UKCTAS researchers awarded multi-million pound grant to tackle tobacco-related harm in Asia & Africa

UKCTAS and the Global Challenges Research Fund

UKCTAS researchers have been awarded a £3.4million grant from Research Councils UK to address tobacco-related harm in Asia and Africa. The programme will run for four years and aims to build capacity for tobacco control research in seven countries in South Asia and Africa.

GCRF-infographicLed by Professor Linda Bauld, UKCTAS Deputy Director based at the University of Stirling, this Global Challenges Research Fund grant provides an example of how UKCTAS is able to bring together members of the UK tobacco control research community to respond to an opportunity to address tobacco use in low and middle income countries.It involves six of the academic teams within the UKCTAS consortia and Cancer Research UK, one of the UKCTAS funders. CRUK is already very active in international tobacco control research.

Professor Bauld said:
Linda_Bauld_UKCTAS.png“UKCTAS has made an important contribution to informing policies and new developments to reduce smoking rates in the UK over the past decade, culminating in the very significant prevalence reductions we’ve seen in the past few years. This is testament to the links we have worked hard to forge with government, NGOs, advocacy groups, professionals and the public who have helped translate our research into practice. Our work on smokefree public places, tobacco taxation, mass media, smoking cessation & stop smoking services, electronic cigarettes & tobacco harm reduction, and our monitoring of tobacco industry activity has all fed into these changes.

Now through this GCRF programme we have a unique opportunity to help build capacity in 7 other countries, all in South Asia and Africa, adding to individual projects and links that UKCTAS members had already forged with some of these teams in recent years. A core element of our Centre has always been training and research development, from PhD through post-doctoral level, training professionals and engaging with stakeholders in the UK and Europe. Now we will be extending this through a substantial new programme of research and capacity building with a particular focus on tobacco taxation, the illicit trade and tobacco industry influence on policy. We will be working with the following list of senior researchers and their teams (below), as well as Alison Cox and her colleagues at Cancer Research UK, over the next four years. We are grateful to Research Councils UK for this opportunity.”

The UK co-applicants on the grant include: Professors John Britton and Andrew Fogarty (Nottingham), Professor Kamran Siddiqi and Dr Steve Parrot (York), Professor Jeff Collin (Edinburgh), Professor Anna Gilmore (Bath) and Professor Ann McNeill (Kings College).

International co-applicants include:

– Dr Wakgari Deressa, Addis Ababa University, Ethiopia
– Dr Muralidhar Madhav Kulkarni, Manipal University, India
– Professor Umberto Dalessandro, MRC Unit, the Gambia
– Dr Monika Arora, Public Health Foundation of India
– Dr Ellis Owusudabo, Kwame Nkrumah University of Science and Technology, Ghana
– Kellen Nyamurungi, CTCA, Makerere University, Uganda
– Dr Rumana Hugue, the ARK Foundation, Bangladesh
– Professor Corne van Walbeek, University of Cape Town, South Africa

 

Collaboration info-graphic showing the different organisations involved in the project:

GCRF-UKCTAS-Presentation-diagram

About the GCRF:

The Global Challenges Research Fund (GCRF) GCRFfullcolourResearch Councils UK Collective Fund is supporting projects in the range of £2 – 8 million over four years. It aims to build upon research knowledge in the UK, and strengthen capacity overseas, to help address challenges, informed by expressed need in the developing countries.

 

Jo Johnson, Minister for Universities and Science, said:
“From healthcare to green energy, the successful projects receiving funding today highlight the strength of the UK’s research base and our leadership in helping developing countries tackle some of the greatest global issues of our time.

“At a time when the pace of scientific discovery and innovation is quickening, we are placing science and research at the heart of our Industrial Strategy to build on our strengths and maintain our status as science powerhouse.”

More information about this grant can be seen on the UKCTAS website.

Notes to editors

· Full list of research partners:
o UK Centre for Tobacco and Alcohol Studies (UKCTAS): Universities of Stirling, Nottingham, York, Edinburgh, Kings College London and Bath.
o Cancer Research UK
o The ARK Foundation, Bangladesh
o Manipal University, India
o The Public Health Foundation of India
o The University of Cape Town, South Africa
o Makerere University, Uganda
o The MRC Unit, The Gambia
o Addis Ababa University, Ethiopia
o Kwame Nkrumah University of Science and Technology, Ghana

· More details on each of the 37 grants can be found in the Growing research capability to meet the challenges faced by developing countries brochure.

