Support for more smokefree places in the region grows ten years after ban

New report shows increasing support for more smokefree places.
New report shows increasing support for more smokefree places.

Support for smokefree places in the East Midlands is stronger than ever ten years after the smoking ban was introduced.

According to a new health report from health charity ASH, 83per cent of people in the East Midlands in 2017 support smokefree legislation.

This is up from 76per cent in April 2007, three months before smokefree laws came into place across England.

The report, Smokefree: The First Ten Years, tracks changes in attitudes to the ban on smoking in enclosed public spaces and other measures aimed at protecting people, particularly children and young people, from health harms due to tobacco.

Smokefree analyses ten years of data from the ASH Smokefree England survey carried out by polling company YouGov.

Nationally, in April 2007, 78per cent of all respondents to the survey were in favour of smokefree legislation.

In the ten years since, support has grown to 83per cent, primarily due to an increase in support from smokers from 40per cent to 55per cent. The overall change is entirely due to changing attitudes among smokers. Support among non-smokers has been stable.

Public support in the East Midlands for other tobacco control measures has also grown over the past decade, including the below:

Support for a ban on smoking in cars carrying children is up from 74per cent in 2008 to 89per cent in 2017 with support for a ban on smoking in all cars increased from 46per cent in 2009 to 63per cent in 2017;

Support for a ban on the display of tobacco products at point of sale is up from 53per cent in August 2007 to 73per cent in 2017;

support for standardised packs is up from August 47per cent in 2007 to 59per cent in 2017;

Support for increasing taxation on tobacco products above inflation was 59per cent in August 2007 and is now 60per cent in 2017;

Support for requiring licensing of tobacco sellers is up from 67per cent in August 2007 to 78per cent in 2017.

The survey also shows 70per cent of people in the East Midlands in 2017 would support a new levy on tobacco manufacturers to be used to help smokers to quit and to prevent young people from starting to smoke.

Despite the many measures that have been introduced over the past decade, the proportion of respondents from the East Midlands who think the government is not doing enough to tackle smoking has risen from 29per cent in 2009 to 37per cent in 2017.

Nationally in 2017, 76per cent of adults surveyed support the Government’s activities to limit smoking or think they could do more, while only 11per cent believe that the Government is doing too much.

The evidence of the last decade is that tobacco control policies are popular and effective when they are part of a comprehensive strategy and are properly funded.

ASH is calling on the Government to publish the new Tobacco Control Plan with tough new targets and a commitment to reducing inequalities without further delay.

ASH Director of Policy Hazel Cheeseman said: “Smoking prevalence is at an all-time low in the East Midlands at 16.1per cent but smoking remains the leading cause of preventable premature death, responsible for half the difference in life expectancy between the rich and the poor.

“Much more needs to be done to reduce health inequalities so that no-one is left behind.

“The Smokefree England survey shows there is strong support for more action to tackle the harm caused by tobacco.”

Dr Sanjay Agrawal, Consultant Respiratory Physician at University Hospitals of Leicester, said: “We’ve come a long way in ten years. These figures demonstrate a welcome shift in public attitudes to smoking in the Midlands.

“Smoking remains the leading cause of early death and disease but with support for action growing even among smokers I hope that the next ten years will bring us closer to achieving a smokefree future for the Midlands.”