605,000 in the East of England still smoke as cancers caused by smoking reach all-time high

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Cancer Research UK is calling on the newly elected Government to help end the devastation caused by smoking in the East of England.

New analysis from the charity reveals smoking is now responsible for an estimated 4,900 cancer cases a year in the region.

Although smoking rates in the UK are going down, a growing population means there are more than 605,000 people in the East of England who still smoke.

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The figures have been released as the UK hits an all-time high of an estimated 160 cancer cases per day caused by smoking.

Cancer Research UK is calling on the newly elected Government to help end the devastation caused by smoking in the South East. Photo by Mathew MacQuarrie on Unsplash.Cancer Research UK is calling on the newly elected Government to help end the devastation caused by smoking in the South East. Photo by Mathew MacQuarrie on Unsplash.
Cancer Research UK is calling on the newly elected Government to help end the devastation caused by smoking in the South East. Photo by Mathew MacQuarrie on Unsplash.

This is an increase of 17% since 2003, meaning 20 additional people a day in the UK are being diagnosed with smoking-related cancers, compared to the early noughties.

Cancer Research UK says the numbers underline the urgent need to tackle smoking by bringing back the Tobacco and Vapes Bill in the first King’s Speech on 17 July.

The Bill included legislation to raise the age of sale of tobacco so that nobody born on or after 1 January 2009 would ever legally be sold cigarettes in their lifetime – helping to create the first ever smokefree generation.

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Cancer Research UK spokesperson for the East of England, Elisa Mitchell said:“Right now, thousands of people in the region are diagnosed every year with cancer that was caused by smoking. That’s thousands of families’ lives changed forever by an illness that could have been prevented.

Smoking has no place in our future. Raising the age of sale of tobacco products will be one of the biggest public health interventions in living memory, establishing the UK as a world-leader. It’s vital that this Bill is re-introduced at the King’s Speech, passed and implemented in full so the impact of smoking is consigned to the history books.”

For the first time, breast cancer has now been included by the charity as a cancer type caused by smoking in its analysis. The scientific research for this link has been growing for years and Cancer Research UK is now confident in the evidence showing that smoking causes around 2,200 cases of breast cancer every year in the UK.

This means that tobacco causes 16 different types of cancer.

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The biggest increases have been seen in liver, throat and kidney cancer, where UK cases caused by smoking have doubled over the last 20 years.

However, lung cancer still has the strongest link to smoking, causing 33,000 cases each year.

Tobacco is a uniquely harmful product. When used as advised by the manufacturer, it will kill up to two thirds of users. Cigarette smoke contains over 5,000 chemicals, at least 70 of which cause cancer. These chemicals damage the DNA in our cells and make it harder for our cells to repair DNA damage, which can lead to the disease.

That’s why, alongside age of sale legislation, Cancer Research UK wants to see a sustainably funded programme of measures introduced to support people who smoke to quit – helping to alleviate pressure on the NHS.

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One person is admitted to hospital every minute in England because of smoking, and it’s estimated by Action on Smoking and Health (ASH) that the treatment of smoking-related illness costs the NHS approximately £1.9 billion every year in England alone.

Elisa Mitchell added: “Smoking remains the biggest cause of cancer in the UK. So, it’s vital that the Government continues to sustainably fund smoking cessation services to give those who want to quit the support they need to succeed.

“Stopping smoking is the best thing people in the East of England can do for their health, but it’s not always easy, and it can take a few attempts to find the method that works for you. But keep trying and get support from your free local stop smoking service, doctor or pharmacist.”

Ending cancers caused by smoking will see more people in the region - and across the UK - living longer, better lives, which has been a key call of Cancer Research UK’s campaign to ensure the general election is a turning point for people affected by the disease.

Supporters can still join the Turning Point for Cancer campaign at cruk.org/actnow

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