Official figures from the Office for National Statistics show that the number of smokers in Greater Manchester has fallen by over 27,000 in just one year, with the percentage of the population who smoke dropping 1.3% to 16.2% in 2018.
This is faster than the national average reduction of 0.5% and means that Greater Manchester is closing the gap with the England average.
Greater Manchester set itself an ambition in 2017 to reduce the number of smokers by at least a third by 2021. This would see the percentage of people who smoke fall from 18.4% to 13% or below, resulting in at least 115,000 fewer smokers in just four years.
A reduction of this level and at this pace has never been achieved by any other major global city. Today’s figures show that Greater Manchester is on track to meet that bold target.
The reduction reflects work that has been taking place through Greater Manchester’s Making Smoking History Programme to support smokers to kick their habit.
Over the past two years, Greater Manchester Health and Social Care Partnership has:
- Run high-profile stop smoking campaigns across Greater Manchester, including ‘Don’t Be The One’ to raise awareness of the fact that one in two smokers will die from their habit, and ‘exsmoker’, which showcased stories of local people who have successfully quit
- Launched a Greater Manchester-wide stop smoking helpline offering advice and regular calls with a trained adviser to help people quit
- Piloted ‘swap-to-stop’ initiatives that help smokers switch from traditional cigarettes to less harmful e-cigarettes.
- Launched the innovative CURE programme at Wythenshawe Hospital. The programme is the first of its kind anywhere in the UK and has seen all smokers admitted to the hospital offered intensive support and medication to end their tobacco addiction. The programme was recently highlighted in The NHS Long Term Plan and is set to be introduced across the rest of England.
- Worked with maternity and stop smoking services across Greater Manchester to roll-out comprehensive support to reduce the number of women who smoke during pregnancy. The Smokefree Pregnancy scheme ensures all expectant parents who smoke are supported by specialist midwives or midwifery support workers to help them quit. It has led to the percentage of people smoking during pregnancy falling from 12.6% this time last year to 11.7% currently.
Jacub Sabo-Dutten, from Stockport, is one of the thousands of residents who quit smoking in the last two years and shared his story as part of the ‘exsmoker’ campaign. He described the strength of his addiction and his journey to becoming an ex-smoker:
“At one point I would have paid for a pack of cigarettes over food. I’d say to other smokers: it might take time, and it might take a lot of effort but you can definitely do it.”
Sarah Price, Director of Population Health for the Greater Manchester Health and Social Care Partnership said:
“These figures are heartening but we know we still have a long way to go to make smoking history.
“We are closing the gap, but smoking rates are still higher in Greater Manchester than they are in England in general and we are continuing to work hard to inspire a smoke-free generation and to help smokers to quit.
“Tobacco addiction costs money as well as lives: supporting people to quit smoking can help lift them out of poverty. It also returns money to our economy by reducing productivity lost to smoking-related sickness, taking pressure off our health and social care system, and reducing the number of fires caused by cigarettes.
“By tackling the single biggest cause of preventable illness and early death, we will transform the health, wealth and wellbeing of people across our region.”