Records show Swindon has the highest smoking rate in the South West, with a prevalence of 17.7% in 2018.
With a South West region average of 13.9% and an England average of 14.4%, the data clearly shows that smoking in Swindon is very much above average, with 17.7% of the district puffing away last year. The South West region actually has the lowest number of smokers in England all together and shows that the NHS ‘quit smoking’ services have been able to encourage smoking cessation, but unfortunately Swindon does not seem to follow this pattern.
What does this mean for our hospitals? Well, in the Swindon district there were 1,752 smoking attributable hospital admissions per 100,000 of the population in the last year. This makes Swindon the third highest district in the region for hospital admissions, falling just behind Bournemouth (2,037) and Bristol (1,970).
UK statistics continue to be bleak, with 22% of all hospital admissions for respiratory diseases estimated to be attributable to smoking. Not only this but 47% of admissions for cancers that can be caused by smoking, were estimated to be attributable to smoking.
These hospital admissions are a burden on individuals, the NHS, and the UK economy and society. In fact, while smoking rates in the Uk are declining, hospital admissions related to smoking are rising, and there is a concerning trend of cuts to smoking cessation services.
The British Lung Foundation found in July that the number of GP prescriptions for nicotine replacement therapy in England has fallen in the past decade by 75%. They recommend:
“The UK government need to reverse the cuts to public health funding so that specialist stop smoking services can stay open. Commissioners of stop smoking services should remove any unfair restrictions on which, and how many, approved stop smoking products can be prescribed.”
How can these figures be changed? By making quitting smoking easier – by making quit smoking services more accessible and having more affordable ways of being able to quit.
E-cigarettes are currently the most popular stop smoking aid in England, with an estimated 2.5 million users. Over half (51%) have stopped smoking completely and of the 45% who still smoke, half say that they are vaping in order to stop smoking.
Public Health England say e-cigarettes are 95% less harmful than tobacco and using an e-cigarette with stop smoking service support can double your chances of quitting. The question that remains is how the NHS can start to engage with vaping as a stop smoking aid in order to decrease the 7.4 million smokers left in the UK.
Organisation, Vape Club, believe that they have a solution. They said: One solution could be to partner with an organisation like Vape Club to offer smokers trying to quit an initial discount - perhaps in the form of a voucher signed off by a GP - on vaping products.”