Fresh is now encouraging people who’ve tried to quit but not succeeded to give it another go.
The Annual Population Survey (APS) shows that the number of people smoking in the region fell to 18.7% in 2015 from 19.8% in 2014. This is a fall from 29% of people smoking in 2005 – a total of around 189,000 fewer smokers over that period.
The APS shows the rate of smoking across England in those aged 18 and over fell to 16.9% nationally, down from 17.8% in 2014, and an overall decline of 7.1% since 2005.
Martyn Willmore, Performance Improvement Delivery Manager at Fresh, said: “While we still have big challenges to reduce the harm of tobacco further, it’s very good to see this long-term decline.
“More smokers have had their eyes opened to the consequences of smoking and given the inspiration to quit, and fewer children are smoking than ever before.
“We would encourage anyone who’s tried to quit before but not been successful to be inspired to try again. It is also positive to see more smokers switching to much safer electronic cigarettes.
“Tobacco companies will still try to hook new customers and fight tooth and nail to stop any new measure to reduce smoking. We need concerted efforts at national, regional and local levels, but local authorities in the North East deserve praise for working together to prioritise reducing smoking related diseases.”
Amanda Healy, Director of Public Health for South Tyneside Council, and Chair of the North East Directors of Public Health Network, said: “Local authorities have prioritised efforts to reduce smoking and the diseases it causes, and the North East works together closely around this issue.
“However, we still have around 392,000 North East adults smoking – and rates are much higher in some wards. 15 people in the North East still die every day from smoking related diseases, which is a tragedy for each of those families. As well as the terrible toll on health, tobacco places a massive financial drain on families, the NHS, businesses and local authorities.”
Claire Sullivan, Deputy Director for Health & Wellbeing at Public Health England North East, said: “We welcome this trend in falling smoking levels across our region. We know that smoked tobacco is the biggest preventable cause of premature death in the UK, and reducing smoking rates remains a key priority for Public Health England”.
“North East progress around smoking over recent years demonstrates how we can make a real difference to people`s lives by working together. We have shown this through our innovative work to reduce rates of smoking in pregnancy, and in the partnership work between Public Health and our two Mental Health Trusts – helping them to go fully smokefree across their grounds in March 2016.”
She added: “Yet there remains more to do. We need to maximise every opportunity to encourage smokers to quit. Whether that involves campaigns to highlight the reasons to quit and the support available to help smokers stop, or by ensuring that every part of the NHS is working together to encourage and support people to quit tobacco.”
A recent survey by Fresh shows that over 8 in 10 North East smokers have tried to quit smoking before and 2/3 of smokers have tried more than once.
It also shows many smokers are cutting down with 1 in five smokers consuming five or fewer cigarettes a day compared to 1 in 10 in 2009, and the “average” smoker on 12 a day compared to 18 a day in 1974.
- Smoking remains the single biggest preventable cause of premature death in the UK today. It is responsible for one in five of all deaths in adults aged 35 and over – more than is caused by alcohol, car accidents, suicide, AIDS, murder and illegal drugs combined.
- Smoking causes almost 90% of deaths from lung cancer, around 80% of deaths from COPD (including bronchitis and emphysema), and around 17% of deaths from heart disease.
- Smoking is conservatively estimated to cost the NHS in the North East around £104m a year, resulting in around 473,000 GP appointments and 23,200 hospital appointments each year.
- Smoking is estimated to cost regional businesses around £37.5m a year through increased sickness from work.
- £63 million is spent unnecessarily on adult social care every year in the North East as a result of smoking, including a bill of around £36m for local authorities.
- An estimated 34,000 North East households could be lifted out of poverty if they quit smoking. These households comprise around 59,000 people including 18,000 children and 8,842 pensioners.
The Fresh programme was set up in 2005 to tackle what were then the highest smoking rates in England.