Huge decrease in smoking rates as ban hits ten years

Emma Sunderland-Hansen, Kiera Baillie, fundraiser Debbie Webb and Rachel Hibbert. Picture: Keith Woodland

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HEALTH officials today hailed a huge drop in smoking since an historic ban was introduced.

Ten years on from the prohibition on lighting up in enclosed public spaces began, only around one fifth of adults in the Portsmouth area smoke, compared to more than a quarter in 2007.

And now more than half of all adults in the area (51.7%) say that they have never smoked at all.

Although Portsmouth rates remain higher than the regional average, the figures mirror national statistics that show smoking rates in Britain are now at the lowest ever recorded, with numbers having fallen by 1.9 million in a decade.

Angela Baker, deputy director for health and wellbeing at Public Health England South East said: ‘The indoor smoking ban in public places was one of the greatest reforms to public health in this country.

‘The move, coupled with quit smoking initiatives such as Stoptober and the work of local authority public health teams, has helped to drastically cut the number of smokers by facilitating quit attempts and smokefree lifestyles.

‘And not only has the health of smokers benefitted but so too has the health of non-smokers who no longer have to breathe second-hand smoke in pubs, restaurants and bars.

‘In the south east of England smoking rates continue to fall across the region and are now the lowest on record at less than 15 per cent.

‘Tobacco sales are also in decline as record numbers of people quit smoking.

‘This is good news but there is more work needed to encourage more smokers to kick the habit and give themselves a better chance of staying healthy and avoiding conditions such as lung and oral cancers, coronary heart disease (CHD), chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD), emphysema and strokes.

‘Recent figures on smoking rates revealed more good news with a steep decline in smoking among younger adults with smoking at an all-time low in those aged 18-24 years.

‘This is a huge step toward establishing the first tobacco-free generation.

‘I would urge any smoker who is thinking of quitting to make this 10th anniversary the day they plan to quit smoking too.

‘Put simply, quitting really is the best thing any smoker can do for their health.’

HISTORIC BAN

Today marks the 10th anniversary of the most important public health reform in generations – the ending of smoking in enclosed public places in England. In 2007 the government passed a new law which made it illegal for anyone to smoke in an enclosed public place and within the workplace. This ensured that everyone could use the train station, eat in a restaurant or shop without suffering the negative effects of second-hand smoke.

The south east now has one of the lowest smoking rates in England. And one of the lowest rates of hospital admissions due to smoking. The year following England’s smokefree legislation there was a 2.4% reduction in hospital admissions for heart attack alone. In the three years following the law’s introduction, there were almost 7,000 fewer hospital admissions for childhood asthma.

Dr Jason Horsley, Director of Public Health for Southampton and Portsmouth City Councils, said: “The smoking ban has undeniably contributed to reducing smoking prevalence in the UK and saved many thousands of lives over the past ten years. The figures for Southampton and Portsmouth reflect the overall downward trend in smoking prevalence across the country but smoking is still the cause of 1 in 6 deaths in England. If this downward trend is to continue we must support new initiatives to reduce the harm caused by tobacco. We are working hard to restrict the sale of illegal tobacco products in the region, to raise awareness of the dangers of second hand smoke in the car and at home, to encourage pregnant women to stop smoking and continuing to support vital local stop smoking services.”

For more information on quitting visit: portsmouth.gov.uk/ext/health-and-care/health/quit-smoking.aspx.