WARREN HAYDEN: At last, the smoking ban is reaping results

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I was really pleased to read last week that in England, smoking rates have fallen to their lowest-ever level.

According to the latest research, 16.9 per cent of adults now describe themselves as smokers, compared to 19.3 per cent in 2012.

Experts say the decrease is partially because of the availability of e-cigarettes.

Out of the 2.5 million smokers who tried to kick the habit, a fifth were successful and, according to Public Health England, this is the highest recorded successful quitting rate ever.

Six years ago the success rate was about one in seven. I’ve told you before in this column how I despise smoking. I’m one of those rare people who has never smoked.

I didn’t give in to peer pressure at school and I would always refuse to hold a cigarette for a friend because of the smell it would leave on my hands.

There were a variety of reasons for my stand. Firstly my dad hated smoking, so that rubbed off on me.

But I’ve also got a memory of being in a relative’s car while they were smoking.

The windows were closed and the second-hand smoke was making its way towards me in the back seat of the car, going up my nose and into my mouth as I breathed in and out. It made me feel sick. I just couldn’t wait to get out of that car.

Earlier this year in this column I asked if it was about time the smoking ban went a step further. My answer to that question was an unequivocal, clear-cut ‘yes’.

I want to see a smoking ban in places with a high concentration of children such as outside schools and in parks.

When my column on this subject was published in The News in April this year it had a huge response, the biggest in the almost five years of this column.

Most agreed with me but, of course, some didn’t. Responses ranged from ‘Ban it in public completely... kids should not have to be around it’ to ‘it is the open air for goodness sake. The most you get is a faint whiff of tobacco’.

When it comes to my children, who are now aged five and seven, they already know daddy’s opinion.

On the school run they have often nudged me and said ‘dad, look, that person is smoking, it’s disgusting’. I can’t do anything but agree with them.

With the news that the smoking ban has decreased rates of hospital admissions for heart and asthma attacks since its introduction in 2007, and now with the news that smoking rates have fallen, I feel positive we are moving in the right direction.

If we all educate our children, the next generation, on the dangers of smoking, I think, and fervently hope, it will continue that way.

TRICKY POSERS ON THE SCHOOL RUN

Going for a walk with my daughters will always include several questions being fired in my direction complete with two curious faces looking back at me waiting for an answer.

Like all children they are fascinated by the world around them and when they see something they’ve not seen before they have got questions, lots of them.

Sometimes I have the answer and can pass on my knowledge, but sometimes I don’t and have to ask my good friend Google.

On a recent walk to school, five-year-old Alyssa wanted to know why someone who was walking towards us was carrying an umbrella when it wasn’t raining. I of course explained in a child-friendly way it was a precaution just in case it did rain.

But my favourite question came from seven-year-old Caitlin. She’d noticed a man across the road walking his dog. Looking concerned she commented that the dog was looking thin and she asked why the man didn’t feed it.

Caitlin was told the dog was fine and was a breed known as a greyhound.

- Catch Warren on Heart’s Sunday (midday-4pm) show on 96.7 & 97.5FM. Twitter: @warrenhayden.