Category Archives: Substance abuse

It is a pleasure to be speaking with you about something that I know all of us in the room are passionate about changing in this country – health inequality.

It comes as no surprise that the Office for National Statistics found earlier this month that the least deprived men at birth in 2014 to 2016 could expect to live almost a decade longer than the most deprived. This decade has seen a slowdown in improvements in life expectancy, an appalling consequence of this Government’s failure to improve the chances of the worst-off, as years of underfunding in health and social care take their toll.

Similarly, the north south divide remains as relevant as ever. For both males and females, the healthy life expectancy at birth is the highest in the South East, at 65.9 years for men and 66.6 for women. I am sure you can guess which region is the lowest!

Here in the North East healthy life expectancy for men is 59.7 years and for women it is 59.8 years – significantly lower than the England average. That means that inequality gap in healthy life expectancy at birth for the South East and North East is 6.2 years for men and 6.8 years for women.

There are lots of factors that play into these figures, and life expectancy here is increasing faster than anywhere else in the country, but it is simply not good enough that those from deprived areas are having their life expectancy shortened. That is why we all need to make a pledge to change this.

Today I’m going to speak about three public health epidemics that affect, not just the North East but the whole country: smoking, obesity and malnutrition. If we are able to tackle these epidemics, then we will be a step closer to achieving the goal of the UK having some of the healthiest people in the world.

Smoking

Smoking continues to be the leading cause of preventable deaths – in 2015, 16% of all deaths in people aged 35 or over in England were estimated as being attributable to smoking. It is estimated that 474,000 hospital admissions a year in England are directly attributable to smoking, which represents 4% of all hospital admissions. Smoking causes around 80% of deaths from lung cancer, around 80% of deaths from bronchitis and emphysema, and about 14% of deaths from heart disease. Therefore, smoking and its related health problems leave a heavy burden on our already financially strapped NHS, costing more than £2.5 billion each year.  Addressing smoking in our society could therefore help reduce that high financial cost and money could be directed towards improving our NHS and ensuring that we have a healthy society.

Smoking prevalence is decreasing across the country, and I’m pleased to say that smoking rates in the North East is declining faster than the national average. This is due to great support from programmes such as Fresh North East, which since 2005 has been tackling high smoking rates here. They have clearly been doing an excellent job, as since 2005, the North East has seen a fall of nearly a third with around 165,000 fewer smokers. However, the North East still has the highest lung cancer rates in the country and smoking rates still remain high, especially among those who are unemployed or members of lower socioeconomic groups and it is deeply concerning that those groups, for whom poverty is rife, are not being sufficiently helped to quit smoking.

I welcome the Government’s Tobacco Control Plan – even though it was delayed by 18 months – but the Government must move away from warm words and empty promises and commit to the right funding for smoking cessation services so that smoking rates can decline across the country.

Obesity and malnutrition

I have also been calling on the Government to go further in their commitment to reduce obesity levels.  The UK has one of the worst obesity rates in Western Europe, with almost two in every three people being either overweight or obese. I am one of those two, but I am back on a strict diet now to try and become the one, I hope that there will soon be a lot less of me! It is hard though, if it was so easy no one would be overweight.

However, I was a skinny kid and a slim teenager and proud to say a size 10 when I got married and I still ended up overweight as time went by. So therefore I worry greatly when I see all the stats for this country’s children when a pattern now emerges at a very early age. In 2016/17 almost a quarter of reception children, aged between 3 and 4, were overweight or obese. In the same year, for pupils in year 6, it was over a third. An obese child is also over five times more likely to grow up into an obese adult, so the Government should be doing all that it can to ensure that child obesity rates are reduced as a matter of urgency.

The Government’s Child Obesity Strategy to tackle this was welcome, but left much to be desired. I am sure some of you will know that it was published in the middle of summer recess, during the Olympics and on A- Level results day. At first, I thought the strategy must have been missing some pages. But it turned out, this world-first strategy really was just thirteen pages long. For whatever reason, many of the commitments David Cameron had promised and desired as his legacy had been taken out by Theresa May and her staff. We now know that May’s former joint chief of staff, Fiona Hill, is said to have boasted about “Saving Tony the Tiger”, the Frosties Mascot. Now that Fiona is out of the picture, we are expecting a second Childhood Obesity Strategy this summer, so I hope that there will be more than thirteen pages!

Of course, there is no silver bullet to tackling childhood obesity. As I said, if staying slim and losing weight was easy then we wouldn’t have the problem we have now.  However, there are two policy suggestions that I have been championing recently: restricting junk food advertising until the 9pm watershed on all channels not just on children’s channels and restricting the sale of energy drinks to young people.

Advertising is so much more powerful than we all think. There is a reason they spend many millions on it!  According to a University of Liverpool report, 59% of food and drink adverts shown during family viewing time were for foods high in fat, salt and sugar and would have been banned from Children’s TV.  The same report also found that, in the worst case, children were bombarded with nine junk food adverts in just a 30- minute period, and that adverts for fruit and vegetables made up just over 1% of food and drink adverts shown during family viewing time. It is therefore no wonder that there are so many children in this country who are overweight or obese. That is why I’ve been calling for restrictions on junk food advertising on TV, but I know that other modes of advertising need to be investigated more widely too like advergames and food brands which are high in fat, salt and sugar sponsoring sporting events that are popular with children.

