Health focus: Smokers still face the biggest risks


First the good news – smoking in Buckinghamshire is below the national average.

Smoking amongst adults aged 18 years and over is estimated at 16% (approximately 65,000 smokers), which is lower than the England average of 21%.

The figure is contained in the county council’s Joint Strategic Needs Assessment which highlights health issues in the county.

A number of groups are identified as being at particular risk from the impact of smoking, taking up smoking, failing to quit or suffering from the adverse effects of second-hand smoke.

These priority groups include those living in the most deprived areas of the county, routine and manual workers, pregnant women who smoke, children and young people, mental health service users, prisoners, and people from particular minority ethnic groups including Pakistani males, and Polish and Irish people.

National legislation banning smoking in public places has had a beneficial effect and has not resulted in smoking being displaced to homes.

The law appears to have encouraged parents who smoke to make their home smokefree.

This benefits children, reducing their exposure to second hand smoke.

In October the council will be involved in Stoptober, a 28-day stop smoking challenge. Pledge boards will be placed across the county to encourage those who want to quit to make a commitment, and follow it up with counselling and support through the Bucks Stop Smoking Service.

PREVENTABLE: Smoking remains the single greatest cause of preventable illness and premature death in the UK.

LIFE EXPECTANCY: Smoking accounts for over half the difference in life expectancy between the richest and poorest members of our society.

HEALTH: Smoking increases the risk of heart disease, stroke, lung disease and several types of cancer.

PREGNANCY: Expectant mothers who smoke increase the risk of having low birth weight babies, a premature birth and neonatal illness.

CHILDREN: Children exposed to parental smoke have an increased risk of cot death, meningitis, more frequent asthma attacks and lung infections.

COST: Smoking costs society millions of pounds through smoking breaks at work, NHS care, sick days, domestic fires, smoking litter, passive smoking and lost productivity at work due to early death.