Alarmingly, nine per cent of pregnant women were known to be smokers when their baby was delivered in 2016/17 and around seven per cent of 15 year-olds in West Sussex are regular smokers.
Today West Sussex County Council has launched its Tobacco Control Strategy in a bid to encourage more people to stop smoking and prevent others from picking up the habit.
The launch of The West Sussex Tobacco Control Strategy 2019-2022 comes as the nation marks No Smoking Day.
A number of organisations from across West Sussex attended the event at The Regis Centre in Bognor Regis for a series of workshops looking at how they can work together through the county’s Smokefree West Sussex Partnership to take forward plans over the next three years.
As part of the event, health professionals, public health officers and representatives from local authorities heard from Director of Public Health at West Sussex County Council, Anna Raleigh, as well as Public Health Lead for Healthy Lifestyles, Sue Carmichael and Public Health Analyst Dr Rich Tyler, who authored the strategy.
The conference also welcomed Health and Wellbeing Programme Manager Public Health England South East, Karen Simmonds, and the county council’s Cabinet Member for Adults and Health, Amanda Jupp.
Among some of the many exciting strands of this new strategy are plans for the Maternity Services that will form part of the integrated stop smoking services to try and target mothers who are unable to kick their habit.
West Sussex Fire and Rescue Service has also signed up to play its part through its Safe and Well Checks, which will see it promote e-cigarettes as a safer alternative to tobacco.
The latest figures show there were 7,241 hospital admissions in West Sussex in 2016/17 which were directly related to smoking. This is an increase of 13% since 2011/12 – or an additional 800 admissions a year.
West Sussex County Council Cabinet Member for Adults and Health, Amanda Jupp, said: “The latest figures suggest that fewer people are smoking in West Sussex than ever before, with the smoking prevalence for the county sitting at an all-time low of 12.8%.
“And while more and more people are choosing to quit smoking and move on to using e-cigarettes, which are 95% less harmful than tobacco, smoking remains the single biggest preventable cause of death and ill health in England.
“In West Sussex there are estimated to be 87,000 smokers, and alarmingly around 7% of 15 year-olds in the county are regular smokers.
“The effects of passive smoking have long been acknowledged and understood, but there are far-wider ranging implications for the families of those who smoke. One in four households with a smoker in West Sussex fall below the poverty line. If the cost of smoking was returned to the household, approximately 14,500 people would be elevated out of poverty.
“It is time for us to tackle this issue head-on and I am confident that this new strategy points us in the right direction to achieve that.”
The details of the full strategy document and action plan can be found here: https://sfws-action-plan.netlify.com/
Each year smoking in West Sussex is estimated to cost society £196 million – including £124 million in potential wealth lost from the local economy due to lost productivity, such as sick leave and smoking breaks, and £24 million additional spending on social care related to smoking each year.