This leads me to my next point of energy drinks, because to pin point just one brand, Red Bull who sponsor several extreme sports competitions which are not necessarily marketed to children, but are watched by children. When my son was a teenager, I would go so far as to say that he was addicted to energy drinks. And it was a huge problem for me, especially as he could legally buy them as he told me every day in his defence, in his eyes I was being ridiculous! He and his friends would buy and drink bottles and cans of them every day and it would completely change his personality. I’m pleased to say that ten years on he is older and much more sensible now, thanks to me warning him of the health dangers of energy drinks.

Although that was a decade ago, the trend still remains that children, as young as ten, are buying energy drinks for as little as 25p. The UK has the second highest consumption of energy drinks per head in the world.  You might expect America to have the highest consumption, but it is actually Austria, home to Red Bull headquarters. A 500ml can of energy drink contains 12 teaspoons of sugar and the same amount of caffeine as a double espresso.  You wouldn’t give a child have 12 teaspoons of sugar or a double espresso, so why are we allowing them to drink it in an energy drink?

If we want our children to be the healthiest in the world, we cannot sit idly on this any longer. Thankfully, many supermarkets and some retailers have now taken the step to restrict the sale of energy drinks to children. Supermarkets such as: Waitrose, Aldi, Asda, Sainsburys, Morrisons, Tesco, Lidl have restricted the sale. Boots lead the way in being the first non-food retailer to restrict the sale of energy drinks to children a few weeks ago, and just this week they were joined by Shell Petrol Stations and WH Smith. I am still calling on all supermarkets and retailers to take steps to do this.

The Government have got to do better if our children are going to be encouraged to live a healthy lifestyle and eat a healthy diet.

However, there are millions of people up and down the country who do not have access to healthy and affordable fresh food or the skills to cook up tasty meals or even the cooking equipment or the energy such as gas or electric especially when poor and on key meters, which leads us to another issue which certainly does not get the attention it deserves: malnutrition. Malnutrition affects over three million people in the UK, 1.3 million of which are over the age of 65.  Like obesity, malnutrition is a Public Health epidemic, but because it is literally less visible, it does not receive the attention or outcry that you would expect. On this Government’s watch, we have seen a 54% increase in children admitted to hospital with malnutrition and in the last decade, we have seen the number of deaths from malnutrition rise by 30%.  It should be at the forefront of this Government’s conscience that in one of the 6th richest economies in the world in 2018, malnutrition is increasing instead of being eradicated.  I’m proud to say that Labour will make it a priority to invest in our health services and ensure people don’t die from malnutrition in 21st century Britain.

Both obesity and malnutrition are costly to our NHS, estimated at £5.1 billion a year for obesity and £13 billion a year for malnutrition. That is why prevention is so important and why I am a key campaigner for Universal Free School Meals, because it gives all children access to a hot and healthy meal, encourages a healthy relationship with food and is beneficial to their mental and physical development. Healthy food needs to be both affordable and accessible, and individuals need the skills to prepare and cook a fresh and healthy meal.

NHS funding

Finally, we all know that the NHS lacks the funding and the time it needs to do all of the things I have just mentioned. Since local authorities became responsible for public health budgets in 2015, it is estimated by the Kings Fund that, on a like-for-like basis, public health spending will actually fall by 5.2%. This follows a £200 million in-year cut to public health spending in 2015/16 and further real-term cuts to come, averaging 3.9% each year between 2016/17 and 2020/21. On the ground this means cuts to spending on sexual health services by £30 million compared to last year, tackling drug misuse in adults cut by more than £22 million and smoking cessation services cut by almost £16 million. Spending to tackle obesity has also fallen by 18.5% between 2015/16 and 2016/17, again with further cuts still in the pipeline in the years to come.

The North East Commission for Health and Social Care Integration area spends £5.2bn on health and care each year. Over 60% of this is spent on tackling the consequences of ill health through hospital and specialist care, compared to the 3% devoted to public health. That is over twenty times more spent on consequences rather than prevention. So if the UK is going to be one of the healthiest countries in the world, then the Government really does need to recognise the importance of prevention and public health.  If we invest in our NHS and public health services, then we invest in the health of everyone in this country and that is why public health is so important.

I look forward to working with you all now and in the future to ensure that one day we can proudly say that people in the UK are some of the healthiest in the world.

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Non Communicable Diseases are the biggest cause of mortality, morbidity, disability, healthy life years lost and a major cause and consequence of health inequalities

The priorities for action should have the biggest impact, the shortest timescale, be most sustainable, most equitable in reducing health inequalities and injustices for the vulnerable and across generations, achieve the maxim co-benefits for the environment and reducing demand on public services and realisation of human rights.

Linked Avoidable Non Communicable Diseases and conditions:

  • CHD and Stroke -cardiovascular
  • Circulatory diseases
  • Cancers
  • Respiratory diseases
  • Liver disease
  • Type 2 Diabetes
  • Kidney disease
  • Obesity
  • Neurovascular and mixed Dementia
  • Musco-skeletal etc.
Deaths by cause in UK men 2014

Deaths by cause in UK men 2014

Impact on healthy life expectancy and life expectancy

Non Communicable Diseases are a cause and manifestation of health inequalities in current and future generations.  These are diseases that “break the bank “

Impact on economic growth and sustainability of public services

  • Estimated at $47 trillion over the next two decades.Approximately 75% of the 2010 global gross domestic product (GDP). Source: World Economic Forum / Harvard School of Public Health. 2011
  • Alter demographics
  • Stunts country level development
  • Two –punch blow to development- national economies and individuals in poverty
  • Not a mark of failure of individual will power, but politics at the highest level

What are the real determinants of this spread?

