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Smoking causes one in every six county deaths
ONE in six deaths across Worcestershire are down to smoking, according to a new report.
More people are being encouraged to give up after research revealed 17,000 residents in the county suffer from smoking related diseases.
Worcestershire County Council say the figures cost the NHS and social care providers about £50 million every year.
Smokers are four times more likely to quit with the help of ‘stop smoking’ services in the county, according to a report which went to the authority’s Conservative cabinet this week.
NHS Worcestershire currently decides which body offers stop smoking services, but from next April that responsibility will be handed to the council.
The funding will come from the Government, which is due to give the council £20 million in return for taking on extra health responsibilities.
The cabinet has agreed to look at a provider for the county’s ‘stop smoking’ services from 2013-15.
It could be given to the current providers the NHS, a voluntary sector group or even a private company if council bosses get the right bidder.
The report before the cabinet stated: “Smoking remains a major contributor to preventable, premature deaths and health inequalities. Although smoking is in decline, a fifth of adults in Worcestershire continue to smoke. This figure is up to 50 per cent higher in some of the most disadvantaged groups and areas.”
It also said reducing those figures would help the economy by cutting work sickness rates, and protect young children and babies from second-hand smoke.
At the meeting, Councillor Ken Pollock said: “I’d endorse any efforts to help people quit. I’m a great believer in the free market and don’t believe cigarettes should be hidden – it often defeats the purpose – but I back the report.”