Upcoming Tobacco & Alcohol courses now taking applications: limited places available!

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“Tobacco Control Interventions”
29th Jan – 2nd Feb 2018
University of Nottingham

Closing date for applications: 16th January 2018

This year we will be discussing important factors in tobacco control including; youth smoking, the role of the tobacco industry, use of mass media for smoking prevention and cessation, smokefree legislation, harm reduction and the neurobiology of nicotine addiction.


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“Alcohol, Problems, Policy & Practice” 
5th – 9th February 2018
Kings College London

Early bird deadline: 21st December 2017

The course is a mixture of blended learning, with face-to-face lectures being held in February 2018. It is open to all UKCTAS researchers as well as students of the MSc in Addiction Studies.


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“Nicotine and Tobacco CPD”
21st – 24th May 2018
University of Stirling

Early bird deadline: 28th February 2018

In addition to the topics covered on our previous tobacco control CPD, we will also be examining in detail the current evidence on tobacco harm reduction, electronic cigarettes and other nicotine-containing devices.


More information about these courses can be found on our website @ UKCTAS.net

Clearing the air around e-cigarettes

Fears that “vaping” is a gateway to tobacco smoking are unfounded, shows a comprehensive review of available evidence on the harms and benefits of electronic or e-cigarettes and vapour devices, released today by University of Victoria’s Centre for Addictions Research of BC (CARBC) in a report called “Clearing the Air.”

Researchers surveyed the rapidly increasing academic literature on e-cigarettes and found evidence that vaping is replacing—rather than encouraging—the smoking of tobacco cigarettes among young people. The CARBC researchers identified 1,622 articles on the topic, of which 170 were relevant to their review. Evidence shows that tobacco use by youth has been declining while use of vapour devices has been increasing.

“Fears of a gateway effect are unjustified and overblown,” says principal investigator Marjorie MacDonald. “From a public health perspective, it’s positive to see youth moving towards a less harmful substitute to tobacco smoking.”

Among their other observations, CARBC researchers found strong evidence that the vapour from e-cigarettes is less toxic than tobacco cigarette smoke. Vapour devices do not release tar, and vapour emissions contain only eighteen of the 79 toxins found in cigarette smoke, including considerably lower levels of certain cancer causing agents and volatile organic compounds (VOCs). Almost all substances tested were substantially lower, or not detected, in vapour devices compared to cigarettes.

In addition, vapour from electronic devices is airborne for less than 30 seconds compared to 18 to 20 minutes for tobacco smoke, substantially reducing the time of second-hand exposure.

Researchers caution, however, that some vapour devices may contain potentially concerning levels of metals and particulate matter, noting that there has been insufficient research regarding some significant carcinogens that may still be present.

Finally, they found encouraging evidence that vapour devices could be at least as effective as other nicotine replacements as aids to help tobacco smokers quit.

“The public has been misled about the risks of e-cigarettes,” concludes Tim Stockwell, CARBC director and co-principal investigator. “Many people think they are as dangerous as smoking tobacco but the evidence shows this is completely false.”

A media kit containing author photos, full report (for media only, not for publication), and an infographic is available on Dropbox. An executive summary is available here.

Click here to read the original story on University of Victoria’s website.

Media contacts:
Tim Stockwell (Director, UVic’s Centre for Addictions Research) at 250-472-5445 or timstock@uvic.ca
Marjorie MacDonald (Scientist, UVic’s Centre for Addictions Research/Nursing) at 250-472-4399 or marjorie@uvic.ca
Suzanne Ahearne (University Communications + Marketing) at 250-721-6139 or sahearne@uvic.ca

Experts say WHO needs better understanding of the evidence on e-cigs to inform its international tobacco control treaty.

A new WHO report fails to properly evaluate the evidence on e-cigarettes and could even undermine international efforts to reduce smoking, says a group of UK based academics.

UK academics are calling for better understanding of the potential benefits of e-cigarettes to reducing the smoking pandemic ahead of an international gathering of countries that have signed the World Health Organisation’s Framework Convention for Tobacco Control.

The 7th session of the Conference of the Parties (COP) of the Framework Convention on Tobacco Control (FCTC), a global public health treaty, will be held in Delhi, India from 7th-12th November 2016. At this meeting, Parties to the treaty (countries and other jurisdictions) will discuss whether similar policy measures recommended to reduce tobacco use should be applied to e-cigarettes.