Multi-national capitalists

  • Transnational corporations are major drivers of NCD epidemics and profit from unhealthy commodities
  • Public regulation and market intervention can prevent harm caused by unhealthy commodity industries

Public health measures

Some key potential priorities for consideration:

  • Something like the  Office for Budget Responsibility for the Public’s Health
  • A comprehensive review of the marketing of unhealthy commodities and services to children, young people and the vulnerable
  • Levys on the unhealthy commodity industries to provide additional public health funding to cover the societal costs as well as reduce their consumption
  • Ensuring new trade agreements protect and promote the publics health
  • A new public health bill – the state has powers to monitor in real time the commercial risks to the publics health, to ensure the state has (reserve)powers to tackle unhealthy commodity industries and services, set out duties for public bodies to consider the health of future generations and the planet and address health inequalities and the right to health

An OBR for health?

  • Health should be properly considered in all fiscal, economic and market policies (human and planetary ill health and poor wellbeing are anthropogenic)
  • Sustainability of Public Services especially the NHS and social care (“the miscalculation of sublime proportions”). NHS is set to cost 1.6 times GDP by 2065
  • Health as an asset to prosperity and productivity- Health Creating (not damaging) Economy
  • Focus on health life expectancy and health inequalities
  • House of Lords review – Sustainability of NHS and Social Care (2017) proposed an  Office for Health and Care Sustainability
  • Mechanism for health in all policies
  • Minimum Unit Price alcohol/Air Pollution etc.
  • Lead technical Agency – Public Health England

Processed food marketing and promotions:

healthy food

 

The recommended diet vs the advertised diet

Around three-quarters of food advertising to children is for sugary, fatty and salty foods. For every £1 spent by the WHO promoting healthy diets, £500 is spent by the food industry promoting unhealthy foods

We need a comprehensive review of the marketing regulators and codes

  • Regulators and codes not fit for purpose
  • Regulators essentially accountable to industry – self regulation
  • Statutory instruments focus on protecting market and plurality and the protection publics health is a low order objective
  • Action is after the event and codes are produced by the industry so are not effective as their production is conflicted
  • Self regulation is a failure for children, young people and the vulnerable

Unhealthy commodity Industry Levys

  • Could be applies to tobacco, alcohol and ultra processed food products and services (gambling etc.)
  • Reduce consumption
  • Some of these industries pay little tax- needs reviewing
  • Pay for the externalities and provide additional funding for public health
  • Sugar Drink Industry levy – way forward – Minimum Unit Pricing of alcohol in England
  • Tobacco – estimated £500 million- support for tobacco licensing scheme, smoking cessation support, Social marketing, Tso’s regulatory support etc.

We need a new Public Health Act. The last one was in 1936. The legislation addresses the epidemics of yesterday

  • Non Communicable Diseases  require new forms of health protection
  • Duties for Public Bodies – consider health of future generations and the planet and address the causes of health inequalities
  • Realisation of human rights (Social rights and the progressive realisation)
  • Statutory monitoring and surveillance of unhealthy industries and services
Dieselgate

#Dieselgate

Trade agreements have an effect on health. They could be used to protect our health.  We could learn from the experience of other countries.

Some key potential priorities for consideration:

  • An OBR for the Public’s Health
  • A comprehensive review of the marketing of unhealthy commodities and services to children, young people and the vulnerable
  • Levy’s on the unhealthy commodity industries to provide additional public health funding to cover the societal costs as well as reduce their consumption
  • Ensuring new trade agreements protect and promote the publics health
  • A new public health bill – the state has powers to monitor in real time the commercial risks to the publics health, to ensure the state has (reserve) powers to tackle unhealthy commodity industries and services, set out duties for public bodies to consider the health of future generations and the planet and address health inequalities and the right to health

More details in the proposals for a health-creating economy. 2017. UK Health Forum

This was presented at our conference Public Health Priorities for Labour

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The disgraceful failure by the private sector to provide vulnerable addicts with the safest and best quality treatment available was exposed at the end of last month in a damning report issued by the Care Quality Commission (CQC).

72% of private providers of residential-based detoxification were found to have been failing in at least one of the fundamental standards of care that everyone has a right to receive. Shamefully, providing ‘safe care and treatment’ was where the CQC found the most breaches: 63% of providers failed to meet this standard at the time of their first inspection.

Detoxification under clinical supervision is often the first stage of a person’s addiction treatment. Often difficult and unpleasant, it is vital that they receive the best possible treatment to support their onward rehabilitation and recovery.

And yet systemic faults were found in the way these services are provided by the private sector. Many were basic and entirely avoidable errors.

No alcohol for me

For example, some staff were caught giving paracetamol to people within their care more frequently than every four hours, despite the heightened risk of liver damage among heavy alcohol users. In other cases, staff failed to plan how they would manage fits during withdrawal, despite knowing that the people in their care were at risk of having seizures.

Training in basic life support, consent, mental capacity and safeguarding were all found to be severely lacking. At times staff were found to be administering medication, including controlled drugs like methadone, without the appropriate training or being assessed as competent to do so.

This is extremely serious. People undergoing residential-based medical detoxification from alcohol or drugs often have complex physical and mental health problems alongside their addictions. According to the Royal College of Psychiatrists, the potential dangers of erroneous detoxification include fits and hallucinations, suicide risk and risk of prescription opiate drug overdose.

That’s why it is essential staff looking after these vulnerable patients are properly trained, follow national clinical guidelines and have appropriate 24-hour medical cover.

So what explains this appalling failure?

My own research in September revealed that the Tories have cut vital alcohol and drug treatment programmes by £43 million this year, forcing many people to turn to the independent sector for help. These cuts are part of wider damaging public health cuts, to the tune of £800 million by 2021.

