Don’t drown in toxic smoke – new video campaign

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Actress and mother Jill Halfpenny and Fire Minister Shahid Malik today launch a dramatic government campaign that highlights the danger of toxic smoke from house fires and urges the public to test their smoke alarm weekly.

The ‘Don’t Drown in Toxic Smoke’ advertising campaign dramatically shows how quickly toxic smoke can impact on the human body. A sleeping couple are shown being overcome by the drowning sensation of toxic smoke when a fire breaks out in their home at night.

The campaign is supported by new research from CLG which found that people vastly underestimate the impact of toxic smoke; The reality is that just two to three breaths of toxic smoke will affect your ability to breathe, a sensation similar to drowning, as shown in the new advert.

www.direct.gov.uk/firekills

Non-smokers live longer

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London: Smoking matters more than money and class in determining how long you will live, researchers said.

Smokers from the highest social class are more likely to die early than non-smokers in the lowest class. And smoking also wipes out the longevity advantage that woman normally have over men.

The findings came from a massive study involving more than 15,000 men and women in Paisley and Renfrew. Carried out over the course of 28 years, the findings are reported today in the online edition of the British Medical Journal.

The researchers found that a well-off professional who smokes has a far lower survival rate than a non-smoking low-paid worker of the same sex. Among both men and women, smokers of all social classes ran a much higher risk of dying early than non-smokers from the lowest social classes.

“In essence, neither affluence nor being female offers a defence against the toxicity of tobacco,” said the researchers, led by Dr Laurence Gruer, director of public health science with NHS Health Scotland.

The findings also suggest there is little scope for reducing class-related health inequalities unless smoking rates in the lower social classes can be reduced.

The study began with 8,353 women and 7,049 men aged 45-64 in the early 1970s. These were then divided into 24 groups – male or female, smokers, ex-smokers or never-smokers – and all categorised in one of four social class headings.

After 28 years, 56% of non-smoking women and 36% of non-smoking men in the bottom two social classes were still alive – compared with only 41% of women smokers in the top two classes and 24% of men.

The researchers also found that most deaths from lung cancer were among smokers. There were 842 deaths from lung cancer – 5% of them among those who had never smoked, 9% amongst former smokers, and 86% among current smokers.

The researchers also found that the death rate for ex-smokers was similar to those who had never smoked, suggesting that quitting can make a significant difference regardless of status.

The winter flu season – no better time to quit smoking?

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London: The smoking ban, which came into effect earlier this year, leaves the UK’s 12 million smokers facing a very bleak winter… So if hanging outside in the bitter cold to indulge in a cigarette doesn’t seem like such a good idea any more, there really is no better time to finally kick the habit.

The good news for those determined to stop smoking this season is that from the moment you have your last cigarette, your body begins to heal. It only takes 20 minutes for your blood pressure to return to normal. Within 24 hours the carbon monoxide levels in your blood will drop. After 48 hours nicotine is eliminated from the body and there’s an improvement in taste and smell. If giving up for just two days can have this kind of effect, just imagine how good you’ll feel if you give up for good.

But trying to go it alone in your quit attempt is not the route to success, only 3% of smokers who attempt to quit using willpower alone are smokefree a year later. But, it seems even brief advice from a healthcare professional can increase the likelihood of a smoker staying off cigarettes by up to 30%. As support is fundamental to quitting, a campaign called SERIOUSQUITTERS has launched to offer just that, a support system for those aiming to stub it out for good.

TV presenter Kate Thornton was herself a former smoker, explains why she is supporting the new Serious Quitters campaign: “Giving up smoking was one of the hardest but also one of the most rewarding things I’ve ever done. I would urge any smoker to stop and really think about what they are doing to themselves every time they light up. I never ever thought I could do it. That is why I am urging smokers who want to quit to access the information and support available from SERIOUSQUITTERS and hopefully taking the first step in stopping for good.”

For more information visit www.seriousquitters.co.uk

Knee arthritis may be sign of lung cancer in smokers

Rome: Arthritis of the knee may be the first sign of a type of lung cancer that is hard to treat in heavy smokers, suggests research published ahead of print in the Annals of the Rheumatic Diseases.

The Italian researchers reviewed the case notes of all patients with rheumatic disorders, diagnosed at one tertiary referral centre over six years.

Between 2000 and 2005, more than 6500 new patients attended the clinic. Of these, 296 (4.4%) were cases of monoarthritis—inflammation in just one joint—of the knee.

Among this group of patients, the knee arthritis, which was very mild, was the first sign of as yet undiagnosed non-small cell lung cancer in just under 2%.

All the patients were middle aged men, who had been heavy smokers for most of their lives.

But in every case, the lung cancer was operable, and once the cancerous tissue had been removed, the knee symptoms subsided.

Non-small cell lung cancer is linked to other conditions, which feature abnormal growths, in up to 20 per cent of cases, say the authors. And spread to the bones occurs in around one in five cases.

But the authors note that it has not so far been linked to arthritis.

Non-small cell lung cancer is particularly difficult to treat unless caught early, and in over half the cases diagnosed, the disease is already advanced.

