The report shows quitting rates were up to 19.8 per cent for the first six months of this year, significantly higher than the average for the last 10 years (15.7 per cent).
It coincides with the launch of the Stoptober quit-smoking challenge, which has nearly 50,000 sign-ups so far in the North East.
The campaign is based on research that if you stop smoking for 28 days you are five times more likely to stop for good.
Success rates among the less well-off have for years remained consistently low, but in a major turnaround in the sharp increase in success rates is being seen entirely among those smokers. For the first time, smokers in manual occupational groups have virtually the same chances of quitting as those in white-collar jobs, according to the data.
Ailsa Rutter, director of Fresh, said: “Most smokers have tried to quit before, so it is fantastic to see more people are now quitting successfully. Stoptober is another chance to quit for good.
“The North East is now at a historic low for smoking with 17.2 per cent of people smoking in 2016 compared to 29 per cent of people in 2005. Smoking seems to be less desirable than ever before and quitting is much more appealing. The terrible health consequences stand out much more on cigarette packs, and electronic cigarettes have clearly helped many former smokers as a much less harmful gateway out of smoking.”
Liz Morgan, interim director of public health at Northumberland County Council, said: “There has been significant progress in Northumberland with the number of adult smokers reducing to 16.9 per cent.
“Reducing the harmful effects of tobacco remains a key public health priority in Northumberland and we would encourage smokers who would like to stop smoking this Stoptober to take advantage of the range of free support available for them across the county.”
Northumberland County Councillor Veronica Jones, cabinet member for adult wellbeing and health, said: “It’s wonderful that more than 83 per cent of Northumberland residents are non-smokers. Stoptober is an ideal time to join them and use the local stop smoking services for support and treatment should you need it. We have support available throughout Northumberland. I would urge you to use these community-based services this Stoptober.”