THE number of smokers in some parts of Hampshire is dangerously high, the NHS has warned.
A senior health boss has called for smokers in Gosport and Havant in particular to try and make the first steps towards going smoke-free, after figures showed an alarmingly high number of smokers in the towns.
The news comes as the Quit4Life campaign is launched in Gosport, with a heavy focus on creating a ‘smoke-free generation’ in the years to come.
According to figures from Hampshire County Council, 19.6 per cent of adults in Gosport are smokers – 5.2 per cent higher than the county average. Havant’s smoking rate stands at 21.4 per cent – the highest in Hampshire.
Fareham’s smoking rate stands at 8.7 per cent, while 15.2 per cent of adults in Portsmouth are smokers – according to Public Health England.
Julia Robson, clinical service manager from Quit4Life, says that it is the poorer parts of Gosport where smoking is rife.
She explained: ‘Smoking is heavily linked to poverty and deprivation.
‘If you are surrounded by other smokers then it is harder to quit – and easier to start.
'It’s a tough cycle to break, especially if your close friends or parents area smokers.
‘But it’s also a social thing as well as an addiction, and I think that’s why Gosport’s rate is so high.’
The campaign will target workplaces and schools to cut down on current smoking levels, as well as trying to educate the next generation.
Mrs Robson explained: 'It's one-to-one support with meetings face-to-face or on the phone.
'We explore a person's reasons for smoking and why they want to quit - then target specific habits.
'For example, if they have a habit of reaching for a cigarette when they're on the phone, we find them something else to do instead.'
The road to cutting smoking levels in Gosport won't be easy, but the Quit4Life team has a lot of faith in the town's community.
Mrs Robson said: 'Gosport is a very proactive town when it comes to supporting the community.
'It is one of our areas of concern but the network of support is there with the NHS and we are determined to make a difference.
'It would be very difficult to stamp out smoking entirely, but I believe we can create a smoke-free generation.'
But it’s not just Gosport that is a cause for concern, due to the high rate in Havant. Mrs Robson explained: ‘It’s a similar situation to Gosport, where the more deprived areas have the higher smoking rates.
‘There are still affluent areas in these towns, but the message is clear from us – these people are surrounded by other smokers and will struggle to quit alone.’