Anti-smoking campaigners have launched a new call for the National Health Service to so more to help prevent hospital admissions and deaths from smoking.
NHS organisations across the country are being urged to sign the NHS Smokefree Pledge - to support people trying to quit smoking and create tobacco free environments that support them to stop.
Tobacco is the single biggest cause of cancer, kills smokers on average 10 years early and is one of the main causes of hospital admissionsDr Tony Branson
The pledge supports work in the North East, where a Smokefree NHS/Treating Tobacco Dependency task force has been set up to work with local hospital trusts to ensure all patients who smoke are offered support to quit.
Smoking is the leading cause of premature death and disease with one in two smokers being killed as a result of lifetime tobacco smoking.
It also places a major burden on the NHS with one in four patients in hospital smoking.
In the North East, smoking results in 104 hospital admissions every day and over 38,000 a year at a time when the NHS is under more pressure than ever.
Helping to launch the Smokefree Pledge in Parliament is Consultant Oncologist with Newcastle Hospitals, Dr Tony Branson.
He said: “Tobacco is the single biggest cause of cancer, kills smokers on average 10 years early and is one of the main causes of hospital admissions.
“As providers of healthcare we must be more proactive in asking about smoking and offering help and support to quit.
“The NHS is more stretched than ever before but treating tobacco dependency is one of the single most effective ways we can improve outcomes for patients, and reduce the chances of them being re-admitted to hospital.
“This is a vital opportunity for the NHS to tackle this issue and help us reduce the burden of smoking related diseases on our wards and across local communities.”
Ailsa Rutter, Director of North East anti-smoking group Fresh, said: “A patient who continues to smoke has a one in two chance of being killed by tobacco addiction unless they quit.
“As well as treating immediate conditions, doctors, nurses and GPs are in a unique position alter the course of a patient’s long term health.
“The North East has set a vision of 5% of people smoking by 2025 and if we are to get there, the NHS must play a strong prevention role.”