Newton To Put Public Health in Motion

Posted 29th April 2019 by Dave Cross
Professor John Newton, Director for Health Improvement at Public Health England, has been elected to be the Faculty of Public Health’s (FPH) next Vice President. Professor Newton has been an outspoken supporter of tobacco harm reduction and vaping.

The FPH is a membership organisation for nearly 4,000 public health professionals across the UK and around the world.  The registered charity sees its role as to improve the health and wellbeing of local communities and national populations.

Professor Newton previously worked as Regional Director of Public Health for NHS South Central, an Honorary Professor of Public Health and Epidemiology at the University of Manchester, a Director of Research and Development in two large NHS teaching hospitals (Southampton and Oxford), and was the first Director and CEO of UK Biobank.

The FPH said: “We are happy to announce that Professor John Newton, Director of Health Improvement at Public Health England, has been elected by our members to be FPH's next Vice President. He will take office following June's AGM. Congratulations John!”

“John brings with him experience and expertise in strategic leadership, management and communication to FPH and we very much look forward to working with him and our members to improve the health and wellbeing of local communities and national populations.”

On his election, John said: “It’s a great privilege to be able to serve FPH as Vice President and I look forward to supporting the new President in any way I can. There are many pressing public health issues across the UK and internationally, and FPH is well placed to help its members address them.”

Incoming FPH President Maggie Rae said: “I would like to offer my congratulations to John Newton on his appointment as FPH Vice President. John brings with him a wealth of experience to the role of Vice President and I look forward to working with him and FPH members to protect and improve the health of the public.”

Professor Newton oversaw the PHE’s revolutionary evidence review that drove a dramatic shift in the acceptance of vaping in England.

The main findings of the review:

  • Vaping poses only a small fraction of the risks of smoking and switching completely from smoking to vaping conveys substantial health benefits
  • E-cigarettes could be contributing to at least 20,000 successful new quits per year and possibly many more
  • E-cigarette use is associated with improved quit success rates over the last year and an accelerated drop in smoking rates across the country
  • Many thousands of smokers incorrectly believe that vaping is as harmful as smoking; around 40% of smokers have not even tried an e-cigarette
  • There is much public misunderstanding about nicotine (less than 10% of adults understand that most of the harms to health from smoking are not caused by nicotine)
  • The use of e-cigarettes in the UK has plateaued over the last few years at just under 3 million
  • The evidence does not support the concern that e-cigarettes are a route into smoking among young people (youth smoking rates in the UK continue to decline, regular use is rare and is almost entirely confined to those who have smoked)

At its launch, Newton said: “It would be tragic if thousands of smokers who could quit with the help of an e-cigarette are being put off due to false fears about safety.”

“We need to reassure smokers that switching to an e-cigarette would be much less harmful than smoking. This demonstration highlights the devastating harms caused by every cigarette and helps people see that vaping is likely to pose only a fraction of the risk. We want to encourage more smokers to try and quit completely with the help of an e-cigarette.”

 Dave Cross
Article by Dave Cross
Freelance writer, physicist, karateka, dog walker