Latest figures show the number of people in Kent who smoke continues to fall and is now at a record low but with COVID-19 still prevalent and causing more severe symptoms for smokers, there has been no better time to quit.
Figures from the Office of National Statistics record that the numbers of smokers in Kent dropped overall from 15% in 2018 to 13.7% last year. This is below the national average.
The estimates are based on local surveys and showed men are still more likely to smoke than women and the numbers are highest among routine and manual workers.
There were falls in the figures for Ashford, Canterbury, Folkestone, Swale, Tonbridge and Malling and Tunbridge Wells. However, there are still major concerns for some parts of the county which have shown an increase including Dartford, Dover, Gravesham, Maidstone, Sevenoaks and Thanet.
Kent County Council Director of Public Health, Andrew Scott-Clark said: “We are pleased that the county picture shows more people than ever are quitting and young people are not taking up smoking in the first place but we are doing further investigation to see why some areas are now showing an increase.
“The COVID-19 pandemic has shown that smoking increases the severity of the symptoms and by quitting, you can reduce the chance of needing to go to hospital. We are supporting the #QuitforCovid campaign through our One You Kent services www.oneyoukent.org.uk as there has never been a more important time to quit smoking than right now. It is never too late to see health benefits of quitting smoking and you’re never too old to quit.”
Kent County Council commissions the One You Kent smokefree service through Kent Community Health NHS Foundation Trust, and is backing the #QuitforCovid campaign which is supported by the Smokefree Action Coalition led by Action on Smoking and Health (ASH) and the Association of Directors of Public Health.
Smoking tobacco damages the lungs, weakens the immune system and causes a range of severe respiratory problems. Evidence so far suggests people who smoke may be at increased risk of contracting more severe symptoms if they get COVID-19.
Anne Ford, Clinical Services Manager from KCHFT said: “We know many people in Kent are worried about COVID-19 and the effect it could have on themselves or others in their lives who smoke. One You Kent offers free, friendly support to #QuitForCovid, including a specialist service for pregnant women and their families to quit smoking. Our friendly Advisers will offer you an appointment via telephone or video call either one-to-one or in a group. Why not check out the smokefree playlist videos on the One You Kent Facebook page for more tips on how to go smokefree. Get in touch for more advice or to book an appointment on 0300 123 1220 or via our website at http://oneyoukent.org.uk.”
As well as reducing the risks from complications from coronavirus, quitting smoking quickly improves your circulation and your breathing. It also reduces the risks of other health problems such as heart attacks and strokes at a time when the NHS is coming under strain.
GPs are also helping smokers to quit by prescribing the right NRT products or medication to support them giving up.
Ian Vousden, Programme Director for the Kent and Medway Cancer Alliance, said: “We know smoking is linked to at least 15 different types of cancer, including bowel, bladder and the most obvious one being lung cancer. The symptoms of both coronavirus and lung cancer are similar and we would urge anyone with a persistent cough to contact their GP. Smoking remains the biggest cause of preventable death in the UK and stopping smoking at any age increases life expectancy.”
Find out more about a range of tools, tips and local support services that can help you at www.oneyoukent.org.uk
Alternatively, ring 0300 123 1220 or text ‘QUIT’ to 87023. You can also find more information at www.kenthealthandwellbeing.nhs.uk
Note to Editors:
You can find more information on the figures at https://www.ons.gov.uk/peoplepopulationandcommunity/healthandsocialcare/healthandlifeexpectancies/bulletins/adultsmokinghabitsingreatbritain/2019#main-points