Time to quit: NHS welcome Government plan to snuff out smoking in the East of England

NHS East of England has welcomed an ambitious new strategy which aims to halve the number of smokers in the region by 2020. The Department of Health s new Tobacco Control Strategy launched on Monday (February 1) is set to help the fight to make smoking a

NHS East of England has welcomed an ambitious new strategy which aims to halve the number of smokers in the region by 2020.

The Department of Health's new Tobacco Control Strategy launched on Monday (February 1) is set to help the fight to make smoking a thing of the past - saving and improving thousands of lives.

The number of people smoking in the East of England has declined in recent years and it currently holds the joint lowest smoking prevalence in the country - 19 per cent in 2008 (joint with London) - a drop of six percent over the decade.

However, there are almost a million people who still smoke in the area and around half of these will die from smoking related diseases.


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As Dr Paul Cosford, the region's director of public health explains, smoking remains the single greatest cause of preventable death and is one of the main causes of health inequality in the UK.

"Smoking responsible for differences in life expectancy"

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"Tobacco will kill 50 per cent of those who smoke," he said. "The majority of people who smoke wish to give up and this new strategy will help support them. It also aims to reduce the number of people taking up smoking.

"It will therefore help work towards people living longer and healthier lives.

"NHS East of England is already working alongside local authorities and other organisations to reduce the problem of smoking and provide support to people to quit - this has resulted in reducing the number of people smoking in our region, which now stands at about 19 per cent of adults.

He added: "However, there are still almost a million smokers in this area and smoking remains responsible for big differences in life expectancy.

"If we can crack this we will make a great step in reducing unfairness in health across the region.

Committed

"We remain resolutely committed to tackling smoking and helping people to quit, and are particularly working to reduce the uptake of smoking by young people so we do not have a new generation of smokers.

"By working together and providing the right level of support, we can make smoking history."

The new strategy covers three main areas:

Protecting children and young people from tobacco.

Assisting every smoker to quit.

Protecting families and communities from tobacco-related harm.

Some of the proposed measures include:

Banning displays of tobacco at shop tills.

Banning the sale of tobacco through vending machines.

Continuing to reduce the market share of cheap and illicit tobacco.

More accessible and effective NHS stop smoking services.

IN total the NHS East of England has pledged to reduce smoking rates in the region by helping a further 140,000 smokers to quit by 2011.

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