Record drop in smoking levels in region praised by national public health bosses (From The Northern Echo)
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Record drop in smoking levels in region praised by national public health bosses
THE dramatic fall in adult smoking rates in the North-East since the UK's first regional tobacco control programme was set up in 2005 has been praised by national experts.
Back in 2005, the year that Fresh Smoke Free North East was set up to lead the first regional tobacco control programme, 29 per cent of adults in the region smoked.
Now the proportion of people who smoke is down to 20 per cent - and the new figures for 2012, which are out soon, may show a bigger fall.
The 30 per cent fall in adult smokers in the region was welcomed by Professor Kevin Fenton, director of Health and Wellbeing for Public Health England.
Prof Kenton, speaking at Public Health England's first annual conference at Warwick University, said: "It is good to see such a successful drop in smoking rates in the North-East and we look forward to further reductions.
"Non-smoking is the norm now and in some areas such as the North-East, the number of people who do not smoke is increasing rapidly, however, in some areas this increase is not as noticeable.
"Smoking is still the biggest cause of premature death with more than 80,000 deaths in England every year."
Prof Kenton made his remarks after a presentation about the achievements of Fresh.
Its director, Ailsa Rutter said: "Whilst we are obviously delighted that the North-East has seen the biggest fall in smoking rates anywhere in England since 2005, we still have one in five adults addicted to this deadly product. "This means over 4,000 people are dying prematurely every year in the North East alone due to tobacco."
Ms Rutter said partners from across the North-East, in the NHS, and in all 12 local councils, continue to work together to tackle the problems caused by tobacco, "in a comprehensive, evidence-based approach to raise awareness of the harms of smoking and benefits of stopping."
Fresh is backing Stoptober, a national 28-day mass stop-smoking challenge which has just been launched.
Mr Rutter added: "We must do more to continue to make smoking less attractive, less affordable and less available, and we support Stoptober as a way of encouraging smokers to take positive action to improve their health."
For more information search Stoptober online.
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