Specifically, 106 local authorities are reducing their drug treatment and prevention budgets this year, with a combined cut across England of £28.4 million. Similarly, 95 local authorities are reducing their alcohol treatment and prevention budgets this year by a total of £6.5 million. Equally concerning, services for children needing help with drink and drugs will be slashed by £8.3m across 70 town halls.

Last month the Children’s Society revealed that parent’s alcohol abuse is damaging the lives of 700,000 teenagers across the UK. Frustratingly, at a time when demand for councils’ children’s services is rising, severe funding cuts from central Government are leaving more and more families to deal with these huge problems alone.

Yet without support at an early stage as problems emerge, families can quickly reach crisis point and the risks for the children involved grow.

The children of addicts must not be forgotten and supporting them is a personal priority of mine. Having grown up with an alcoholic father, I’m acutely aware that as a society we simply aren’t doing enough to deal with the effects of addiction.

We know that children growing up with an alcoholic parent can often themselves go on to develop problems with alcohol or drugs or suffer mental health problems.

That’s why during our party conference I reiterated my pledge to implement the first ever national strategy to support children of alcoholics and drug users.

We also mustn’t ignore other forms of serious addiction. My colleague Tom Watson, Labour’s Deputy Leader, has powerfully exposed the Government’s abject failure to treat problem gamblers.

According to the Gambling Commission the number of people with a serious habit has risen to 430,000, with a further 1.6 million at risk of developing a problem.

And yet, shockingly, the government has no idea how many problems gamblers are being treated by the NHS or how much their addiction is costing. Like alcohol and drug addiction, we must start viewing gambling addiction as a mental health problem and not a moral failing.

Theresa May’s mishandling of Brexit and her narrow majority in the Commons has left her with little ability or inclination to tackle these ‘burning injustices’ across society. Addiction treatment services have unquestionably suffered as a result.

Forcing people to turn to inadequate private sector treatment is entirely unacceptable. That’s why Labour will continue the fight to ensure our health and care system, including addiction services, remains public, free at the point of use and there for all who need it.

First published by Our NHS

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The latest sales figures show that Public Health England’s new harm reduction approach to decreasing smoking rates across the UK has not only been widely accepted, but capitalised upon this Stoptober. For the first time, vaping has featured prominently within the NHS Stoptober campaign, with the official website included in the Stoptober TV advertisement.

Vape Club – the UK’s largest online retailer of vaping products and e-cigarettes – saw e-cigarette starter kit sales increase by 29% year on year following the launch of the 2017 campaign.
man vaping
Through the adoption of this harm reduction strategy, the UK has seen record high rates of smoking cessation and is fast becoming a European leader in this respect.

This comes at a time when New York’s latest law will see vaping banned indoors in public places come into effect next month.

Director of Vape Club Dan Marchant says that the medical acceptance in the UK has provided a watershed moment for public health:

It’s fantastic to see the NHS finally backing vaping as a pathway to quit smoking. The industry has been backing this alternative for a long time, but with the evidence provided by Public Health England, endorsements from the likes of Cancer Research UK and the figures which are produced by Action on Smoking and Health (ASH), there can be no doubt that vaping is the most effective method to give up tobacco.

The NHS advocating vaping as an alternative to tobacco is an enormous breakthrough and will do an outstanding amount of good for public health and tobacco control in the UK.’

Believed to be 95% less harmful than traditional tobacco, e-cigarettes feature within the NHS’ Stoptober campaign as a way of phasing out tobacco rather than advocating – as seen in previous campaigns – the ‘cold turkey’ approach.  You can smoke Guru E-Cigs.

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A long-term smoking habit is one of the most difficult things to kick, so where’s the best place start when you’re trying to put an end to your addiction? E Juices could be the answer.

E Juices come in countless flavours, ranging from blueberry to tobacco, and they can be easily inhaled through a vaporiser.

When you’re learning how to vape, it can be difficult to get a grasp of E Liquids. Whether it’s figuring out what nicotine levels you need to equate to how much you smoke a day or discovering how to use your device, vaping may seem different at first, but it’s certainly a lifestyle change for the better.

In this guide, discover everything you need to know as a beginner about E Liquids/E Juices and how to start vaping.

Why vaping is a better alternative to smoking?

When you’re attempting to quit smoking for good, vaping now has arguably become the second step for many people. This is because vaping instead of smoking tobacco offers several benefits – check out some of them here:

Fewer Chemicals

One of the brilliant things about E Liquid is that it doesn’t contain the likes of ammonia and tar, materials that can lead to cancer, which cigarettes have in them.

Despite the fact that there are chemicals in E Liquids, the ones included are still considerably healthier than a whopping 4,000 chemicals contained in tobacco cigarettes.

No second-hand smoke

Smoking cigarettes is not only harmful on your body, but it can harm others too.

It was recently stated that passive smoking was the most common cause for asthma in kids, showing what a detrimental effect it can have on those around you. As well as children, the elderly are another group most in danger of second hand smoking.

Cigarettes release toxic chemicals, but E Liquids are nowhere near as harmful. Due to the lack of chemicals in E Liquids, the vapour doesn’t cause any threat to anyone within your vicinity.

Where to begin

When you first start vaping the mystique surrounding the various flavours and liquids can be both exciting and difficult to understand.

One of the best places to begin is by purchasing an e-cigarette starter kit. It comes with everything you will need such as a chargeable battery pack, a range of some of best E Liquid flavours for you to try out and the e-cigarette model itself.

