Hartlepool public health chiefs promote vaping as four people a day were hospitalised due to smoking in 2018
Around four people from Hartlepool were admitted to hospital every day with smoking-related illnesses last year.
The town had the third highest admission rate for the whole of the North East stretching from Northumberland to Darlington with 1,386 people ending up in hospital in 2018.
Hartlepool’s rate of hospital admissions attributable to smoking was 2,532 people per 100,000 of the population (2.5%) which was higher than the regional average of 2,221 and the England average of 1,530 admissions.
Town public health chiefs say every smoking related hospital admission is one too many and a new strategy aims to help more smokers to quit, including promoting e-cigarettes as a healthier option.
Currently, almost a fifth of Hartlepool adults smoke (19%).
Public health and stop smoking services fall under the responsibility of Hartlepool Borough Council.
A council spokesperson said: “Any smoking-related hospital admission is one too many. Currently 19% of adults in Hartlepool smoke - a decrease on the 23% rate in 2013/14 – and working with other partner organisations across Hartlepool we continue to strive to reduce that.
“That’s why, together with a range of other local agencies, we recently launched a new initiative to help more people to stop smoking – a community-based model for the provision of stop smoking support services to ensure that smokers wanting to give up receive help tailored to their particular needs and circumstances.”
Partners include primary care, Hartlepool and Stockton-on-Tees Clinical Commissioning Group, North Tees and Hartlepool NHS Foundation Trust, Tees, Esk and Wear Valleys NHS Foundation Trust (mental health), the voluntary sector, local pharmacies, and local e-cigarette and vaping businesses and employers.
The council spokesperson added: “This new way of working involves building expertise and capacity in the community by creating a wide pool of trained staff, including school nurses, health visitors, family support workers and Community Connectors based in the Council’s Community Hubs in the north, centre and south of the town.
“This is based on the most up-to-date research which acknowledges that combining brief intervention with the use of e-cigarettes is the most successful way to help someone stop smoking.”
The council says the new approach is supported by new national guidance on the use of e-cigarettes.
The Vaping Standard, launched by the Smokefree NHS/Treating Tobacco Dependency Task Force, recommends that healthcare professionals be open to e-cigarette use where patients are keen to try them and that patients should be advised that vaping carries fewer health risks than tobacco.