Suffolk: Record numbers of smokers quit - but still primary cause of premature death

A RECORD number of people in Suffolk are giving up smoking but health bosses have warned that more needs to be done to stamp out a habit that costs the county �177.9million a year.

New figures have revealed that nearly 14,000 people have quit through NHS commissioned services over the last three years, while thousands more are thought to have given up smoking by themselves.

Those working on cessation services, who revealed that children as young as 12 have become hooked on nicotine, have also reported an anecdotal rise in the numbers wanting to go smoke free.

However, despite the improvements, smoking is still the primary cause of premature death in Suffolk, accounting for 167 deaths for every 100,000 of the population.

Clinicians, who say a “rounded service” of behavioural, psychological support, counselling and prescription treatments has helped to drive down the number of smokers, say they are still concerned that around one in five of the county’s population are still using cigarettes.

Simon Pitts, Commissioning & Development Manager, for Public Health for NHS Suffolk, said: “There have been more people giving up smoking in Suffolk. We’re also seeing more people taking up the stop smoking campaigns, where we have a whole range of ways to help people give up.”

He added: “But we are not complacent. We set ambitious targets because we know over the years it is going to be harder.

Most Read

“You start to get down to the hardcore of smokers because everyone who wants to give up has done so. It then becomes about getting them to a place where they are ready to quit.”

Mr Pitts said that so far this financial year 1,447 had stopped smoking, while in 2011 to 2012 a record 4,409 gave up.

This compares to 3,933 quitters in 2010-2011 and 4,020 in the year before.

But the public health boss said there are still a number of smokers the service is desperate to reach and highlighted discrepancies across Suffolk.

In Forest Heath 28% of the population smokes, while in Ipswich that figure stands at 25% - both of which are above the national average.

In St Edmundsbury only 17% of the population smoke.

Mr Pitt said the number of migrant workers in certain areas could be one factor in the differences, with “some cultures not viewing smoking as something that is unhealthy.”

He added: “We work with all these groups but we can only really work with people who want to quit – they have to be willing to stop.”

Mr Pitt said NHS Suffolk was continuing its work to relay the health benefits of quitting smoking via local and national campaigns such as this month’s Stoptober - where smokers are encourage to stop for a month.

He added: “We know there is more work to do and that there are still a lot of people who need to stop smoking and we also need to make sure people do not start.”

THOSE working in dozens of cessation services across Suffolk have also reported seeing an increase in the number of people who want to quit smoking.

Tracey Green, healthcare development manager for Live Well Suffolk, said there was anecdotal evidence of a “definite rise in the uptake” of counselling and support.

Ms Green said their specially trained staff, who also work in 109 pharmacies across the county, carry out one-on-one sessions to help people give up.

She added that the centre deals with everyone from 12-year-olds to 92-year-olds, from those who smoke one or two a day to chain smoker.

“Our only pre-requisite is that they want to give up. We offer psychological support and emotional support,” she said.

Ms Green said the instant access, open referral centres, could also prescribe medication to help stop nicotine pangs.

For information on how to stop smoking and to get help phone 01473 229292

RESEARCHERS have backed a proposal to ban smoking in private cars after they found that the habit produces pollutants which could be harmful to passengers.

Even when smokers open their windows or use air conditioning, the concentrations of pollutants are three times higher than the World Health Organisation indoor air quality standards, scientists said.

Such exposure is likely to affect the health of child passengers, said researchers from the University of Aberdeen.

The data, published in Tobacco Control, examined 17 drivers, 14 of whom were smokers, who made a total of 104 journeys, with an average duration of 27 minutes.

Levels of fine particulate matter were measured every minute in the rear passenger area during typical car journeys made by smokers and non-smokers over a three-day period.

The average particulate matter levels were 11 times higher in smoking cars compared with non-smoking cars.

The authors said that exposure to second-hand smoke is linked to several children’s health problems, including sudden infant death, meningitis and respiratory conditions such as asthma and wheezing.

The Smoke-free Private Vehicles Bill to ban smoking in private cars is being considered by MPs.

The bill would outlaw smoking in cars which are carrying children, with a penalty of a smoke-free awareness course as a first offence, or a �60 fine