Choosing your ideal E Liquid flavour can be made a lot easier by buying several liquids that come in small quantities in flavours such as peppermint, coffee and chocolate, so you can acquire a taste for which E Liquids tickle your fancy most.

Choosing the right strength for you

When you’re quitting smoking, and purchasing your vaping starter kit, the next stage is to consider what nicotine strength you want your E liquid to be. If you’re looking to get healthy then it’s important to choose a nicotine level that equates to your current smoking consumption.

So say for example you smoke just a few cigarettes a day, to satisfy your smoking habit you’d require a liquid with a strength of 12mg. For those who have a more serious habit, say 20 cigarettes a day, then you’d be more inclined to go for 24mg strength. This is the highest strength you can purchase.

Over time, as you continually get used to vaping, you can lower the strength of the E Liquid you’re using so ultimately you can give up your nicotine addiction all together.

Vaping is not only popular for former smokers, but for those that have never smoked too. For this particular group, there are E Liquids available that have no nicotine in them whatsoever.

Vaping isn’t as much hard work as you’d think, in fact it’s very straightforward. It’s important to remember that E Liquids are not the answer to putting an end to your nicotine addiction, but there’s no disputing that they are a much healthier alternative.

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In the UK, smoking is liable for a massive 80% of deaths from lung cancer, roughly 80% of deaths from bronchitis and emphysema, and around 14% of deaths from heart disease. Not to mention the fact that more than a quarter of all cancer deaths can be attributed to the habit. Despite this, current figures show that some nine million citizens still smoke, that is 19% of men and 15% of women. Troublingly, two-thirds of smokers begin before the age of 18. Yet, whilst there are countless other mediums that provide nicotine boosts at lower risk, adults are still choosing to smoke cigarettes.

On Wednesday 31st of May the world will be celebrating No-Tobacco Day. It is an opportunity to consider all of the alternatives out there and give giving-up a chance. In recent years, there has been a boom in replacement methods, and we have never been more aware of the statistics surrounding the damage tobacco causes to our loved ones, the environment and ourselves. With more stringent tobacco laws to be affected this year, there has never been a better time to consider quitting.

Vaping

Vaping is proving to be one of the most popular and effective methods of stopping smoking, with more than half the UK’s electronic-cigarette users giving up smoking tobacco entirely. In 2012, there were 700,000 vapers in the UK; this figure has more that quadrupled so that now there are 2.9 million. Although the NHS has endorsed vaping as a much safer and healthier alternative to smoking, more than a third of smokers have still never tried it. This is because many smokers simply do not understand the reduced risks, with many expressing concerns about the safety of e-cigarette devices. A recent survey found that whilst 13% of respondents recognize that e-cigarettes are significantly less harmful that smoking, 26% believe that they are equally or more harmful than cigarettes.

This could not be further from the truth. Recent research from Public Health England found that e-cigarettes are 95% less harmful than smoking tobacco. Moreover, cigarette smokers typically inhale over 4300 chemicals, 69 of which are carcinogens that have been proven to cause cancer. E-liquids on the other hand typically contain only four main ingredients, Propylene Glycol (a common food additive), Vegetable Glycerin (a plant-based oil), nicotine and the same flavoring used regularly in foods.

If you are considering giving up smoking, e-cigarettes could be a great way to get you there. A 2013 survey reported that vaping has helped 9 out of 10 smokers kick their habit. 70% of those surveyed said their cravings had dramatically reduced whilst 75% relayed that it had been several weeks and even months since their last cigarette.

tobacco or vaping?

The Law

In keeping with the plans to phase out smoking, the government will implement six new laws from 20th of May. Cigarettes in packs of ten will no longer be sold and rolling tobacco will only be available in 30g packs. Because of the increased carton size, the cheapest packet of cigarettes will come to £8.82. As well as this, the government will begin their plans to phase out menthol cigarettes, but this will happen at a slower rate than standard cigarettes. Expect Menthols to be unavailable from around 2020. This same period of grace will not extend to flavoured tobaccos like cherry or coconut, which will be completely prohibited from May.

There are also plans to standardize cigarette packaging, so that all brands will have to conform to an unpleasant shade of dark green. If this wasn’t enough, at least 70% of packaging will be made up of graphic photos and warnings about the dangers of smoking. The aim is to put the brakes on individual branding and undo any remaining sales advertising campaigns. Although these measures may sound drastic, a 2015 YouGov poll found that the majority of voters support the move towards uniform packaging and cautionary pictures.

These regulations will hit smokers on lower incomes the hardest, as their habit could become significantly more expensive. However, the idea is not to penalize the poor, but rather deter young people from taking up smoking and help current smokers kick their habit. By phasing out menthol and flavoured tobacco the government hopes to discourage the younger generations from starting to smoke, as new smokers tend to find menthol or flavoured tobacco less abrasive to inhale.

Ultimately, the goal of these new regulations is to significantly reduce the number of smokers in the UK by making the habit harder to come by and less pleasurable.

The Effects of Tobacco Smoke

We are all aware that smoking is harmful, but did you know that gases produced from burning cigarettes bind to red blood cells, meaning that blood struggles to get enough oxygen to the body. A lesser-known threat of smoking is the damage that it does to blood vessels. Smokers have a high risk of contracting coronary heart disease, which means a greater chance of heart attacks, strokes and angina. Whilst most of us may find the connection between smoking and lung cancer obvious, smoking also severely increases your chances of getting cancer of the cervix, mouth and throat.

