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Tobacco health fears for community groups.

Byline: KUDAK WASHE HINGI

HEALTH professionals met in Brighouse to air concerns over tobacco problems in the region's Asian communities.

They gathered to discuss a groundbreaking community initiative to raise awareness of the dangers of the use of niche tobacco products.

The use of the tobacco has led to a big rise in oral cancer cases among patients.

Research has revealed that in some South Asian communities in the UK, the use of the tobacco products is part of daily life and culture.

The niche tobacco products include chewing tobacco such as Gurkha, zarda and khaini; nasal tobacco snuff; small hand-rolled cigarettes called beedis and shisha/hookah tobacco that is smoked through a water pipe or bong.

Rashad Basharat, Education and Community Engagement Officer said: "Mouth cancer has increased in the UK by a staggering 41% in the last 10 years and the last decade has seen an increasing number of patients from black and ethnic minority backgrounds being treated for various mouth related illnesses.

"There is evidence to suggest that the use of niche tobacco products increases oral cancers as they contain carcinogens," added Mr Basharat.

He also went on to say that the use of these products also increase non-cancerous oral conditions such as gum disease and tooth decay and can lead to nicotine addiction similar to that produced by cigarette smoking. The conference at the Holiday Inn hotel heard about work being done by West Yorkshire Trading Standards Service (WYTS) and health officials and medical staff from NHS Airedale, NHS Bradford, NHS Leeds and NHS Kirklees.

For the past year they have been raising awareness of the health impact of using niche tobacco within the ethnic communities across Bradford and Kirklees.

Trading Standards are involved over the licensing legislation for shops and traders.

Key speakers at the conference included surgeon Mr James McCaul and Prof Ray Croucher from Queen Mary's University in London who has been leading the niche tobacco research for many years.

Graham Hebblethwaite, Chief Officer of WYTS said: "A key element to the overwhelming success of this initiative has been the partnership working between WYTS and the NHS teams.

"Each organisation shares a common goal - to reduce the health inequalities in the black and ethnic minority communities, raise awareness of the dangers of niche tobacco use and enable users to access redefined services to seek help to quit."

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* HEALTH ALERT: Tobacco products popular with the Asian communities
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Publication:Huddersfield Daily Examiner (Huddersfield, England)
Date:Feb 25, 2012
Words:405
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