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Kicking tobacco: Barking and Dagenham, Redbridge, Newham and Tower Hamlets behind the rest of UK, report shows

PUBLISHED: 07:00 17 September 2019

East London is behind the rest of the UK when it comes to quitting smoking. Picture: PA.

East London is behind the rest of the UK when it comes to quitting smoking. Picture: PA.

PA Wire/PA Images

Boroughs in east London are projected to overshoot the government's "smoke free" targets by more than 20 years.

Tower Hamlets, Newham, Barking and Dagenham, and Redbridge all have declining numbers of smokers - like the rest of the country - but are only set to kick the habit by around 2050, according to figures from the Office of National Statistics. That's 20 years after the government's target of a rate of less than five per cent by 2030.

As it is, the report states the country as a whole is going to miss that mark by a decade, despite smoking being in long-term decline and the rate of that decline doubling since 2012.

Frontier Economics, which wrote the paper, said it didn't expect that rapid decline to last, partly because it was fuelled by growth in e-cigarettes, which is slowing.

It concluded that, to hit the 2030 target, more than two million extra people would have to quit smoking - that's on top of those who are already projected to quit.

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To reach the goal, the analysts said the NHS would have to reverse the decline in people using its Stop Smoking services or find new ways to persuade people to quit. The report also said an increase in the number of people using "smoke free" tobacco products could make a dent in the numbers.

The new report, which was funded by the tobacco giant Phillip Morris International, came out on Monday, September 16.

Phillip Morris has been pushing its Unsmoke campaign as smoking rates decline and alternative products like vaping become more popular. Efforts by the company to inform the public about health and tobacco have been criticised as a public relations campaign.

A Department of Health and Social Care spokesman said: "We have a strong track record on tobacco - smoking rates are at a record low and continue to fall and our tobacco control measures are considered some of the toughest in Europe.

He added it is committed to making smoking obsolete by 2030 and is exploring options in its green paper on prevention."

People who want to stop smoking can find more information on the NHS website. NHS support includes expert advice and stop smoking treatments.

PMI has been contacted for comment.

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