Smoking stats still a worry

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FEWER smokers than ever are attempting to kick the habit, according to the latest figures.

A report by the Health and Social Care Information Centre (HSCIC) shows nearly 6,543 quit dates were set with NHS Stop Smoking Services in 2012-13, a 13 per cent fall on the previous year (7,530). The national average was an 11 per cent decrease.

However, while fewer smokers are trying to quit Wigan is bucking the trend in terms of the numbers of people who are successfully managing to quit.

In Wigan Borough, in 2011 /2012 - 3,678 males set a quit date and a 53 per cent quit rate was achieved. The number of women accessing support was greater; 3,852 females set a quit date with a 46 per cent quit rate. In 2012/2013 Wigan supported 3,114 males with a quit rate of 59 per cent and 3,429 females achieving a 56 per cent quit rate.

Dr Kate Ardern, director of public health at Wigan Council, said: “We reflect some of the national picture but are much more successful in terms of our quit rates.

“In fact, the number of people stopping smoking in Wigan Borough has increased by 8.5 per cent between 2011/2012 to 2012/2013. That’s good news as smoking is one of the borough’s biggest killers and costs the local economy millions of pounds every year.”

Last year it was revealed that one in five people in Wigan borough smoke and health chiefs pleaded with more smokers to try and give up.

And health chiefs have been buoyed by the news that more than 1,000 people tried to give up smoking during last month’s Stoptober challenge.

Figures show that 1,202 Wigan borough residents signed up to the scheme – the second highest across the Greater Manchester region and an increase of nearly 50 per cent in sign ups compared to the year before.

Wigan Council and Bridgewater Community Healthcare NHS Trust backed the campaign, which was run for the second year by Public Health England.

Smoking is the single biggest cause of “preventable” deaths in Wigan borough, with 606 residents dying prematurely because of smoking in 2009. It costs the council £94m through a loss of productivity due to early death, illness, NHS costs, waste and fires.

Councillor Paul Prescott, joint-chair of the Wigan and Leigh Tobacco Control Alliance (TCA), said: “I am delighted that more than 1,000 Wigan borough residents signed up to Stoptober.”

Andrea Crossfield, director of Tobacco Free Futures, the North West regional body responsible for tackling tobacco, said: “Stoptober has been a huge success. As well as saving money, everyone that managed to stay smokefree will already be experiencing significant physical improvements including a better sense of smell and taste and more energy.

“Longer term, these quitters will reduce their risk of heart disease and lung cancer as well as protecting others from their secondhand smoke. Quitting smoking is the single best thing you can do for your health and bank balance today.”

It is not too late to start your own 28-day challenge – for more information visit www.stoptober.smokefree.nhs.uk or call 0800 022 4 332