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Smoking remains the leading cause of preventable death in the North East and nationwide, responsible for half the difference in life expectancy between rich and poor people.


In the North East, while smoking rates are still higher than the national average, the region has seen the largest fall in smoking in England since 2005. Latest figures show:


  • 17.2% of North East adults were smoking in 2016 compared to 15.5% in England (NHS Digital). This is compared to 29% of people in the North East who were smoking in 2005.


  • 16% of women in the North East were smoking during pregnancy in 2016, compared to 22.2% of women in 2009-10.


  • 7% of boys and 9% of girls aged 11-15 in the North East were regular smokers, according to the Smoking, Drinking and Drug Use Among Young People in England survey - 2016.


Some other stats about smoking:


  • Smoking causes a range of illnesses such as lung cancer, most of which only become apparent after many years of smoking.


  • One in every two life-long smokers is killed by tobacco. For every death, another 20 people are suffering from a smoking related disease (ASH; Smoking statistics: Illness and Death)


  • Over 79,000 people in England died prematurely from a smoking related disease a year. That is an estimated 15 people a day in the North East. Smoking causes nearly one in five of all deaths in adults over 35 (Healthy Lives, Healthy People, a Tobacco Control Plan for England, HM Government)


  • Most smokers start as children. Every year sees 207,000 children start smoking - nearly 9,000 children in the North East (Cancer Research UK) A survey of North East smokers found the average age for starting was just 15.


  • Smoking is harmful not only to smokers but also to the people around them. Breathing in smoke results annually in around 13,000 GP or hospital appointments among North East children aged from newborns to 16. (regional breakdown by population of figures from Royal College of Physicians Passive Smoking and Children report)


  • Smoking during pregnancy increases the risks of premature delivery, but also increases risks of miscarriage, stillbirth or sudden infant death.


  • Smoking rates are much higher in lower income families and poorer people have higher levels of nicotine addiction. Smoking is the single biggest cause of inequalities in death rates between the richest and poorest in our communities.


  • On average, smokers who die from a smoking-related illness lose 16 years of life (Healthy Lives, Healthy People, a Tobacco Control Plan for England, HM Government).


  • There is evidence smoking causes 16 different types of cancer including lung, stomach, oesophagus and bladder, as well as other fatal diseases such heart and cardiovascular disease, a leading cause of stroke and COPD (emphysema and bronchitis).


  • Smoking results in an estimated 473,000 GP consultations and 101,000 hospital appointments and outpatient visits in the North East every year (NICE Return on Investment Tool)