Features that could act as early warning signs are therefore especially important, say the authors.

Secondhand smoke – the invisable killer – new government ad campaign launches

London: Secondhand smoke is an “invisible killer”, according to a shocking new advertising campaign, launched by Public Health Minister Caroline Flint today. Nearly 85 per cent of tobacco smoke is invisible and odourless, but it causes just as much harm to people’s health as the smoke that is visible(i).

In the TV advert, which will be broadcast on UK TV from Monday 5 March, pervasive, dark smoke curls around guests at a wedding reception revealing the actual amount of smoke emitted by a single cigarette. And the smoker’s well intentioned attempts to blow or waft smoke away from non-smokers does not reduce the potential risk of secondhand smoke to health. The ads make this “invisible killer” visible in this family celebration. The TV commercial will be supported by press, online and outdoor advertising from 5 March.

Whilst most smokers and non-smokers believe secondhand smoke can cause harm, a new survey released today to support the campaign shows over half of smokers continue to smoke in a room with adult non-smokers, and a further quarter will still smoke when theyÂ’re near children(ii).

Secondhand smoke contains around 4,000 different chemicals. It can increase your chance of developing lung cancer and heart disease and can also cause a variety of serious health conditions including respiratory disease and cot death in children(iii). ItÂ’s made up of both side stream smoke from the burning tip of the cigarette, and mainstream smoke exhaled by the smoker. Side stream smoke accounts for nearly 85 per cent of the smoke in a smoky environment and contains a much higher concentration of toxins, such as hydrogen cyanide, ammonia and carbon monoxide.

Launching the new campaign Public Health Minister Caroline Flint said:

“Smoking is harmful not just to smokers but to the people around them. What this new campaign brings home very clearly is the full impact of secondhand smoke. 85 per cent of smoke may be invisible and odourless but it is still damaging people’s health. Wafting and blowing away smoke may seem like the right thing to do but in reality, it makes little difference to the amount of secondhand smoke inhaled by people around you.

“With England going Smokefree on 1st July, there has never been a better time to stop smoking. We have already exceeded our three-year target to help 800,000 people quit by 2005/6, and still more and more people are successfully kicking the habit.”

Professor Jarvis, University College London commented: “Children are particularly affected by breathing the poisons in secondhand tobacco smoke, because their bodies are still developing. Their bronchial tubes and lungs are smaller and immune systems less developed, making them more vulnerable to the toxins in smoke. Despite smokers’ efforts to blow their smoke away, or to not sit near children, they are still causing harm. People need to see secondhand smoke for the invisible killer that it is.”

Mikis Euripides, Asthma UK’s Assistant Director of Policy & Public Affairs said: ‘For people with asthma the effects of smoking can be deadly. 82% of people with this serious condition tell us that other people’s cigarette smoke triggers their asthma and many cannot go out to bars and clubs without the fear of a fatal asthma attack. About 800,000 people with asthma in England are also smokers themselves(iv), increasing their risk of asthma symptoms, asthma attacks and permanent damage to the airways.”

The ads will run until 8th April coinciding with National No Smoking Day on Wednesday 14th March: nosmokingday.org.uk

The best way to protect your family and other adults from secondhand smoke is to stop smoking. For further information phone the NHS Smoking Helpline free on 0800 169 0 169. Smokers who want to quit can also find details of their local NHS Stop Smoking Service by visiting gosmokefree.co.uk texting ‘GIVE UP’ and their full postcode to 88088 or asking at their local GP practice, pharmacy or hospital.

The NHS Smoking Helpline (0800 169 0 169) provides expert, free, and friendly advice to smokers and those close to them. Since its launch it has received over one million calls and a year after first calling the helpline, nearly a quarter of callers said they had successfully stopped and were still not smoking. Advisors can also refer callers to a local NHS Stop Smoking Service offering ongoing free face-to-face support and advice near their own home. There are over 170 throughout the country, offering a range of services including one-to-one meetings and group discussions with trained cessation advisors. Government research shows that smokers are up to four times more likely to stop successfully if they use their local NHS Stop Smoking Service together with NRT than they are if they use willpower alone.

Quitters can also sign up to a new website: justgiving.com/smokefree and quit smoking whilst raising money for a charity of their choice. The NHS also offers an interactive cessation support programme, Together, which helps smokers to quit by providing advice at key stages of the giving up process through a range of communication methods including email, text messages, mailings and phone calls.

Sources for statistics
(i) Chief Medical Office Annual Report 2003/US Surgeon General. The Health Consequences of Smoking: Chronic Obstructive Lung Disease, 1984.

(ii) 90% of UK population believes secondhand smoke can cause harm. However 56% smokers will still smoke in a room with adult non-smokers and 24% smokers will still smoke in a room with children. Research conducted amongst 1,600 adults aged 16-74 in England by BMRB’s Access Omnibus survey, Feb 2007.

(iii) Secondhand smoke increases the risk of lung cancer by 24% and heart disease

by 25%. Scientific Committee on Tobacco and Health (SCOTH) report, 2004.

(iv) 23% of adults with asthma in England are smokers (National Asthma Panel 2006) based on England adult population of 3.49 million with asthma