· Find out more about the Institute of Social Marketing: www.stir.ac.uk/health-sciences-sport/research/groups/social-marketing.

· Find out more about the UK Centre for Tobacco and Alcohol Studies: ukctas.net

· Find out more about Cancer Research UK’s international tobacco control programme: http://www.cancerresearchuk.org/funding-for-researchers/applying-for-funding/funding-committees/international-tobacco-advisory-group

· Find out more about tobacco consumption via the World Health Organisation: www.who.int/mediacentre/factsheets/fs339/en/

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UKCTAS comment on the latest tobacco control plan for England: “Towards a smoke-free generation”

The new tobacco control plan, ‘Towards a smoke free generation’ is a welcome restatement of the government’s commitment to reduce the prevalence, and hence the burden of death and disability caused, by smoking. The recognition that harm reduction strategies can play a key role in achieving these ambitions is applauded, and puts the UK at the forefront of global tobacco policy. However, the ambition to reduce adult smoking in England from 15.5% to 12% by 2022, representing as it does a reduction of 0.5 of a percentage point per year, is modest given that smoking prevalence has fallen by 2.9 percentage points in the last three years.

Recognising reducing smoking in pregnancy as a priority, and aiming to reduce prevalence in pregnancy to 6% or less, is welcome but will not be achieved without adequate resources, improved care pathways and addressing significant gaps in training for midwives and obstetricians. The commitment to make NHS inpatient mental health settings smoke-free by 2018 is long overdue, but it is disappointing that the same strong commitment is not extended to other NHS settings.

The ambition to make stop-smoking services more available is also welcome, but like the commitments to NHS settings and for pregnancy requires funding: when public health budgets are being slashed, how will local authorities afford to increase their smoking service provision?

What matters now is delivery: Action to achieve and exceed these ambitions is the next and crucial step

PDF of the Press Release

Vaping may help explain the record fall in UK smoking rates – Press Release with comments from UKCTAS Directors

UK smoking rates showed a record annual fall between 2015 and 2016 of 1.5 percentage points, based on new statistics released today [Link]. The prevalence of smoking among people aged 18 and above in 2016 was 15.8%, the lowest on record. This dramatic reduction is also the second largest annual fall in the last 40 years.

The UK is an international leader in smoking prevention policy, having introduced high tobacco taxes, a comprehensive advertising ban, prohibited smoking in public places, taken tobacco products out of sight in shops, establishing specialist stop-smoking services and a range of other measures. These policies have caused a sustained downward trend in adult smoking prevalence over the past two decades. Over the past five years, however, the rate of decline has increased substantially, falling by 4.4 percentage points, from 20.2%, since 2011.

Today’s new figures indicate UK smoking is falling faster than would be expected from conventional tobacco control approaches. While all the policies put in place will have made a difference, the most likely explanation for the recent rapid decline is the increasing use by smokers of electronic cigarettes as a substitute for tobacco. Data released by ASH last month estimated that there are now 1.5m people in the UK who used to smoke but now instead use electronic cigarettes.

Professor John Britton said:
“Electronic cigarettes were patented in 2004 but we began to see their use in the UK from around 2010. Since then the proportion of smokers using them has risen steadily. They have rapidly become the most popular aid to stopping smoking, and are now used in more than one third of quit attempts. At first we were unsure what their impact on smoking rates would be, but today’s figures suggest that alongside established tobacco control policies, they may have significantly accelerated the downward trend in smoking”

“Overall these findings vindicate UK policy on vaping: and that doing more to encourage more smokers to make the switch could generate huge benefits in public health: especially among those groups in society where smoking remains common.”