If the negative impacts upon personal health aren’t sufficient to kick the habit, the impacts upon your loved ones will be. Children are especially vulnerable to second hand smoke as they have less developed airways. In fact, passive smoking is linked to over 165,000 new incidents of diseases in children every year. Moreover, it simply isn’t good enough to go outside or open a window. 85% of smoke is invisible and odorless, whilst smoke particles can build up on your clothes and surfaces remaining for a long time after sparking up.

Environmentally, tobacco farming is responsible for a large proportion of deforestation and the process of manufacturing and shipping cigarettes contributes to carbon emissions. Dropped cigarette butts also make up 38% of all collected litter.

As smoking becomes more expensive and the awareness of risks are widely publicized, there has never been a better time to quit. Especially given that, easily accessible, low risk alternatives are so readily available for an affordable price. Judging from the current trend in government policy, tobacco will soon be phased out entirely, so why not keep ahead of the curve and test out going tobacco free during World No Tobacco Day.

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Since the introduction of the modern E-cigarette in the early 2000’s, Myths such as E-liquids contain dangerous substances, E-cigs are addictive and Second hand vaping is dangerous. E ciggarette shop Essex, Tank Puffin have created this infographic to educate you on what exactly is a myth and what is a fact when talking about vaping.

Vaping myth

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Insurance companies use risk when calculating premiums. If you’re classed as a high risk to them either through existing health issues, age or lifestyle choices then they will charge more for their cover. When it comes to smoking the effects on an individual’s health are well-known and varied.

According to the Health and Social Care Centre report (2016) there were 78,000 deaths attributed to smoking in 2014. In the period 2014/15 the NHS had 4,700 smoking-related admissions per day. This accounts for approximately 28% of all admissions.

Effects of smoking

You inhale a cocktail of 40 carcinogenic chemicals each time you draw on a cigarette. Hand-rolled cigarettes are just as bad. Typical smoking-related cancers are of the lungs, throat, mouth and your organs. Your risk of stroke if you smoke 20 cigarettes a day is six times greater than if you are a non-smoker. Smokers under the age of 50 are five times more likely to have a heart attack. 90% of people with Coronary Pulmonary Obstructive Disorder (COPD) have developed this through smoking. Children of smoking parents run a higher risk of developing asthma and other breathing conditions.  Women, on average, enter the menopause 18 months earlier than their non-smoking counterparts.

And unfortunately it doesn’t stop there. Smoking also increases surgery recovery times and is linked to serious complications developing following a hip or knee replacement and any reconstructive breast surgery.

So, in terms of health insurance premiums you have two negative factors – the increased likelihood of developing a serious illness coupled with the longer recovery times and/or complications both of which increase mortality rates. Now consider that smokers have a reduced lifespan, it means that the insurance company will collect fewer monthly revenue payments over the lifespan of the policyholder. It’s little wonder that a smoker’s premiums are high.

What makes a smoker?

Insurance companies have three broad categories when it comes to how they grade you as a smoker. If you have never smoked you are (obviously) classed as a non-smoker. If you currently smoke then you are (also, obviously) a smoker. The third category is the person who used to smoke. In this case the premiums will depend on how long ago you smoked and how many you used to smoke. Some insurance companies will class you as a non-smoker if you haven’t smoked in the last 12 months although others will require you to have abstained for 5 years. It’s worth shopping around if you’ve recently quit.

Is it just cigarettes that count?

Far from it: For insurance purposes, smoking counts as anything that can be seen as a tobacco-based product. This includes e-cigarettes and nicotine patches. Smoking recreational drugs such as marijuana is also considered to class you as a smoker.

Being upfront with your insurance company

If you smoke and decide to keep this information from your insurance company and fall ill they may choose not to pay out at all or only cover a reduced percentage of your costs. In the UK, withholding information from an insurance company is classed as fraud. Bear in mind that your GP and hospital records including X-Rays, scans and tests may all be available to the insurance company to examine.

What happens if I quit during the lifetime of my policy?

While being good for your health, quitting smoking during the term of your health insurance should have a beneficial effect on your premiums. The Association of British Insurers, say that your provider will have to look into your new circumstances and will reassess your premiums accordingly. They will likely need some form of evidence such as requesting a report from your GP. 

How are premiums affected?

According to Gocompare.com, the average a smoker is likely to pay 5% or more on a premium compared that of a non-smoker of similar demographics. Let’s try and be more specific: a smoker aged 30 can pay up to a third more and a smoker aged 50 can be seen to pay up to a half more. This staggering difference is arrived at by using the extremes of the market and you will be able to find better deals. If we take a look at a northern city, Newcastle-upon-Tyne, a 70-year-old smoker may find themselves paying £3,400 pa compared with a non-smoker’s  £3,220 pa. A 45-year-old smoker would be expected to pay in the region of £1,500 pa compared to £1,400 pa. A 30-year-old smoker would face premiums of £1,000 compared to £950. So, for someone living in Newcastle, the yearly premium difference can be as small as £50 pa to £180 pa dependant on age. If we now consider London, taking our three hypothetical people then the 70-year-old smoker would see premiums of £3,800 pa compared to a non-smoker’s £3,600 pa. The 45-year-old smoker’s would be £1,650 pa compared to £1,570 pa and finally, the 30-year-old smoker’s £1,100 pa to £1,060 pa. In the capital the difference could be between £40 and £200 pa.

