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Thursday 31 May, 2018
Public health officials will be working with licensed clubs, theatres and hospitality venues over Auckland in the upcoming months to ensure compliance with the Smoke-free Environments Act.

Auckland Regional Public Health Service (ARPHS) Health Improvement Manager, Dean Adam says a simple and cheap way of complying with the Act is for the venue to become smoke-free. "I question why owners give up the best seats to smokers. On a sunny day, smokers get the best outdoor spots," he says.

"Aucklanders who are tired of being served up smoke in their favourite local establishments could chat to owners about the venue becoming smoke-free. Being smoke-free is catching on within hospitality and Auckland research shows this is something the public supports. Most Kiwis don’t smoke - so why are venues set up to accommodate a minority group? It creates an environment that normalises addiction," says Mr Adam.

"Manurewa is the next suburb we are targeting because it has one of the highest rates of smoking in Auckland. We are doing our bit to reduce second-hand smoking to improve peoples’ health," says Mr Adam.

According to census data, 21 percent of all adults aged 15 years and above living in Manurewa are regular smokers.

Those who breach the Act by refusing to comply could face prosecution by the Ministry of Health and fines of up to $4000. If a member of the public notices a smoking breach they can make a complaint by phoning (09) 623 4600.

The Smoke-free Environments Act 1990 was established to protect people from inhaling second-hand smoke which can have serious health consequences.

Facts about second-hand smoking

  • ‘The scientific evidence indicates that there is no risk-free level of exposure to secondhand smoke.’ ‘Exposure of adults to secondhand smoke has immediate adverse effects on the cardiovascular system and causes coronary heart disease and lung cancer.’ (US Department of Health and Human Services. The Health Consequences of Involuntary Exposure to Tobacco Smoke: A Report of the Surgeon General. Atlanta GA: Office on Smoking and Health; 2006)
  • Particulate levels (one marker of secondhand smoke) indoors in bars and restaurants can be nearly high as outside, where there is smoking. (Van der Deen et al. N Z Med J. 2014;127(1396):43-52 Edwards R, Wilson N. N Z Med J 2011;124:27-37)
  • Significant tobacco smoke effects occur at over 10m from groups of smokers, and at least 9m from a burning cigarette in light winds. ( Yamato et al. Kobe J Med Sci 2013;59:E93-105. Hwang J, Lee K. Nicotine Tob Res 2014;16:478)
To find out more about the Ministry of Health Guidelines for smoke free areas click here

Friday 11 May, 2018
Auckland Regional Public Health Service (ARPHS) is following up people who have become unwell after exposure to an unknown chemical at Augusta House in Victoria Street, Auckland.  ARPHS staff are interviewing those people worst affected. The interviews are to determine where they were at the time of exposure and what symptoms they experienced. WorkSafe New Zealand is investigating the incident and the cause has not yet been established.

Dr Denise Barnfather, ARPHS Medical Officer of Health, recommends that no one enters the restricted areas of the building until people are informed it is safe. People who were exposed to the chemical and are experiencing symptoms such as headache, dizziness, nausea, vomiting, blurred vision, shortness of breath or chest tightness should seek medical attention immediately.

Friday 04 May, 2018
An undercover operation by public health in Mangere revealed that three out of 10 outlets investigated on a single day were selling cigarettes illegally. 

Auckland Regional Public Health Service (ARPHS) regularly carries out stings using teenage volunteers who visit retailers to ensure that tobacco sales comply with the legislation. By law, retailers should be requesting ID for individuals buying tobacco if they look under 25.
“If you break the law you could be prosecuted. That’s our message to retailers who are encouraging tobacco addiction in childhood,” says Health Improvement Manager, Dean Adam from ARPHS. 

Retailers face hefty punishments for selling tobacco to minors including criminal convictions and fines of up to $10,000 if prosecuted.  A conviction means restrictions on employment, business and international travel.

“Shops selling cigarettes to children make addiction easy.  They help kids buy into a life-long nicotine habit - and children don’t understand the consequences of that,” says Mr Adam. 

"I started smoking at a very young age from the illegal trade of cigarettes.  During the last six years, I spent the same amount of money on cigarettes as my $30,000 student loan. Smoking took away my financial freedom," says student Arnia Appleby.   

ARPHS has run more than 1000 undercover operations over the last five years.

“Our team is getting more effective at catching and prosecuting people.  We also receive tip-offs from regular customers about their local store. It proves the community is taking a stand with us on this issue,” says Mr Adam. 

Mr Adam says it is disappointing to see such a high number of breaches within a few hours of going undercover.  Retailers are putting their own personal profit ahead of young people’s health.  The Mangere Otahuhu area has the lowest life expectancy and one of the highest rates of smoking of any local board.

ARPHS wants to hear from community groups or individuals keen to take action in the fight against childhood tobacco addiction. If you know of any retailers breaking cigarette laws it’s easy to make an anonymous complaint.

