Wokingham expected to stub out smoking by 2026
WOKINGHAM Borough is set to become one of the first three places in England to go smoke free.
Health experts say figures show most people will stub out the habit by 2026.
Only Bristol is expected to become a smoke free zone earlier with York in third place behind Wokingham.
The borough is also ahead of major towns and cities including Portsmouth, Reading and Milton Keynes.
One in 12 people (8.13%) in Wokingham smoked in 2017, the most recent year for which data is available, and smoking prevalence rates fell by more than 5% between 2011 and 2017.
The latest figures from Philip Morris International highlight a number of factors behind the fall in smoking rates.
Mark MacGregor, the company’s UK Corporate Affairs Director said these included targeted government campaigns in schools and on social media.
“Probably the most effective deterrent is the annual increase in the cost of cigarettes in the budget,” he added.
“In addition, most people, even hardened smokers, recognise that it is harmful and the third reason is the increase of NHS Stop Smoking services.”
Mr MacGregor praised the work of health officials, charities and the local authority in the borough for the fall in the number of smokers.
“They are all doing something right and their combined efforts have proven to be very successful.
“Every part of the country is different but Wokingham seems to be doing something that could perhaps be copied elsewhere.”
Philip Morris International is a one of the biggest tobacco companies in the world and is seeing its market change: while it is engaged in the manufacture and sale of cigarettes, it is introducing other nicotine-containing products in markets.
Mark MacGregor added: “Our business is committed to going smoke free as fast as possible and ultimately stopping selling cigarettes altogether.
“What this research reveals is the huge variations in the decline in smoking in different parts of the country.
“We are keen to play our part in working with local businesses, retailers and local councils in the areas with highest smoking rates.
“There are more alternative options than ever before that can help smokers to give up cigarettes for good.”
Vaping is one of the reasons why the borough is expected to give up cigarette smoking in just eight years’ time according to new research