In advance of the COP the World Health Organisation published a report about Electronic Nicotine Delivery Systems (ENDS) and Electronic Non-Nicotine Delivery Systems (ENDDS), also known as e-cigarettes. This aimed to summarise the evidence about these devices.

Academics from the UK Centre for Tobacco and Alcohol Studies, a UKCRC Public Health Research Centre of Excellence, have today published a robust critique of the WHO report setting out a series of concerns about the content of the document which, in their view, screen-shot-2016-10-26-at-12-37-14does not fairly represent existing evidence on e-cigarettes. Their critique examines each element of the WHO report and identifies flaws in the way the evidence is presented and problems with how the report could be interpreted, potentially encouraging countries to adopt excessive restrictions on e-cigarettes which could undermine efforts to reduce smoking.

The UKCTAS critique points to evidence set out in the recent Royal College of Physician’s’ report ‘Nicotine without Smoke’ and subsequent research which recognise that e-cigarettes are far less harmful than smoking and that smokers who find it difficult to stop should be encouraged to use them.

The WHO report fails to accurately present what is already known about e-cigarettes. In particular, it: positions e-cigarettes as a threat rather than an opportunity to reduce smoking; fails to accurately quantify any risks of e-cigarettes compared with smoking; misrepresents existing evidence about any harms to bystanders; discounts the fact that e-cigarettes are helping smokers to quit; does not recognise the place of some promotion of e-cigarettes to encourage smokers to switch to these less harmful products; fails to understand that the flavours in e-cigarettes are useful for people trying to stop smoking; mischaracterises the current e-cigarette market screen-shot-2016-10-26-at-12-39-18and appears to support very restrictive policies on e-cigarettes without including any good policy analysis. In addition, the WHO report does not acknowledge that significant restrictions on e-cigarettes could lead to unintended consequences, including increases in smoking.

Finally, the researchers point out that the WHO briefing is based on four unpublished papers which are still undergoing peer review, which does not allow for open, transparent scrutiny of the evidence. This does not, therefore, provide a good basis for policy making and risks undermining rather than promoting the aims of the FCTC, which is a treaty that was designed to help countries reduce smoking rates and save lives.

To read the full report click here.

Continue reading

Alcohol, Problems, Policy and Practice Course returns to King’s College London in February 2017

After a successful launch of the module in February 2016 we are delighted to announce the Alcohol, Problems, Policy and Practice module will return in 2017 to King’s College London. In 2017 we have confirmed a large number of top class speakers to discuss important areas of this public health issue. With topics ranging from alcohol and pregnancy, alcohol marketing and brief interventions, we can guarantee this course is invaluable to anyone working in this area.

 

MAIN AIMS OF THE MODULE:flyer2017amm

• Enhance students’ understanding of research methods by focusing on current research in alcohol policy and interventions.
• Enable critical appraisal of evidence in alcohol policy interventions.
• Explore the role and perspectives of key stakeholders including the alcohol industry and the role of media and marketing in alcohol use.

WHO IS ORGANISING THE COURSE?

This module is coordinated by the Addictions Department at King’s College London jointly with the UK Centre for Tobacco and Alcohol Studies (UKCTAS) and has been facilitated by Prof. Ann Mcneill, Dr. Niamh Fitzgerald and Dr. Sadie Boniface.

WHO IS PRESENTING?

Leading academics from King’s College London and across the 13 universities in the UKCTAS will present and discuss the latest evidence. Speakers will also include Dr. Matt Egan (LSHTM), Dr. Zarnie Khadjesari (KCL), Prof. Gerard Hastings (Stirling), Prof. Ann McNeill (KCL), Dr. Niamh Fitzgerald (Stirling), Dr. Ben Hawkins (LSHTM) and many others. Many of the inputs have broader public health relevance beyond alcohol, to other health issues such as tobacco, obesity and inequalities. An updated programme will be available later in 2016.

HOW WILL THE COURSE BE STRUCTURED?

The module will be delivered via blended learning with online materials available from January 2017, followed by a week of classroom sessions the week commencing 6th February 2017.

WHO CAN ATTEND?

In 2017 we will be opening the course to UKCTAS affiliated organisations and those working in public health, community safety or a related field. If you are unsure about its suitability for your needs or for information about fees, please contact Dr. Sadie Boniface (sadie.boniface@kcl.ac.uk)

PLACES ARE LIMITED!

