Press Article: 85% of adults now support “smokefree” three years on - 1 July 2010
85% of adults now support “smokefree” three years on - 1 July 2010
ON the third anniversary of smokefree law, health campaigners and former smokers have called for a brave new vision to halve smoking in the North East.
Fresh has launched a consultation on the North East’s first ever Regional Tobacco Strategy aimed at saving more lives and saving tens of millions of pounds in treatment from NHS budgets.
The region has seen the biggest decline in smoking in England, from 29% of people smoking in 2005 down to 21% of people in 2008 - a total of around 170,000 fewer smokers.
Over the next few months Fresh and partners will work with the NHS, councils, businesses, young people, smokers, former smokers and never-smokers to help the 70% of smokers who say they want to quit to kick their habit once and for all, cut the number of children who start smoking and tackle the harm tobacco and second hand smoke causes families, communities and the economy.
Brett Johnson, 32, a dad of two from Station Town in County Durham, said: “Before I quit I didn’t know the risks of things like second hand smoke, or the benefits of stopping.
“The benefits to people’s health and the savings to the NHS justify the effort. We need to make smoking the exception rather than the norm.”
New research unveiled today from the 2010 YouGov Smokefree Survey shows the highest levels of support in the North East:
• 85% of adults in the North East say they support the smokefree law – higher than anywhere else in England
• Opposition has fallen - with only 9% of opposing the law, - the lowest level in England.
• 92% of adults in the North East agree the law is good for the health of most workers – higher than anywhere else in England.
• 83% of adults in the North East agree the law is good for their own health
Professor Stephen Singleton, the North East’s Regional Director of Public Health, said: “Here in the North East, we live in a society with a culture that has been damaging our health for many years.
“We know we are dealing with an addictive drug but central to better health for our region is tackling tobacco. No matter how disadvantaged you are, if you are a smoker you are further disadvantaged
“Our progress in tackling smoking has been as dramatic as it has been pleasing, but if we can make smoking history for more people, that will be a major part of the transformation of the North East.”
Ailsa Rutter, Director of Fresh, said: “The North East has some of the highest support for measures to protect people from smoking and tobacco in the country, which is why we need to set out a long term vision to tackle smoking further.
“This new research highlights just how popular smokefree law and other measures to protect people are. The vast majority of people cannot imagine a return to the days of being exposed to smoke as they go about their daily lives, and they don’t want their children to breathe in smoke.
“What’s even better is the way this law has raised awareness of the harm of second hand smoke. It’s been a big trigger for many parents to quit, or at least to take their smoking outside to protect their children.
“However, despite the drop we still have too many households where children are exposed to smoke, leading to 300,000 GP appointments every year. We still need to raise awareness on this important issue.”
On July 1, 2007, all public places and workplaces became smoke free, including shops, offices, factories, pubs, cafes, restaurants, membership clubs and work vehicles. The law was introduced to protect workers from the lethal effects of exposure to second hand smoke, which increases the risks of heart disease and lung cancer.
Before smokefree, the North East had the worst postcode lottery of health inequalities in the whole country, resulting in lower levels of life expectancy.
Earlier this year, the Royal College of Physicians Passive Smoking and Children report revealed that more households had become “no smoking zones” since the smokefree law introduction in 2007. In 2006, 61% of homes nationally were smokefree, which rose to 78% by 2009.
However, it is estimated that around 84,000 children in the region are being exposed to second hand smoke in the home.
The cost of smoking to the UK was recently estimated to be £13.7bn a year in the Cough Up report by the Policy Exchange think tank. It states that every cigarette smoked is costing the UK money, including:
• Between £2.7bn and £5.2bn for treating smokers on the NHS
• £9.5bn for the loss of economic output to the economy from smoking breaks, absenteeism and the loss to the economy from the deaths of smokers.
• £342m for the cost of cleaning up cigarette butts
• £507m for the cost of smoking related house fires
• £713m for the cost of treating passive smokers.
Last year Fresh won Gold Medal at the illustrious Chief Medical Officer’s Public Health Awards 2009 for its work in tackling smoking. The CMO Awards were set up to recognise teams, people and projects who have made a massive impact on helping to improve public health in England.