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New record low for smoking rates in the North East

SMOKING has fallen to its lowest level on record in the North East, latest figures for smoking prevalence out today have revealed.


Around one in six people in the North East smoke (16%) compared to almost one in four (29%) in 2005, according to 2018 figures from the Office for National Statistics - Adult Smoking Habits in the UK: 2018. This is the largest fall of any English region since 2005.


Latest smoking in pregnancy figures (Smoking at the Time of Delivery) show that rates have fallen in the North East slightly faster than the national average, from 16.3% of women smoking in 2017-18 to 15.6% in 2018-19 - a fall from a high of 20.7% of women smoking at the time of delivery in 2011-12.


But with rates of smoking decline starting to slow and three quarters of North East adults (74%) now supporting activities to limit smoking or thinking the government should do more in a YouGov poll {1} , Fresh is now calling for more action from the Government in a forthcoming consultation Green Paper on preventing ill health.


The YouGov poll, commissioned by Action on Smoking and Health also found that 73% of adults in the North East (2) support making tobacco manufacturers pay a levy to Government to help smokers quit and prevent young people from taking up smoking.


Ailsa Rutter OBE, Director of Fresh, said: "While the overall reduction in smoking is positive and the North East now sees our lowest smoking rates on record, the rate of decline has slowed and we could and should be making faster progress.


"Smoking is still our biggest killer and 15 people in the North East die every day because of tobacco. Higher smoking rates are responsible for half the difference in life expectancy between rich and poor. The North East has set a target of 5% by 2025 but if we are serious about this we need more action at all levels and new measures.


"There is strong public support for new measures to reduce smoking and making tobacco companies pay more for the damage to health that they cause, especially at a time when our public services are so stretched.  In its forthcoming Prevention Green Paper the Government must respond to public demand and impose a 'polluter pays' levy on the tobacco industry, as well as implementing tougher laws on smoking, such as increasing the age of sale for cigarettes to 21."