Region's smokers fail to kick the habit

THE region's health chief has said that he is “deeply concerned” after new figures revealed that parts of East Anglia are behind the national average when it comes to giving up smoking.

THE region's health chief has said that he is “deeply concerned” after new figures revealed that parts of East Anglia are behind the national average when it comes to giving up smoking.

Dr Tony Jewell, Norfolk Suffolk and Cambridge Strategic Health Authority (SHA) clinical director and director of public health, was speaking following the quarterly report from the Department of Health, which monitors NHS Stop Smoking Services across the country.

The statistics showed that 12,796 people under the Norfolk, Suffolk and Cambridgeshire SHA decided to set a quit date between April and December 2004 and, of these, 6,516 successfully quit at the four week follow up session - a rate of 51%.

Meanwhile, nationally, of the 313,100 patients that set a quit date during the period April to December last year, 170,600 had successfully quit at the four week follow up session – a rate of 54%.

Elsewhere, within Suffolk's individual primary care trusts, Suffolk Coastal topped the list of best performers with 67% of people who set a quit date giving up within four weeks.

However the Ipswich trust was the lowest performer with just 48% of people who had set a quit date giving up smoking.

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Dr Jewell said: “Smoking prevalence in our areas has been pretty flat at between 25-28% for the last 10 years which is cause for concern.

“The national target is to get this down to 21% but in Ipswich it's as high as 30% and it is clear that we are not doing as well in this area as we would have liked.

“We're not proud of it and I am deeply concerned because Suffolk in particular is not doing particularly well but we are working to try and change the situation.

“We have identified smoking cessation as an issue in our Health Atlas and are working with schools and local communities to try and get the message across to young people not to start smoking.

“We have also started working more closely with GPs to make smoking cessation more integrated in general services so that when people go to their doctor and want advice on how to stop smoking it is readily available.”

Elsewhere, in Essex, a total of 7,574 people set a date to stop smoking between April and December 2004 and of these 5,295 were successful, which amounts to 70%.

Of the trusts in the county, Uttlesford was the best performer with 97% of people that set a quit date giving up within four weeks.

Primary Care Trust Number setting a quit date Number successfully quit at four weeks % successfully quit at four weeks

Suffolk

Central Suffolk 461 232 50

Ipswich 815 389 48

Suffolk Coastal 328 221 67

Suffolk West 1,139 569 50

Waveney 757 433 57

Essex

Colchester 882 488 55

Chelmsford 529 361 68

Maldon and South Chelmsford 363 289 80

Tendring 1,075 632 59

Uttlesford 230 224 97

Witham, Braintree and Halstead 427 300 70

People setting a quit date during the period April to December 2004, number and percentage successful at four weeks by Primary Care Trust

Source: Department of Health.

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