Smoking remains one of our most significant public health challenges. While rates of smoking have continued to decline over the past decades, 18.7% of North East adults in England still smoke (2015 Annual Population Survey.
While in the past more men than women smoked, today the prevalence of smoking is about the same for men and women.
- 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)