Places will be allocated on a first come, first served basis.
Student numbers are capped at 40 to ensure an effective learning experience and teacher-student ratio.
Early bird discounts apply until 17th November 2016.
Applications will not be taken after 6th January 2017.

More information is available on our website!

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The international symposium looking at Electronic Nicotine Delivery Systems & Smoking Cessation

La Rochelle – France

December 1st & 2nd, 2016

Tobacco will be the leading cause of death in the 21st century, and projections by the World Health Organization (WHO) are nothing short of alarming: 600 million deaths world-wide. The WHO considers smoking as “one of the most serious threats that ever faced mankind”.
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The e-cig symposium was created in this context and will present the latest research results on the potential of new electronic nicotine delivery devices in the form of electronic cigarettes, and more broadly, of aerosol therapy. Devices which, for the first time, may reveal potentially effective treatment solutions to stop smoking with confort and pleasure.
The e-cig symposium has clear objectives : gathering medical, scientific, and technical research to review and summarise the studies done on electronic cigarettes, and more globally on electronic nicotine delivery devices used as an alternative to tobacco smoking.
The e-cig event will:
  • present the latest research results on the potential of new electronic nicotine delivery devices in the form of electronic cigarettes, and more broadly, of aerosol therapy. Devices which, for the first time, may reveal potentially effective treatment solutions  to quit smoking with comfort and pleasure.
  • provide the latest research developments on the effectiveness and safety evaluation methods of electronic cigarettes, as well as on the standards and regulations of these products.
  • gather both public and private physicians and researchers working on topics directly or indirectly related to the delivery of nicotine and smoking cessation.

Who’s going to be there?

attendees.pngCall for communications is open: Be part of the e-cig panel speakers : +60 oral communications will be selected from the call for papers. Submit your paper below!

Program at a glance | Submit your abstract | More information

Prescribed alcohol drug ‘Nalmefene’ was licensed despite insufficient evidence to prove its effectiveness

A study from the University of Stirling’s Institute of Social Marketing showed that a drug being used to treat alcohol problems in the UK was licensed for use, despite insufficient evidence to prove its effectiveness.

The drug nalmefene, marketed as Selincro®, was approved in Europe in February 2013 and was subsequently recommended by the UK National Institute for Health and Care Excellence (NICE).

Yet a team of scientists have found problems with the way clinical trials were conducted and analysed, making it impossible to know how much the drug actually helps to reduce drinking in patients dependent on alcohol.

Outlined in the journal Addiction, a group of experts analysed the published studies of nalmefene that formed the basis for the licensing and NICE decision. They concluded that evidence of its effectiveness was weak, and any possible effect on patients was small at around a one drink per day reduction on average. 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

UKCTAS researchers’ evidence used in High Court decision to allow plain packaging.

Implementation of plain packaging for cigarettes and loose tobacco will go ahead on schedule today (Friday, 20 May 2016) after yesterday’s ruling from the UK High Court, which found in favour of the Department of Health.

The ruling relied partly on two key pieces of peer-reviewed research from the Tobacco Control Research Group at the University of Bath to conclude that evidence submitted by the tobacco industry to the public consultation on plain packaging ‘generally fell below best practice’ as it was not peer-reviewed, benchmarked against internal documents, did not make use of global literature and was not verifiable.

The research papers, published in BMJ Open and PLOS Medicine in 2014, had found that tobacco industry evidence:

  • Was of significantly lower quality than research supporting the measure.
  • Used techniques, such as misquoting, to encourage government and the public to question the quality of the evidence supporting standardised packaging;
  • Failed to include evidence showing the central importance of packaging in marketing their products; evidence which is present in internal tobacco company documents made public via litigation; and
  • Did not consistently and transparently disclose their links to the evidence they cited.

Lead author of one of the papers, Dr Jenny Hatchard, 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.’

To hear Jenny speak on BBC radio click here.

Text from: University of Bath News

Read more

Policy Brief: Evidence-based policy-making and ‘Better Regulation’: The battleground for standardised packaging of tobacco

Study suggests varenicline is effective for smoking cessation in severe mental health patients

Varenicline for smoking cessation and reduction in people with severe mental illnesses: systematic review and meta-analysis.

Abstract

AIMS:Champix-image

To determine the effectiveness and safety of varenicline in treating tobacco dependence in patients with severe mental illness.

DESIGN:

A systematic review and meta-analysis of randomised controlled trials that compared varenicline with a placebo or an alternative intervention for smoking cessation or reduction.

