Fewer smokers in Falkirk as cigarettes are stubbed out

Cigarettes are becoming an increasingly rare sight in Falkirk, as smoking rates hit a seven-year low, figures show.

The news comes on the back of a leaked document which reveals the Westmnister Government plans to stub out smoking by 2030.

Campaign group Action on Smoking and Health Scotland has welcomed the drop but says millions of people across the UK are still blighted by the biggest preventable cause of early death.

The latest Office for National Statistics (ONS) data shows that 16.9 per cent of people aged 18 and over in Falkirk were smokers last year.

It was the lowest smoking rate for seven years – in 2012, it was 24 per cent.

Of the non-smokers in Falkirk, 24.3 per cent had kicked the habit and 58.9 per cent had never lit up.

Falkirk reflects the trend across Scotland, where the smoking rate also hit a seven-year low, at 16.3 per cent.

ASH Scotland chief executive Sheila Duffy said the national drop was encouraging, but that there is no room for complacency.

She added: “The latest ONS figures show that in Scotland alone, over a quarter of a million fewer people are smoking than just seven years ago.

“But with millions of people across the UK still blighted by the biggest preventable cause of ill health and early death, there is so much still to do.

“This is not a job done; it is very much a work in progress.”

The smoking rate in Scotland was higher than that across England (14.4 per cent), and across Wales (15.9 per cent).

The national figures show unemployed people were more than twice as likely to smoke as those with jobs.

A Scottish Government spokesperson said that reducing the use of tobacco is a public health priority.

They added: “We have invested around £10 million annually over the last five years in stop-smoking services, and since 2010 Scotland has seen the largest decline in the proportion of smokers across the UK.

“We are also helping a larger proportion of people in our more deprived areas to stop smoking than anywhere else in the UK.

“This focused approach is reducing health inequalities and Cancer Research UK has recommended that the rest of the UK adopts our approach.”

It is anticipated that Health Secretary Matt Hancock will announce plans next week to encourage people to quit or take up vaping within the next decade.

And the good news for local health services is that the tobacco giants will be forced to help smokers quit or switch.

There will also be a crackdown on illegal black market cigarettes.

Although smoking rates have reduced dramatically in recent years, health chiefs and the government was to rid the country of smoking for good.

Smokers in Forth Valley who want to quite can get support from the NHS, including community pharmacists.

A spokesperson for NHS Forth Valley said: “If you want to give up smoking but don’t know where to start then don’t worry – help is at hand and it’s never too late to stop. Whatever your age, however long you’ve been a smoker, you’ll start feeling better. In fact, some of the good effects are almost instant.”

For advice you can call the local NHS stop smoking service and speak with an adviser on 01786 433 293. Office opening hours are Monday to Thursday 8.30am-5pm and Friday 8.30am–4pm.