UK Prevention Research Partnership (UKPRP) funding secured by UKCTAS academics

We are delighted to announce that UKCTAS has been successful in securing future funding through a multi-funder research initiative; the UK Prevention Research Partnership (UKPRP). UKTCAS academics joined forces with new collaborators and a range of public and private sector organisations to apply to the UKPRP.

The new consortium has now been awarded £5.9 million funding over five years and is called SPECTRUM (Shaping Public hEalth poliCies To Reduce ineqUalities and harM).

spectrum-logo

UKPRP research grants aim to develop, test and 254refine new, practical and cost-effective approaches to preventing non-communicable diseases at scale, which will in turn help to reduce health inequalities across the UK. The initiative is supported by twelve funders from UK Research and Innovation research councils, charities and government. In its first round of funding, four Consortia and four network grants have been awarded.

Prof. Linda Bauld, University of Edinburgh

Linda Bauld

“SPECTRUM intends to address some of the most controversial questions facing the health of our population. To reduce diseases like cancer, heart disease, diabetes and respiratory diseases we need to address their main preventable causes. To do so means introducing and enforcing public health policies that often clash with the business interests of very profitable companies.

SPECTRUM aims to produce research that can rise to this challenge. This research will be used by our partners outside of academia, who will be active members of SPECTRUM, to make the case for effective policy and practice to improve health and address inequalities in the UK and further afield.”

The SPECTRUM Consortium is led by Professor Linda Bauld (pictured above) from the University of Edinburgh and for the last 10 years has been the deputy director of UKCTAS. Co-investigators and collaborators from 10 Universities in the UK and one in Australia are included. In addition, the Consortium brings together leading alliances that aim to improve health and reduce inequalities in the UK and further afield, along with Public Health England, Health Scotland, Public Health Wales and two independent companies specialising in statistical modelling and retail data.

SPECTRUM will aim to conduct research to prevent and address harm to health from unhealthy commodities by using systems science to identify and evaluate solutions. The focus of the new Consortium will be the commercial determinants of health and health inequalities, continuing UKCTAS’s work at the population level on tobacco and alcohol, but also extending to unhealthy food and drink products where appropriate. The research will be organised around 8 inter-related Work Packages involving new research, along with knowledge exchange, impact and public engagement activities.

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More information is available on UKCTAS.net/SPECTRUM

Call for Submissions – Clinical Interventions to Increase Quit Attempts

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Nicotine & Tobacco Research intends to publish a themed issue on understanding and prompting quit attempts. The guest editors will be Matthew Carpenter and John Hughes. Smoking cessation is a function of two processes: making a quit attempt and succeeding in the quit attempt. Most clinical research on tobacco cessation has focused on the latter. This themed issue invites articles on the processes that lead to a quit attempt or methods to increase quit attempts. In addition to well-established processes that influence quit attempts (e.g., motivation, efficacy, social support), recent studies have described novel processes that might increase quit attempts (e.g., cumulative effect of cues) or decrease quit attempts (e.g., cessation fatigue). Brief advice and motivational interviewing are well-established clinical methods to prompt quit attempts but recent studies have examined novel interventions such as medication sampling, reduction in cigarettes/day, proactive messages to smokers and training relatives/friends to motivate smokers. Other studies have examined related methodological issues, such as the utility of only counting quit attempts that last 24 hours.

This themed issue of Nicotine & Tobacco Research invites articles on:

  • Studies to understand the processes of making a quit attempt
  • Studies to evaluate interventions to increase quit attempts
  • Methodological issues specific to measuring quit attempts. Both empirical studies (human laboratory, field trials, clinical trials, policy and epidemiological studies), and reviews can be submitted.
Manuscripts must be submitted through the Nicotine & Tobacco Research submission system (https://mc.manuscriptcentral.com/ntr) by October 31, 2019.
We anticipate that the themed issue will be published in 2020.

Submission of a manuscript does not guarantee its acceptance. All manuscripts will be reviewed by the Nicotine & Tobacco Research editorial staff and referees, and must meet the standards for publication in Nicotine & Tobacco Research.

Nicotine & Tobacco Research home page and instructions for authors: https://academic.oup.com/ntr

For any questions, please contact Matthew Carpenter (carpente@musc.edu) or John Hughes (john.hughes@uvm.edu).