Considering where to buy health insurance

So there isn’t a big difference between areas in England when spread out over the course of a year but these figures need to be put in perspective. All the amounts used here are based on the best prices available and not all from the same insurance company. Failing to shop around could easily see you paying much more for premiums. Using price comparison websites and looking at insurance companies that offer policies outside of these is one way of ensuring you get the best price. Research is the key. If you are a smoker then there are insurance providers who don’t currently enquire into your smoking status and others that tailor their policies specifically for smokers by calculating their premiums on a case-by-case basis. This would be where they would take into consideration additional lifestyle factors such as weight, sports participation and other health factors. The only sure way of looking after your health and your wealth where smoking is concerned of course is to quit.

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The vaping community represents one of the most diverse hobby niches that is picking up fast with people all over the world. The types and sub types of using vaporizers for recreation encompass e-cigarettes for public use, heavy duty RDAs for cloud chasing, special accessories for the herb, high nicotine to zero nicotine mixes, and enjoying hard hitting tanginess to the throats. If you are an absolute beginner, much of the above descriptions should sound very baffling. It is natural and actually a mutual feeling shared by anyone accustomed with vaping.

For starters

Many people look it up as an alternative to smoking, which it can be surely. However, at the same time, this wonderful way to feel great is much more than merely puffing out smoke with or without the high of nicotine. Read on to know more about it. Check out useful online resources at a good retailer for vaporizer products and accessories. In fact, the availability of necessary info is a telltale sign of a neat site. Moreover, you would also have ready access to hundreds of products, often at discount rates, making it easy to fine tune your personal experience.

First, decide whether you want to begin from the basics or jump a few steps to intermediate level users. In a manner of saying, either you start with an e-cigarette, or go for more efficient accessories by reference. The choice is yours. Once you decide it, get ahead next for your eliquid fix. All the help you need to decide which one is best for you is available online, at resources like this at your preferred retailer. The following section presents a brief but essential oversight into selecting the vital liquid mix.

Determines your experience

The experience you would expect depends on the e juice chosen. To select, first decide on your purpose so as to get the right direction. For instance, if you intend to bellow huge clouds of smoke without any hard hitting feeling at the throat, then check out Vegetable Glycerin or VG based products. Further fine tune your experience with deciding the right percentage of nicotine and the flavor.

On the other hand, if your priority is to enjoy a more intense feeling with throat hits, go for a mixture containing high percentage of Propylene Glycol or PG. All cartridges display a VG to PG ratio. 100% VG solutions are also available, but it is hard to use a 100% PG mix. It is difficult to find, almost impossible except DIY brews made by some people. Both VG and PG have been in human consumption zone for quite long as these are used in different types of cosmetics and food preservation purposes.

For any new user, it is going to take some time to have the experience in deciding the best eliquid vial for personal use. Most people prefer starting with a basic pen vaporizer before they get a hang of the total high feeling. It is actually a good way to introduce yourself to this world. One can conveniently obtain the liquid and the vaporizer from a reliable virtual retailer.

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There was a time in the not so distant past that all addicts were treated with the same kinds of therapies, regardless of their gender. However, in light of ongoing research, women are known to have very real needs that are specific to their gender and as a result, therapeutic intervention must be tailored to these needs. Per Wickstrom of US Addiction Services, The Best Drug Rehab and several other treatment facilities explains that biology is only one player.

Societal and environmental triggers also need to be accounted for and in his words, “Quite frankly, those triggers are different in women than they are in men. It’s a known fact and one of the reasons why our holistic approach is so successful. We treat the whole person which means that women most often have a different slant on what is healthy for them and what can help them ease through the pains of recovery. And, make no bones about it, recovery can be painful,” he says. “But the benefits of seeing it through to recovery are beyond what words can express.”

So Then Per – What Are the Unique Needs of Women?

When asked to explain the unique needs of women, Per Wickstrom answered a question with a question of his own. “I ask you this. What is the one group that still is highly responsible for taking care of the home, raising children and being the caregiver in the family? Yes, although there are many more stay-at-home dads and custodial fathers in a divorce than ever before, women by far outnumber men in those positions,” he says. “This is important because these are some of the greatest needs we must address with women who come to us seeking help in recovery.” Here Per is referring to the most recent statistics that show more than 17% of custodial parents are now dads.

Childcare Is Huge

One of the reasons that more women don’t seek treatment is childcare. Who is going to watch the children while they are away at a recovery center? Although those very same children are often the motivator for getting clean and sober, it’s a Catch 22. You need to get clean for the kids but who will watch the kids while you’re drying out? Aftercare isn’t bad, Per notes, because women are back home with their families and interaction with their counsellor for that year of aftercare is limited to an hour or so at a time. It’s being admitted to a residential facility that is worrisome and one of the most unique needs women facing substance abuse treatment have.

While there is no simple solution to childcare, Per says that women should seek out family members and friends who would be willing to take the kids in for a brief period of time so mom can get the help she needs. There are also some social services that might step in to provide temporary foster care and churches might be a good resource as well. This is one need unique to women that is yet to be answered satisfactorily, but it is a major concern of mothers in treatment.

The Most Common Trigger in Women

Research has shown that women suffer from PTSD at a much greater percentage per capita than men and it is this one disorder that often triggers substance abuse. Many women have been raped, sexually abused or treated in some way that brought about traumatic levels of stress. In seeking to treat PTSD, many doctors prescribe medications that are also addictive and in the end, these women may find some level of healing from one disorder only to end up with another – addiction.

Addressing Those Triggers and Unique Needs

At US Addiction Services and Per Wickstrom’s other treatment facilities, every effort is made to help women with their unique needs. Sometimes programs are tailored to the needs of a mom with little to no help in the childcare department and other times staff will help mom find a suitable solution so that she can get the care she needs. However, even women without kids find a stigma attached to substance abuse that is not attached to their male counterparts which means that the approach to treatment needs to confront societal issues as well as substance abuse issues.