SETTING:

Both in-patient and out-patient settings in any country.

PARTICIPANTS:

Adult patients aged 18 and over with any type of severe mental illness. The systematic review included eight studies comprising 398 participants.

MEASURES:

Primary outcome measures were (1) smoking cessation (2) smoking reduction measured by changes in the number of cigarettes smoked per day and (3) number of psychiatric adverse events, which were collected at the end of treatment.

FINDINGS:

The random-effect pooled estimates from the five studies that reported smoking related outcomes found that varenicline is statistically superior to placebo in smoking cessation (risk ratios 4.33; 95% CI: 1.96-9.56), and smoking reduction was higher in varenicline groups (mean reduced daily cigarettes was 6.39; 95% CI: 2.22-10.56). There is no significant difference regarding neuropsychiatric and other adverse events.

CONCLUSIONS:

Varenicline appears to be significantly more effective than placebo in assisting with smoking cessation and reduction in people with severe mental illness. There appears to be no clear evidence that varenicline was associated with an increased risk of neuropsychiatric or other adverse events compared with placebo.

 

Read the accepted article here.

Minimum unit pricing and strength-based taxation have larger impacts on health inequalities than increasing current alcohol taxes.

Introducing minimum unit pricing or alcohol-content-taxation would reduce inequalities in health more than increasing alcohol duty under the current tax system or increasing VAT on alcohol, a new report has shown.

Research from the University of Sheffield’s Alcohol Research Group (SARG) compared four policy strategies for regulating alcohol prices to estimate how changes in alcohol price would affect individual levels of alcohol consumption and the subsequent impact on illness and deaths associated with 43 alcohol-attributable conditions in England.

The study, which is the first of its kind, showed that strategies which strongly link alcohol content with the price of drinks were more suited to tackling health inequalities compared to the current duty system where wine and cider are taxed by total beverage volume regardless of strength, and duty rates per unit of alcohol vary widely between different types of drink.

There are substantial mup-graphhealth inequalities in England, with people in the lowest socioeconomic group dying on average six years earlier than those in the highest. Reducing inequalities in health is a key priority across the globe and tackling alcohol-related harm plays a major role in reducing the gap.          

The research, published today (23 February 2016) in the leading medical journal Plos Medicine, revealed a tax based on alcohol strength and minimum unit pricing would both have large impacts on harmful drinking across all socioeconomic groups, whilst having minimal effects on those drinking in moderation.

The four pricing strategies were chosen at a level estimated to prevent exactly the same number of alcohol-related deaths in the population so that the researchers could compare effects in different groups of the population.

The strategies were:

1) A 13.4 per cent increase in duty for all products under the current UK system.

2) A four per cent tax based on product price.

3) A strength-based tax of 22p per UK alcohol unit.

4) Minimum price of 50p per unit, below which alcohol cannot be sold.

“Alcohol is now 54 per cent more affordable in the UK than it was in 1980 and harmful alcohol consumption is a major public health issue accounting for an estimated 2.7 million deaths globally.

Our findings suggest that minimum unit pricing and taxing alcohol by strength are a well-targeted interventions which would lead to greater reductions in health inequalities compared to the current UK duty system or taxes levied on sales price – a tax system prevalent in many developing countries.

Our results also suggest that a substantial 13.4 per cent increase in current duty would be required to achieve the same overall harm reductions as a 50p minimum unit price.

EU countries have limited options however, as EU law prohibits taxation by strength for wine and cider. The implementation of minimum unit pricing in Scotland is still held up in a court case brought against the Scottish Government by the alcohol industry, where the Government needs to demonstrate that minimum unit pricing would have important public health benefits that cannot be achieved as effectively through existing taxation powers.

Similar plans in Wales, Northern Ireland and the Republic of Ireland are resting on the outcome of this court case. Although set in England, our study makes a major contribution to the evidence in this respect.”

Professor Petra Meier

Director of SARG at the School of Health and Related Research (ScHARR)  

“Alcohol taxes are the most common intervention internationally, although minimum unit pricing has recently started to attract much international interest. Until now there was little evidence to support policy makers wishing to compare the health impacts of different taxation. 

Minimum unit pricing and strength-based taxation are better-targeted than the current UK tax system for reducing alcohol-related harm as they have larger effects on heavy drinkers and smaller effects on moderate drinkers.”

Dr John Holmes, Senior Research Fellow at SARG