UKCRC Final Report reveals the legacy of public health research centres

By building capacity and capability in public health research, a report shows how the legacy of a UK-wide network of centres of excellence has helped fuel future public health and prevention research.

Since 2008, partners in the UK Clinical Research Collaboration (UKCRC) have invested £37 million in a network of six Public Health Research Centres of Excellence (UKCRC centres) to increase infrastructure, build academic capacity in public health research in the UK and provide a platform to engage with policy and practice.

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The report shows how 10-years of collaborative work by these centres – based in Edinburgh, Belfast, Newcastle, Nottingham, Cambridge and Cardiff – has exceeded expectations of what was thought possible back in 2008.

The UKCRC centres have expanded the pool of early-career researchers and nurtured their talent while creating new opportunities to work across academia, policy and practice. Researchers have gone on to expand their networks and advance their careers, securing fellowships and lectureships, winning awards and promotion. The UKCRC centres have been a strong magnet for leveraging significant additional funding to increase the volume and quality of public health research.

The centres have helped change the way we think about how to align research with the needs of policymakers and practitioners. By pioneering innovative new ways of responding to public health needs and providing rapid response evaluations for policy and practice partners, their work is helping researchers and practitioners to improve public health at a local level.

At the national level, the impact has been wide-reaching, with evidence from centre research programmes influencing the government sugar tax, encouraging healthy transport policies, providing guidance on physical activity, promoting health in schools and playing a leading role in government policy on tobacco smoking and vaping.

Centre collaborations and academic-policy partnerships have changed the public health landscape, paving the way for ambitious new prevention initiatives, like the UK Prevention Research Partnership.

Professor Chris Whitty, Chair of the UKCRC Board and Chief Scientific Adviser for the Department of Health and Social Care, said: This report shows how this initiative has built research capacity in public health in the UK. Considered untried and risky in 2006, the hard work and collaborative spirit of many researchers, managers and students has strengthened evidence-based public health policy and practice. Without these sorts of achievements, it is hard to see how further ambitious investment like the UK Prevention Research Partnership would have been feasible. I am very grateful to all the research directors that drove this forward, and they should be justly proud of their contribution to the field.”

The UKCRC Centres of Excellence:

  • Centre of Excellence for Public Health Northern Ireland (CoENI), Queen’s University Belfast
  • Centre for Exercise, Diet and Activity Research (CEDAR), MRC Epidemiology Unit at the University of Cambridge
  • The Centre for the Development and Evaluation of Complex Interventions for Public Health Improvement (DECIPHer), Cardiff University
  • The Centre for Translational Research in Public Health in Public Health (Fuse) – a collaboration between Newcastle University, Durham University, Newcastle University, Northumbria University, the University of Sunderland and Teesside University
  • The Scottish Collaboration for Public Health Research and Policy (SCPHRP), University of Edinburgh
  • The UK Centre for Tobacco and Alcohol Studies (UKCTAS), University of Nottingham.

Read the full UKCRC report (PDF, 4.21MB).

The MRC is a member of the UKCRC, which brings together the NHS, research funders, industry, regulatory bodies, royal colleges, patient groups and academia in a UK-wide environment that facilitates and promotes high-quality clinical research for the benefit of patients. For more information, visit the UKCRC website.

The UKCRC centres funding partners are the MRC, the British Heart Foundation, Cancer Research UK, NIHR, Economic and Social Research Council, the Public Health Agency, Health and Care Research Wales, Welsh Government, the Scottish Government Chief Scientist Office and Wellcome.

See original post on MRC website.

A content analysis of tobacco and alcohol content in Netflix and Amazon Prime original programmes accessed from the UK | Research Report

Quantifying tobacco and alcohol imagery in Netflix and Amazon Prime instant video original programming accessed from the UK: a content analysis.

Alexander B BarkerJordan SmithAbby HunterJohn BrittonRachael L Murray

Exposure to tobacco and alcohol content in audio-visual media is a risk factor for smoking and alcohol use in young people. Previous UK research has quantified tobacco and alcohol content in films and broadcast television but not that of video-on-demand (VOD) services such as Netflix and Amazon Prime. Furthermore, it is not clear whether regulation by Dutch (Netflix) or UK (Amazon Prime) authorities results in differences in content. We report an analysis of tobacco and alcohol content in a sample of episodes from the most popular programmes from these two VOD providers, and compare findings with earlier studies of UK prime-time television content.

