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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:


  • 16.2% of North East adults were smoking in 2017 compared to 15.1% in England (Annual Population Survey, ONS). This is compared to 29% of people in the North East who were smoking in 2005. Read our press release


  • 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 (the last time regional figues were presented)


Some other stats about smoking:


  • There are around 7.3m smokers in England and 363,000 smokers in the North East.


  • Smoking causes a range of illnesses such as lung cancer, COPD, heart disease, stroke and diabetes. One in every two long-term smokers is killed prematurely by tobacco. For every death, another 20 people are suffering from a smoking related disease (ASH; Smoking statistics: Illness and Death)


  • Over 73,000 people in England die prematurely from a smoking related disease a year - around 15 people a day in the North East. Smoking causes nearly one in five of all deaths in adults over 35, with smokers losing on average 10 years of life


  • 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 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.


  • 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).


  • The annual cost of smoking to the NHS in the North East is £127.5 million from over 1.2 million GP consultations, over 256,000 hospital admissions and outpatient visits, and 693,133 GP prescriptions every year.


For more data on smoking:


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


ASH's Ready Reckoner tool provides local costs of tobacco broken down to regional and local authority level in England. This includes costs and the burden facing the NHS, costs for social care, smoking related litter and fires, and costs to the wider economy