarettes can only be sold in plain, standardised packaging.

The decision to make these changes as a public health measure to protect children’s health was informed by the work of many researchers across the tobacco field. The UK Centre for Tobacco and Alcohol Studies, its stakeholders and our researchers welcome this move to protect the UK population from being advertised to by tobacco branding and attractive images.

A systematic review of evidence of standardised packaging carried out by the Institute of Social Marketing at the University of Stirling showed that standard packs are less appealing, make health warnings more effective, and reduce the ability of the packaging to mislead consumers about the harms of smoking.

Under the new regulations, all tobacco products will be sold in dark green packages, with brand features and bright colours replaced with large graphic images of the effects of smoking and health warnings.

Gerard Hastings, Professor of Social Marketing said: “The introduction of plain packaging is another giant step forward in the fight against tobacco, which is still killing tens of thousands of people every year in Britain. Over the last two decades we have blocked the tobacco industry’s pernicious marketing in the media, in our shops and now on the pack itself.  The big winners will be our children, who will escape being groomed for addiction and early death in the interests of private profit. Today is a day which every parent, every teacher and every child can cheer to the roof tops.”

Martine Stead, Deputy Director of the Institute for Social Marketing said: “We have examined evidence of the potential impact of standardised packaging from Australia, New Zealand, the UK, Canada and France. The evidence is clear: putting cigarettes into plain packs makes tobacco products, and smoking in general, less appealing to young people. People pay more attention to health warnings when packs have no distracting branding on them. The colour is also important as people assume white packs are somehow less harmful than darker coloured packs. This confusion disappears when all packs are the same dark colour.”

Crawford Moodie, Senior Research Fellow, said: “Australia remains the only country to have fully implemented plain packaging. Large national surveys with both adults and youth there show since the regulation was introduced, prevalence and consumption has declined, with fewer adults and young people smoking now than at any time since these surveys began. ,There’s also been an increase in the average age of smoking initiation and the proportion of never smoking. The evidence in favour of plain packaging is now stronger than it has ever been.”

Dr Jenny Hatchard, Research Fellow at the University of Bath said “Our research showed that tobacco company claims that plain packaging “wouldn’t work”, would increase the illicit trade in tobacco and would damage the economy were largely unfounded and based on low quality research. Yesterday’s High Court decision is an important moment for plain packaging and the positive impacts it will have on health.  However, it also sends an important message that public health legislation cannot and should not be undermined by the poor quality evidence and opposition tactics of powerful corporations whose products damage our health.”

Also happening today are changes to the current rules around tobacco related products including e-cigarettes. This includes restrictions around advertising and promotion of e-cigarettes and how products containing different levels of nicotine are regulated.

Commenting on the developments to e-cigarette regulations, Linda Bauld, Professor of Health Policy, said: “Electronic cigarettes are now used by 2.8 million adults in the UK, with almost half of these users being ex-smokers. All existing research suggests that while e-cigarettes shouldn’t be promoted to children who have never smoked, they offer a far safer alternative for people who currently use tobacco.

New EU regulations on e-cigarettes are contained in one specific part of the TPD – Article 20 – which imposes new restrictions on these devices. TPD limits on nicotine concentration, tank size and e-liquid containers are not well supported by existing evidence. Only time will tell if Article 20 has unintended consequences, and this needs to be the focus of future careful research and monitoring.”

Side note: The evidence that e-cigarettes can help and have helped people stop smoking is growing and some people are worried that Article 20 of the TPD will affect the success of these products and have a substantial impact on the almost 3 million current vapers currently in the UK. This lead the House of Lords to table Article 20 of the TPD until June 20th at which time representatives will vote whether or not to implement that part of the legislation. With the EU referendum due soon after, the result of the vote will have huge ramifications on voters’ decision to vote to stay/leave the EU, a debate that is increasingly becoming polarised from both sides of the argument. Read more here.

Text taken from University of Stirling, University of Bath and UKCTAS.net