Almost one in five people aged 16-17 in Bury St Edmunds are smokers, new figures show
- Credit: PA
Health officials in west Suffolk say they are determined to discourage young people from smoking.
New figures have revealed Bury St Edmunds and Sudbury have the highest proportion of teenage smokers in the county.
Health officials in west Suffolk say they are determined to discourage young people from smoking as new figures revealed Bury St Edmunds and Sudbury have the highest proportion of teenage smokers in the county.
The news came as the health service Live Well Suffolk launched an initiative called CTRL Z, which is dedicated to cutting the number of young smokers.
As it got under way figures came to light showing almost one in five (18.7%) people aged 16-17 in Bury smoked. In Sudbury, including Great Cornard, the figure stood at 17.8% – the second highest percentage in the county. Suffolk’s average is 15.9%.
By comparison, the lowest proportion of smokers aged 16-17 was in Ipswich, where the figure stood at 14.8%.
Steven Lee-Foster, director of Live Well Suffolk, said Bury was a relatively prosperous town but that the “general affluence masked particular pockets of deprivation”.
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He added: “In certain parts of the town people suffer relatively high levels of obesity, inactivity and, unfortunately, relatively high smoking levels.
“There are lots of people that have taken on the health message over the last five to 10 years. We encourage children not to start smoking but there is a small number of people in deprived communities who are either struggling to kick the habit or, indeed, there are children who take it up in the first place and that is where we really need to direct our efforts.”
He added: “We also know that the vast majority of youngsters who smoke, it tends to be that one of both of their parents’ smoke. We are really trying to hone in on those youngsters.”
According to the figures, which have come from the Suffolk Observatory and seen by Live Well Suffolk, St Olaves was the area in Bury with the highest proportion of 16-17-year-old smokers at 22.4%. In Sudbury it is Sudbury South, with 20.2%.
The data also shows 4.2% of 11-15-year-olds in Bury also smoke, the second highest proportion after Sudbury, where it stands at 4.38%. The Suffolk average is 3.5%.
A spokesman for St Edmundsbury Council said: “We are aware that Suffolk County Council’s Health and Wellbeing Board will be discussing how it develops ways to prevent children and young people smoking in the long term when it meets later this month.
“St Edmundsbury will look to work with the county council and other partners to combat the high number of teenage smokers.”
CTRL Z is the youth arm of Live Well Suffolk. It was launched at Suffolk New College in Ipswich yesterday, National No Smoking Day. It aims to “undo the influence of tobacco on younger generations”.
Anna Keane, Live Well Suffolk’s youth campaign co-ordinator for smoking prevention and who heads up the new service, said: “Not only are we aiming to inspire and empower young people not to get involved in smoking, we can also work with those who have taken up the habit to cut down and quit.
“We will do this by getting them involved in campaigning against tobacco companies, by educating them about how the tobacco industry operates, the huge profits they make and the tactics they use to market their products to teenagers, who they view as the smokers of tomorrow.”
Alan Murray, county council cabinet member for health and adult care, added: “We encourage Suffolk’s smokers to contact our stop smoking services for extra help and support to kick the habit for good.”
For more information about the new CTRL Z service, contact Live Well Suffolk on 01473 229292.