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Nottingham smoking rates above average 10 years after ban

Smoking rates in Nottingham have dramatically fallen since the public ban 10 years ago – but the city still lags behind the rest of the country.

A law banning smoking inside bars, clubs, restaurants and other public places was introduced at 6am on July 1, 2007, with the aim of protecting people from the dangers of second-hand smoke.

According to Nottingham City Council, 25 percent of adults currently living in the city smoke – which is down from 39 percent in 2009, but still higher than the national average of 17 percent.

The council has implemented a number of policies – including a voluntary ban at playgrounds and school gates in 2011, and a Smokefree Summer programme of events in 2016 – as part of efforts to reduce smoking rates even further.

But it admits that smoking remains a challenge and that it is “the single biggest risk to public health”.

Alison Challenger, director of public health at Nottingham City Council, said: “We should rightly celebrate the fact that our adult smoking prevalence rates have fallen sharply since 2009, but we still have work to do to narrow the gap against the national average.

“There are still too many people smoking and their habit is causing a considerable amount of poor health and chronic disease.

“There are also generational cycles of smoking in Nottingham which we must help people to break. Our children need to grow up in a city where tobacco is seen as the exception rather than the rule.”

Across the rest of Nottinghamshire – excluding the city – smoking prevalence has fallen to 15 percent.

Councillor Stuart Wallace, chairman of public health at Nottinghamshire County Council, wants to see the rate drop even further.

He said: “We are pleased at the progress that has been made since this landmark legislation was introduced a decade ago, but we are determined that we can do even more to help our residents enjoy longer, healthier, happier, smokefree lives.

“We’re working closely with all our partners to introduce smokefree places especially in public places around children and families.”

Despite the reduction in both the city and county areas, health services continue to see patients suffering from smoking-related illnesses, such as lung cancer and COPD (chronic obstructive pulmonary disease).

Professor Ian Hall, director of the Nottingham Biomedical Research Centre, hosted by Nottingham University Hospitals NHS Trust and the University of Nottingham, is a senior respiratory consultant.

He said that around half of the patients he sees have smoke at some stage because “30 or 40 years ago, 50 percent of the population smoked”.

Prof Hall said: “The problem, of course, is there is a time lag between exposure and the development of disease, so there’s lots of people out there who have smoked and may have stopped as a result of the smoking ban but are still at risk of smoking related disease.

“There’s no doubt it is a good thing. I would expect, in time, that we would see less people coming forward with these diseases.”

The Post asked shoppers about their thoughts on the ban 10 years after it was introduced.

Wilma Steffers, of Bingham, quit smoking 14 years ago. The 61-year-old said: “I remember before the ban. It was horrible, you could not breath inside some places.

“It was hard when it was raining. The smell was awful, I don’t know how people used to put up with it. The ban also helps people stop smoking.”

Mathew Leverton, 49, of Wilford, added: “I don’t smoke so I am in favour of the ban. You know you forget what it was like before the ban.

“I just came back from being abroad and it is quite noticeable there. You notice how smoky it is.

“At the end of the day, places – particularly restaurants – become quite smoky and if you are not a smoker it is a lot less pleasant.”

Smoker Curtis Benson agrees with the ban but thinks it has damaged pubs. The 28-year-old said: “I do think it has been good. It is a lot better now.

“In the pubs that don’t serve food you should be allowed to smoke. I think the smoking ban damaged pubs. We have lost the essence of them now because so many serve food.”

Bailey Foster, 21, of Sneinton, said: “I don’t support the ban. Smoking is a social thing. I spend more time outside when I’m at a club than in and it has killed a lot of pubs.

“It’s quite inconvenient especially when it is raining.”

Source: Nottingham Post