The number of smokers in the North East has almost halved since 2005, according to new figures released by the Office for National Statistics (ONS)
In 2005, 29% of adults in the North East were smokers. In 2017 that figure stood at 16.2%. That represents a 44% fall in North East adult smokers.
Between 2016 and 2017 the reduction in North East adult smokers was nearly twice the national average.
In the North East:
- Smoking kills around 5,584 people every year
- The NHS spends around £127.5m across GP consultations, hospital admissions and GP prescriptions to help smoker-related issues
Fresh, a regional programme dedicated to tobacco control, is now urging smokers to try and stop at least once a year and take inspiration from those who have successfully stopped.
Ailsa Rutter OBE, director of Fresh, said: "It is very encouraging to see the North East is still making faster progress to reduce smoking, and we have narrowed the gap on other areas such as the South East.
"In 2005, our adult smoking rates were on 29% and these new figures show we are getting close to halving smoking. 2017 saw the continued roll out of standardised packaging, and further evidence that electronic cigarettes are a much safer option for smokers who switch.
"As smoking among adults has fallen, we have also seen fewer children start in the first place. The North East has a vision of 5% of people smoking by 2025 and we can make it happen."
Claire Sullivan, Deputy director for health, wellbeing and workforce, Public Health England North East, said: "The North East's progress around smoking over recent years demonstrates how we can make a real difference to people's lives by working together."
Last month the Royal College of Physicians called for a change in how the NHS treats smoking, advising that smokers be provided with support to quit as soon as they are admitted to hospital.