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More young people in Cambridgeshire choosing not to smoke

By Adrian Curtis

A growing number of younger people are non-smokers
A growing number of younger people are non-smokers

Steady decrease in smokers - but Cambridge still has more smokers than average for region

Smoking by numbers - Source: Public England
Smoking by numbers - Source: Public England

Growing numbers of young people in Cambridgeshire are choosing not to smoke.

The latest data from the Office for National Statistics shows that the percentage of South Cambridgeshire’s population who have never smoked has risen by 40 per cent in the last seven years.

Overall the proportion of smokers in South Cambridgeshire has gone down since 2011. That year a total of 18.1 per cent of the area’s population smoked, however last year the figure had slumped to just 11.3 per cent.

The drop in numbers across South Cambridgeshire is mirrored across the country, especially in the age 18-24 age bracket.

Last year, just 17.8 per cent of people said they were current smokers, compared with 2011 when more than a quarter smoked.

But surprisingly, the proportion of smokers in Cambridge rose from 14.8 per cent in 2011 to 17 per cent last year.

On average, Cambridge has more smokers than the East of England. Across the region, 14.2 per cent said they were smokers last year.

Val Thomas, consultant in public health at Cambridgeshire County Council, said: “In recent years we have seen a steady decrease in the proportion of people smoking in South Cambridgeshire and across the county.

“Although rates in Fenland remained higher and more challenging, the latest data (Public Health Outcomes Framework July 2018) shows that there has been a considerable improvement in this area. The county rate has dropped to 14.5 per cent and in Fenland it has fallen from 21 per cent to 16.3 per cent. We will continue to develop our tobacco control work and working with partners and Cambridgeshire’s Stop Smoking Service, Camquit, we will to continue to improve and sustain our fall in smoking rates, ensuring that we create supportive environments for the prevention and treatment of smoking tobacco.

“We also commission a youth smoking prevention programme called KICKASH which works with 10 secondary schools within Cambridgeshire and is led by young people who are proud to be smoke-free.

“For those who need help to stop smoking, Camquit offers specialist advice, support and encouragement to help people stop smoking for good.”

Deborah Arnott, chief executive of Action on Smoking and Health, put the reduction down to banning tobacco advertising.

She said: “The brightly coloured pack displays we used to have in shops disappeared completely in 2015 and the packs they do see nowadays are a sludgy green colour, with large picture warnings, rather than the brightly coloured, highly branded packs we used to have.

“Is it any wonder young people today increasingly choose not to smoke? It’s much less cool than it used to be.”

The change in smoking habits has also been boosted by the rise of e-cigarettes. The ONS estimates there are 2.8 million vapers in Britain, and almost half said their reason for taking it up was to stop smoking.

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