Youth Smoking Snapshot 

  • 12.4% of year 10 students believed they could buy cigarettes from a shop. 
    (Youth Insights Survey, 2014)
  • The average age people start smoking is 14.8 years old. 
    (NZ Health Survey: Tobacco Use 2016/2017)
  • 3.2% of 15-17-year-olds smoke daily
    (NZ Health Survey: 2016/2017) 
Wednesday 02 May, 2018

This report highlights the role of Auckland Regional Public Health Service in protecting and promoting public health in the region. 

Although the breadth of our work is considerable, we do not operate alone. Delivering health solutions is a collaborative effort as we work alongside the three metro Auckland DHBs, Auckland Council, and government departments such as police, customs, immigration, transport, housing, and civil defence. Non-government organisations (NGOs) also make a valuable contribution to our work especially in Healthy Auckland Together.

We are proud of these initiatives and for the opportunity to share this report. The secret of our success is the talented and committed individuals both within ARPHS and beyond, and we can’t thank them enough.

» Download the report

Monday 23 April, 2018
Travellers who arrived at Auckland International Airport on Malaysia Airlines MH133 from Kuala Lumpur at 11pm on 15th April 2018 may have been exposed to measles.

Auckland Regional Public Health Service (ARPHS) has been contacting the passengers seated in rows 28 to 44, closest to the infectious person, to check their immunity and advise on action such as vaccination or in some cases, quarantine.

ARPHS Medical Officer of Health, Dr Josephine Herman, says although anyone in rows 28 to 44 is most exposed, there’s a possibility that other passengers on the flight may have been infected on the plane, at the gate or at the baggage claim.

“The airborne measles virus is very easily transmitted from one person to another, so those on the flight should watch for symptoms from now until 29 April,” Dr Herman says.  These include a fever, and one or more of a runny nose, cough or sore red eyes. A raised red rash follows.

Passengers feeling unwell should telephone their doctor before visiting the practice, or call Healthline on 0800 611-116 for advice. 

Measles is a serious illness. One in 10 people with measles need hospital treatment and the most serious cases can result in deafness or swelling of the brain. 

People most at risk of contracting the disease are those who have not had the measles, mumps, rubella (MMR) vaccine, or who have just had one dose of the MMR vaccine.  Anyone born before 1969 is likely to be immune to the disease.

Dr Herman suggests New Zealanders catch up on their MMR vaccinations before they travel overseas.

The New Zealand government’s SafeTravel website advises “a number of countries overseas continue to have measles outbreaks, including parts of Europe, Asia (particularly the Philippines, Vietnam, India and China), Africa and Chile. Closer to home, there have been outbreaks in the Pacific in parts of Australia, Papua New Guinea, the Solomon Islands, and the Federated States of Micronesia, as well as in New Zealand.” 

Dr Herman says ARPHS had a confirmed cases of measles on a Singapore Airlines flight from Singapore in Februrary, with a second case as a result of contact with this person.

“The only way to protect from measles and the best way to avoid its complications is to be fully vaccinated with two doses of the MMR vaccine,” Dr Herman says.

Measles symptoms 

The time delay from being exposed to measles to developing symptoms is usually 8 -14 days but can be up to 21 days. The typical symptoms are: 

  • Fever, and one or more of a runny nose, cough or sore red eyes 
  • Then after a few days, a red raised rash comes on and lasts up to one week. The rash usually starts on the face and spreads to the rest of the body 
More information on measles can be found on the ARPHS website here or by calling a nurse at Healthline’s 24-hour service on 0800 611-116 (interpreters available).
Thursday 12 April, 2018
With some households in the region facing two or more days without electricity, it will be important to take care with food from the fridge and freezer.

Auckland Regional Public Health Service (ARPHS) Medical Officer of Health, Dr David Sinclair, is advising people without power to follow guidelines around food spoilage to avoid food poisoning.

“After today, highly perishable foods in the fridge like meat and fish may not be safe to eat,” he said.

  • Throw out rotten or contaminated food quickly so it doesn’t spoil other food in the fridge. 
  • You can still eat food like raw vegetables, cheese and bread.
  • Dispose of any food from the freezer which has thawed out and been at room temperature for longer than two hours.
  • When the power comes back on, it is important not to refreeze food that has defrosted. 
  • If the frozen food has ice crystals and the packaging is intact then it can be refrozen. 
“And if you are unsure, have a closer look and smell. If the colour has changed, it has a slimy texture or if it smells off, it probably is off. 

“If you eat food that has gone off, you can risk infection from salmonella, campylobacter and a range of food poisoning bacteria.

“Food poisoning is a really unpleasant illness, requiring time off work or school,” Dr Sinclair says.

Maintaining hygiene around food preparation and cooking requires more thought than normal.

  • always wash and dry your hands before preparing food – if water is in short supply keep some in a bowl with disinfectant
  • ensure all utensils are clean before use
  • cook food thoroughly.
For further information see the Ministry of Primary Industries
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