Content analysis of a sample of 50 episodes from the five highest rated series released on Netflix and Amazon Prime in 2016, using 1 min interval coding of any tobacco or alcohol content, actual or implied use, paraphernalia and branding.

bmjopen-2019-February-9-2--F1.medium
Number of 1 min intervals containing tobacco and alcohol content by coding category.

Of 2704 intervals coded, any tobacco content appeared in 353 (13%) from 37 (74%) episodes. Any alcohol content appeared in 363 (13%) intervals in 47 (94%) episodes. There were no significant differences between the two services, however the proportion of episodes containing tobacco and alcohol was significantly higher in VOD original programmes than those recorded in an earlier study of prime-time UK television.

bmjopen-2019-February-9-2--F2.medium
Alcohol branding seen in Netflix and Amazon prime instant video original programming.

Audio-visual tobacco and alcohol content is common in VOD original programmes and represents a further source of exposure to imagery causing smoking uptake and alcohol use in young people. This appears to be equally true of services regulated in the UK and The Netherlands. Given that VOD services are consumed by a global audience, it appears likely that VOD content is an important global driver of tobacco and alcohol consumption.

Strengths and Limitations of this study:

  • This study is the first to explore alcohol and tobacco content in video-on-demand (VOD) programmes.
  • Established methods were used to explore the content in VOD original content.
  • This study provides a comparison of VOD alcohol and tobacco content to UK broadcast television content.
  • This study is limited to a sample of programmes and episodes on each VOD service.
  • As viewing figures are not available for VOD original content, we could not estimate exposure to tobacco and alcohol content.

Correspondence to Dr Alex Barker; alexander.barker@nottingham.ac.uk

 

 

Are young people under the influence of alcohol content on TV? – Research Report

Alex Barker, University of Nottingham Research Fellow.

Ofcom’s 9pm watershed might not be fit for purpose, argues Alex Barker.

Alcohol use at a young age is a strong risk factor for dependence in later life, and it is important to identify avoidable causes of alcohol consumption in young people. There is strong evidence to suggest that exposure to alcohol advertising or other alcohol imagery in the media increases use in adolescents.

Whilst the Ofcom Broadcasting code protects under-18s by restricting alcohol use in TV programmes made for children and preventing the glamorisation of alcohol use in programmes broadcast before the 9pm watershed or in programmes likely to be viewed by children, a previous study from 2010 found that there is a large amount of alcohol shown on prime-time UK television. We aimed to provide contemporary data on the amount of alcohol content shown in prime-time UK television.

In our study, A content analysis of alcohol content in UK television, published in the Journal of Public Health, we investigated the amount of alcohol content shown on UK television. We recorded free-to-air prime-time TV across the five main channels (BBC1, BBC2, ITV, Channel 4 and Channel 5) between the hours of 6pm-10pm during three separate weeks in September, October and November 2015. We then recorded the amount and types of alcohol content shown using 1-minute interval coding, which involves recording any alcohol content shown in every 1-minute period in the following categories; any alcohol content, actual alcohol use, implied alcohol use, alcohol related content (such as beer pumps or bottles), and alcohol branding.

We found that alcohol content is extremely common, occurring in 14% of intervals we coded, with alcohol content being seen in 67% of programmes and 47% of advertisement/trailer periods. We found alcohol use in 2% of the total intervals, implied use in 7% of intervals and alcohol related content, such as beer pumps, in 10% of intervals. Whilst branding was uncommon, 3% of intervals, 122 brands were identified, with three brands (Heineken, Corona and Fosters) accounting for almost half of all brand occurrences. The programme genres containing the most alcohol content were ‘Cookery’ (all cookery programmes included alcohol content), ‘Soap Opera’ (99% included alcohol content) and ‘Drama’ (94% included alcohol content). The majority of alcohol content was shown before the 9pm watershed, when programmes unsuitable for children are allowed to be broadcast. The amount of alcohol content was slightly higher than in the previous study.

