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Issue Date:- 16 June 2008

North West people say:- “Let’s make smoking history for our children

HEALTH experts and community leaders heard that North West residents overwhelmingly support further measures to protect children from tobacco.  Findings from research carried out by Smokefree North West were revealed at the regional launch of a new consultation on the National Tobacco Strategy, which will shape Government policy over the next 10 years.

The study was carried out to help to target a £2m investment programme by North West primary care trusts, and showed that of people questioned:-

* 93% supported fining retailers who sell to under age smokers

* 89% agreed with banning retailers from selling tobacco if convicted of selling to under age smokers

* 86% supported licensing retailers to sell tobacco, with licenses being revoked if they sold to underage smokers

* 81% supported cigarettes only being sold on premises restricted to over 18s

* 81% agreed with a ban on smoking in cars with passengers aged under 18

* the majority supported the removal of point of sale advertising, a ban on vending machines selling cigarettes, and stopping the sale of packs of 10 cigarettes

Smokefree North West supports proposals in the new Government consultation on a range of measures to protect children and young people from the effects of smoking, as well as assisting smokers to quit.  These include banning vending machines, where 17% of 11-15 year olds buy their cigarettes; banning packs of 10 cigarettes, which are known to be bought by the majority of 11-15 year olds; putting cigarettes out of sight in shops and supermarkets; only allowing tobacco to be sold in plain packaging.

Smokefree North West’s research strongly demonstrates that the region is behind these measures, and indicates a desire by both smokers and non-smokers to protect children from tobacco and its effects.

Janet Atherton, Chair of Smokefree North West said:- “Tobacco must remain the number one public health issue, and the region has the most to gain from a new ten year cross governmental tobacco strategy.  The tobacco industry is continually recruiting young people to replace those smokers who have quit or died from their habit.  We have a once in a lifetime opportunity to keep tobacco out of their hands and make tobacco history for our children.”

Those sentiments were echoed by Dr Steven Ryan, Medical Director of Alder Hey Children’s Hospital who commented:- “With so many of our children and young people smoking, it is an appalling fact that half of them will die early from smoking related illnesses.  I strongly support the Department of Health’s campaign to help reduce the exposure of children to tobacco smoke.  There is clearly public support for these new proposed measures and working together we can make tobacco history for our children, benefiting current and future generations in the North West.”

Vast majority say dentist has 'never' checked them for mouth cancer

THE UK's leading dental charity has revealed that patients fear they are being put at risk of mouth cancer - as 71% say their dentist has never checked them for the condition and 87% say their dentist has never even spoken to them about it.

According to the British Dental Health Foundation, an independent public advice charity, mouth cancer is the most deadly oral condition, killing 1 person every 5 hours in the UK.  The number of new cases is also increasing every year.  Dentists are expected to check for mouth cancer during routine appointments but the National Mouth Cancer Survey, conducted jointly by the Foundation and Medicash for National Smile Month, reveals that patients believe firmly that this is not the case.

Dr Nigel Carter, chief executive of the Foundation, commented:- "This is a big surprise and will be a major concern for both the public and the profession.  Mouth cancer is a very serious condition.  It kills more than cervical cancer and testicular cancer combined and yet a staggering 23% of people have never even heard of it.  The problem here appears to be 2fold.  Firstly not enough dentists are carrying out the checks and 2ndly those that do carry them out are failing to communicate this with their patients - missing a perfect opportunity to educate them on the dangers of mouth cancer.  NHS dentists are expected to carry out dental check-ups in a very short space of time and it appears that many do not feel they have the time to carry out this important activity."

Mouth cancer kills 1 in 2 people that develop the condition but with early detection survival chances increase to 9 out of 10.  Dentists are trained to spot the early signs of mouth cancer which can include ulcers that don't heal, lumps and red or white patches in the mouth while self examination can also be beneficial.

Peter Lauris, sales and marketing director for health insurer Medicash, commented:- "As 59% of people said that the thought of developing mouth cancer is even more frightening than other cancers, for peace of mind they need to attend the dentist regularly and ask to be checked for mouth cancer.  There are other measures people can take to ensure their risk of developing mouth cancer is reduced such as not smoking, drinking less alcohol and eating a healthy balanced diet.  However, of those who drink only moderately and do not smoke, up to 1 in 4 younger people are still developing mouth cancer.  The message is clear - commitment to maintaining regular dental visits is crucial and can prove lifesaving.  People are sometimes put off because they think dental care is expensive but the reality is there are plenty of ways to make it affordable, such as health cash plans, and it could be best the investment they'll ever make."


THE results of a Help the Aged poll show that 66% of people in the North West intend to vote for a political party that prioritises social care for older people at the next election.  Key issues around adult social care such as the gap between care and provision and quality of life in care homes have generated considerable debate in recent months.  The Government has promised a Green Paper next Spring, but the Charity says the results "raise the stakes.

The survey also found that 72% of people in the North West believe 'politicians have neglected social care to the extent that it is now in crisis.'

Paul Cann, Director of Policy at Help the Aged, said:- "These figures raise the stakes on adult social care - the issue looks to have achieved the same status as the perennial duo of schools and hospitals.  More and more people in the North West are waking up to the crisis we face, and will vote for whomever they think will best steer a course out of the current mess.  Social care has now become a decisive vote winner - or loser.

Gordon Brown has stated that the system needs 'fundamental reform', while the Department of Health admitted last month there could be a six billion pound funding gap in social care in England in 20 years' time. 

We desperately need to see a brave and bold Green Paper, that creates a fair and sustainable funding settlement for adult social care. 

There is a mounting clamour for change, and our research shows the people of the North West intend to make this known at the next election.

As well as the clear majority of North West voters wanting to see adult social care prioritised an overwhelming 89% of respondents agreed that politicians must do more to inform people about social care for older people."

Paul Cann continued:- "People need to know what their rights and responsibilities are within the realm of social care - all too often we only find out how thing work once we need help.

Everybody comes into contact with the system at some point in their lives, and, rich or poor, getting the care you need can be a daunting and complicated task. 

Given that all of us will be affected by it at some point, it's no wonder the issue has become so pivotal politically."

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