‘Giving up smoking could be enough to lift you above the poverty line’ say Herts health watchdogs
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New figures from the anti-smoking organisatio Action on Smoking and Health (ASH) show that of the estimated 89,000 households in Hertfordshire that include an adult smoker, around 20,000 are living below the poverty line.
On average households that include a smoker spend £2,158 a year on tobacco – and taking those figures on step further, experts reckon that 5,400 households, affecting 20,000 people in the county of whom 5,000 are children, could be lifted out of poverty by someone quitting smoking.
The figures have been published alongside a health inequalities toolkit advising local authorities and the NHS on how to reduce smoking rates in disadvantaged communities.
Councillor Teresa Heritage, Herts County Council’s cabinet member for public health, said: “Some of our residents are significantly less healthy than others. We recognise the considerable effect that this has on their income as well as their happiness and life chances, so we are committed to tackling health inequalities by working in partnership.
“Hertfordshire’s dedicated Tobacco Control Alliance works hard to ensure that we are focusing our efforts on the communities who are at greatest risk of harm from tobacco.
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“This year, Hertfordshire won a national award in recognition of its commitment to tobacco control.
“We have also delivered specific projects this year to ensure that pregnant smokers, their partners and families are identified and encouraged to stop smoking at the earliest opportunity.”
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Most people start smoking as teenagers; after a year of smoking 85 per cent say they would find it difficult to quit. Smokers often try to quit many times before they are successful but those from disadvantaged backgrounds face particular barriers and often need more support.
Dianne Prescott of the Hertfordshire Partnership NHS Foundation Trust said: “We recognise that smoking has a huge impact on both the physical and mental health of service users.
“Working with Hertfordshire Stop Smoking Service we are changing our approach to smoking. From the end of this year, all our buildings and sites will be completely Smokefree with intensive support available for all inpatient service users to manage cravings and quit smoking. We are very proud to be one of the few mental health trusts in the country to be implementing NICE guidance in this way.”
Hertfordshire’s Stop Smoking Service supports all Hertfordshire residents to give up smoking. They have a range of support options and will help you to quit even if you are using electronic cigarettes.
To contact your local Stop Smoking Service, text SMOKEFREE to 80818, call 0800 389 3 998 or visit www.hertsdirect.org/stopsmoking.