Number of smokers in South West at record low as indoor smoking ban celebrates 10th anniversary

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The number of smokers in South West is at a record low as the indoor smoking ban celebrates its 10th anniversary.

  • The smoking ban in England has helped cut smoking rates as more people have been encouraged to kick the habit in the last ten years.

  • The smoking prevalence rate in the South West was 20.7% in 2007 and latest figures from 2016 put the rate at 14.3%

  • For the South West this means around 230,000 less smokers in our region since the ban

July 1 marks the 10th anniversary of the most important public health reform in generations - the ending of smoking in enclosed public places in England.

In 2007 the government passed a new law which made it illegal for anyone to smoke in an enclosed public place and within the workplace.

This ensured that everyone could use the train station, eat in a restaurant or shop without suffering the negative effects of second-hand smoke.

The South West now has the lowest smoking rate in England. Also, it has one of the lowest rates of hospital admissions due to smoking.

In England in the year following smokefree legislation, there was a 2.4% reduction in hospital admissions for heart attack alone.

In the three years following the law's introduction, there were almost 7,000 fewer hospital admissions for childhood asthma.

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The most recent figures also show a significant drop in smoking among younger adults with smoking at an all-time low in those aged 18-24 years - this is a huge step toward establishing the first tobacco-free generation.

Somerset County Council introduced a Smokefree Sports Clubs Project in 2015, which involved working with 100 local sports clubs to introduce smokefree policies.

The aim of the project, which is now in its third year, was to ensure that young people were not exposed to smoking whilst training and competing.

Over 140 members from the clubs involved also attended Brief Intervention training where they received smokefree messages to pass on to other club members and the young people they work with.

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In Bristol, the City Council worked with a number of partners in 2014 to put in a place a voluntary smoking ban in Millennium Square and Anchor Square on the Harbourside.

At the time 8 out of 10 people asked felt that the area was a better place now that it was smokefree. This effort was complemented by a number of restaurants pledging to make their outside seating areas smokefree.

Support for moves to restrict smoking has grown in the ten years since its introduction. In a recent YouGov survey, 83% of the public were in support of anti-smoking measures in England.

Even the majority of those who smoke every day support the legislation, at 52% of those surveyed who still smoke.

A range of other legislative measures have been introduced in England since the smokefree laws including:

  • increasing the age of sale from 16 to 18 (October 2007)

  • prohibiting the sale of tobacco from vending machines (October 2011)

  • prohibiting display of tobacco products in shops (April 2012 for large shops and 2015 for small shops)

  • a range of measures including larger health warnings and standardised packaging of tobacco packs (from May 2016).