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Smoking breeding health inequalities, says FPH

Vulnerable groups need more help to gain access to stop-smoking services, the Faculty of Public Health has said following a report which shows a north/south divide in smoking fatality figures.

Death rates from smoking are higher in the north of England than in the more affluent south, according to new Local Tobacco Control profiles for England, published by the Association of Public Health Observatories (APHO).

John Middleton, FPH Vice-President said: "These profiles paint a stark picture of health inequalities between the regions in England.  The fact that in Richmond 4% of pregnant women smoked during pregnancy compared to over 33% in Blackpool speaks volumes of the need to do much more to help vulnerable groups to access stop smoking services, information and any other support that is available."

The APHO profiles bring together, for the first time, a detailed picture of the burden of smoking-related disease, costs and action for every local authority and primary care trust in England.


Key findings from the profiles show:

  • Higher deaths rates from smoking-specific causes such as heart disease, stroke, lung cancer and chronic obstructive lung disease (COPD) in the north of England than the south.
  • The cost to the NHS of in-patient treatment alone for smoking-related illness was almost £1 billion in 2008-09 in England (£33 per adult). The cost per adult ranged from £30 in the south east to £41 in the north east.
  • About one in seven (nearly 15%) of women who gave birth in England in 2008/9 said they smoked during pregnancy. There is a nine-fold difference between local areas - the percentage smoking in pregnancy ranged from 4% in Richmond to over 33% in Blackpool.
  • Inequalities in the estimated proportion of people who smoke are significant within every region too, with some local authorities in every region having a higher prevalence of smoking than the national average.
  • Overall, however, death rates from smoking in England, and in all regions, have continued to fall in recent years, from 216 deaths per 100,000 in England in 2004-06 to 207 in 2006-08 (a fall of 4.6%).

For more information, go to the London Health Observatory website.

 

Written: 27/10/2010 , last modified: 02/02/2011

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