West Midlands on course to miss smoke-free target
The West Midlands is on course to miss the Government’s 2030 smoke-free target, with not enough people currently quitting in order to achieve the goal.
New analysis shows that many more will have to stub it out if the region is to comply with the Government’s plan to almost eradicate smoking by the end of the next decade.
Health ministers want the smoking rate in the UK to dip below five per cent by 2030. Latest figures show that the rate in the West Midlands is 14.5 per cent and on average only 0.6 per cent of smokers are quitting each year.
If that rate continues over the next decade the West Midlands’ smoking rate will only fall by six per cent, leaving around eight per cent who haven’t kicked the habit.
It is a conundrum for health experts, who are expected to increase awareness and stop-smoking drives over the coming years.
There has been a large increase in people taking up vaping this decade and that could be a way to encourage more people to quit, despite lingering questions over the safety of e-cigarettes.
Sandwell Hospital recently took the pioneering move of opening vaping shops on site as part of a drive to cut smoking levels among staff and patients, even offering staff discounts.
Toby Lewis, chief executive of the Sandwell and West Birmingham NHS Trust, which runs the hospital, has fiercly defended the move, insisting there is clear evidence vaping is much safer than smoking.
He believes convincing smokers switch to vaping is key in trying to reduce smoking levels.
Will Hill, head of legal and external affairs at British American Tobacco UK (BAT), which carried out the latest study, said: “The Government’s green paper rightly identifies e-cigarettes as a highly effective tool for quitting and it’s no coincidence that their rise in usage in the UK has coincided with us becoming a country with the second lowest smoking rate in Europe.
“As manufacturers of the UK’s leading e-cigarette brand, we had hoped to work with the national and local Government to ensure that every region hits this ambitious 2030, smoke-free target.
“However, smokers who join their local stop smoking services are being denied access to the full range of alternatives available to them.
“BAT UK is committed to using our knowledge of what smokers want from nicotine products to help offer a range of e-cigarette products and other alternative potentially reduced risk nicotine products.”