E-cigarettes: misconception of vaping dangers in the UK

Research from King’s College London, UK, finds smokers and ex-smokers overestimate the vaping dangers of e-cigarettes.

The Cancer Research UK-funded study assessed the knowledge about nicotine, perceptions of the relative harms of smoking, and vaping dangers, e-cigarettes and nicotine replacement therapy (NRT). With fewer than 6 out of 10 accurately believing that e-cigarettes are less harmful than tobacco cigarettes.

Dr Leonie Brose, from the Institute of Psychiatry, Psychology & Neuroscience, and lead researcher said: “Tobacco cigarettes kill over half of those who smoke long-term, yet very few people know that nicotine is not the direct cause of smoking-related death and disease.”

“We found those people who think nicotine is to blame for harms from smoking are more likely to think e-cigarettes and NRT are just as bad as smoking.”

Source: E-cigarettes: misconception of vaping dangers in the UK

HIV: Know the epidemic, shape the response

Every second person diagnosed with HIV has already reached an advanced stage in the infection – which is one reason for a persistent HIV epidemic in Europe This shows that reaching and testing those at risk of infection with HIV is still a public health challenge across Europe.

With nearly 160,000 people newly diagnosed with HIV, 2017 marked another year of alarming numbers of new HIV diagnoses in the WHO European Region. Encouragingly, the overall increasing trend is not as steep as before. The eastern part of the Region recorded over 130 000 new HIV diagnoses, the highest number ever. In contrast, the European Union and European Economic Area (EU/EEA) countries reported a decline in rates of new diagnoses, mainly driven by a 20% decrease since 2015 among men who have sex with men.

Source: World AIDS Day 2018: Know the epidemic, shape the response

 New WHO noise guidelines released

The just released WHO Environmental Noise Guidelines for the European Region provide strong evidence that noise is one of the top environmental hazards to both physical and mental health and well-being in the area. Officially launched to countries and stakeholders in Basel, Switzerland on 10 October 2018, the document identifies levels at which noise has significant health impacts and recommends actions to reduce exposure. For the first time, a comprehensive and rigorous methodological framework was applied to develop the recommendations.

Read more about the  noise guidelines

Health Promotion and Disease Prevention Knowledge Gateway

This Gateway is a reference point for public health policy makers, offering reliable, independent and up-to date information on topics related to the promotion of health and well-being, in particular the prevention of non-communicable diseases like cardiovascular disease, diabetes and cancer.

It provides short, impactful and concise briefs for each topic, focusing on the aspects most relevant to policy makers. The topics covered in this Knowledge Gateway were prioritised by EU decision makers working in the areas of public health and prevention of non-communicable diseases. The content is to be updated periodically and new Briefs will be added regularly to reflect developments in the field and respond to the needs of EU policy makers.

To visit the Knowledge Gateway

Colour-coded food labels in Belgium

Belgium will adopt the French ‘Nutri-Score’ food labelling system. Under the voluntary system, food will be given a letter and corresponding colour from dark green (a) to dark red (F). The letters awarded are determined by an assessment of sugars, saturated fatty acids, salt, calories, fruits, vegetables, fibre and protein.

To see more details (in French) of the French food labelling system



Challenges in long-term care in Europe

A new study, which includes country reports and a synthesis report, provides a brief description of the main features of the national long-term care systems in 35 European countries.

The synthesis report presents a comparative analysis of the national long-term care systems. It identifies national reforms aimed at tackling these challenges and presents a brief overview of national long-term care indicators. It also puts forward a number of recommendations to deal with the four identified challenges:

  • access to and adequacy of long-term care provisions,
  • issues related to the employment situation of carers,
  • the quality of LTC provision and jobs, and
  • the financial sustainability of national long-term care provisions.

To read the report on long-term care


Improving understanding of biosimilars 

The European Medicines Agency (EMA) has published additional information on biosimilar medicines, as part of their ongoing work to improve understanding of biosimilars across the EU. A biosimilar is a biological medicine that is highly similar in all essential aspects to a ‘reference’ biological medicine already authorised.

The new material includes an animated video for patients that explains key facts on biosimilar medicines and how EMA works to ensure that they are as safe and effective as their reference biological medicines.

For more information on biosimilars 


Communicating risks more effectively

Emergency risk communication (ERC) is a vital public health intervention. It can save lives during emergency situations and, as such, should be considered an investment in people’s health, safety and security.

A new package is available to guide countries of the Region in establishing systems and plans for effective ERC tailored to their specific contexts.

The following 5 steps can make a difference in how effectively risks are communicated during health emergencies:

  1. training to build homogeneous capacity based on a country’s priority hazards;
  2. capacity-mapping to identify needs and gaps in view of strengthening in-country ERC;
  3. plan-writing to develop a multihazard ERC plan based on a WHO template;
  4. plan-testing through multisectoral simulation and tabletop exercises; and
  5. plan adoption to update the national ERC plan and integrate it into national preparedness and response plans

For more information, go to Emergency risk communication

Alcohol ‘best buys’ by the WHO

Nearly 6% of all deaths worldwide were attributable to alcohol in 2012, with more than half caused by non-communicable diseases such as heart disease, cancer, liver disease and mental health disorders.

In the EU alone in 2014, 72,000 deaths due to alcohol-related diseases could have been avoided and globally it is estimated that 5.1% of the burden of disease as measured in disability-adjusted life-years (DALYs) is attributed to alcohol consumption.

The World Health Organization has identified three priority actions for alcohol policy called their ‘Best Buys’:

  • Using taxation to help regulate demand for alcoholic beverages
  • Restrictions on the availability of alcoholic beverages
  • Comprehensive restrictions or bans on alcohol advertising.

To read the full article on the EPHA website: Why Europe urgently needs to buy into the alcohol ‘best buys’