Hundreds of South Tyneside children need treatment for passive smoking

Smoking continues to be a problem in South Tyneside.
Smoking continues to be a problem in South Tyneside.

Hundreds of children a year are treated for the effects of second-hand smoke in South Tyneside, a new report has revealed.

Experts have found that 378 youngsters were taken to their GPs, or hospital, with conditions including glue ear and asthma, after breathing in the toxic fumes.

Ailsa Rutter, director of Fresh, Smoke Free North East

Ailsa Rutter, director of Fresh, Smoke Free North East

The figures have been published as part of the Director of Public Health Annual Report 2016: A Tobacco Free Future, which will be heard by members of South Tyneside Council at tonight’s borough meeting in Jarrow Town Hall.

The report highlights how 5.9% of children aged between 11 and 15 in South Tyneside smoke and states that 346 residents die every year due to conditions caused by the habit.

However, the paper also shows the number of initiatives in place to tackle the addiction.

Since 2012, 5,000 people have given up tobacco, which reduces the borough’s smoking level to 17.4% from 22%.

This report spells out our challenges we face

Amanda Healy

Amanda Healy, director of public health for South Tyneside, said: “I am pleased that the Health and Wellbeing Board and our partners are committed to reaching a smoking level of 5 per cent by 2025.

“This report spells out our challenges we face in aspiring to reach this target and just how far we have come. We have dedicated stop smoking services which are helping adults to give up smoking which in turn helps children. We know that parents who smoke around their children put them at greater risk of poorer health due to second-hand smoke and they are more likely to smoke at a younger age.

“Smoking is the single biggest cause of premature death and ill health facing our residents and families right now and this report recognises that we need to continue the work going on locally to drive down levels of smoking.”

Ailsa Rutter, director of the regional tobacco programme Fresh, also welcomes the report.

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She said: “We hugely welcome this report and its aim for more families in South Tyneside to grow up free from the harm of smoking, which is a leading cause of early death, ill health, poverty and disability.

“The North East has seen massive progress with around 1/3 fewer smokers than in 2005, and with fewer children starting. However, too many people are still smoking. Half of all smokers will die from tobacco, but often people under-estimate how much damage it is doing to their health or to other people’s health. We need to ensure communities are well informed about the risks of smoking and secondhand smoke, and have access to effective ways to stop smoking.”

Although smoking is the report’s main focus, it also looks at other health and wellbeing needs of the borough’s residents.

It reveals one in three people aged over 65 suffers a fall every year, while there are 17,000 unpaid carers who should be provided with more respite provisions.

South Tyneside's director of public health, Amanda Healy.

South Tyneside's director of public health, Amanda Healy.

Tonight’s borough council meeting will start at 6pm.

Key figures in the report

The 2016 health annual report has shed light on all aspects of life South Tyneside.

- Every year around 350 children are born to mothers who smoke, 21.8% are still doing so at the time of delivery compared to 10.6% nationally.

- Almost four out of 10 children aged 10-11 are overweight or obese. Nationally it’s just over a third.

- Half of adults eat their ‘five a day’ - that’s five different types of fruit and vegetables - this is compared to 51.7% locally and to 52.3% nationally.

- Over 1,000 people are in long-term unemployment, claiming job seekers allowance for more than 12 months. That’s 1.1% of 16-64 year olds, nationally it’s 0.4%.

- Almost half of social care service users, 49.7%, report feeling anxious or depressed. That is lower than the national average of 52.8%.

- More than 1,500 South Tyneside residents are registered as having dementia.