Tobacco Control/Harm Briefing Sheet 2011

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Smoking in the South West

The South West has the lowest smoking rates in the country at 18% compared to the national average of 21%.
This equates to roughly 900,000 smokers (General Lifestyle Survey).

Key findings for South West show (Source - 2010 Local Authority Health Profiles for England):

Costs of smoking attributable hospital admissions in those over 35 years old increased from £29.32 to £30.94 per capita between 2006/07 and 2008/09 = £31 for every person, every year.

15% of expectant mums smoke during pregnancy in the South West, compared with 15.2% in 2009.

Stop Smoking Services

      • 34,228 people in the South West quit smoking in 2010 with the help of the NHS Stop Smoking Services.

Secondhand Smoke (Source -Tobacco Advisory Group of the Royal College of Physicians and Cancer Research UK)

      • It is estimated that exposure to secondhand smoke in the home causes around 11,000 deaths in the UK each year from lung cancer, stroke and ischaemic heart disease.
      • Secondhand smoke is still a threat to children’s health in the South West as a recent survey shows that more than one-in-five (22%) adults still allow smoking inside their home.
      • Second-hand smoke in children generates over 300,000 UK GP consultations, with a cost to the NHS of around £23.6 million.

Secondhand smoke causes in children each year:

      • Over 20,000 cases of lower respiratory tract infection
      • 120,000 cases of middle ear disease
      • At least 22,000 new cases of wheeze and asthma
      • 200 cases of bacterial meningitis
      • 40 sudden infant deaths – one in five of all annual SIDs.

Hand-Rolling Tobacco

      • The South West has the highest proportion of people who smoke ‘roll-ups’, 33% of smokers in the area, the highest in the country, use hand rolling tobacco.
      • The cost of hospital admissions for users of hand rolling tobacco in the South West ran to approximately £31.7m in 2008/09, this represents an estimated £6 for every person in the South West.

Illegal tobacco (Source - NEMS survey)

      • A fifth of smokers in the South West smoke illegal tobacco-200,000 smokers and over a third of smokers in the region have been offered it to buy.
      • 147 million packets of illegal cigarettes are smuggled into the South West every year.
      • Smokers in the South West consume approximately 442 million illegal cigarettes.
      • The demand for illegal tobacco in the South West is huge, with the total street value currently estimated at over £104 million per annum, equivalent to a retail value of £216 million.

Of those smokers surveyed over two thirds (69 per cent) agreed that illegal tobacco made it possible for them to smoke when they could not otherwise afford to.

Heavier smokers were more likely to purchase illegal tobacco; for example, almost a third (29%) of those who smoke over 20 a day get their supply this way, compared to 15% of light smokers (fewer than 10 per day).

The most common source of illegal tobacco is from a ‘friend’ or someone they know (52%).

Childhood Smoking (Source - Cancer Research UK and 2010 Local Authority Health Profiles for England)

      • While less than 1% of 11 and 12-year old children smoke, by the age of 15 years, 15% of children in England report being regular smokers.
      • In 2009, 6% of children aged 11-15 years smoked at least one cigarette each week: 7% of girls and 5% of boys.
      • Since 1986, girls have had consistently higher rates of smoking than boys: in 2009, 16% of 15-year old girls were regular smokers compared to 14% of boys.
      • The proportion of female smokers taking up the habit before the age of 16 increased from 28% in 1992 to 37% in 2009, while among men, this proportion remained at around 40% over the same period.
      • On average, regular child smokers smoke 38 cigarettes per week.

Tobacco control (Source - Cancer Research UK)

    • It is estimated that one in two regular cigarette smokers will eventually be killed by their tobacco habit, half of these in middle age.
    • Over the last 50 years, six million Britons have died from tobacco-related diseases, three million of whom died in middle age (15-69) losing on average 20 years of life.