The majority of branding occurred through the sponsorship of programmes, such as comedy on Channel 4 (sponsored by Fosters). Advertisements are regulated by the Advertising Standards Authority (ASA) and are expected to conform to the UK Code of British Advertising (BCAP code). According to the code, alcohol ‘may not be advertised in or adjacent to children’s programmes or programmes commissioned for, principally directed at or likely to appeal particularly to audiences below the age of 18’. However, programmes popular with or watched by large numbers of young people are not necessarily made specifically for them. Branding was also commonly featured in coverage of sports events, such as Heineken, which featured predominantly during the Rugby World Cup footage. The ASA’s definition of advertising does not include sponsorship of programmes or pitch side advertisements at televised sporting events. Exemption of prime-time television and sports programmes from alcohol advertising regulations has the potential to lead to significant exposure among young people during peak viewing hours.

Television remains a major source of alcohol exposure to young people in the UK and is likely to continue to be a contributor to alcohol uptake by young people. Our results suggest that the Ofcom 9pm watershed, designed to protect children and young people from harm, is currently not fulfilling its purpose in relation to commercial advertising and alcohol content in programmes. This has the potential to lead to significant exposure among young people during peak viewing hours, when approximately 4.5 million 7–14 year olds watch television. Tighter scheduling rules from Ofcom and the ASA, such as restricting alcohol content to after the 9pm watershed, could prevent children and adolescents being exposed to alcohol content and advertising.

Written by Alex Barker, research fellow in Epidemiology and Public Health, University of Nottingham. Originally posted on ias.org.uk on 4th Feb 2019.

Electronic cigarettes: First time on a Priority Setting Partnership Group

Louise Ross – Clinical Consultant, National Centre for Smoking Cessation and Training.

When I first got the invitation to join the Priority Setting Partnership (PSP) on electronic cigarettes, I had no idea what a PSP was or did, nor had I ever heard of the James Lind Alliance (JLA), the organisation that runs the PSPs.

Electronic cigarettes for smoking cessation image Thumbnail

However, because of what I do, I’m intensely interested in e-cigarettes as a means of stopping smoking and staying stopped, so I read on…

What an opportunity it has been! It’s early days yet, but already we have formed an interactive and lively group – academics, people with lived experience, researchers and practitioners. Our task? To find out what the public want to know about e-cigarettes and vaping.

When I say ‘the public’, this includes anyone who is curious to know more through research – it could be GPs, hospital doctors, vapers, smokers, policy-makers, pregnant women, homeless people, prisoners, stop smoking practitioners – anyone who has thought ‘I really would like to see research done about xxx to do with vaping/e-cigarettes’ can respond to the survey we are sending out in January.

We haven’t got long to road-test the survey, but the team at JLA (who told us at the first meeting about some of the other PSPs they’ve been working on – who knew all this public participation was going on in research circles?) have skilfully guided us through the early steps.

So in early 2019, we will launch the survey and sit back and wait for lots of replies.

Long-term health effects? Useful for stopping smoking? Second-hand vapour? Improvements in asthma?

If you have a burning question that you’d like to see included in the list of research priorities, do fill in the survey.

Then the real work will begin, sifting through the suggestions, and deciding which are the most crucial to answer. I’m confident that we have a well-balanced, engaged and knowledgeable group to tackle this task, and I’m proud to have been included.

Original post on the James Lind Alliance website. 

Advertising for alcohol is prevalent in UK Television| Research Report

A recent study in the Journal of Public Health indicates that advertising for alcohol is common in British television, and is therefore a potential driver of alcohol use in young people.

It is estimated that the rate of alcohol consumption in those over 15 in the UK is the eighth highest in Europe. Alcohol use was responsible for at least 6813 deaths in the country in 2015, and cost the NHS £3.5 billion in 2013–14.

There is strong evidence that exposure to advertising or other alcohol imagery in the media increases subsequent use in adolescents. An estimated 28 million British households have at least one television and in 2015 the average viewing was 3 hours and 47 minutes a day. Previous studies have found that alcohol imagery appeared frequently in studies of UK television; some 40 per cent of programmes contained alcohol content.

In 2015, researchers quantified the content of all programmes and advertisements broadcast on the five, free access, national UK channels. The researchers here explored the differences in content between channels and genres, and compared these with the findings of a similar study in 2010.

A total of 611 programmes and 1140 commercials were recorded during the peak viewing hours, between 6 and 10 pm, from Monday to Sunday in three separate weeks. Alcohol imagery occurred most frequently in the news, current affairs programmes, and soap operas.

