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Mayor backs radical smokefree plan to save Greater Manchester lives and NHS millions

30th June 2017

cigarettes-83571_1920Plans by Greater Manchester Health and Social Care Partnership to drastically cut smoking rates in Greater Manchester ‘faster and further than achieved anywhere else in the world have been endorsed by Mayor Andy Burnham on the eve of the 10th anniversary of groundbreaking smokefree laws.

Great progress has been made over the past ten years to help people quit the lethal habit, or not start in the first place. In fact, since 2007 there has been a reduction from 25% of the Greater Manchester population smoking to just over 18%. That’s a reduction of almost 7% or just over 140,000 people. Smoking is still the greatest cause of ill health and early death in Greater Manchester though:

  • Around 4,500 people a year, 13 every day, are dying of smoking related diseases in Greater Manchester, with many times that number enduring illnesses and poverty that makes their livesmore difficult.
  • There are over 60,000 more smokers in the Greater Manchester region than the England average in an equivalent population.
  • Although fewer young people are smoking, every hour another child in Greater Manchester starts smoking, equating a full classroom of smokers per day.

Our ambitious tobacco plan will be launched later in July, and aims to cut smoking to one person in eight, or less over the next four years.

To achieve our target, ideas being considered in the new Greater Manchester Tobacco Plan include:

  • Offering new online digital and telephone support as research shows that while some smokers need face-to-face advice most people like to tailor their own self-help.
  • Targetting help to specific groups of people such as women who smoke during pregnancy or people with mental health needs.
  • Bringing down smoking rates amongst our own workforces.
  • Creating more smokefree spaces – including truly smokefree hospitals as well as smokefree playgrounds and public squares.
  • Working with social housing providers to explore smokefree tenancies and homes.
  • Having realistic conversations about e-cigarettes and vaping following evidence from Public Health England that they are at least 95% safer than smoking tobacco, and are not, except in a very few, cases a ‘gateway’ to smoking.

Andy Burnham, Mayor of Greater Manchester said:

“Over the past 10 years there has been a terrific amount of work in our boroughs to tackle smoking, but the stark reality is that it is still by far the greatest cause of ill-health and early death. We have some of the worst death rates from smoking in England and it’s time to really step up our efforts.

“We want to involve the people of Greater Manchester in a serious conversation about how far and how fast we should go to firstly get down to the England average. But I think we could be more ambitious still and lead the way to work towards an even more smokefree Greater Manchester now that we have full responsibility here for our health and social care delivery.”

Sarah Price, Director of Population Health for Greater Manchester Health and Social Care Partnership, added:

“We have made great strides in the last ten years and that achievement should be celebrated, but almost one in five people are still smoking and we know that in our poorer communities and groups such as those with mental health needs the figure is much higher.

“Working together we’ve achieved many changes including smokefree laws which recently extended to cars carrying children, and banned tobacco marketing on packaging. But there’s a lot more we can do starting straight away and we will be considering some more radical steps in our tobacco plan released later this year to reach our very ambitious targets.”

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