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Weekly news - 18th March 2022

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Avoidable mortality in Great Britain: 2020

In 2020, Scotland had the highest avoidable ASMR (age-standardised mortality rate) for alcohol-related and drug-related deaths with 52.1 deaths per 100,000 people. This was statistically significantly higher than the rates for the other two countries. In comparison, England had the lowest rate with 24.0 deaths per 100,000 people | ONS, UK

Facility designed to allow people to take drugs more safely while supervised is coming to Llanelli

One mum whose son died in a locked toilet in Carmarthen town centre believes he might have been alive today had he been able to attend such a centre | Wales Online, USA

Two-thirds of scientists want to keep alcohol at conferences

Nearly 1,500 scientists participated in the online poll, which began on 20 December as part of a Nature story about reconsidering the role of alcohol in the scientific workplace (Nature 600, S86–S88; 2021). When asked whether alcohol should be banned at scientific conferences, 68% of those who responded to the self-selecting poll said no, 26% said yes and 6% were not sure | Nature, UK

Death Penalty For Drug Offences: Global Overview 2021

Harm Reduction International has monitored the use of the death penalty for drug offences worldwide since our first ground-breaking publication on this issue in 2007. This report, our eleventh on the subject, continues our work of providing regular updates on legislative, policy and practical developments related to the use of capital punishment for drug offences, a practice which is a clear violation of international law | HRI, UK

National consultation asks public to help create a smoke-free Wales by 2030

The Welsh Government is calling on people across the country to join a national consultation that will shape its strategy to make Wales smoke-free by 2030 | Welsh Government, UK

Under-25s could be banned from buying cigarettes under Government plans

UK lawmakers may follow New Zealand's lead by banning cigarettes for future generations as smoking levels remain stubborn | Mirror, UK

Menthol cigarettes used by three fifths of young smokers in Wales prior to their ban

The use of menthol cigarettes in underage smokers was widespread in Wales before a ban was introduced, according to new research from Cardiff University and the University of Stirling. The study – the first to reveal the full extent of flavoured cigarette use in this age group – found 60.5% of smokers aged 11-16 reported using menthol cigarettes in the 30 days prior to the survey being carried out in 2019 | Cardiff University, UK

Latest suspected drug deaths report

The latest quarterly report on the number of suspected drug deaths during 2021 shows a fall of 8% (116) on the previous year. The report on suspected drug death Management Information from Police Scotland shows there were 1,295 deaths between January and December 2021. The equivalent number of suspected drug deaths for 2020 was 1,411, though official statistics from National Records of Scotland showed the confirmed number of drug-related deaths in 2020 was 1,339 | Scottish Government, UK

Pregnant women should be asked how much they drink

Pregnant women should be asked how much alcohol they are drinking and the answer recorded in their medical notes, new "priority advice" for the NHS says | BBC, UK

Closed consultation: Expanding access to naloxone

The consultation received 704 responses. Just under a third of the responses were from organisations and just over two-thirds were from individuals. There was strong support for the proposals in the consultation. Most of the respondents agreed that the individuals and services we consulted on should be able to supply naloxone without a prescription. Most respondents also agreed that allowing the individuals and services we consulted on to supply take-home naloxone without a prescription would help reduce overdoses and drug-related deaths | DHSC, UK

The impact of COVID-19 on access to harm reduction, substance use treatment and recovery services in Scotland: a qualitative study

[Open access] People who use drugs (PWUD) are considered vulnerable to COVID-19 exposure and the sequelae of infection due to their social circumstances, health conditions, drug purchasing, and substance use. They can depend on access to services that provide harm reduction, substance use treatment, recovery and support, and general healthcare. Social distancing measures and service restrictions posed significant challenges to the health and wellbeing of PWUD | BMC Public Health, UK

Wakefield: Warning issued over street drug sold as 'diazepam'

Police in Wakefield have issued a warning after a batch of tablets being illegally sold as 'diazepam' caused several people to collapse | BBC, UK

Reducing Drug Deaths in London (PDF)

This report urges the Government to introduce a national naloxone programme in England, bringing it in line with Northern Ireland, Scotland, and Wales. It also calls on the Mayor to work with the Metropolitan Police Service so that officers routinely carry nasal naloxone spray, as the police are regularly in contact with people who use drugs and are at risk of an overdose. The report makes a series of recommendations aimed at reducing the number of people who die from drug-related causes in London, with a particular focus on drug checking services, naloxone, and drug consumption rooms. [Press release here] | London Assembly Health Committee, UK

The Marketing and Consumption of No and Low Alcohol Drinks in the UK (PDF)

This report examines how No and Low Alcohol (NoLo) beverages are marketed and promoted in the UK and explores how and why consumers drink them. Whilst a more nuanced understanding of the expanding NoLo market and changes in drinking practices is important for policy and public health debates, this topic remains under-researched. The report adds to the evidence base on NoLo consumption in the UK through interviews with drinkers and nondrinkers alongside an examination of marketing and social media outputs for two popular NoLo drinks | IAS, UK

Latest wastewater data reveal drug-taking habits in 75 European cities in a record 25 countries — increases in detections of most drugs studied

The 2021 findings from the largest European project in the science of wastewater analysis are revealed today in Wastewater analysis and drugs — a European multi-city study, published by the Europe-wide SCORE group, in association with the EU drugs agency (EMCDDA) | EMCDDA, Portugal

War deepens suffering for Ukraine’s drug users

At a time of increased stress, withdrawal medication is hard to find while blackmarket drug prices soar | Aljazeera, Qatar

In U.S., alcohol use disorder linked to 232 million missed workdays annually

Heavy alcohol use is associated with missing work, but the scope of that relationship has not been well understood. Now, based on survey data from more than 110,000 U.S. adults with full-time jobs, researchers at Washington University School of Medicine in St. Louis have quantified the extent of the problem | Washington University School of Medicine in St. Louis, USA

Tobacco Product Use Among Adults — United States, 2020

In 2020, 19.0% of U.S. adults (47.1 million) used any tobacco product. Cigarettes were the most commonly used tobacco product (12.5%), followed by e-cigarettes (3.7%). From 2019 to 2020, the prevalence of overall tobacco product use, combustible tobacco product use, cigarettes, e-cigarettes, and use of two or more tobacco products decreased | CDC, USA