Media highlights: 17 – 21 August 2015


Newspaper stack 

By Steven Fifer, PR Manager for the Chartered Institute of Environmental Health (CIEH) 

Public Health England’s report on e-cigarettes dominated the headlines this week and was covered in most national publications, check out the BBC’s report, highlighting that e-cigarettes are significantly less harmful to health than tobacco and have the potential to help smokers quit smoking. Within the PHE’s press release, the Chief Executive of PHE goes on to call on local stop smoking services to consider supporting e-cigarette users in their journey to quitting completely.

The CIEH published its own comment in reaction to the PHE report, which welcomed the PHE’s advice in supporting organisations to develop policies on the use of e-cigarettes in enclosed public places and workplaces. In recent times, the CIEH has been working closely with Action on Smoking and Health (ASH) in helping organisations adopt e-cigarette policies and there have been examples of local authorities who have put these into practice.

E-cigarettes were already in the news before PHE’s report was published on Wednesday, as ASH released details of their survey of how young people are using e-cigarettes. According to ASH’s findings, e-cigarette use has risen by 6% in two years amongst 11- to 18-year olds but at the same time, 11- to 15-year-olds that smoke tobacco is at an all-time low.

Water pollution in the North-West of England continues to rumble on as United Utilities say they have “identified and isolated” the source of the cryptosporidium contamination which has been affecting large parts of Lancashire. More than 300,000 homes have been affected and water chiefs have warned local residents they face another weekend of boiling tap water more than two weeks after the initial outbreak. Environmental Health Officers do not enforce health standards for public drinking water, that’s the preserve of the Drinking Water Inspectorate, but an interesting public health issue nonetheless.

Since the last blog, CIEH has taken part in a couple of radio interviews. First up was Julie Barratt on BBC Radio 4’s Today Programme (scroll to 42m45s) discussing the Local Government Association’s warning to parents around children and teenagers visiting rogue tattooists and buying kits over the internet as part of a celebrity-fuelled craze for 'inking'. This was followed by Tony Lewis on BBC Radio Berkshire talking about noise and complaints around revellers in Eton (scroll to 1h 9m).

Radio interviews are a great opportunity to reach a large number of people, as well as an important medium to highlight the significant issues that are involved in the world of environmental health.

You might have noticed that in these blogs I like to end on an upbeat note or light-hearted story and as soon as I saw the next article, I just knew it had to be the piece de resistance for this week’s entry. National Geographic  has released a video which shows how easy it is for the rodents to climb through the pipes of bathrooms and into your toilet. This raises the issue of pest control and this is a key environmental health interest. Our policy officer, Howard Price, said that it was highly unlikely you are going to see a rat the next time you visit the toilet and that’s because our drainage systems are designed with a running trap to send adventurous rodents back down into the sewer before they reach your pipes.

Nonetheless, rats and other rodents raise alarm and distress amongst people and it was interesting to read in our Environmental Health Workforce Survey that the most common services to be stopped in response to local authority budget cuts over the past three years was pest control (71.9%).

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