New figures show a new historic low for smoking in the North East – with smoking rates having nearly halved since 2005.
Smoking prevalence among adults in the North East fell from 17.2 per cent in 2016 to 16.2 per cent in 2017, according to the Annual Population Survey from the Office for National Statistics.
The fall is nearly twice the national average since 2016.
It also means smoking rates have fallen by more than 44 per cent since 2005 when 29 per cent of North East adults smoked – around a quarter of a million fewer smokers.
Fresh is now urging smokers who have struggled to quit before to try to stop at least once a year and take heart from the hundreds of thousands of other people who have stopped for good.
It also comes at a time when NHS trusts nationwide are being urged by organisations such as the Royal College of Physicians, Public Health England and NHS England to support all patients to quit.
Ailsa Rutter OBE, director of Fresh, said: “It is very encouraging to see the North East is still making faster progress to reduce smoking, and we have narrowed the gap on other areas such as the South East.
“These new figures show we are getting close to halving smoking. 2017 saw the continued roll out of standardised packaging, and further evidence that electronic cigarettes are a much safer option for smokers who switch.
“As smoking among adults has fallen, we have also seen fewer children start in the first place. The North East has set a vision of five per cent of people smoking by 2025 and we can make it happen.”