THE North-East has recorded a historic low for smoking according to new figures published, with smoking rates nearly halving since 2005.

Smoking prevalence among adults in the region fell from 17.2 per cent in 2016 to 16.2 per cent in 2017, said the Annual Population Survey.

The fall is nearly twice the national average since 2016 and also means smoking rates have fallen by more than 44 per cent since 2005, when 29 per cent of North-East adults smoked.

The figures equate to around a quarter of a million fewer smokers.

Fresh, the region's programme for tobacco control, is now urging smokers who have struggled to quit before to try to stop at least once a year and take heart from the hundreds of thousands of other people who have stopped for good.

Ailsa Rutter OBE, director of Fresh, said: “As smoking among adults has fallen, we have also seen fewer children start in the first place.

"The North-East has set a vision of 5 per cent of people smoking by 2025 and we can make it happen.”