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


#Bacon and #Tobacco | Suzi Gage | The @guardian @soozaphone

Suzi Gage is a post-doctoral researcher at the University of Bristol, investigating associations between substance use and mental health.

“Vegetarians are probably breathing a sigh of relief today as headlines are warning us that processed and cured meats cause cancer. But the way this message has been framed in the media is extremely misleading.

Comparing meat to tobacco, as most news organisations who’ve chosen to report this have done, makes it seem like a bacon sandwich might be just as harmful as a cigarette. This is absolutely not the case”


Read the full article: Meat and tobacco: the difference between risk and strength of evidence | Science | The Guardian.

Promoting Evidence Based Practice at UKNSCC 2015 by Nicola Lindson-Hawley

Nicola Lindson-Hawley – Managing Editor for the Cochrane Tobacco Addiction Group, University of Oxford

Earlier this month (11th – 12th June) I attended the UK Nicotine and Smoking Cessation Conference (UKNSCC) 2015 in Manchester to promote the Cochrane Tobacco Addiction Review Group (TAG). The Cochrane TAG team support authors to identify relevant clinical trial evidence to answer research questions regarding the efficacy of smoking prevention and cessation interventions, and synthesise this into a literature review, and meta-analysis if possible. So far the group have over 70 reviews, which can be found here: Many of the attendees at UKNSCC are smoking cessation service providers and counselors who are one of the key audiences for these reviews, so that they can use the findings to support their clinical practice and ensure that they are using the most efficacious evidence based methods. Conference attendees visiting the Cochrane stand were able to take away two page summaries of five of our reviews on pharmacological treatments, combination behavioral and pharmacological support, the prevention of weight gain after stopping smoking, reduction versus abrupt quitting and electronic cigarettes.

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Whilst at the conference I also attended lots of interesting sessions and there were plenaries by UKCTAS members Robert West, Linda Bauld and Andy McEwan.  There was (perhaps non-surprisingly) a large emphasis on electronic cigarettes at the conference and it was great to get the perspective of an avid vaper- Lorien Jollye- in the session ‘What we’ve learnt from service users who vape’.   Another highlight was hearing Deborah Arnott of Action on Smoking and Health (ASH) discussing their very recently published report, ‘Smoking Still Kills’. The aim of the report is to keep tobacco issues high on the public health agenda. Deborah reported that on the day the report was published (10/06/2015) shares in tobacco companies fell. Now, that’s impact! One of the key proposals made is that tobacco companies should be made to pay a levy on all their profits to contribute to the cost of the harm caused by their industry. Click here for more information.

UKNSCC provided a great opportunity to get the findings of our reviews out there to the people who matter most- those actually implementing the interventions we investigate- whilst also giving me the time to get up to date with what is going on in the practical world of smoking cessation support.

If you’d like a copy of any of the summaries we created for UKNSCC 2015 please email me at, and for more information about Cochrane TAG and our reviews keep up to date on Twitter @CochraneTAG.