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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.


Tobacco is the only known product that when used as it is intended, will kill one in two users. Smoking kills around 8m people around the world each year, according to theWorld Health Organisation. More than 7 million of those deaths are the result of direct tobacco use while around 1.2 million are the result of non-smokers being exposed to second-hand smoke.


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:


  • 15.3% of North East adults were smoking in 2019. This is compared to 29% of people in the North East who were smoking in 2005.


  • 15.7% of women in the North East were smoking during pregnancy in 2018/19, 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 (the last time regional figues were presented). Click here for the latest 2018 figures (national) and the latest regional figures from 2016


Some other stats about smoking:


  • Around 13.9% of people in England are smokers.




  • Most smokers start as children. Surveys of North East smokers have found the average age for starting to be around aged 15.


  • Smoking is harmful not only to smokers but also to the people around them if they smoke in indoor, confined spaces. 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.


For more data on smoking:


NHS Digital - Statistics on Smoking, England


ONS – Adult Smoking Habits in the UK


Public Health England's Local Tobacco Control Profiles are a snapshot of the extent of tobacco use, tobacco related harm, and measures being taken to reduce this harm at a local level -


The ASH Local Toolkit is a compilation of resources and links to materials for local public health professionals and councillors involved in tobacco control