Number of town smokers is down by more than 8%
Health experts claiming remarkable progress
Experts say they have made remarkable progress on reducing the number of smokers in Ashford.
According to an Ashford health board agenda report, the rate has fallen from 26% to 17.4% but still remains 2.2% above the Kent average.
It means that the number of estimated smokers in Ashford has dropped from 25,000 to 16,500 in the past year.
The number of smokers among manual labour workers has fallen even further, from 40% to 24.5%.
Board members have proposed bringing in a town centre smoking ban to the town but say they have so far received no response to their idea from the health secretary.
In October, the Kentish Express reported how experts sitting on Ashford health board wants more no-smoking zones the Ashford health board had discussed the option of creating no-go zones for those who want to spark up a cigarette.
The idea was put forward in a bid to cut the rate of smoking in the borough and to “de-normalise” the habit, which is believed to be higher among adults in the district than the county average.
It could mean areas such as parks or parts of the town centre being turned into no-smoking zones, to prevent children taking up the habit and to encourage smokers to quit.
Board members discussed options to bring down the smoking rate, which then was said to stand at 26% of adults in the borough, with the highest rates seen among those in working class and manual labour jobs.
The board also planned to write to the health secretary Jeremy Hunt but ahead of a meeting held at the Civic Centre yesterday (Wednesday) said it had received no response.
Tackling tobacco smoking was made one of the board’s top priorities last year, with an estimated cost to the NHS, public authorities, and lost productivity due to sickness estimated at nearly £40 million each year.
There has been a focus on making sure more pregnant women quit smoking, and the board has ploughed more than £17,000 into campaigns such as leaflets, the illicit tobacco roadshow, and training youth workers to help young smokers to stop.