Smoking rates increase in Bedford in the last year

Women were more likely to be smokers
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Smoking rates in Bedford increased last year, new figures show.

Charity Action on Smoking and Health said the figures are a "wake up call" as rates across the country are not falling fast enough to meet the Government's target of 5% or less by 2030.

Figures from the Office for National Statistics show 11.8% of adults in Bedford smoked in 2022 – up from 9.9% the year before.

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It contrasts with trends across England, where the national rate of smokers reached 12.7%, the lowest level on record.

Across the UK, smoking among adults also fell to its lowest level of 12.9% last year – a drop on the 13.3% reported in 2021.

James Tucker, head of health analysis at the ONS, said the figure is "consistent with the continuing trend towards a decline in smoking prevalence over recent years".

However, Deborah Arnott, ASH chief executive, said: "Smoking rates are falling, but not nearly fast enough to deliver on the Government’s ambition of 5% or less by 2030. Financial stress and poor mental health are on the rise, which we know makes it harder for smokers to quit."

She added the Government must "step up" its support for smokers by investing in campaigns to motivate smokers to quit and discourage young people to start.

The ONS figures also showed 5.2% of people aged over 16 used e-cigarettes daily in 2022, up from 4.9% in 2021.

Ms Arnott said the growth in vaping among adult smokers and ex-smokers was welcome as vaping is a very successful aid to quitting smoking.

However, she added there is a worrying growth in vaping among teens and young adults with 15.5% of young people aged 16 to 24 years vaping daily or occasionally last year.

She said: "The Government’s response to the consultation on youth vaping due imminently must contain concrete measures to prohibit child-friendly branding, and put products out of sight and out of reach in shops, as well as a tax on the pocket money priced disposable vapes most popular with children."

The Department of Health and Social Care said it is looking to "balance the public health opportunities vaping offers to smokers, while protecting young people and non-smokers from using them".

The data also revealed men in the UK were more likely to smoke, with 14.6% using cigarettes in 2022 compared to 11.2% of women.

However, women in Bedford were more likely to be smokers at 13.4% compared to 10% of men in the area last year.