This study demonstrates that alcohol imagery is extremely common on UK television, occurring in over 50% of all programmes broadcast and almost 50% of all advertising periods between programmes. The majority of alcohol content occurred before 9 pm. Branding occurred in 18% of programmes and 11% of advertisement periods and involved 122 brands, though three brands (Heineken, Corona, and Fosters) accounted for almost half of all brand appearances.

Alcohol content shown on TV has an effect on the uptake of alcohol use in young people. This analysis shows that television remains a major source of alcohol exposure to young people in the UK and is likely to continue to be a contributor to alcohol uptake by young people, with levels of content slightly higher than the researchers observed in the earlier analysis of programme content from 2010.

“There is strong evidence that viewing alcohol advertising or imagery has an uptake on subsequent alcohol use in young people,” says Dr Alex Barker, a UKCTAS funded Research Fellow at the University of Nottingham.

“Our study shows that alcohol imagery, including branding, is regularly broadcast on prime-time TV, when children and adolescents are likely to be watching. Tighter scheduling rules from the Advertising Standards Agency and Ofcom (broadcast regulator), such as restricting alcohol advertisements and alcohol imagery in programmes, to after the 9 p.m. watershed, could prevent children and adolescents being exposed to this content.”

Direct correct questions about the study to:
Alexander B. Barker
UK Centre for Tobacco and Alcohol Studies
Division of Epidemiology and Public Health
University of Nottingham
Clinical Sciences Building
City Hospital, Nottingham
NG5 1PB, UK
alexander.barker@nottingham.ac.uk

To request a copy of the study, please contact:
Cassie Jane Buckley
CassieJane.Buckley@oup.com

Sharing on social media? Find Oxford Journals online at @OxfordJournals
Please acknowledge the Journal of Public Health as a source in any articles.
DOI: 10.1093/pubmed/fdy142

Tobacco content still common on UK prime time TV, despite regulations | Research Report

Tobacco content still common on UK prime time TV, despite regulations

Likely to heavily influence young people’s take-up of smoking, say researchers

Tobacco content remains common on UK prime time TV,  cropping up in a third of all programmes, despite advertising and broadcasting regulations designed to protect children from this kind of exposure, reveals research published online in the journal Tobacco Control.

The amount of exposure has hardly changed in five years, and is likely to heavily influence young people’s take-up of smoking, say the researchers.

Tobacco content in film has been covered extensively, but relatively little attention has been paid to its inclusion on prime time TV, despite the fact that children are likely to spend more time watching TV than they are films, they point out.

The researchers therefore analysed the tobacco content of all programmes, adverts, and trailers broadcast on the five national free to air TV channels between 1800 and 2200 hours during the course of three separate weeks in September, October, and November 2015.

Their analysis included any actual or implied use, such as holding a cigarette without smoking it, or making a comment about smoking; smoking/tobacco paraphernalia; and presence of branding in 1 minute intervals. The results were then compared with those of a similar analysis carried out in 2010.

In all, 420 hours of broadcast footage, including 611 programmes, 909 adverts, and 211 trailers, were analysed.

Some 291 broadcasts (17% of all programmes) included tobacco content. The channel with the most tobacco content was Channel 5, and the one with the least was BBC2.

Tobacco content occurred in one in three TV programmes broadcast, and nearly one in 10 (8%) adverts or trailers.

Actual tobacco use occurred in one in eight (12%) programmes, while tobacco related content–primarily no smoking signs–occurred in just 2 percent of broadcasts. Implied use and branding were rare.

 

Although most tobacco content occurred after the 9 pm watershed, it still occurred on the most popular TV channels before then.  And comparison with the previous analysis in 2010 showed that the number of 1 minute intervals containing any tobacco content increased, rising from 731 to 751 in 2015.

Tobacco advertising, promotion and sponsorship, including paid product placement in TV adverts, is banned in the UK, but tobacco imagery in TV programmes and trailers is exempt, and covered instead by media regulator, OfCom’s, broadcasting code.

This code is designed to protect children by restricting depictions of tobacco use in children’s programmes, and preventing the glamorisation of smoking in programmes broadcast before 9 pm.

“Audiovisual tobacco content remains common in prime-time UK television programmes and is likely to be a significant driver of smoking uptake in young people,” emphasise the researchers.