Together with their clients, US Addiction Services are always seeking new and innovative ways to afford women the recovery therapies they require while addressing their own unique needs as women. Per Wickstrom believes that knowledge is key and that once this social stigma is corrected, more facilities will be available to women. Until that time he and his staff are working overtime to help women find the solutions they need to help them on their path from addiction to recovery.

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Cost of Smoking Infographic

 

Thanks to Journalistic

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pack of cigarettesWith studies from reputable universities and health agencies people can no longer deny that they are exposed to lesser health issues with e-cigarettes and vape pens than tobacco cigarettes . The former delivers less nicotine than the latter. With the sudden popularity of electronic cigarettes , vape pens, and even vape mods around the world since emergence in 2003, some countries have started to place laws and mandates that would regulate use, sale, and possession.

While some smokers are behind the trend and have not yet switched to vaping, they are smoking tobacco cigarettes which are fairly easy to get and are more accessible than vape pens and e-cigarettes.

This piece breaks down the score when it comes to government regulation of vaping around the world. This article will prove to be useful for people who are planning to travel to a foreign country and are in doubt whether or not vaping is allowed in their destination.

man vaping

EUROPEAN UNION

While the EU (European Union) has no exact and clear law that directly prohibits the use of e-cigarettes and vape pens, its Directive 2001 / 95 / EC on general product provides ‘restrictive measures’ that allow e-cigarettes and vape pens to be prohibited if they are proven to cause issues in public safety and health in the future. This directive does not show that EU is against vaping, but that it does reserves the right to ban it if becomes something to be concerned about. This means that the European Union gives discretion to their allied countries to decide whether or not they need to ban vaping. Their guidelines resulted in different laws and mandates across Europe.

France – Just recently, France’s Health Ministry mandated a ban on the use of vape pens and e-cigarettes in public places to support and align their existing ban on smoking traditional cigarettes and other tobacco-related products in public. The e-cigarette market in France is booming and this regulation came as a huge strike to almost one million French e-cigarette supporters. Marisol Touraine, France’s Health Minister, said in an interview that e-cigarettes are “no ordinary product” and that they encourage “mimicking and could promote taking up smoking.”

United Kingdom – As expected, Great Britain is far ahead of the United States when it comes to regulating e-cigarettes. In 2013, the Medicines and Healthcare products Regulatory Agency or MHRA released a statement that nicotine-containing products or NCP, which includes e-cigarettes and vape pens, will be regulated by the government. The MHRA is tasked with protecting the people of United Kingdom from unsafe and untested medical devices and medicines. With this classification, vape pens and e-cigarettes are now on the same level as patches, nicotine gums, and mouth sprays that are primarily created to help smokers wean off their cigarette smoking habits. By definition then, e-cig manufacturers duly licensed in the UK can now sell their product in the market as smoking cessation devices. Smokers in the UK are allowed to smoke and use their vape pens and e-cigarette anywhere smoking is allowed.

These are other regulations in the EU that you may want to know:

Austria and Denmark – They regulates vape pens and e-cigarettes as medicinal devices
Czech Republic – Fully legal to use, sell, and advertise e-cigarettes
Finland – Illegal to sell nicotine cartridges but those that contain less than 10mg of nicotine can be bought for private and personal use
Germany, Ireland, Poland, and Portugal – Legal to sell and use e-cigarettes and vape pens
Netherlands – Legal to sell and use e-cigarettes and vape pens, but advertised is prohibited.

USA

One can be easily confused when it comes to the regulation of vape pens and e-cigarettes in the United States. Federally, the sale, usage, and advertisements of aforementioned devices are permitted, and each state has already established individual restrictions. For more information on a specific US state and its regulation on e-cigs, you may visit this reference.

CANADA

Canada is opposed to the US’s more loose laws against e-cigarettes, and have imposed a rather stringent ban on the importation of e-cigarettes as they do not want e-cigarettes coming onto Canadian soil. It is legal to vape in Canada but the government has the right to seize NCPs that are being imported into their country. The government has nothing against the personal use of e-cigarettes, but you need to buy from a licensed dealer from Canada.

BRAZIL

A strict ban on the usage, sale and purchase, and advertisement of e-cigarettes has been placed in Brazil as they consider them as “tobacco imitation” for the reason that their health agency called Anvisa found e-cigarettes and vape pens to be “lacking enough information.”

AUSTRALIA

Currently, nicotine-containing devices are totally banned in Australia as the Australian Therapeutic Goods Administration has yet to approve vape pens and e-cigarettes.

NEW ZEALAND

They regulate vape pens and e-cigarettes as medicinal products like the United Kingdom, although the use of nicotine-infused vaping products may soon be promoted once legalization is made final. More details about the proposal are cited here:https://e-cigaretteuk.org.uk/new-zealand-ministry-promotes-vaping/

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The fight over the regulation of e-cigarettes and vape pens is still not over for most countries. More and more countries are seeing the advantages of switching from regular cigarettes to these new devices that have helped millions of people across the globe quit smoking. It is only a matter of time until we see the rest of the world permit more use and sale. We covered this in Stoptober: are e-cigarettes a good enough switch Vaping is also a way to save money, as a starter kit is just a one-time purchase. After that, consumers just buy refills for juice.

If you recently switched to vaping and are thinking of traveling abroad, we hope that this article helped. Tell us your vaping story in the comments section!

Images used by stux and lindsayfox under Public Domain CC0

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