Professor Ann McNeill said:
“Since the millennium the UK has implemented a comprehensive tobacco control strategy to encourage and support smokers to stop and to deter young people from taking up smoking. This strategy included encouraging smokers to switch from deadly cigarettes to less harmful forms of nicotine including electronic cigarettes. It is really important that the new government continues this comprehensive approach and publishes its new Tobacco Control Plan as soon as possible, particularly given the need to tackle inequalities in smoking rates across society. In times of austerity, tobacco control is a good investment, as it benefits not just smokers and their families, but services like the NHS which bear the enormous costs of treating smoking-related illnesses”

Professor Linda Bauld added:
“The UK has taken a liberal approach to vaping, supporting the use of these consumer products for smokers who choose to use them. This has been controversial, and other countries have taken a much more restrictive approach. These new prevalence figures for adults, alongside steady declines in youth smoking uptake, suggest that electronic cigarettes may turn out to be a game changer for tobacco control. However, we know that many smokers are still wary of these products and think they are as harmful as tobacco. That needs to change if the positive trend we see from today’s figures is to be maintained.”

• Adult smoking habits in the UK: 2016 – Released 15 June 2017 External Link

• Smoking statistics in England – 15 June 2017 – Latest smoking compendium report signposting to all the up-to-date smoking data. External Link

 

Download the PDF version of this Press Release

 

The Cochrane Tobacco Addiction Group’s 20th anniversary priority setting project report.

Cochrane TAG anniversary Twitter banner
The Cochrane Tobacco Addiction Group (TAG) conducts and facilitates systematic reviews and meta-analyses of the research evidence for tobacco cessation and prevention interventions. The group was founded in 1996 and in 2016 they conducted a stakeholder engagement project to celebrate the 20th anniversary of TAG and to identify future research priorities for the group and the wider tobacco control community.
 
 

The objective of the project was to:

  • Raise awareness of Cochrane TAG and what has been achieved so far.
  • Identify areas where further research is needed in the areas of tobacco control and smoking cessation.
  • Identify specific goals for Cochrane TAG
  • To explore novel ways to disseminate the findings of tobacco research, and Cochrane TAG’s findings.

The survey and workshop resulted in 183 unanswered research questions in the areas of tobacco, quitting smoking and eight priority research areas, including:

  • ‘addressing inequalities’
  • ‘treatment delivery’
  • electronic cigarettes’
  • ‘initiating quit attempts’
  • ‘young people’
  • ‘mental health and substance abuse’
  • ‘population-level interventions’
  • ‘pregnancy’

_NAS8348_web

Stakeholders who attended the workshop also discussed ways that the public health community and Cochrane TAG could act to move the field of tobacco control forward.

Through this report, Cochrane TAG want to share the identified unanswered questions with the wider tobacco research community to help them to decide the most important research to focus on in the future, and to decide the most important things to work on for Cochrane TAG.

This will involve updating existing reviews, beginning reviews on new topics, and looking in more detail at Cochrane TAG’s research methods.

Contrary to popular belief there are still many important unanswered questions in the field of tobacco control. In addition, it has been noted that many of the results of tobacco control questions are not always reaching their intended targets. Tobacco control stakeholders provide a rich source of information on how these uncertainties should be prioritised; by using this resource the likelihood that the findings of research are useful and will be implemented is much greater. The project was carried out with the hope that researchers and research funders will be able to use the priorities identified to inform their future practice, in the same way that Cochrane TAG are using them to inform new review topics, updates of reviews and methods development.

Cochrane TAG’s findings and implementation suggestions should be considered alongside the existing evidence base and clinical expertise.

 
Here is the full report of the CTAG taps project!
 
You can open the report and the appendices by clicking on the covers below:
ctag_taps_final_reportctag_taps_final_report_appendices
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

Discussing the future of tobacco addiction research with the Cochrane Tobacco Addiction Group:

The CTAG taps project ran from January-December 2016. Activities carried out from April 2016-December 2016 were funded by the NIHR School for Primary Care Research (SPCR)

Study finds poorest of us at greater risk of harm from heavy drinking.

Drinking heavily is more harmful to the poorest people in society, who are at greater risk of illness or death because of alcohol consumption, according to a recent medical study. Published in medical journal The Lancet Public Health on Wednesday, it found there is a marked link between socio-economic status and the harm caused by drinking alcohol excessively.

Researchers taking part in the study found increased alcohol consumption was “disproportionately harmful” to the poorest in society. Compared with light drinkers in advantaged areas, excessive drinkers were seven times at risk of an increase in alcohol harm.

This contrasted with excessive drinkers in deprived areas, who were 11 times at risk of an increase. Harmful impacts of alcohol are higher in socio-economically disadvantaged communities. However, until now it was unclear whether those were as a result of
differences in drinking or as a result of other factors.

