Num­ber of town smok­ers is down by more than 8%

Health ex­perts claim­ing re­mark­able progress

Kentish Express Ashford & District - - News - By Ai­dan Bar­low

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.

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