Thursday, 18 March 2010

Scheme to Stub Out Health Harms of Smoking

By Sunil Patel

A bold new government scheme aims to slash the numbers of smokers by half over the next decade.

The plan is to cut the number of those who light up regularly from 21 percent to 10 percent of the population by 2020, the Health Secretary Andy Burnham announced on February 1.

He said: “We’ve come so far and now we’ll go even further - to push forward and save even more lives. The strategy renews our commitment to virtually eradicate the health harms caused by smoking.”

Last year 337,000 people stopped smoking due to free support provided by the NHS.

Under Smokefree future proposals, more smokers will be offered targeted professional support from the NHS to kick the habit.

Chief Medical Officer, Sir Liam Donaldson, said: 'We must keep pushing hard for a tobacco free future and keep up the momentum gained by England going smokefree in 2007.

"Since then, the number of people who have given up smoking has increased, so this new strategy and targeted support will help smokers who want to quit, to give up for good."

"Under the new strategy, longer-term support and treatment will be available for those people finding it difficult to give up smoking," Mr Donaldson added.

To stop young people getting hooked on cheap illicit cigarettes, there will be an extra investment in overseas officers to crack down on the 200 million illegal cigarettes which flood the UK market every year.

Other anti-smoking measures include, considering the introduction of plain packaging of cigarette packs and plans to ban the sales of cigarettes through vending machines.

Another key government commitment is the promotion of smoke-free homes and cars helping to protect everyone, especially children, from the harmful effects of second-hand smoke.

According to Department of Health, seven out of ten smokers want to give up.

Every year 114,000 people die from smoking related and it costs the NHS £2.7 billion per year.

For men across the UK the overall national average number of smokers was 24 percent, for Indian men it was just below the average with 20 percent.

However, rates amongst the Bangladeshi population were almost twice the national average with 40 percent and they were also particularly high in Pakistan populations with 29 percent, according to 2006 figures from Ash.

The numbers for Bangladeshi, Pakistan and Indian women smokers were low, all recording below six per cent.

Kawaldip Singh, a director at QUIT, said, “Smoking has a devastating effect on young Asians as their lifestyles and consumption habits have changed in the last 20 years.

"We are getting people as young as 30 being diagnosed with heart disease and diabetes type 2, if they smoke, this ensures that they are twice as likely to have a heart attack and be disabled permanently from other diseases.”

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