Illegal tobacco

New figures released for World No Tobacco Day (May 31) by Action on Smoking and Health (ASH) and Cancer Research UK, show 5,696 children under the age of 18 in Greater Manchester start smoking every year – and two thirds of those will get addicted, going on to become daily smokers.

The figures equate to nearly 16 children every day, 11 will grow up to become addicted– around the same number of adults in the city-region who die daily from smoking-related causes.

Smoking is the leading cause of preventable deaths in England and each year kills nearly 80,000 people – 4,500 in Greater Manchester alone.

The call for more action to tackle smoking comes from the Greater Manchester Health and Social Care Partnership on World No Tobacco Day, dedicated this year to protecting young people from tobacco industry manipulation.

Greater Manchester has seen smoking rates reduce at a pace and scale greater than any other region in England since the Greater Manchester Health and Social Care Partnership launched its tobacco control strategy in 2017. Initiatives include investment in more smokefree spaces and events across the city-region to reduce children being exposed to smoking, as well as the You Can Stop Smoking campaign which aims to educate smokers about the harms of smoking and empower people to quit.

Andrea Crossfield, making Smoking History Lead at GHMSC Partnership, said:

“We have made massive progress in Greater Manchester. More families are growing up free of smoking – however smoking is still our biggest preventable killer and cause of ill health.

“Tobacco company documents have referred to “replacement smokers” and it is clear they continue to profit from a flow of new smokers to fill that gap of people who die or quit.

“The reality is that all tobacco will kill at least one in two of its long-term users and most children who start smoking will go on to be regular smokers.

“In 2017 all partners across all our NHS organisations at every level and all 10 local authorities, including the Greater Manchester Combined Authority and the Mayor of Greater Manchester, representatives from primary care;  Public Health England; the voluntary, community and social enterprise (VCSE) sector; Healthwatch; Greater Manchester Police; and Greater Manchester Fire and Rescue Service joined forces on a mission to ultimately make smoking history.

“Our aim is to ensure our children today do not become the next generation of people becoming ill from tobacco in the future and that every smoker is supported to quit.”

“Tobacco companies make huge profits from an addiction which not only robs smokers of many years of life but also costs communities, families, every GP surgery, every local authority, every hospital, every business and is a major driver of poverty. ”

The alarming figures highlight how essential it is that the Government deliver on its ambition for England to be smokefree by 2030, so future generations can grow up smokefree.

The Greater Manchester History Maker’s survey highlighted 4 in 5 residents support making smoking history including half of all smokers.

Children whose parents smoke are nearly three times as likely to become smokers themselves highlighting the importance of doing more to help adults quit as we are doing in Greater Manchester.

For many year’s tobacco companies have been exposed for their tactics in targeting young people to smoke, and in recent years, tobacco companies have increasingly used social media to target young people.

An investigation published in 2018 accused tobacco companies of secretly advertising cigarettes on social media platforms like Instagram, Facebook and Twitter by paying social media influencers – popular young people with large online followings – to post images of cigarettes and smoking as part of a marketing strategy documented in more than 40 countries.

The cost of smoking to the Greater Manchester

  • £118.8 million a year for the Greater Manchester NHS– including 1.5 million GP consultations, over 327,800 hospital admissions, 179,710 outpatient visits and over 332,500 practice nurse consultations for smoking-related conditions
  • £47.30 million in social care – over £38.5m of that from local authority social care budgets and over £8.8m paid by individuals or families.
  • Over £464.4 million lost from the regional economy in Greater Manchester as a result of lost productivity due to smoking; including £66.8m in absenteeism
  • 62,122 people in Greater Manchester, including 21,110 children, driven into poverty due to smoking to smoking


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