Smoking ban plea as deaths revealed

AN ESTIMATED 1,500 people die in Suffolk each year due to smoking related illnesses, shocking new figures reveal.Anti-smoking campaigners in the county said last night there was a "smoking epidemic" and said the figures, published by the Health Development Agency, should trigger a smoking ban in public places.

AN ESTIMATED 1,500 people die in Suffolk each year due to smoking related illnesses, shocking new figures reveal.

Anti-smoking campaigners in the county said last night there was a "smoking epidemic" and said the figures, published by the Health Development Agency, should trigger a smoking ban in public places.

The HDA report states 8,000 people in the East of England die from smoking related illnesses each year, with 1,500 of these in Suffolk.

Bob Webb, chairman of Smoke Free Suffolk, said: "We are in the grip of a smoking epidemic. This report starkly sets out the scale of the problem we are facing. The figures in it show how our local communities are affected.


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"The first thing that is very clear from it is that there needs to be a complete ban on smoking in public places so that people are removed from an environment where they are tempted to smoke.

"We know that a lot of people who do smoke want to quit and this should be encouraged with a ban. A lot is already happening - the NHS give free advice and support and the cost of using medication has been reduced - but more still needs to be done."

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The report, produced with researchers from the University of Portsmouth and entitled "The Smoking Epidemic in England", has been published a week before the government is due to set out its views on the issue in its forthcoming white paper on public health.

Speculation has been rife about what the white paper will say about a smoking ban, with reports suggesting strict licensing conditions - such as measures to protect children and provision of proper ventilation - would be demanded, rather than an outright ban.

Mr Webb said: "The report is very timely it comes out in a very busy month for smoking related issues. Scotland has just recently banned smoking in public places and next week there will be a Department of Health announcement on how the government will consider tackling the problem.

"The important thing is that it's about smoking not smokers. It is the smoke that is produced which is harmful. I can understand how a ban feels like it's imposed on individuals but in reality it's protecting them and helps people to quit. It's about trying to protect more rather than less."

Val Moore, Health Development Agency regional associate director for the East of England, added: "Smokers and non-smokers alike prefer non-smoking environments as shown in the recent Big Smoke Debate poll in the East of England. Making your home a smoke free zone can help protect your family and friends and encourages others to stop smoking."

Nationally more than 1,600 people are estimated to die from smoking each week, which amounts to more than 230 deaths every day and nearly ten deaths every hour.

Anyone who wants to stop smoking can get help from a local NHS Stop Smoking Service by calling 0800 0169 or by visiting www.smokefreeeast.co.uk/services.htm

To view the report visit www.had.nhs.uk

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