North East campaigners welcome new government initiatives to help people quit smoking
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Almost 20% of smokers in England will be offered a vape starter kit and behavioural support to help them quit under the measures, which local authorities will be invited to design schemes for later this year.
Pregnant women will also be offered up to £400 to stop smoking, and a consultation is being launched on forcing cigarette companies to include advice on quitting smoking in packs.
Alisa Rutter, director of North East tobacco control programme Fresh, said: “We welcome further national action to further reduce smoking. Tobacco is the single biggest cause of cancer and is driving poverty and inequality.
“We need to ensure more smokers are supported to quit and fewer children start. Vaping is part of that, and we welcome more support for adults to switch as we know they are helping people to successfully quit.
“Tobacco is still a massive drain on the North East, on our local businesses, our economy, our NHS, and our local authorities.”
These initiatives are part of the government's objective of reducing smoking rates to 5% or less by 2030.
Association of Directors of Public Health North East chair Amanda Healy, added: “In the North East we have some of the highest smoking rates in England which means we suffer the worst health harms and biggest impact on local communities.
“We welcome today’s announcements but we need further continued action at all levels to reduce smoking, and the illness and invalidity it is causing.
“It is also the work happening regionally and locally which will also make a huge difference in reducing smoking.”