Lead author Dr Vittal Katikireddi, of the University of Glasgow, said:

“Our study finds that the poorest in society are at greater risk of alcohol’s harmful impacts on health, but this is not because they are drinking more or more often binge drinking.

“Experiencing poverty may impact on health, not only through leading an unhealthy lifestyle but also as a direct consequence of poor material circumstances and psychosocial stresses. Poverty may, therefore, reduce resilience to disease, predisposing people to greater health harms of alcohol.

The authors linked different sets of data to bring together information from Scottish Health Surveys with electronic health records, studying more than 50,000 people.
It suggested that even when other factors are accounted for, including smoking and obesity, living in deprived areas was consistently associated with higher alcohol-related harms. Researchers defined harm from alcohol consumption based on deaths, hospital visits and prescriptions that were attributable to alcohol.

Study co-author Dr Elise Whitley said:

“Heavier drinking is associated with greater alcohol-related harm in all individuals. However, our study suggests that the harm is greater in those living in poorer areas or who have a lower income, fewer qualifications or a manual occupation.

Responding to the study published on Wednesday in The Lancet Public Health which found that drinking heavily is more harmful to the poorest people in society. Professor Sir Ian Gilmore, chair of the Alcohol Health Alliance UK (AHA), said:

“The findings in this study are worrying if not altogether surprising. It is clear that the way alcohol is being sold and promoted in Scotland and elsewhere in the UK is harming some of the most vulnerable people in society. On the other hand, we know what needs to be done, in particular to tackle the scourge of cheap alcohol. In real terms, alcohol is 60% cheaper than it was in 1980 and measures like strength based pricing would disproportionately benefit the poorest groups, in terms of reduced deaths, illness and hospital admissions.

Studies have shown that 82% of the lives saved through minimum unit pricing would come from the lowest income groups. Overall, in the first year alone minimum unit pricing in Scotland is expected to save 60 lives and lead to 1,600 fewer hospital admissions and 3,500 fewer crimes, yet its introduction has been held up for years by alcohol industry legal challenges.

Importantly, minimum unit pricing would leave pub prices untouched, and moderate drinkers would spend only about £2.25 extra per year with a 50p minimum price.”

This is even more evidence of the Alcohol Harm Paradox, which refers to observations that lower socioeconomic status (SES) groups consume less alcohol but experience more alcohol-related problems. However, SES is a complex concept and its observed relationship to social problems often depends on how it is measured and the demographic groups studied. A study published in 2016 hoped to deconstruct this idea and assessed socioeconomic patterns of alcohol consumption and related harm using multiple measures of SES and examined moderation of this patterning by gender and age. You can read the research article here: Deconstructing the Alcohol Harm Paradox: A Population Based Survey of Adults in England



Citation of original research article:

Socioeconomic status as an effect modifier of alcohol consumption and harm: analysis of linked cohort data. 

Dr Srinivasa Vittal Katikireddi, Elise Whitley, Jim Lewsey, Linsay Gray, Prof Alastair H Leyland. Published: 10 May 2017 – Open Access DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/S2468-2667(17)30078-6


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A Stop Smoking in Schools Trial: A process evaluation of the implementation of ASSIST in Scotland

…this study has demonstrated that it is feasible and acceptable to deliver the ASSIST programme in Scottish schools,

University of Stirling, Health Sciences

44628469 - cigarettes

In 2014 the Institute for Social Marketing and a team of collaborators were appointed to conduct a process evaluation of ASSIST (A Stop Smoking in Schools Trial). ASSIST is a peer-led, school-based smoking prevention programme that encourages the dissemination of non-smoking norms by training students aged 12-14 to work as peer supporters. ASSIST was previously evaluated via a large cluster randomised trial of 59 schools in South Wales and Avon, England. Results from this trial showed that ASSIST was effective and cost effective at reducing smoking prevalence in young people (Campbell et al 2008), (Hollingworth et al 2012). This led to the wider roll out of ASSIST in parts of England and Wales and more recently in Scotland.

The overall aim of the study was to evaluate the process of implementing ASSIST in Scotland.

Three different delivery models were piloted in three NHS boards. This did not impact on fidelity…

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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.burwalls-2017

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. Pancras, 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!