“Guidelines on tobacco content need to be revised and more carefully enforced to protect children from exposure to tobacco imagery and the consequent risk of smoking initiation,” they added.

‘The number of smokers in the UK has fallen significantly since 2010 yet this research finds smoking is just as common on our screens. Given the proven link to childhood smoking Ofcom and the BBFC, which regulate TV and films, need to take the necessary steps to warn parents of the risks and protect our children from the harmful effects of tobacco imagery.’ 

Deborah Arnott, chief executive of Action on Smoking and Health.


Notes for editors:

Research:  Content analysis of tobacco content in UK television doi 10.1136/tobaccocontrol-2018-054427

Journal: Tobacco Control

Link to Academy of Medical Sciences press release labelling system: http://press.psprings.co.uk/AMSlabels.pdf

Author contact: Dr Alex Barker, Division of Epidemiology & Public Health, UK Centre for Tobacco and Alcohol Studies, University of Nottingham, Nottingham, UK. Email: alexander.barker@nottingham.ac.uk

Other links:
Tobacco on TV influences children, study finds | iNews

Smoking scenes are still common in a THIRD of prime time TV programmes despite strict regulations to protect children, finds study | Daily Mail

“The really interesting thing we found was that vaping may also encourage people who don’t even want to stop smoking, to eventually quit” Dr Caitlin Notley | University of East Anglia

Vaping helps people stop smoking – even when they don’t want to, according to new research from the University of East Anglia. A new study, funded by CRUK published today shows that smokers who switch to vaping may be better able to stay smoke-free in the long term. And that even people who didn’t want to stop smoking, have eventually quit because they found vaping more enjoyable.

Lead researcher Dr Caitlin Notley from UEA’s Norwich Medical School said: Image result for vaping phe

“E-cigarettes are at least 95 per cent less harmful than tobacco smoking, and they are now the most popular aid to quitting smoking in the UK. However the idea of using e-cigarettes to stop smoking, and particularly long-term use, remains controversial. We wanted to find out about how people use e-cigarettes to quit smoking – and whether vaping supports long-term smoking abstinence.”

The research team carried out in-depth interviews with 40 vapers. They asked them about their tobacco smoking history and prior quit attempts, and about how they started vaping, their vape set up, preferred flavours and strength, and whether they had switched to vaping in attempt to quit smoking. They also asked them about situations and experiences that caused them to relapse into tobacco smoking.

“We found that vaping may support long-term smoking abstinence,” said Dr Notley. “Not only does it substitute many of the physical, psychological, social and cultural elements of cigarette smoking, but it is pleasurable in its own right, as well as convenient and cheaper than smoking. Our study group also felt better in themselves – they noticed better respiratory function, taste and smell. But the really interesting thing we found was that vaping may also encourage people who don’t even want to stop smoking, to eventually quit.”

While most of the sample group reported long histories of tobacco smoking and multiple previous quit attempts, a minority (17 per cent) said they enjoyed smoking and had never seriously attempted to quit.

“These were our accidental quitters,” said Dr Notley. “They hadn’t intended to quit smoking and had tried vaping on a whim, or because they had been offered it by friends. They went on to like it, and only then saw it as a potential substitute for smoking.”

“Many people talked about how they saw vaping was a no pressure approach to quitting,” she added. While most of the group switched quickly and completely from smoking to vaping, some found themselves using both cigarettes and vaping, and then sliding towards stopping smoking.

“We found that people did occasionally relapse with a cigarette, mainly due to social or emotional reasons, but it didn’t necessarily lead to a full relapse. This study suggests that vaping is a viable long-term substitute for smoking, with substantial implications for tobacco harm reduction.”

Alison Cox, director of cancer prevention at Cancer Research UK, who funded the project said: “The evidence so far shows that e-cigarettes are far safer than tobacco. E-cigarettes do still contain nicotine which is addictive, but it’s not responsible for the major harms of smoking. This is why they have great potential as an aid to help people quit smoking for good. It’s great to see this early indication that e-cigarettes could encourage smokers who weren’t originally thinking of quitting to give up. But more research is needed to understand exactly how e-cigarettes are being used by people who don’t want to stop smoking and how often this results in quitting. E-cigarettes are just one option for quitting – your local Stop Smoking Service can give you free advice on the best method for you, and with their support you’ll have the best chance of success.”

