At the time that our population health plan was published, 18.4% of the population in Greater Manchester smoked: 393,000 of our citizens.

Smoking remains the leading cause of cancer (causing 16 different types), cardiovascular disease and respiratory disease. The stark fact is that one in two smokers will die from a smoking related disease. Every year, there are around 4,500 smoking-attributable deaths across our city region – equating to 13 people every day dying too soon.

In addition to this, research suggests that 87,782 Greater Manchester households which include a smoker fall below the poverty line. By helping these smokers to quit removing the economic burden of buying tobacco, 34,131 households and 62,133 people could be lifted out of poverty.

It was clear that reducing the number of smokers in Greater Manchester is an essential part of achieving all of our ‘live well’ goals. That’s why, six months after our plan was published, we set out our ambitious strategy to reduce smoking in Greater Manchester by a third by 2021.

Since then, it’s been full steam ahead with our comprehensive Making Smoking History programme. We may not have had much time but we have resource, dedication and the strong backing of partners and the public across Greater Manchester! Here’s just some of the progress made so far:

  • From January 2018, we’ve been rolling out new support offers to help people quit, including the Greater Manchester NHS stop smoking helpline. The helpline provides expert advice and support to smokers who want to quit, 7 days a week.
  • In February 2018 our hard-hitting ‘Don’t Be the One’ campaign raised awareness of the risks of smoking and encouraged a third of smokers in Greater Manchester to take quit actions.
  • Our History Makers consultation in spring 2018 started a conversation with the people of Greater Manchester who showed strong support for our plans. 7,500 people responded to our survey, with over 80% of the wanting to make smoking history including half of all smokers that took part!
  • Our Smokefree Pregnancy programme is being rolled out across the region, providing support to expectant parents so they can be smokefree throughout their pregnancy and beyond, with an approach that is highlighted as best practice in the NHS Long Term Plan.
  • Over summer 2018 our Smokefree Summer promotion saw smokefree family-friendly events taking place in all ten boroughs, giving families a fun and safe place to socialise whilst protecting our children from tobacco.
  • The Salford Swap-to-Stop pilot in spring/summer 2018 showed that an innovative approach to helping people quit by partnering public housing providers with local pharmacies and stop smoking services and providing smokers in some of our most deprived areas with access to free e-cigarettes could significantly boost the number of people who successfully quit.
  • October 2018 saw the launch of the CURE programme at Wythenshawe Hospital – this UK-first approach for treating tobacco addiction is modelled on a scheme from Canada and ensures that all smokers who are admitted to hospital get the help they need to beat their addiction. CURE has now been referenced in the NHS Long Term Plan as best practice that should be rolled out across England.

National data show that the percentage of people smoking in the city region had already decreased to 17.5% by July 2018, which is great news, but we have much more to do.

Over the next few months we’ll be running a new campaign, highlighting success stories from people who have quit smoking, many of whom have suffered smoking harms, and encouraging others to join them. This will highlight just a few of the many success stories from people who are quitting across Greater Manchester.

We’re also revamping our digital resources so that smokers have even more access to the information and motivation that will help them quit 24/7 including a new reward app.

When we spoke to smokers about what they wanted to help them quit, many of them told us they wanted quick and easy access to quitting tools and expert advice in a location that was near to their home or work. We’re now working with our local partners to expand the advice that pharmacies can offer and to help them to provide free nicotine replacement therapy to those who need it most.

The CURE programme is being implemented at a further six Greater Manchester hospitals this summer and across the whole of the city region by 2021. And the Swap to Stop initiative which piloted in Salford is now also being offered in Trafford – we hope to see it expanding further across the region over the next year.

We’re working in partnership with local Trading Standards officers, Greater Manchester Police, HMRC and responsible retailers to crack down on illicit tobacco, which is the first route into smoking for many of our young people.

Andrea Crossfield MBE leads Making Smoking History, our ground-breaking and ambitious programme to massively reduce the harms caused by tobacco.

Find out more about Making Smoking History and get involved with our work by following @HistoryMakersGM on Twitter or MakingSmokingHistoryGM on Facebook.

When the Greater Manchester Population Health Plan was published in January 2017, it promised four outcomes within the ‘Live Well’ priority: that more Greater Manchester families will be economically active and family incomes will increase; that fewer people will die early from cardiovascular disease; that fewer people will die from cancer; and that fewer people will die from respiratory disease. The harms caused by tobacco have a negative impact on all four of these outcomes, so we knew we needed to implement a system-wide approach to address smoking across our region.

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