Action call over smoking levels

Support charities have called for action after new figures show that people in South Tyneside with a mental health condition are nearly 50% more likely to be smokers.

By Andrew Dowdeswell
Wednesday, 25th May 2022, 3:34 pm
Smoking rates action call.
Smoking rates action call.

Action on Smoking and Health (ASH) says the higher prevalence of smoking among those with mental health conditions fuels inequalities in life expectancy and general health.

Office for Health Improvement and Disparities figures show that 21% of people with a long-term mental health condition in the area in 2010/21 said they smoked – compared to 14.5% of the population as a whole.

That means someone with a mental health condition is 44% more likely to smoke than the wider population.

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Nationally, 14.4% of adults said they smoke regularly, but this rises to 26.3% among those with a mental health illness.

Hazel Cheeseman, deputy chief executive of ASH, said: “With more investment into services and wider policies to reduce smoking, we can bring rates down for people with mental health conditions and everyone else.

"The Government pledged to make smoking obsolete back in 2019. It is past time that we heard how they will do this and address the terrible inequalities caused by smoking for people with mental health conditions."

The figures come after the Government's unveiled its aim to be smoke-free by 2030, meaning fewer than five per cent of adults will regularly smoke.

The Department for Health and Social Care said it is "addressing the damaging health implications of smoking, especially where rates remain high".

A spokesperson said the new Tobacco Control Plan will be published later this year.