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‘The unique contribution of e-cigarettes for tobacco harm reduction in supporting smoking relapse prevention’ is published in Harm Reduction Journal on June 20, 2018.

Original article: How vaping helps even hardened smokers quit – Eurekalert

Serving smaller alcoholic drinks could reduce the UK’s alcohol consumption | Research Report | University of Liverpool

New research published in Addiction, conducted by researchers from the Universities of Liverpool and Sheffield, highlights the potential benefits of reducing the standard serving size of alcoholic beverages.

It is well known that alcohol consumption contributes to premature death and ill health, and alcohol-related harm places a substantial burden on society. Many drinkers find it hard to cut down and attempts to cut down often do not lead to actual reductions in alcohol consumption. Therefore, changes to the environment that make it easier for people to drink less could have a substantial impact on public health.

One potential environmental influence on alcohol consumption is serving size. Nutrition research consistently shows that portion sizes affect how much a person eats. People eat more if they are given a relatively large portion of food compared to smaller portions, but they do not compensate for this by eating less later on. However, the effect that serving size has on alcohol consumption has not been examined until now. The present research aimed to investigate if reducing the serving size of alcoholic beverages would reduce alcohol consumption.

alcohol1.jpg

Standard vs Reduced serving sizes:

The researchers, led by Dr Inge Kersbergen from the University of Liverpool, tested the effects of reducing the serving size of alcohol on how much alcohol participants drank in two studies.

In the first study, participants were randomized to consume alcohol from standard or reduced serving sizes whilst watching a one-hour TV programme in a laboratory that looks like a living room. Standard serving sizes contained 2.07 units per serving (equivalent to a pint of weak lager) and reduced serving sizes contained 25% less than the standard serving.

In the second study, participants were invited to one of four pub quiz nights in a local bar which only sold standard vs. reduced serving sizes. Standard servings were pints and 175ml of wine (‘typically served as a medium glass in pubs’) and reduced servings were 2/3 pints and 125ml of wine (‘small glass’). Drink prices were adjusted to make sure that the standard and reduced serving sizes were the same value for money. Researchers observed how much alcohol each participant drank.

In both experiments, participants could order as many drinks as they wanted for the duration of the experiment. This means that participants drinking from reduced servings could compensate for the smaller serving size by ordering more drinks if they wanted to.

The researchers found that participants who were served relatively smaller servings drank less alcohol in a single drinking session than participants who were served standard servings. In the first study, reduced serving sizes led to a 20.7% – 22.3% decrease in alcohol consumption over a one-hour drinking period in the ‘living room’ lab. In the second study, reduced serving sizes led to a 32.4% – 39.6% decrease alcohol consumption over a longer drinking period (up to three hours) during the real-life pub quiz.

Based on the results the researchers used the Sheffield Alcohol Policy Model to estimate that reducing the standard serving size of beer, wine and cider in bars and restaurants by a quarter would lead to 1,400 fewer deaths and 73,000 fewer hospital admissions every year.

Public health intervention:

Dr Kersbergen, said: “These studies are the first to demonstrate that reducing the serving size of alcoholic beverages prompts reductions in alcohol consumption.

The typical serving size of beer in the UK of a pint is larger than many other countries and the size of wine servings in UK bars and restaurants has increased in recent decades, so there is room for serving sizes to be reduced without making them unrealistically small. Reducing the standard serving size of alcohol in bars and restaurants may be an effective way to reduce alcohol consumption at the population level and improve public health.”

Professor Matt Field, who leads the Addiction research group within the Department of Psychological Sciences at the University of Liverpool, added: “Reducing the standard serving size of alcoholic drinks could automatically prompt people to drink less, even if they are not motivated to cut down. But at the same time, the total amount that people consume would remain completely their own choice”.

Dr Eric Robinson, a University of Liverpool researcher who was also involved in the study, said: “Our research showed that people do not seem to compensate for the smaller servings by ordering more drinks on a single night and it seems unlikely that any further compensation would happen, but future research is needed to find out if people may compensate in other ways, such as drinking more often or getting stronger drinks.”

The full study, entitled ‘Reducing the standard serving size of alcoholic beverages prompts reductions in alcohol consumption’, can be found here and was funded in part by an MRC research grant awarded to Dr Eric Robinson.

Original post 14/05/2018: University of Liverpool News