SW has an above average number of smokers per capita in the UK, according to latest ONS figures

Sarah Parker's picture
Authored by Sarah Parker
Posted: Thursday, September 17, 2020 - 14:03

The South West has an above average number of smokers per capita in the UK, at 14.2% − above the average in England.

The best performing area in the South West is Stroud, with 9.6% of the population smoking. The three regions of Dorset Gloucestershire with 10.1% of the population smoking is the next lowest. East Devon is the third best performer, with 10.3% of people being smokers.

District

% of population smoking

Regional Ranking - number of smokers per population

England Ranking - number of smokers per population (/315)

West Devon

20.6

1

16

Sedgemoor

20.5

2

17

South Hams

20.4

3

18

Gloucester

20.1

4

19

Plymouth

18.5

5

33

Bristol

18.0

6

42

North Devon

16.5

7

70

Cornwall

15.2

8

98

Torbay

15.0

9

108

Wiltshire

14.6

10

118

Bournemouth

13.9

11

142

Poole

13.9

11

142

Christchurch

13.9

11

142

Forest of Dean

13.2

12

166

Swindon

13.1

13

168

Bath and North East Somerset

13.0

14

171

Taunton

12.9

15

174

West Somerset

12.9

15

174

Torridge

12.6

16

182

South Somerset

12.5

17

186

Mendip

12.5

18

187

Tewkesbury

12.3

19

194

Teignbridge

11.8

20

209

Exeter

11.4

21

214

North Somerset

11.3

22

221

South Gloucestershire

11.2

23

222

Cotswold

11.0

24

226

Cheltenham

10.7

25

237

Mid Devon

10.6

26

239

East Devon

10.3

27

251

East Dorset

10.1

28

253

North Dorset

10.1

28

253

West Dorset

10.1

28

253

Stroud

9.6

29

266

The worst performing part of the South West is West Devon has the greatest prevalence of smokers with 20.6%, followed by Sedgemoor with 20.5%. South Hampshire was next behind them, with 20.4% of its population being smokers. 

The figures were sourced from official Public Health England figures released on 7th July 2020, collating data from NHS ‘quit smoking’ services and collated by Vape Club in a campaign to encourage smoking cessation. The data reveals a detailed look at where smoking remains an issue and how successful NHS services have been able to encourage smoking cessation − the ‘quit rate’.

What is disappointing, is that NHS services across all of the South West recorded 1.66% ‘quit rate’ - slightly below the average achieved across England (1.89%). With the NHS services under extreme pressure in 2020, the added strain that smoking puts on services can be seen by Public Health England data for ‘smoking attributable hospital admissions’ per region. In England, the latest PHE data shows that there were over half a million people admitted to hospital with smoking related illnesses over the year. The South West recorded a sizable chunk of these smoking related hospital admissions - clearly more needs to be done to encourage smoking cessation and ease the pressure on our NHS.

Dan Marchant, smoking cessation expert and Director of Vape Club, says:

“More and more people are starting to see that vaping offers a game-changing alternative to traditional smoking cessation methods. As these figures show, vaping is actually twice as effective as other nicotine replacement products, and it is fantastic to see organisations such as Public Health England and the NHS embracing this public health breakthrough. However, there is clearly still a long way to go in getting the vaping message out to the millions of people still smoking in England.”

There needs to be some urgent action in this region of the country to get smoking rates down − what can be done to help the South West to quit smoking for good?

Quitting with NRTs and e-cigarettes: what's right for you?

report from Public Health England in March 2020 showed that vaping prevalence remains steady among young people and is increasing among adults. Vaping may be contributing to at least 20,000 smokers quitting every year in the UK, and despite the South West being on the right track, there is clearly more to be done in promoting it as a viable cessation method in the South West .

As a 2019 study published in the New England Journal of Medicine shows, there is evidence that vaping is significantly more effective than other ways of quitting. Participants were taken from NHS ‘quit smoking’ services and given either the standard available nicotine replacement therapies (NRTs), or provided with half e-cigarettes and half other nicotine replacement products. It was found that nearly 1 in 5 people (18%) from the vaping sample successfully quit − compared to 1 in every 10 of quitters using alternative nicotine replacement methods. 

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