Smoking and Dementia Risk: ASH publish their 2016 Manifesto

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At the CDP, we were delighted to find out that taking Action on Smoking andScreen Shot 2016-01-19 at 10.24.10 Health (ASH) Scotland have added dementia prevention to their manifesto for the May 2016 Scottish elections. The manifesto pledges to “give preventing dementia the same importance as dementia care or cure”.

ASH report that “the number of people with a diagnosis of dementia in Scotland will double over the next 25 years unless risk factors are addressed. A meta-analysis of studies in 2007 showed that the risk of developing dementia is up to 70% higher amongst those who smoke heavily, but preventing this rise has not been central to discussions of dementia care. A separate initiative is needed to tackle dementia prevention, learning from campaigns on issues like cancer prevention and heart health.”

A key focus of the ASH manifesto is health inequality, which demonstrates the complexity in addressing dementia risk, such as smoking, across communities. The document highlights that:

  • smoking rates are four times higher in the poorest communities than in the richest
  • a third of tobacco is consumed by people with mental health issues
  • almost half of adults who are permanently sick or disabled, or who are unemployed and seeking work, smoke tobacco.
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ASH Scotland’s Chief Executive, Sheila Duffy, said:

“Socio-economic status, mental health and the context in which people grew up all have a huge impact on whether they smoke.

“Scotland’s health priority must be to redress that balance and ensure every group has the support they need to take back control of their own health and well-being.”

At CDP, we very much welcome this support for preventing dementia and understanding and reducing risk factors, including smoking. This move towards dementia prevention is our best chance to ensure that less people go on to develop this condition in the coming decades.

Further reading

Find out more about the ASH stance on smoking and dementia.

Read Prof Craig Ritchie’s thoughts on the move towards preventing dementia.

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Some sections amended with permission from ASH.